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01.11.2006
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Roberts Broadcasting’s centralcasting solution

Station automation



Roberts Broadcasting’s centralcasting solution



When Roberts Broadcasting acquired licenses for WRBJ-TV and WZRB-TV in Jackson, MS, and Columbia, SC, respectively, discussions ensued regarding the best operating scenario. The organization was already broadcasting WRBU-TV, the UPN affiliate in St. Louis, MO, from a traditional, single-channel master control room. Following extensive number crunching, the debate pitting independent setups against a centralcasting solution culminated with plans for an elaborate and geographically-disparate central model that would require a substantial overhaul of master control.

WRBU serves as the hub for the three-station system. WZRB went on-air in January 2005, with WRBJ-TV slated to follow suit in January 2006. The infrastructure upgrade doubled server and satellite dish capacity to accommodate the dramatically increased demands on a centralized operation that downlinks an average of 28 feeds daily and will grow with the launch of WRBJ.

The organization’s automation system needed to bulk up, as well as be as future-proof as possible. Because WRBU was already a long-term, satisfied Sundance Digital client, it was an easy decision to upgrade to a three-channel Titan package with four Media Prep stations managing the content on a multiple Grass Valley Profile video server system. Titan is an extremely flexible automation solution, designed to easily add playlists to a growing network’s roster and answer the challenges of high-channel counts and geographically-dispersed operations.

In addition to the Profile servers, the facility’s configuration controls a Grass Valley Concerto 128x128 router, two PVS1022 servers, two PVS1108Ds, two PFR5180 raid arrays, two PFR7146 raid arrays with a total combined storage of 650 hours and a Quartz QMC-SD master control switcher. The automation system is interfaced with the station’s Wide Orbit traffic manager.

All operations originate from the St. Louis plant. Transmitters are the only equipment found in Columbia, 750 miles away, and in Jackson, 450 miles from the hub. All signals are uplinked to the spoke stations after processing through master control. A Miranda Kaleido Alto monitor wall comprised of two plasma screens with 10 inputs each is suspended from the ceiling. It enables one master control operator to easily monitor all three sites. In preparation for its January launch date, the Jackson channel is being used for staff training.

All 24/7 stations, the group receives only two hours of UPN affiliate programming per night, filling the remaining 22 hours with syndicated feeds downlinked into the satellite field in St. Louis and then switched to all three stations. To accommodate the significant quantity of content, the main facility installed Sundance Digital’s Intelli-Sat broadcast record manager to record programming and interstitials into PVS1108D ingest and prep servers where operators review, trim and mark clips “ready for air.” Sundance Digital’s DataMover transfers the material to the appropriate PVS1022 on-air server where it may reside for up to three days prior to broadcast.

The Titan system also integrates with Pathfire via Sundance’s Digital Delivery Management System (DDMS).

Pathfire provides frame-accurate program timing information that is automatically applied to the media element, resulting in a fully segmented program without the manual labor normally required.

Design Team Technology at Work
Roscor: Grass Valley:
Steve Kazola PVS1108 video file server
Bob Strutzel PVS1022 video file servers
Chad Theilen PFR7146 raid controllers
Roberts Broadcasting: PFR5180 raid controllers
Chris Meischfont Concerto router
Michael Drainer Miranda Kaleido Alto AD
Omar O’Hara. Pathfire content manager
Sundance Digital Pinnacle:
Kurt Caruthers, dir. of sales Deko 1000
Eric Harrington, dir. of eng. Lightning 1000
Luis Munoz, broadcast sys. eng. Sundance Digital
IntelliSat
Mirror/DataMover
SQL data server
Quartz QMC MC switcher
Telestream FlipFactory transcoding and proxy generation

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