Rhode Island’s WPRI flips HD switch for local newscasts

WPRI, the CBS affiliate in Providence, RI, is now broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition (1080i). The station went HD during its 5 p.m. newscast on Tuesday, Sept. 20.

The station — owned by LIN Media — chose a Grass Valley Ignite Konnect automated production system (which includes a Kayenne switcher), leaving two people in the control to run the entire newscast.

“The first show was a bit rough, but we’ve done [several] shows with it now, and we’ve have had clean shows every time,” said Bill Hague, director of engineering at WPRI, adding that the staff trained for the entire month of August and rehearsed for two weeks before going live to air this week. “The biggest challenge for us was migrating to HD while staying on the air in SD.”

The station has also implemented Ignite cameras on tripods in the studio, four Avid Deko 3000 HD graphics generators, a Wheatstone D-8 series audio console (stereo audio), Grass Valley Trinix router, and several Sony PDW-F355L XDCAM HD cameras in the field. The router was an exiting unit that was being used in SD and HD simultaneously during the transition.

“We are shooting all HD in the field and backhaul in HD (except live shots),” Hague said.

A new news set was designed and built by FX Group (Ocoee, FL) and By Request Communications (Marlborough, MA) installed the control room and equipment in the studio.

Hague said now that he has gone HD, he has to deal with clients or news staff that need SD dubs, so he has to downconvert the signal to satisfy them.

“I still have a lot of people requesting SD, so we have to be able to handle that,” Hague said.

The station uses AJA Video FS-1 and FS-2 HD /SD audio/video frame synchronizers and converters to get the job done. In addition, it uses a Thomson solid-state VHF transmitter running at 30 kW — which is also used by the local Fox station WNAC 64, due to a long-standing LMA.