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This Week In Radio Tech (TWiRT)
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This Week In Radio Tech (TWiRT)

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Broadcast Engineers – especially Radio engineers – work behind the scenes to bring you most everything we listen to, including web-delivered audio.Broadcast engineer and radio station owner Kirk Harnack brings you "This Week in Radio Tech". Along with co-hosts Tom Ray, Chris Tobin, and Chris Tarr, TWiRT episodes feature sage audio advice, "There I was..." stories, and instruction from some of the sharpest minds in audio media technology today. TWiRT is smart, informative, and lots of fun for audio, RF, and packet-loving geeks.
107 Episodes
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Thank you for helping us get to 500 TWiRT episodes! Chris Tobin says he’s up for 500 more! This week, Tom Ray joins us to review some past topics and see how they’ve changed in the past 10 years. Chris Tobin checks in from high above Manhattan. Plus, we predict the future for some of today’s technologies.
Many of us got our morning and afternoon hosts operating from their homes pretty quickly back in March. We had just a few days - or even just a weekend - to get our on-air talent connected from their kitchen tables or bedrooms, along with news and traffic reporters. Bryan Jones, Engineering Support Specialist at the Telos Alliance, helped dozens of broadcasters get operational from their homes. Now, we’re discussing longer-term home and remote broadcast operations. What are the best practices and key concerns from an IT perspective? What pitfalls should we avoid while improving these remote operations for long-term service? Plus, Chris Tobin describes his station’s unique remote operations setup.
The global COVID-19 is truly global. North America’s oldest city - and tied with New York for the largest - is Mexico City. Cuauhtemoc (“Cuau”) Pereda is the Managing Director at @FM (www.arroba.fm), a network of almost 50 stations throughout Mexico, and oversees a network of talent, operations, and engineering professionals. Cuau joins us to discuss how they’re doing social distancing, while working with both union and non-union employees. It’s a lively look into big-market radio in another country.
Many people use their cell phones and other devices to record conversations. The audio can turn out, well, almost useless. Most people try to clean up the audio, and in the process remove the audio they need to hear. Tim Dolbear is an audio engineer, specializing in mixing, audio restoration, and forensic audio analysis. He joins us to discuss these topics, as well as give advice on “how to listen” to audio.
Beth Mann started collecting radios early in her career - and never stopped. As President/CEO of Edge Media Group in Cadiz, Kentucky, Beth directed the construction and operation of the DJ Everett III Radio Room - a showcase for almost 300 radios dating from 1919 to present day. We’re on location at WKDZ-WHVO-WPKY touring this radio museum, plus seeing a replica broadcast control room from the 1960s.
Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) typically need towers for their backhaul radios and access points. Broadcasters need Internet access at their transmitter sites. It’s like a mariage made in heaven! On this episode of TWiRT, Kent Winrich, CTO of Open Broadband, a North Carolina-based WISP, describes the technical aspects of a WISP network, and the frequency bands used for network deployment.
Sports broadcasting usually involves following and describing a moving target. On the auto and truck racing circuits, that target is moving about 200 MPH. Doug Watson directed and built broadcast facilities, and developed reliable techniques, for radio coverage of NASCAR races. He shares what works and what didn’t for making sure the weekly race broadcasts were exciting, accurate, and delivered to nearly 500 radio affiliates.
Audio is important to both Radio and TV, but there are key differences in audio production techniques. Rob Ashard is a Sound Supervisor (“A1” in the USA) for several top TV shows produced in England. Plus his weekly on-air shift at Radio Caroline keeps his heart in radio. This week, Rob shows us some of the large audio “desks” he uses for TV audio production, and describes a technique for low-latency “talkback” setup to remote talent.
Data center based server platforms are known for their resilience and reliability, and radio broadcasters are taking notice. Cloud-based systems are also generally accessible from anywhere there’s an Internet connection, including radio talent that’s “sheltering in place”. Bill Bennett with ENCO Systems joins us to highlight the various kinds of disasters that will stop broadcasters from being on-air, and introduces web-accessible radio infrastructure that keeps operating, even when the studio is down.
BBC Radio’s Virtual Local Radio project is done and proven. Talent, management, engineering, and listeners are delighted with the results. Now Dan McQuillin is designing the next generation of minimalist studios that still do everything needed and desired for radio content creation. Beyond “Cushions and Daylight”, Camera One, Bionic Table, and Bionic Picnic - all introduced and explained on this edition of TWiRT.
Would you have been flying home from Las Vegas, Nevada, about now, from NAB 2020? This week we’re bringing you three terrific broadcast professionals with a look at more of what we didn’t see at NAB. Michael “Catfish” Dosch with Angry Audio - a quickly growing manufacturer is here, along with Jeff Adams - a video webcaster and radio broadcaster. Plus Chuck Kelly pours on the education with news of new technologies and techniques from BE/Elenos.
Many of us would have been flying to Las Vegas, Nevada, about now for NAB 2020. We would have been assembling expo booths, delivering technical papers and presentations, and learning about the technologies and equipment that engineers will be using in the coming years. But with NAB 2020 cancelled due to the coronavirus, we’re bringing some highlights of what would have been at NAB to you. Marty Sacks of Telos Alliance, Josh Bohn of Bohn Broadcast, and Jeff Welton of Nautel are here to highlight what’s new, and what you would have learned from them at NAB.
Cabin Fever notwithstanding, thousands of broadcasters - from engineers to sales reps to on-air talent - are working from home. And the list of capabilities and opportunities grows almost daily. Alex Oana shows us how to compare high-quality microphones from our easy chairs, while Goos Mante runs his radio show on RTV Zaanstreek entirely from his home in Wormer, Netherlands. And Chris Tobin tells how WBGO-FM got over 9,000 music selections digitized for broadcast in just a few days.
Who hasn’t used one of Henry Engineering’s “blue boxes” to solve an audio or control problem around the radio station? A related company, Sine Control Technology, makes power surge suppressors that are used by the US Department of Defense. Hank Landsberg, owner of Henry Engineering, explains the technology that makes his “PowerClamp” TVSS technology different and more effective at protecting sensitive electronic equipment. We also look at a clever device that makes AC UPS operation more reliable, and the mic & headphone controller that newly home-bound broadcasters are using.
General purpose computers have been replacing purpose-built equipment in almost every industry, including radio broadcasting. But, some functions - such as VHF and UHF modulators - have still required precision, purpose-built circuitry. Now come the “RF Supercomputer” - a marriage of hardware and software that can produce any kind of modulation at most any broadcast frequency. And there’s even more to the story. Chuck Kelly from BE/Elenos Group joins us for a lesson in highly sophisticated software defined transmission.
“Social Distancing” to slow the spread of Coronavirus is changing the way broadcasters are operating. Over the past week or two, broadcast engineers have been charged with setting up the remote studios and broadcast systems allowing on-air talent and other operations workers to do their jobs from home. Plus, they’ve configured studio and “rack room” systems to be run by few or even no people in the main studio building. Some of radio broadcasting’s most active and progressing engineers join Chris Tobin and Kirk Harnack for this roundtable discussion, You’re sure to pick up on ideas and inspiration for your own broadcast facility!
AES67 - the worldwide Audio over IP interoperability standard - exists because “Silos aren’t good enough!” Kevin Gross, Founder of AVA Networks and Chair of the AES X192 task group joins us to tell the story of how AES67 came to be, and a behind-the-scenes look at its development. We also discuss how AES67 plays into the SMPTE ST 2110-30 standard for networked audio-for-video. Plus, a great tip of the week!
Radio has traditionally been all about the audio. Radio engineers do their best, working with the budgets and knowledge they have, to design and build studios that help create the best audio presentation. Now more radio broadcasters are putting video cameras in their studios - visual radio. Some are streaming live while others grab the best clips from their in-studio shows. Robbie Green with Entercom in Houston joins Chris Tobin to talk about equipment and techniques to produce good-looking visual radio with minimal effort.
With more combined AM, FM, and TV transmitter sites, safe, effective, and secure monitoring and control of those sites has never been more important. When several transmitters are fed into a combiner, then to a master antenna, great damage is possible if something goes wrong. That’s where detailed analysis, careful installation, and custom scripting with sanity checks all come into play. Josh Bohn, along with Josh Jones and other associates are providing such monitoring and control systems to FM and TV broadcasters, and they’re sharing some of their experiences with us. Plus Josh Jones talks about repairing older equipment with parts made of non-obtainium.
Community Radio - what is it? And how's it doing? Surprisingly well! Ernesto Aguilar is the Program Director at the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. He’s bullish on Community Radio - often run by volunteers - addressing the specific local and regional issues, arts, and concerns of people in a station’s coverage area. Chris Tobin joins in with specific advice on studio design that addresses the particular workflow you’ll find at many Community Broadcasters.
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