New Orleans PBS Affiliate Upgrades with Utah Scientific Router

New Orleans’ PBS affiliate WLAE has installed a Utah Scientific UTAH-400 V-288R digital routing switcher along with Utah control and master control systems as part of an upgrade that includes multichannel digital master control. The new router has replaced a 15-year-old analog router, also manufactured by Utah Scientific, that survived being swamped by Hurricane Katrina.

“Our decision to go with Utah Scientific this time was dictated by our past experience with the company,” says Dave Snowdy, facility technical officer for WLAE. “We’ve had two previous Utah routers, and even beyond their 10-year, no-cost warranty, Utah Scientific has continued to help us with parts and support. As a result, their equipment just keeps on going — even in the event of natural disaster.”

WLAE had just installed a digital transmitter and received a grant to support further automation of its broadcast facility in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit. The new transmitter was swamped, and then, after the roof blew away, most of the studio equipment was soaked. Weeks went by before anything was salvaged, and at that point one of the few items that could be dried out and put back into service was the 10-year-old UTAH-300 router.

“We build our routers to last — as our industry-leading, 10-year, no-fee warranty implies — so it’s very rewarding to hear that this one stood up to a hurricane,” says Tom Harmon, president and CEO of Utah Scientific. “Like all of New Orleans, WLAE suffered a huge setback when Katrina struck, but with its new state-of-the-art facility, the station is showing the kind of resilience that makes a city, or a broadcaster, great.”

The new UTAH-400 was chosen to be at the core of the current facility upgrade because it supports system-wide flexibility, with each I/O capable of routing either SD or HD signals.

In addition to the UTAH-400 router (loaded 128×128 3G HD/SD), WLAE’s new Utah Scientific deployment includes the company’s SC-4 controller, MC-400P master control with integrated emergency alert system (EAS) and logo insertion, and Utah’s Softpanel-2 control panel software.

WLAE is currently broadcasting three streams, including some programming for sister station WLPB in Baton Rouge, making it one of the first stations in its region to perform multistream broadcasting. The new master control enables WLAE to cut into feeds easily and automatically for branding, logo insertion, EAS, and promos. WLAE went on air with the Utah Scientific equipment in January, just in time for the home team victory in Super Bowl XLIV.