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01.11.2006
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
WRJM-TV’s digital automation system

Station automation



WRJM-TV’s digital automation system



WRJM-TV began operating with a UPN affiliation in 2000 in Montgomery, AL. As a new station in the market, it realized the need to be one step ahead of its competitors in all areas — most importantly in technology. After a great deal of research, the station chose Microfirst’s digital automation system (DAS) to be the brains of its control room. Beginning small, with only one satellite dish and minimal broadcasting per day, the station has now grown to a 24-hour facility that receives multiple satellite feeds, ingests content from multiple video and audio sources and requires multiple active schedules. Two years after the station’s inception, a search began to expand its operations, while also streamlining its operator interface.

After reviewing all of the available competitive automation systems, the station kept turning back to MicroFirst. The company explained that the system the station owned had been completely rewritten to include a host of new features and new user interface as well as a new real–time operating system that boots in less than 10 seconds, is impervious to viruses and worms and perfectly mates with the automation processing applications.

This system also operated on MicroFirst’s own processing hardware, which has more than 100,000 units in use in the gaming industry. However, if this was not enough to convince the station to go with Microfirst, there was one constant thing that the station could not find anywhere else: service. It never failed that if an issue arose inside the station’s control room, it would happen at the most inopportune time. Whenever there was an issue, the station would call service representatives at Microfirst, who would quickly walk the station engineers through the steps of correcting the issue and get the system back to running at 100 percent. Service representatives at Microfirst wouldn’t redirect the station engineers to the technical support number, but instead quickly resolve the issues. This kind of service has been a reoccurring theme over the past years in the relationship between the station and Microfirst.

With the new system, WRJM wanted to become a fully automated station with the option to grow as its station grows. Among the station’s needs were:

  • to control multiple video servers
  • simultaneous broadcast control of two stations
  • the ability to remote control the system from any location
  • ingesting from multiple satellite feeds
  • the ability to add incremental components into its automation system.
After the facility ordered DAS, it received the new system within a few months and the Microfirst technician arrived ready to install. From there it was only a matter of hours before the transformation was complete and the station was up and running on the new DAS. The most impressive part of the transition was the fact that the facility did not stop broadcasting at all during the transfer. The two systems ran simultaneously until all connections were secured. Then it was only a matter of shutting down the old system.

The new system is logical in nature and just simply makes sense. The user interface is clean and uncluttered. The station’s operators learned the new system in about 15 minutes. The system has yet to fail and the service has been truly exceptional.

Microfirst has even pointed out features that the station has not been using in order to make the facility operate better.

Design Team Technology at Work
WRJM: MicroFirst Engineering:
Nicky Bull, general mgr. MPC-1600 automation processor
Matthew Simechak, eng. staff GPI 16x16 interface unit
Boyd Mizell, eng. staff Sony:
Matthew Wren, eng. staff MAV 70 video file server
Mike Fairfield, eng. staff VTRs
Regina Kimbrell, MC staff Videotek RS-103 routing switcher
Jeremy Snell, MC staff
Matt Golden, MC staff
Rodney Linebarger, MC staff
Ray Wren, MC staff
Microfirst Engineering:
John Scarpa, president
John Beneat, EVP and CTO
Jerry Berger, VP, GM
George Teplansky, sales support eng.
Rick Sondefan, sr. software eng.
John Scarpa, president

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