All the technicalities.

4 days to go.

If you want to get your hands on professional equipment from a technical perspective, including learning to use and fix studios, perform outside broadcasts, use PA systems – or link many of those together at once – community radio is a great way to learn significant skills. Before NE1fm 102.5 launched I did a lot of online broadcasting. It was easy. It became moderately technical if you wanted to stream the output of a mixer and mic – using the same PC to stream as you did to play the music. And before NE1fm, I wasn’t sure myself on how you’d actually get the output from a mixer in Newcastle to a transmitter in Gateshead, reliably.

But I learned those skills, and have since shared those skills with others. If you build up trust too, show you can fix and not break, and know when to fix stuff – you sometimes might even get the opportunity to build a studio from scratch. I’m proud to say that myself and Dave Tansley built the latest NE1fm studio (1). It’s still standing so we did a decent job!

View images of a studio build here.

So what stuff could you get your hands on? The station has two broadcast studios. Studio 1 is most commonly used for live broadcast, with Studio 2 used less frequently, and predominantly for disabled access and pre-recorded content production.

Studio 1 features a Soundcraft Series 15 console, along with four microphone channels, two CD channels, two PC playout channels, one Minidisc input channel, one auxillary and satellite input channel, and two telephone channels. Besides from the console, Studio 1 is also equipped with two Numark CD players, one Sony MDS-E12 Minidisc player and recorder, a pair of Technics 1210 MK2 turntables linked to a Behringer DX 500 studio mixer, and for listening to our output a pair of Denon SCCX303 CX3 speakers.

Studio 2 features a Clyde Broadcast Synergy console, a digital desk, with the inputs available including two microphone channels, two CD channels, four PC playout channels, two auxillary and satellite input channels, and an recording studio input for live bands. The second studio also features two Tascam CD-01U CD players and one Sony MDS-E12 Minidisc player and recorder.

Don’t forget your flying studio – the one you take out with you to outside broadcasts. A D&R Airmate with Tascam CD players and a laptop with a copy of the stations music library.

The devices you use to connect back to studio to go on air.

This then relies on IT equipment, studio playout computers, email computers, music servers, loggers, online stream computers, outside broadcast computers, network.

At the transmitter end, another computer, an RDS unit and the actual transmitter unit.

Then you need your audio chain. Compressors, limiters, multi band processing units. Where do you do that? Studio or transmitter?

Then you need to get the audio from the studio to the transmitter in a way that is reliable, 24/7/365 – dependant on suppliers (Virgin Media/BT Business).

Then think about your website, where’s that going to be hosted. The same goes with your online streaming service.

It goes on, and on, and on. I love being technical because the list is endless. Everything relies on everything else.

I was taught a lot of the above, you can learn all of the above. If you want to. That’s a promise. All in community radio.

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