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WAGM-TV, the CBS affiliate in Presque Isle, ME, faced the challenges of aging equipment and a lack of skilled broadcast employees. As the only commercial local news station in the area, WAGM competes with cable-imported, larger-market stations from just outside the geographic area. To compete they needed to update the look and feel of their newscasts, as well as their entire on-air operation, without adding staff or increasing operating costs.

With so much outdated equipment on hand, a wholesale replacement was in order, but hard to implement without affecting the on-air operation. So, they built a second automated digital control room that performs as both master and production control.

WAGM replaced an old La Kart machine from Lake Systems and a Vital master control switcher with a Leitch AN440 video server and a 32×32 Leitch router that employs automation from Sundance Digital and ParkerVision systems. The Sundance system handles the programming and commercial playback functions, while a ParkerVision PVTV Digital News 16 system automates the production of the live newscasts — traditionally the largest use of labor within a local television station.

Both production and master control share the server, VTRs and a monitor wall. The Leitch server plays out news stories and bumps with two of its four channels, another is used for commercials and programming, and the last one is reserved for program and commercial ingestion. During the newscasts, a master control operator assists the news director with tape loading and timing. In the future, GPI triggers will tie the two automation systems, ParkerVision and Sundance, together so that commercials roll automatically based on the news rundown and, at the end of the commercial break, the PVTV News system will be triggered by the Sundance system.

The ParkerVision PVTV News system integrates a digital video switcher, audio mixer, character generator, DVE, four robotic cameras, and a prompting system. PVTV News also serially controls other devices including outboard character generators and still stores. The precision of PVTV News prevents early or late microphones and bad mixes from detracting from the station's newscasts, which was a problem in the past.

Currently, the station produces an hour of local news at 6 a.m., and half-hour news programs at 5:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., plus a five-minute newsbreak at noon. With automated production, WAGM was able to add the noon newsbreak and the half-hour newscast at 5:30 p.m. with no increased costs.

WAGM also recently upgraded to an analog Harris Gold series transmitter and will go digital with a Harris Ranger in the spring.

Design Team

Pete Kozloski, station owner
Gordon Wark, president/general manager
Gene Brewer, chief engineer
Brett Lovley, assistant chief engineer
Jon Gulliver, news director
Dave Raynes, Little Bay Engineering

Equipment List

ParkerVision PVTV Digital News 16 system, Digital CameraMan 3-CCD robotic pan/tilt cameras, Shot Director multi-camera controller
Sony VTRs
Leitch AN440 video server
Leitch Integrator router
Sundance Digital AirPlay automation
Sony and Panasonic audio/video monitoring
AJA D/A-A/D converters
Vistek audio converters

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