What our College Friends Say about Radio & TV

TV Illustration200Is it us, or are we the only ones on the planet aware that more and more universities are building out their communications departments lately?

Okay, it could be just us. We do happen to be the only broadcast studio equipment manufacturer in the U.S. making both IP audio networks and TDM networks commonly used in college facilities to tie together radio and TV operations these days. But, we suspect something else is at work here, so we called a few of our college friends.

We barely got the question out when Chris Wheatley, manager of TV and radio operations for Ithaca College, New York, confirmed what we have been seeing rolling through our factory the last couple of months. Which, as we hinted at earlier, are lots of consoles and control surfaces along with WheatNet-IP BLADEs and BRIDGE TDM cages for the education set.

“People sometimes forget that it wasn’t just the commercial stations that were affected by consolidation years ago,” commented Wheatley. “That’s largely why we decided we wanted to be the station listeners turn to for local music, and it must have been successful because here we are with a very popular local music show.”

This explains in part why so many colleges and universities are into new technology, at least from a Wheatstone perspective. For example, Ithaca College’s station, WICB-FM, dove into the local music scene headfirst, and found its old patch bays sorely lacking. “About the time we’d get a band in the studio and we’d bring them up on the main control room board, we’d end up with a dead channel and had to wriggle wires to get it going. That had to change. Now, with the WheatNet audio over IP system, we just dial up the studios we want,” explained Wheatley.

Another Wheatstone customer, Mickey Morgan, the audio engineer for one FM and three television stations at Eastern New Mexico University, Albuquerque, gave us something else to think about when we posed the same question to him. He said that public broadcasting stations are being squeezed by budgets like everyone else, but they’re also expected to be the places to go to for all things media -- radio, TV, and now mobile and internet. On top of that, they have to academically prepare the next generation of media professionals. “We carry all the community impact you would expect of an NPR and PBS broadcaster, but we also have a growing academic side. For example, we instituted a new communications degree recently thanks to a funding grant by the last governor of the state,” said Morgan, who was given the job of tying it all together under one roof during a recent studio renovation.

Eastern New Mexico University is now using Wheatstone consoles and surfaces in its new broadcast center to unite it all. The university is networking everything together through a Wheatstone TDM routing system, which it established for its television side initially but added onto for its studios supporting radio, streaming and academic learning. “That made it nice, because we could tie the radio inputs into TV or TV into radio, and we use the logic I/O to trigger events across all the studios. If we need to mix and match, we've got it,” said Morgan, adding that if the university ever wanted to transition into audio-over-IP, it could do so through Wheatstone and the BRIDGE TDM system.

Which brings up a question we couldn’t resist asking. What about those college students? Are they even interested in broadcasting anymore?  “Absolutely. They’re multimedia and multifaceted,” replied Morgan, stating that much of the media and broadcast operation for the university is student run. “We really want to give these students a top-notch, first-rate education, and that takes the best technology we can find.”

Wheatley agreed. “Students today really understand the digital studio and in many ways they’re more comfortable with broadcasting than some of the seasoned veterans.”

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