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WALA-TV, an Emmis Broadcasting television station located in Mobile, AL, recently opened its new facility following a move from its longtime location in downtown Mobile. A FOX affiliate serving the Mobile and Pensacola, FL, markets, WALA also serves as a spoke station to the Emmis centralcasting hub at WKCF-TV in Orlando, FL.

Digital System Technology (DST) served as systems integrator for the new WALA facility. The new site called for a full analog-to-digital video upgrade and was designed as a centralcasting spoke station.

DST provided WALA with several groundbreaking systems. The first was a tapeless news environment created using a Thomson Grass Valley NewsQ Pro interface. The install marked the world's first NewsQ Pro tapeless news environment and allowed WALA news reporters to transfer stories directly onto a Thomson Grass Valley Profile server. This system, installed in the main production room along with a Thomson Grass Valley Vibrant editing bay for story editing, uses the NewsQ Pro setup to interface with an AP news system. NewsQ Pro tracks the stories and keeps the playlist current with the newscast rundown.

Story editing is also faster. Once on the Vibrant, the user can transfer a story to Profile as a fiber-optic file transfer for play to air, making the transfer faster than real-time. This provides both the advantages of nonlinear editing and the speed of linear editing. Six identical Vibrant news edit bays are located directly off the newsroom, along with three Discreet Logic nonlinear editing rooms: one main edit room, and two smaller rooms designed for production of promos and commercial spots.

The second groundbreaking solution was an interface designed by DST to automatically segment certain news feeds.

Network news feeds come into the station via satellite, and a gap of several minutes appears between each story. For a fully automated process, DST developed an interface using Evertz Quattro systems to sense freeze frames between stories from network news feeds. The Evertz Quattro speaks to a CompuSat system, reads the frozen video as one story ends, stops recording and starts again at the beginning of the next segment. The story is then saved onto the Profile server.

With the Gulf of Mexico shoreline location of Mobile, corrosion of the patchbays due to the salty ocean air can became more of a reliability problem than the hardware. To address this issue, DST created a unique patchbay-like system in which three-pin Elco audio bulkheads were used to connect the audio portion of the broadcast system. Cables can be removed and plugged into different inputs for simple system reconfiguration.

Design Team

Janet Crumb, project manager
Dwight Crumb, lead design engineer
Bill Hodson and Simon Shepherd, installation leads

Johnny Reece, complete design review
Marty Draper, corporate design review

Equipment List

Thomson Grass Valley NewsQ Pro
Thomson Grass Valley Profile server
Thomson Grass Valley Vibrant editing bay
CompuSat satellite systems
Discreet Logic nonlinear editing systems
Wheatstone TV-80 audio console
Mackie eight-bus 24-8 mixer
Evertz Quattro quad-split monitors
Thomson Grass Valley Venus router
Thomson Grass Valley Zodiac production switcher
Ross DSS-8024 switchers
TANDBERG Television TT6010
Sony BVP-950 studio cameras

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