Wheat:News March 2023

WHEAT:NEWS March 2023 Volume 14, Number 3


Radio.Cloud and Wheatstone partnership explained.


Finally, something new in the cloud world that you can put your hands on.

We’re referring to our LXE console surface, of course. Now that LXE fixed and Glass LXE surfaces can talk directly to Radio.Cloud’s Live Studio cloud software, we’re getting a lot more handy with cloud control.

Which all goes to say you can now produce live shows entirely in the cloud from your LXE in your studio or a Glass LXE from anywhere in the world.

Radio.Cloud’s Andrew Scaglione and Jim Hammond sat down with our Dee McVicker to explain this hybrid cloud model and why Radio.Cloud, the only cloud-native automation system certified by Amazon Web Services, chose Wheatstone as a technology partner.

Andrew ScaglioneDM: First, explain Radio.Cloud’s cloud-native approach to program automation. I understand this is an all-cloud automation system, from the ground up so to speak.

AS: We are entirely cloud-native and can therefore take advantage of the microservices that AWS has developed. I believe we are the first and only radio playout system that is AWS certified, a lengthy process that means we are a full Amazon Web Services partner. We can take advantage of these very highly developed microservices, like S3 synchronized storage among several data centers and Lambda serverless requests, so there’s a lot less overhead processing data. What would normally take 10 to 15 seconds or even a full minute to process takes us a few milliseconds. That’s only possible because we took the cloud-native approach.

DM: Wait, do you mean that you can incorporate some of those AWS-developed services in radio automation? 

AS: Right. For example, there’s this AWS transcribe microservice that can transcribe all your audio as it’s happening. Transcribe is especially cool because you can now do searches on text and then automatically broadcast content related to that text. You can avoid things like the network jock getting on and saying what a beautiful day it is followed by a local weather report predicting a huge storm. You’re able to look for tag insertion points and with machine learning, automatically put in content relative to that insertion point.

DM: So, you’re able to localize better? 

AS: Not just localize, but hyper-localize because we can do so many more time-sensitive things. Like, a network might have two elements: a national and local element that are woven together in real-time by the cloud, one being a voice track that every affiliate gets and one being the local element that is different by affiliate. We are able to do this seamlessly and automatically, plus they can mix as much local and network into one clock cycle as they want, whether it’s 10 affiliates or 100 affiliates. You really can’t do that with the processing in a server. 

Hammond Headshot

JH: Right. Songs can have multiple intro and end points for each affiliate, and we can also match tempo and mood given the energy of the person talking, and that is all done with machine learning. 

AS: You could probably do all that on a local server, but it wouldn’t be as fast or as good or be as seamless. 

DM: Let’s talk about the live production end of things. Radio.Cloud started with automation in 2018 and recently expanded to Live Studio for live production, which is how Wheatstone got involved. (In February, Wheatstone Announced Partnership with Radio.Cloud, resulting in Live Studio integration into Wheatstone AoIP consoles through our ACI protocol).

JH: One of the reasons for partnering with Wheatstone is so we can bring the cloud down to the broadcaster, to make it easier to interface to the cloud. That was important when we introduced Live Studio because we needed that control that only a console could do, and by extension the AoIP.  The idea was, if you can do it through a network, you can do it through a cloud. 

Integrating Wheatstone’s native AoIP with a cloud-native system like ours makes it so much easier for someone who wants to do a show live from the studio and maybe have a collaborator log in from their browser. Now they can pull up Radio.Cloud on a Glass LXE screen from wherever and control it with the Wheatstone board at the studio. The idea is that if you’re on the go, you can absolutely control it over a browser and can control our system over a touchscreen. But if you are in your home studio or at the station, you now have the ability to control our automation or Live Studio system with your console. You guys are thinking along the same lines as us; you’re also doing a hybrid model of virtual and traditional with virtual screens and fixed consoles, and we both seemed to be of the same mindset and it’s made a good partnership as a result.

This clip shows Radio.Cloud's Live Studio (on the right) interfacing with Wheatstone's Glass LXE virtual console.

DM: Great minds think alike! Before I move on from live production, I have to ask about latency.  What can you tell us about delay as it relates to live mixing in a cloud scenario? 

AS: Low latency is another advantage of being cloud-native. We can get that delay down to milliseconds and if we were to control a work surface console in your environment from our environment, you would actually see it happen in what you would perceive to be real time. We also are able to do a mix-minus of your voice so you don’t hear that in your headphone. 

DM: That’s amazing. I can see why this is going to be a game changer for so many broadcasters. But it is an entirely new way of operating, so I can imagine it’s going to require some change. 

JH: There are so many cool things we can do but we also recognize that a lot of this is new and broadcasters don’t want to jump in with both feet and go full virtual at first. And that’s okay because we can adapt our software to interface with existing equipment. A recent example is a customer in Pennsylvania who has a news talk station and an AC station, which is using an Audioarts console, by the way. We’re going to be “hybriding’ it for a while so they can continue to do live shows on their existing system and run the whole rest of the station automated through Radio.Cloud. The talk station has five satellites with racks and racks of equipment. We mirrored their entire setup until they’re ready to flip the switch over to us, and when that happens, they’ll be able to get rid of 95 percent of the cables and wires in the rackroom and maybe a few servers that are just sitting around. It’s a step-by-step approach. There is the ability to be able to make this change without going from A to B overnight. 

DM: The all-in approach to cloud is probably overly ambitious for most broadcasters, who tell us they want that control, whether it’s a glass or fixed console surface or a combination of both. Maybe the first step in is automation? 

JH: The center of the broadcast operation is still the control surface, whether it’s software or hardware. That’s the key to being able to bring in the sources you want, being able to control the levels, and being able to switch over to a remote site. But automation is a different deal. I can tell you from being in automation for a long time (Jim’s background goes back to his Scott automation days), it’s a tremendous capital expense to buy an automation system and every time you add an enhancement on to a terrestrial based system, you have to update to the latest i5, i7 or Pentium dual-core, or whatever. Now we’re up to Xeon Gold with 32 gigs of RAM just to do the basic stuff. Even incremental features have started to outdate the hardware and while some of those prices have gone down, the fact that you have to buy them hasn’t. It’s an ongoing expense directly related to the level of functionality of that system. But with a cloud automation system, you’re continually getting an updated system that you don’t have to house in tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of hardware. If we can combine that with control at the console like what we’re doing with your LXE, that’s something that is going to make a difference in opex and functionality without having to give up the control that is so important to broadcasters. 

DM: Jim, Andrew, I get a feeling we’ll be talking again real soon… like, in a few weeks. I’ll see you both at the NAB show next month, and to our readers, I hope you stop by our booth, W3000, for a demonstration of Live Studio and LXE in action. Thanks, Jim and Andrew. 



Coming up at the NAB Broadcast Engineering and IT Conference (BEITC), Wheatstone’s John Davis will be going over key considerations for migrating your studio to cloud. If you’re at NAB, don’t miss it.  Sunday, April 16, from 2:10 pm to 2:30 pm, West Hall, W216-W218.


QAQ: We’re adding a new talent team for one of our stations. Most of our talent use VoxPro for call-ins, and we’d like to add one or two more VoxPros for our new talent team. How easy will it be to network them?

A: Very. You can network together all VoxPro audio recorder/editors, or just a select few to make it easier to share files and collaborate on shows. In fact, you can network VoxPro into your WheatNet-IP audio network to bring in sources and route final cuts to the console. Integrating VoxPro into the studio network gives you more tools at your fingertips during editing and recording, including control for routing, salvos and playback tallies with end warning flash.

You can be selective in determining which remote VoxPro workstations will be allowed to share accounts with specific computers. For example, clusters of VoxPro workstations belonging to one station can be logically separated from those belonging to a different station while keeping everyone on the same network. VoxPro has several functions for collaboration purposes and tools for protecting files during multiple user access so there is no danger of file corruption. And, as is standard in all Wheatstone networked systems, network setup is easy. Simply put two or more computers running VoxPro on the network, and they automatically find each other, swap information and connect.


Boston Terrier Carmine

We used to joke that radio is made up of the same eight people wearing different hats.

Then we met Paul B. Walker.

Paul wears all the hats for KSKO 89.5 in McGrath, Alaska, with occasional help from a part-time DJ and his Boston Terrier Carmine, shown in front of a Wheatstone E1 console in the above photo. 

Actually, he wears all the hats for KSKO and seven fully licensed frequencies that rebroadcast KSKO in communities spread across 600 miles. Kuskokwim Public Broadcasting owns KSKO and is, as our friend Scott Fybush would say, a ‘nominally’ NPR station. It’s commercial free and picks up the usual NPR fare like Car Talk and the Rick Steves show, but it is, at its core, a home grown public radio station.

Which is why Walker wears so many hats. 

He’s the first to know when the KSKO internet goes down or if a Barix box is glitchy on one of the seven other fully licensed frequencies, all located in major villages over a stretch of remote Alaskan wilderness (each is fed with satellite internet using a Comrex Briclink and each transmitter has satellite internet or wireless internet from GCI and picks up the feed using a Barix box). 

He also reads the school lunch menu, announces birthdays, passes on personal messages to listeners and is on emergency speed dial by the state trooper and city administrators. KSKO is considered an essential part of the disaster recovery and emergency plan by the city of McGrath. When large ice chunks dammed up the nearby river and flooded the town last year, Paul was the first one the city called to get the word out. He was on the air that night and throughout the next day, serving the community.

Paul Walker

“We have many out here with no internet and or no TV, so we are their sole source of a connection to the outside world,” said Walker, shown in the above image behind the Wheatstone E1 console. (And, yes, he has a vinyl collection).

Aside from a part time local DJ, who plays everything from Garth Brooks and the Beatles to the Carpenters and Judas Priest, it’s pretty much Walker running the show at KSKO. He covers Christmas plays, does live book readings with school kids on the radio several times a year, and if there’s a visiting government official, there's a good chance Walker is on the air with them and asking questions. That’s McGrath Mayor Ralph Morgan at the controls of the E1 console, below.

McGrath Mayor Ralph Morgan

He broadcasts several fundraising events a year plus a live two-day music festival. All while managing the transmissions and logistics of airing a syndicated classic country music show, a yacht rock music show, programs for children (The Childrens House and KidJam Radio from WAPS-HD 3 Akron, OH) and a few NPR programs. 

Walker does all this and so much as a staff of one, which is why he has earned one of our coveted Wheatstone Radio Engineer caps. Our hat’s off to you, Paul!


A03 Whole Enchilada

You might have heard us talking about enchiladas lately.

Specifically, the whole enchilada as it relates to the FM MPX signal and our 24-bit megaplexer, Wheatstone SystemLink™.

We can explain.

As we all know, the composite MPX signal with stereo pilot and RDS is packaged in the AES192 format, or AES sampled at 192kHz. That digitized package is sent from the studio in its entirety across the studio-to-transmitter link and received by the AES192-capable exciter at the transmitter. The whole MPX enchilada requires about 2 to 4 Mbps, and that’s not even including the HD or the HD/FM alignment detail that most FMs in the U.S. carry these days.  

Previously, STLs and IP links weren’t up to speed. But with today’s fiber optic, 5G and other high-speed links, we can now get 100 Mbps or more across these links - more than enough for the whole enchilada.

Future internet speed predictions


Which brings us to the whole enchilada and SystemLink.

SystemLink is a 24-bit megaplexer for transporting linear audio and the entire FM MPX signal, including RDS, pilot and FM/HD alignment, across high-speed links. At 24-bit resolution, SystemLink is able to get across the detail necessary for high quality audio. 

SystemLink is an important piece of the “audio processing in a cloud” puzzle because it can deliver high-quality, 24-bit MPX across high-speed links from cloud data centers to the transmitter site. It has been in use by our X5 FM/HD and MP-532 audio processing customers as a 24-bit MPX option and as a way to keep HD and FM signals in sync from the processor at the studio straight through to the receiver in the transmitter. 

SystemLink is now an option in our Layers Software Suite as the MPX output of the Layers FM module, which includes multiband processing, PPM watermarking and full RDS capabilities as instances in an onsite server or off-site at cloud data centers. SystemLink is also available for most Wheatstone audio processing units, including our flagship X5 FM/HD audio processor and our multiprocessor, the MP-532




Stop by NAB booth W3000 in the West Hall to see how easy it is to produce live content in the cloud by tracking Radio.Cloud’s Live Studio software, fader by fader, with our LXE glass and fixed console surfaces

We’ll also be introducing a few other handy additions to the WheatNet-IP audio network, and we have a few surprises in store for you on the audio processing front, too. 

You know where to find us. West Hall, W3000. If you haven’t registered yet, register free on us. Go to www.nabshow.com/2023 and type in code LV4588. 

We hope you'll come along with us at Club Wheat by clicking on the SUBSCRIBE button below to begin receiving Wheat News in your email inbox every month.

The Wheatstone online store is now open! You can purchase demo units, spare cards, subassemblies, modules and other discontinued or out-of-production components for Wheatstone, Audioarts, and VoxPro products online, or call Wheatstone customer support at 252-638-7000 or contact the Wheatstone technical support team online as usual. 

The store is another convenience at wheatstone.com, where you can access product manuals, white papers and tutorials as well as technical and discussion forums such as our AoIP Scripters Forum

Compare All of Wheatstone's Remote Solutions

REMIXWe've got remote solutions for virtually every networkable console we've built in the last 20 years or so. For basic volume, on/off, bus assign, logic, it's as easy as running an app either locally with a good VPN, or back at the studio, using a remote-access app such as Teambuilder to run.

Remote Solutions Video Demonstrations

Jay Tyler recently completed a series of videos demonstrating the various solutions Wheatstone offers for remote broadcasting.

Click for a Comparison Chart of All Wheatstone Remote Software Solutions


Curious about how the modern studio has evolved in an IP world? Virtualization of the studio is WAY more than tossing a control surface on a touch screen. With today's tools, you can virtualize control over almost ANYTHING you want to do with your audio network. This free e-book illustrates what real-world engineers and radio studios are doing. Pretty amazing stuff.

AdvancingAOIP E BookCoverAdvancing AOIP for Broadcast

Putting together a new studio? Updating an existing studio? This collection of articles, white papers, and brand new material can help you get the most out of your venture. Best of all, it's FREE to download!


IP Audio for TV Production and Beyond


For this FREE e-book download, we've put together this e-book with fresh info and some of the articles that we've authored for our website, white papers, and news that dives into some of the cool stuff you can do with a modern AoIP network like Wheatstone's WheatNet-IP. 

Got feedback or questions? Click my name below to send us an e-mail. You can also use the links at the top or bottom of the page to follow us on popular social networking sites and the tabs will take you to our most often visited pages.

-- Uncle Wheat, Editor

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