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Comrex LiveShot Keeps the News Flowing

The Comrex LiveShot package

FAIRBANKS, ALASKA—The Tanana Valley Television Company hosts the NBC and CBS affiliate stations for the Fairbanks market, and like most stations, news is a big part of our operation. For years we used a truck with a microwave setup to cover live news, but decided it was time to try another approach as microwave equipment is difficult and time consuming to assemble on site, especially in sub-zero Alaskan temperatures. About a year ago, we purchased Comrex’s LiveShot technology and have since been using it for live news coverage. The system allows us to go on-air immediately and operate from places that were inaccessible with the truck.

I was introduced to LiveShot at the NAB Show and watched it with interest. I finally got “hands-on” time with a unit when a crew from our sister station in Anchorage brought one up for a live shoot.

I investigated some other systems, but didn’t like the integrated modems they used. We wanted something more future-proof; something that we could adapt as technology changed over time. We already had a Comrex Access device for broadcasts on the radio side of the house, and knew that being able to switch out USB data cards on-demand was a huge advantage. Being able to pick and choose the data carrier based on how each performs at a particular location makes a big difference too.

Integrating LiveShot with our studio setup proved to be very simple. The base unit connects to our production switcher and waits to be contacted by the portable unit; it couldn’t be easier to use. An operator presses a single button on the camera sending unit and the remote video and audio appear in our news production control room. A feedback system on the remote unit confirms that the link was set up, and we get low-latency IFB back.

To set up a live shot, we typically look for a location that gives us the best LTE coverage. Surprisingly, in Fairbanks, this is not really a problem. I was worried about network availability at first, but we have cards for all providers. And as deploying this system is so much quicker than setting up a microwave link, we generally use it for “shoot-and-scoots.”

Actually, we use the LiveShot for a variety of purposes. Recently, we used it to cover a story involving police response to a hostage situation that began as a vehicle pursuit and ended as a standoff at a local gas station. We got crucial footage of the hostage walking out of the car and managed to conduct a cellphone interview from the scene using LiveShot. Fortunately, everything was resolved peacefully.

It’s nice not to have to roll out the truck we’d been using before LiveShot and set up the mast. At a small operation like ours, sometimes that can be the difference between covering a story and having to pass it up.

Thomas Bohnet is the chief engineer of Tanana Valley Television and has been with the station for 12 years. He may be contacted

For additional information, contact Comrex at 978-784-1776 or