Ramar Communications Relies on Utah Scientific To Gain Master Control Over Chaos

Ramar
Communications, based in Lubbock,
TX, has implemented a master-control system based on Utah Scientific’s UTAH-400 router, MCP-2020A
multichannel master-control panel, and eight MC-400 master-control switchers.
The system, which interfaces with Rushworks automation, cost-effectively
streamlines and simplifies operations while supporting HD and SD broadcasts for
seven television stations in the Southwest.

The new
equipment was implemented late in 2008, replacing legacy master controls that
were routed by means of patch bays. Because the previous master controls had
been purchased individually at different times, each worked differently,
resulting in a chaotic work environment and making it hard to train new
operators. The new system and workspace, in contrast, were designed by Ramar
Communications Director of Engineering Tee Thomas to be not only logical and
intuitive but aesthetically pleasing.

“We are like a lot of small-market broadcasters in going multicast, and usually the cost of master-control systems simply kills the budget,” says Thomas. “Utah Scientific is the only company out there that offers a cost-effective solution by integrating routing and master-control switching. At the same time, I would say Utah offers real broadcast support. Instead of charging an arm and a leg for support like a lot of companies do, they offer a 10-year free warranty without service contracts and a commitment to long-term support. There were several challenges that made this project distinctive, and we were under very tight budgetary constraints. Utah came through for us in terms of both service and affordability.”

Ramar
Communications, whose flagship station is Fox affiliate KJTV Lubbock,
integrated a Utah Scientific MCP-2020 master-control panel with eight MC-400
switchers and an embedded UTAH-400 router (V-144R frame, loaded 88×64 3G
HD-SDI), enabling any source to be routed to any destination through master
control. Besides KJTV, Ramar comprises KMYL Lubbock; KLCW Lubbock; Telemundo affiliates KXTQ Lubbock and KTEL Carlsbad, NM; Fox 34 News Now, Lubbock; and
Local 48, a shopping channel for Lubbock.

Two more Utah master-control features enabled Ramar to devise a more streamlined, automated system. First, the MC-400 switchers include a logo generator that integrates into commercial playback so that a logo can be pulled up over a live event without the need for external devices. Another plus is the system’s ability to network the EAS signal over Ethernet, enabling digital satellite receivers in New Mexico to send the EAS signal back to consolidated master control in Lubbock.

The system
also incorporates a standby backup in case of master-control failure. The
workspace is configured as eight side-by-side computer screens, each
representing a different Ramar station plus a spare, across a console facing
multiviewer monitoring.

Because the
master-control switcher is also accessible through a GUI on the Rushworks automation
playback computer, a single person can control all eight operations if
necessary. The multiple software interfaces afford so much flexibility that an
operator can route, switch, and encode all without leaving his or her
chair.

“A lot of smaller broadcasters try to get by with less than optimal routing and master-control systems because they perceive they can’t afford an upgrade,” says Tom Harmon, president/CEO of Utah Scientific. “Tee’s experience demonstrates that a better way is not only possible, it’s affordable and pays off quickly with operational and staffing efficiencies.”

Additional
information can be found at www.utahscientific.com.