Saturday, October 9, 2010

Trail of Tears Broadcast Dry Run

Through KCUR, I have been retained to engineer KKFI's broadcast of the Trail of Tears discussion panel at the United Minority Media Association's Midwest/Southeast Regional Conference. As the barnraising was the first time I had engineered any live broadcast, I thought it prudent to do a dry run today. Especially since I was using unfamiliar equipment (a TieLine Commander G1).

Earlier in the week, I collected the equipment from KCUR. Today was the first chance I had to actually set up the equipment. I thought I might need a second pair of hands for this, so I asked my friend Aubry to help. To begin with, we went over to KKFI to hook up the studio unit (the TieLine equipment is a pair of codecs, a studio unit and a field unit) in the studio. This was very straightforward - all we had to do was hook up an analog phone line and run it into the board.

We then went over to the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Center to set up there. This was a bit more complicated as we weren't exactly sure where the event was going to be held. So we set up in the Great Hall, figuring that to be the most likely place (we later found out that we should have set up in their "broadcast room" at the Cultural Center. ah well.) We connected up the loaner mics from KKFI and I got a feel for how loud they were. Then we found an analog phone line and tried dialing in to the studio unit at KKFI. Unfortunately, while the field unit said we were connected, the studio unit said we weren't, and there was no sound on the board at KKFI. So it was pretty clear that we weren't connected. I went back to KKFI to try and diagnose things there (leaving Aubry to watch the equipment) but had no luck.

To test KKFI's lines, I dialed the TieLine test number with the studio unit. I connected successfully at 21.6 kbps and got some cheery music. I then took the studio unit back over to the Cultural Center and was able to connect there at a slightly faster speed. So KKFI's lines and the Cultural Center's lines both appeared to be good, and yet I wasn't able to get the two units to connect. I called the studio unit from my cell phone, and the unit picked up, so it was certainly answering calls. So I'm a little perplexed, but I have a plan for further testing. The next step is to take both units to KKFI and see if the one unit will connect to the other there (KKFI has multiple analog telephone lines).

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