NEWS BLOG (WSAU) If you listened to our sister-station FOX SPORTS RADIO, you heard a high school hockey double-header last night. You have no idea how close the second game was to not being on-air. Chalk it up – almost – to ‘technology problems’.
There are many radio old timers who have stories about broadcasts that got on-air just barely. Tuesday night was one of those nights. If you listened you wouldn’t really know, unless you read today’s blog.
First, some background. We’re using a new piece of equipment this year for our high school sports broadcasts. The Comrex 10000 is marvelous. It’s a high-speed digital modem. It takes the announcers voice from the sports arena, codes it into a digital data stream, and then a second unit decodes the data and turns it back into audio at our studios. It does that with a delay of about three seconds. The result is a studio-quality broadcast instead of doing a football or basketball game that sounds like a phone call. Remarkable.
But, the Comrex 10000 needs an internet connection or G3 cellphone access to work. Sometimes at high school hockey areas, which are often steel-framed barns, that’s a problem.
We’d anticipated that problem at the Mosinee Recreation Center, where D.C. Everest’s hockey team played Mosinee last night. The Comrex 10000 was not able to make a Wi-Fi hotspot connection on Tuesday night. The G3 cellphone card – our normal backup – got only a spotty signal. Back at our studios during the sound check the signal was choppy and dropping out.
Anticipating there might be a problem, a regular tape recorder and laptop computer were part of our broadcast kit in Mosinee. As a last resort, the game would be recorded into the tape recorder and then sent as an email sound file through the laptop computer back to our studios.
That didn’t work either. There was no internet connection at the ice barn. Not through Wi-Fi. Not through mp3. Not even though the mobile hot zone that our radio station’s smartphone can usually generate. We had a tape recorded game, but no way to get it back to the radio station.
So, thank you McDonalds. At the end of the hockey game we sped down the street to the Mosinee McDonalds where their Wi-Fi connection was loud and clear, and, one by one the game’s audio files were sent back to the studios.
Tom King’s live broadcast on the Wausau-East vs. Wausau-West hockey game went a little longer than planned. That was a good thing. Five minutes later we began our taped coverage of the DC Everest-Mosinee game, as scheduled. But not without a lot of behind-the-scenes nail-biting.