Clear-Com Joins WFMZ Studio/News Bureau

The WFMZ-TV master control facility

ALLENTOWN, PA.—WFMZ-TV is an independently- owned television station serving Allentown—part of the greater Philadelphia DMA. For our morning, midday and evening newscasts, we collaborate with our main studio in Allentown and a remote reporting bureau located several miles away.

Until recently, both sites communicated via telephone, but during live productions where every second counts, this method of communication often proved unreliable. To harness IP to bridge the gap between these two facilities, we discovered Clear- Com’s Eclipse-Median digital matrix intercom system and Concert software and added these new systems as part of a complete overhaul of our intercom setup.

I had seen demonstrations of several different intercom systems, but when I saw Clear-Com, it was apparent that its IP connectivity was far ahead of the competition. The company offered products that would allow me to do exactly what was needed to connect our Allentown facility with our remote bureau. I also felt that this new equipment was more advanced as compared to what other manufacturers offered.

With the Eclipse-Median and the Concert Intercom-over-IP software we were able to create an integrated communications infrastructure that allowed our reporting bureau to communicate with our Eclipse system in the main facility.

Installation of the new system proved to be relatively simple. An Eclipse-Median frame was installed in our main studio and V-Series key panels at the bureau were then connected via IP to the V-Series key panels in our studio location. This allowed anyone in the bureau to directly communicate with Allentown in various points of the facility— the control room, editing suite, audio room, studio and other areas of the building.

If we ever need to expand the system, all we would need to do is add additional V-Series key panels and connect them via IP to accommodate additional users.

In addition to improving communications between the main studio and bureau, we also wanted to monitor our bureau’s police scanners during off hours, and Clear- Com’s Concert rose to the occasion here too. The bureau’s scanners were linked to a PC running the Concert software and tied via IP to another PC at our Allentown studio that was also requipped with the Concert software. With this setup we can monitor the bureau scanner and stay on top of potential news stories anytime.

Another feature beyond IP connectivity that has streamlined our intercom setup—particularly during special event broadcasts such as election coverage—is the Eclipse-Median’s Eclipse Configuration Software (ECS). With our old intercom system, another engineer and I would have to spend hours programming the intercom system prior to any special broadcast. With the ECS, all of the needed changes and configurations can be created in.

With live newscasts you don’t have second takes. Clear-Com has helped to ensure that all our staff can collaborate instantly, clearly and effectively regardless of their location.

Brian Dewalt is director of engineering at WFMZ-TV. He may be contacted

For additional information, contact Clear-Com at 510-337-6600 or