Skip to main content

WPBT Takes Single Vendor Approach

Since its founding in 1953 as Florida's first public television station, WPBT has always been a broadcasting trend setter. In 1971, we were the first public station in Florida to transmit in color, and in 1980 became the first to connect two continents via a live satellite broadcast. In May 2001, we made history again as Florida's first public station to launch a digital signal. We attract an audience of more than one million households every week, making WPBT one of the 10 most-watched public TV stations in the country.

Gene Talley (L), WPBT director of engineering; Marino Guzman, WPBT maintenance engineer A common thread through all of these accomplishments has been technological excellence and a keen ability to adopt systems that will support our high programming standards while delivering maximum price performance. Reflecting this is the Snell technology that forms the centerpiece of our new master control facility.


When we first began designing our digital facility, we carried with us the knowledge of our past experiences in trying to implement systems from different vendors. This approach sometimes led to problems such as incompatibility and a lack of accountability when something went wrong. For that reason, 90 percent of the new infrastructure driving our operation is from a single vendor—Pro-Bel, now known as Snell, following this year's merger with Snell & Wilcox. Snell also offered an almost-unheard-of 10-year guarantee on all hardware, and came to the table ready to supply all of the components we required.

The anchor for our master control operations is a 256x256 Snell Sirius router, which manages a single level of HD and SD signals with embedded audio. Although we've only populated the router to 96x64, the additional input and output capability gives us maximum flexibility and room for future growth. Also, the router's ability to handle any combination of SDI, HD-SDI, analog, and AES audio signals ensures that we will be able to adapt our facility as future opportunities present themselves. The company's Aurora router control system makes it easy for us to program the router's system database, and gives us unlimited flexibility to integrate it with third party vendors such as tally control systems and the CompuSat satellite control and automation system.

The Snell Morpheus Control and Monitoring system (MCM) plays a critical role by providing a user-friendly GUI control for the router and Snell Master-piece master control switchers. MCM offers the choice of a traditional control surface or a customizable, soft-panel GUI that enables us to create user interfaces for router and switcher control.

Finally, we've implemented several modules from Snell's Vistek modular infrastructure range. This provided a cost-effective and highly flexible means for us to tailor our facility as our needs evolve. The Vistek modules handle a variety of tasks such as analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog conversions, audio processing, up/downconversion and video processing.

For WPBT, building a control infrastructure around a single vendor's products was definitely the right strategy. And the vendor we chose has more than met or exceeded all of our requirements. Our new digital master control was launched in October of 2008 and has operated with hardly a hitch. It has taken us forward into a new era of digital broadcasting.

Gene Talley is director of engineering and operations for WPBT Television. He may be contacted

For additional information, contact Snell at 818-556-2616 or