WAFF-Huntsville Makes HD Leap with Snell’s Kahuna Switcher

WAFF 48, an NBC affiliate serving the Huntsville, AL, market (DMA #80), is among the latest members of the Raycom Media station group to launch its HD newscast using Snell’s Kahuna multi-format HD/SD production switcher. The Kahuna switcher is the centerpiece in a major HD upgrade for the WAFF broadcasting facility, which includes an upgraded news studio and set, control room, and edit bays.

“Since the installation of our Snell Kahuna last fall, our entire directing staff has been impressed with its reliability and usability,” says J.T. Harriman, chief engineer at WAFF. “Thanks to Kahuna, we were able to make a quantum leap in technology, moving from full-analog standard definition to completely digital high definition. We needed equipment that was easy-to-learn, intuitive, and would stand up to the rigorous daily routine of very busy daily newscasts. Kahuna was a great choice for us, and it has performed exceedingly well.”

WAFF produces more than seven hours of live, multi-element newscasts every weekday from its new production control room, in addition to weekend programs and preproduction and postproduction activities. WAFF news directors take advantage of the Kahuna switcher’s multiple-user capabilities and panel configurations, which they can easily navigate and modify on-the-fly to change users and configurations quickly. Different operators are able to save their own personal settings for each individual newscast, and they can load their preferences and presets without jeopardizing the next newscast.

“The Kahuna allows us to do so much more than we could previously,” says Harriman. “Now, we can do with a single box what used to require a lot of outboard devices and processing gear, and Kahuna’s director-friendly features, such as the graphical user interface and quick macro settings, have really boosted our news production processes.”

Kahuna’s multi-format capabilities are also integral to the WAFF operation, as the station is continuing to rely on SD sources for some aspects of its HD broadcasts, including all ENG and satellite live shots. The switcher can automatically convert these SD streams to 16:9 widescreen format to provide consistency with the HD content.

“WAFF is the nineteenth Raycom station to select Kahuna and we’re proud to have our switcher play such an important role in the group’s transition to HD news production,” says President of Snell Americas Jonathan Goldstein. “Through years of hard work, WAFF has built a stellar reputation for news in the Huntsville market. The move to HD with Kahuna will give the station an even greater competitive edge.”