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Blog Central

Live Mixing for Engineers with Larry Wilkins

Posted by Kirk Harnack [TWiRT] on Jul 17, 2015 3:49:00 PM

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TWiRT 264More radio stations and larger podcasters are building and using performance studios. Mixing live audio is once again a needed skill. Indeed, it’s critical for the performers’ monitors, in-studio audience, and for the live broadcast itself. Larry Wilkins is retired from a broadcast engineering career and now teaching the fundamentals and the fine points of live audio mixing.

 

 

 

 

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Kirk Harnack: This Week in Radio Tech, Episode 264 is brought to you by AXIA and the new AXIA Fusion AoIP audio console. By the new Omnia VOCO 8, 8-channel mic preamp and voice processor with Dominate-it technology. And by Lawo and the crystalCLEAR virtual radio console. CrystalCLEAR is the console with the multi-touch touch screen interface.

More radio stations and larger broadcasters are building and using performance studios. Mixing live audio is once again a needed skill. Indeed, it's critical for the performers' monitors, in-studio audience, and for the live broadcast itself. Larry Wilkins retired from a broadcast-engineering career and now teaching the fundamentals and the fine points of live audio mixing.

Kirk: Hey, welcome in to This Week in Radio Tech. I'm Kirk Harnack, your host, and hey, today we've got a technical problem back at the network, and so Chris Tobin is not going to be with us. We're [inaudible 00:00:59-00:01:01] glitch that we're going to work on and hopefully have that back for you next week. So I really want to thank Andrew Zarian, also, for working on this problem. We're going to get it corrected.

All right, so it's me along with our guest. Thank goodness we have a guest. Who'd want to hear an hour of me? This is my good friend Larry Wilkins. Hi Larry.

Larry Wilkins: Hiya, how's everything?

Kirk: Fantastic. Are you still from Montgomery, Alabama?

Larry: Well, sort of. I'm from Prattville, which is...

Kirk: Prattville. Okay.

Larry: ...which is about 10 miles from Montgomery.

Kirk: I've heard of Prattville. I listen to our friend James Spann.

Larry: Yes.

Kirk: He does the WeatherBrains podcast...

Larry: He does.

Kirk: ...and he talks about Prattville every now and then.

Larry: "Pratt-veal."

Kirk: Prattville.

Larry: We call it "Pratt-veal."

Kirk: Pratt-veal.

Larry: Yeah.

Kirk: Okay.

Larry: We're in L.A. now. Lower Alabama.

Kirk: Lower Alabama, yeah, that's right. He just have a weather cam there or something, because he talks about it often enough that [inaudible 00:01:45]

Larry: Oh, he has at least one down there, yeah.

Kirk: Okay. All right. Well, you're watching This Week in Radio Tech and we do talk about radio, not about weather, not usually, and not always about Prattville, Alabama.

We're talking about, with Larry Wilkins, though, about a variety of things, and Larry is one of these guys that, if you are blessed to have Larry as your mentor, you're doing well. Larry's been in broadcasting for what, how long have you been doing this?

Larry: When was dirt invented?

Kirk: Okay.

Larry: I'm not remembering. I started in 1960.

Kirk: Okay.

Larry: That's a long time ago.

Kirk: Yeah. They had tubes back then.

Larry: Sort of.

Kirk: Yeah. You had tube consoles, didn't you?

Larry: We did.

Kirk: Man.

Larry: Everything was tubes.

Kirk: I tore some tube consoles out but I never put any in.

Larry: In the wintertime it was really neat. You could go over and warm yourself around the transmitter and the console.

Kirk: So what we're going to get into on this edition of This Week in Radio Tech, Larry's going to share some stories with us and a few engineering ideas from his many years, decades actually, of broadcast engineering work. He's also going to tell us about the Alabama Broadcasters Association and their schools that they run, their seminars. Some of them run multiple days.

He is actually here in Nashville, Tennessee with me because he's doing an hour-long seminar about live mixing. It's a seminar for [inaudible 00:03:03-00:03:04] engineers, and engineers don't usually deal with mixing. So he's going to be talking about that in just about a couple hours right here to a group of engineers at… we're at our usual location, the Piccadilly Restaurant on Murfreesboro Road in Nashville.

So let's get started with our show, and our show is brought to you in part by the folks at AXIA and the AXIA Fusion console. So without further ado, I want to see if we can get the network to roll this wonderful introduction to the AXIA Fusion console. You hang on, because we're going to be back with Larry Wilkins in just a minute.

Clark Novak: Hi, I'm Clark Novak from AXIA Audio, and I'm here to introduce you to the new Fusion AoIP mixing console, the newest modular AoIP console from AXIA, the company that invented AoIP for broadcast in 2003. Let's take a quick look at some of the unique features found only in Fusion.

The first thing you'll notice is that Fusion is really beautiful. Fusion's clean, crisp new look isn't just for show, though. It's a result of years of conversations with engineers and talent about how they work inside the radio studio.

Above the faders you'll find keys for making fast bus assignments. Below the faders are individual phone and talkback switches that allow you to take control of conversations in the control room. More on those a bit later.

Notice how brightly those keys light up? Fusion uses LED lighting everywhere to make it easy to see when controls are active. And the faders themselves are super-premium 100-millimeter conductive plastic. AXIA sourced them specially because they're specifically built to keep out dirt, liquids, and airborne particulates that could ruin lesser faders.

Fusion gives you tons of information, from confidence meters on every channel input to talkback tallies that confirm your off-air communications with talent inside or outside the plant, to the information-rich monitor panel that lets operators view up to six program meters at once, even while making adjustments to individual-input settings.

Fusion is easy to use. Press this options knob at the top of the fader strip to get instant access to adjustments for that channel, like pan and balance, EQ adjustments with a graphical curve display, Omnia voice processing settings, input-gain trim, and much more.

Fusion's full-featured monitor module gives instant control of headphones and monitors for control-room guests or adjacent studio talent. There's also a keypad that allows: direct dialing of Telos phone systems; one-touch access to Fusion's powerful Show Profiles feature; another one-touch key to activate the indispensable record mode and four programmable user keys that can be used to trigger routing changes, send GPIO commands to recording or other devices, or interface with your profanity delay. A handy feature when trouble strikes and you don't have time to hunt for a dump button in a rack someplace.

Fusion can be custom-ordered in frame sizes that support from 8 to 40 faders in single or multiple-linked frames. This universal 4-fader module is the building block of any Fusion console. Then there's this call controller module that puts full control of advanced Telos multi-line phone systems right on the console, enhancing operator workflow.

These 10- and 20-station intercom modules integrate seamlessly with console mics and monitors. Simply push a button and converse with the remote station using the board mic and preview speaker or headphones.

To control outboard devices, trigger scene changes, or routing salvos or execute complex events, program using AXIA Pathfinder routing control products. These 10-button modules are available in economical single-function Film-Cap, or dynamic, context-sensitive SmartSwitch versions.

There's even a space-saving monitor module with 2 faders, to help maximize fader count in tight situations.

Of course, Fusion's power supply is telecom grade, sourced with components designed for maximum up time and extended duty cycles in harsh environments. They're fanless, cooled by massive cast heat sinks, for complete studio silence. Redundant-power backup is an available option.

Hookup? Couldn't be easier. One Ethernet cable connects Fusion to your studio network. That's it.

We hope you've enjoyed this introduction to AXIA Fusion. To find out more about the other powerful features in Fusion, please watch the other videos in this series. We'll see you next time.

Kirk: And thanks to AXIA Audio for sponsoring This Week in Radio Tech. All right, we're back and we're here with Larry Wilkins. Larry, during the break you were telling me about a couple of things you're doing right now. You're responsible for what, the Alternative Inspection Program?

Larry: That's right. I wear a number of hats.

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: I'm the director of the Engineering Academy at Birmingham, and then also do the alternative inspections in Alabama for both radio and television, and then I'm also EAS chair.

Kirk: Oh gosh.

Larry: So I look after the EAS and make sure that everybody's doing that they're supposed to do around the state, so it's a full ‘I'm retired,’ but I'm actually… People say, "Wow, you're busier now than you were before you retired." And I say, "Well yeah, that's true, but there's no stress."

Kirk: Here's what we're going to do in terms of what's on the show. For the second half of the show, after the next commercial, we're going to get into what Larry teaches about [inaudible 00:08:34-00:08:36] share some of that information with us. But let's get that set up by telling us, you have a couple interesting stories about getting started in broadcast engineering. How'd you fall into this?

Larry: Well, it was sort of a weird thing. I was in the speech class at the high school in Enterprise. I graduated from Enterprise and L.A., Lower Alabama...

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: ...and I was in the speech class and we did a little 15-minute program on the local AM station, and we did it from the library. It was on Friday, and I was sort of, I guess, in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I got assigned the job as the engineer. So I would set it up and the rest of the folks would do the program. Well, that's back in the days when you could talk back and forth on the line. We called it the loop, back and forth to the station.

Kirk: Oh, okay.

Larry: And then Alistair [sounds like 00:09:20] invited me out to the station. He said, "You need to come out one day and I'll show you around." I said, "Hey, cool, I'll do that." So I went out there and I was wandering around, he was showing me, and the owner came in. The first thing he said, he said, "You interested in radio?" I said, "Well yeah, I am." He said, "You want a job?"

Kirk: Okay. [Inaudible 00:09:38], right?

Larry: I said, "Doing what?" He said, "I need somebody that will work on Sunday, run the board on Sunday." I said, "Oh, yeah, I'd love to do that." Well, I didn't know that he meant all day. In the wintertime we signed off at 4:45, which this was a daytime AM. So we signed off at 4:45, which was okay. But in the summertime, it was like 8:30. So that made for a long, long day. So that was actually how I got started in broadcasting, working all day on Sunday on a daytime AM.

Kirk: Running the board. Now there was another engineer for the station as I recall.

Larry: Oh yes, there was a retired colonel, and he was sort of my mentor. I guess if I had a mentor growing up, he was a really sharp engineer, an old fellow, about like me now. He was a very good engineer and I sort of tagged along behind him to sort of learn, and he started helping me and telling me what he was doing and how he was doing.

I tell you what he did, and this is an interesting story. This was long before computers. This is back when you had a 360 Underwood. [Audio drops out 00:10:36-00:10:37] the Underwood.

Kirk: Oh, the Underwood, yeah.

Larry: Well, and he said, "You need to get your FCC license," which you had to do at that time. He came in with 25 typed pages of sample questions for the test that he had taken time to type up. I thought that was just really that was nice of him to do that. So if we'd had computers back then it would have been easier...

Kirk: Sure.

Larry: ...but he actually sat down at his Underwood and typed them out. So...

Kirk: Wow.

Larry: But that's where I got my engineer's [inaudible 00:11:05-00:11:06] tagging along behind him.

Kirk: So what actually sparked that interest in, well, how do things work and how do they break and how can I understand how to fix them?

Larry: Because I tore up everything at the house. My grandparents had a real, one of those floor model, short-wave radios that picked up everything from DC to light...

Kirk: Okay.

Larry: ...and I used to go there and I would tune around and I would listen to all these stations, from overseas and local, and always tried to figure out how it worked. I don't [inaudible 00:11:35-00:11:37]... because I actually started tinkering with it to see what it did.

So I guess it just was a bug that I had to learn the technical side of it to see the board… operating the board was okay and that was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it, but I wanted to see what happened after it left the microphone, before it got to the person's house. That's what intrigued me.

Kirk: So I take it, was your transmitter site not co-located with the studio? It was elsewhere? Or was it [inaudible 00:12:02]?

Larry: Well, no, initially it was right there.

Kirk: Okay.

Larry: That's another funny story. You remember… You don't, because you're not that old, but they used to have PSAs for the Guard and people like that that came in on disk.

Kirk: Okay.

Larry: This was a long time ago. And they were huge disks and they were dated, and you could only play them once because they were dated. Our tower was a self-supporting tower which had really wide legs, and it was sitting right out behind the building. And when we'd get through playing those PSAs, we would go out there, or I would, and try to sail them like [inaudible 00:12:35] through the [inaudible 00:12:36] the tower, and see if I could do it without hitting the leg of the tower.

Kirk: All right.

Larry: I always wondered what happened when they built homes back there. I wondered what people wondered, what in the world are all these records doing out here?

Kirk: Oh, they were just laying out in the field?

Larry: Oh yeah, they were just, I'd just fly them through the...

Kirk: Okay.

Larry: And then we went to tape

Kirk: Okay.

Larry: where they started sending things in on tape, and...

Kirk: Tapes don't fly as well as disks, [inaudible 00:13:01]

Larry: No, they don't fly as well. I always remember the Navy used to send in a tape on a seven-inch reel of audio tape, for those of you who remember audio tape. If you opened it up, on the cover of the box there was a picture of a little sailor. And he was down on his knees praying, and he says, "Please Mr. Broadcaster, please send our tape back." Because a lot of stations kept them and they used them to cut...

Kirk: Used them for their own purposes, yeah.

Larry: ...for their own purposes, yeah, so...

Kirk: Oh gosh.

Larry: So people that were not around in those days really missed [inaudible 00:13:35-00:13:37] for broadcast. Here's my question.

Kirk: Okay.

Larry: Maybe some of your listeners will know.

Kirk: All right.

Larry: This has always bugged me, and I'm 72 years old now and I still don't know the answer. Why was "The Baptist Hour" only 30 minutes?

Kirk: You know, I was going to ask you a similar question, actually, because when I started in broadcasting on the air in, I guess it was the late '70s, one of the shows we received on disk, on vinyl, was "The Lutheran Hour." And it was 25 minutes.

Larry: I guess it sounded better than "The Baptist 30 Minutes." That doesn't really, just doesn't have a ring to it.

Kirk: Yeah, well the same thing for "The Lutheran Hour."

Larry: That's right.

Kirk: And of course I'm told that both of these shows used to be an hour...

Larry: Yes.

Kirk: …and then it turned out economically and every other way they found out that you know, "We can get it done in half-an-hour", so...

Larry: I'm going to just tell you another funny story that I heard. Mike Huckabee was...

Kirk: And by the way, he owns some radio stations.

Larry: He did, yeah, and he probably does.

Kirk: He does now, he still does.

Larry: And he asked [inaudible 00:14:35-00:14:37] radio [inaudible 00:14:37]. And I was involved in the building, getting started a Christian radio station in Montgomery a number of years ago, Faith Radio Network they call it now. When they had their 25th anniversary, they invited Mike Huckabee down to do the speech.

He told us a lot of stories about starting in radio, one of the funniest ones I've ever heard in my life. He said, "Those of you who've never worked in radio on Sunday mornings may or may not know that typically you have a lot of preachers come in on Sunday morning, and they would pay their money and they would go in and do their 15 minutes with their preaching and then somebody else would come in and pay their money and do 15 minutes." Well, he said that they did that on the little station, and matter of fact it was the same town, I think, that Bill Clinton lived in...

Kirk: Hope, Arkansas.

Larry: Hope, Arkansas.

Kirk: Hope, Arkansas, that's right.

Larry: He had all these preachers coming in, and there was one time during the day [audio skips 00:15:36] all the little services that there was a 15-minute program of a cappella music by Hardeman College.

Kirk: Okay. All right.

Larry: So he goes out and pulls the tape out of the little slot – this is where all the tapes are stored – and he brings it back in and loads it up on the old Magnecorder and cues it up, which he had to explain to everybody in the audience because they didn't know what "cue up" means. He said, "I just rode it, I heard the song and moved it back, and then when it came time to play it, I pushed the play button, turned the monitor down, and listened to some rock and roll music in cue because I didn't want to sit there and listen to that a cappella music for 15 minutes. And about two minutes into this show."

Kirk: I'm going to guess there was something wrong with what he was playing and not listening to.

Larry: That's right.

Kirk: All right. What was it?

Larry: The phone rang about two minutes into it and it was the station owner.

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: He said, "What is that doing on the air?" So he turned it up and unbeknownst to Mike, the Hardeman college not only used a 15-minute program of a capella Christian music, they also did a program talking about fishing in Arkansas. So for the last two or three minutes, he had been telling where the crawfish was biting in Arkansas.

Kirk: Oh my goodness. Well, some people do pray for better fishing.

Larry: That's right, yes.

Kirk: That's great.

Larry: So don't turn the monitor down.

Kirk: You know, I actually had something a little similar happen to me. I was working in commercial radio, the first commercial station I worked at, WEKY in Richmond, Kentucky. [Audio drops out 00:17:12] called it WEKY but it was Eastern Kentucky, E-K-Y. It was an AM station, a full timer on one of those graveyard channels, 1340.

Larry: Oh yeah. On the right-hand side of your dial.

Kirk: Yeah, and at night you could see, you could be seven or eight miles away from the tower, you could see the tower and you couldn't pick up the radio station.

Larry: Right.

Kirk: It was one of those.

Larry: I've seen those.

Kirk: So much interference on that frequency. But anyway [inaudible 00:17:35] I worked at [inaudible 00:17:36] after school, and this was the disco era. So we were playing disco music on an AM radio station, and one of the big disco hits that we were playing was, Dolly Parton had actually one or two disco-paced hits.

Larry: I didn't know that.

Kirk: And they were sent out from the record companies on pink vinyl, hot pink vinyl. And this vinyl, they were the size of an album, but they were a 45.

Larry: Oh.

Kirk: So you didn't have to change the speed on the turntable, because we played 45s. And then I guess that the top, the heavy rotation stuff we played on cart. But everything else we played on 45s.

So I was on the phone, talking to my girlfriend at the time, and I threw this Dolly Parton thing over there and I cued it up, got it cued up on the record player. And of course, because it was one of these album-sized things, I put the turntable to [inaudible 00:18:35] three and played it. And totally unaware that it was going ‘baaaay…’, the song was "Baby I'm Burning."

Larry: Oh.

Kirk: ‘Baby, I'm…’, and so for the next anyway, it's like a six-minute song, but now it's a nine-minute song...

Larry: Sound like J.D. Sumner.

Kirk: Exactly. "Baby I'm burn-ing." I don't think Dolly appreciated that. So I hung up with my girlfriend on the phone and I realized uh-oh, I've played this whole thing at the wrong speed. Oh well. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to...

Larry: No, no, no.

Kirk: …interrupt. So...

Larry: Did you ever learn that you were supposed to put a penny – you had a penny and a nickel and a quarter laying on there?

Kirk: Oh yeah, next to the turntable.

Larry: And yeah, and depending on how bad the record was warped...

Kirk: Warped.

Larry: You would put a penny or a nickel or a quarter...

Kirk: Yes. Yes.

Larry: On the tone arm, that's right.

Kirk: I worked at an FM station where we bought some new phono preamps and we had what was at the time, well, it was an Auditronics audio console and this would have been in about 1982, and the [inaudible 00:19:35] still playing albums on the air at that time. CDs had not quite come out. Although I installed the first CD players there, they hadn't quite come out yet. So they'd be playing albums and we didn't quite have a DC-coupled path all the way to the processor.

The processor was an Orban 8000 at that time, and it had transformer inputs. But if the record was warped, you would get enough really low frequency energy that the station would be playing and all of a sudden it would… and then it would come back because it was the warp of the DC...

Larry: Oh yeah.

Kirk: Fooling the processor into thinking that there was energy there. Well, we kicked in the high pass filter on the processor and solved that problem.

Larry: There were some transmitters that used to do that. If there were some low notes in the transmitter, the AFC would unlock and excite and the transmitter would go off.

Kirk: On the FM transmitters.

Larry: Yes. That's right. So they were...

Kirk: Yeah, yeah. They had to fix that problem...

Larry: That's right.

Kirk: …with really strong bass cable.

Larry: Or don't ever play that record again.

Kirk: Actually, that problem occurred when we got off of vinyl, because on vinyl, bass had to be center channel. You couldn't [inaudible 00:20:36] left, right, highly separated bass because of the way the groove works. But with CDs, you could.

Larry: That's right.

Kirk: So we started getting left, right. So then we started getting, well, not only the bass you're talking about but we'd also get then a lot more energy in the L-minus arm, because you're getting bass in the L-minus arm component.

Larry: And it would mess up the AFC...

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: …and some exciters and everything. Here, you mentioned carts. See, I started way before carts. I started before even reel-to-reels, when it was all live copy.

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: But the first reel-to-reels were the O Maggies [SP].

Kirk: Okay.

Larry: And I don't know… do you know what an O Maggie is?

Kirk: No.

Larry: Oh, but you are a young whippersnapper, aren't you? A Maggie corder – just was a little rack-mounted unit – and you could only put like a little three-inch reel – all our commercials were on three-inch reels.

Kirk: Right.

Larry: They were on a board that had nails in it.

Kirk: Wait, this is how you played them back live on the...

Larry: That's right, that's right. Everything was recorded on a little three-inch reel.

Kirk: Oh, man.

Larry: Now we had two Maggies, so we could play spots back...

Kirk: You were skipping out all the time to that board with all the reels on it...

Larry: Oh, yeah.

Kirk: …to cue them up. That's like they used to do in T [inaudible 00:21:35-00:21:37] the videotape would [inaudible 00:21:38].

Larry: Right. The problem with it was with only two units, if you had three spots in a break...

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: You had rewind and load in a hurry...

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: The first one, before the second one ran out.

Kirk: And you had to rewind.

Larry: Yeah, you had to rewind and put the other one on there, and...

Kirk: My goodness.

Larry: Because if you left it tails out, then somebody else would try to play it and it would go backwards.

Kirk: Go backwards, yeah.

Larry: I've had that happen.

Kirk: And the sponsor wouldn't pay for it if it went backwards.

Larry: That's right.

Kirk: Oh my goodness. Now, did you ever use a Cue-Mat machine?

Larry: A Cue Max machine.

Kirk: Cue-Mat.

Larry: No.

Kirk: I never did, either, but an engineer in Jackson, Tennessee, told me about they bought some Cue-Mat machines. They had, they were kind of like a dictation machine. They had this big belt of...

Larry: Oh, oh...

Kirk: …and you would, they had a...

Larry: The head moved across.

Kirk: …mechanically indexed head...

Larry: Right, right.

Kirk: …that you would move across [inaudible 00:22:27]. Okay. We're going to do the AT&T commercial, and it's on track 23, so you'd move the thing across to index it at 23, you'd lock it in, and then when it's time to play you'd hit start and this big belt would roll and play the track 23.

Larry: You may not know this, but those are still in use, a version of that, at WWV.

Kirk: Oh, for the time?

Larry: When the time comes on, it's a big tape...

Kirk: You mean that guy's not there all the time?

Larry: Well, he has to get off every once in a while, you know. But they have a… the picture I saw and the video I saw of it was like that, because it was a really wide tape and it would play that. It's sort of like the old automation system that had the big cart that had all the one of them the even times on it...

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: …and one had the odds...

Kirk: Yes, yes, yeah.

Larry: …and they would go. Well, WWV actually has a wide tape and it indexes across.

Kirk: You don't think they've digitized that by that?

Larry: Well...

Kirk: You know who we should ask.

Larry: I don't think so.

Kirk: I wish he was on the show. Tom Ray...

Larry: Yeah, yeah.

Kirk: …who used to be a regular on the show...

Larry: Yes.

Kirk: …he stopped by there for a visit, and he reported to us on this on a previous show, and honestly, I don't remember...

Larry: Yeah.

Kirk: …if he said they were digitized or still using tape. I would have been really surprised if they were still using tape, but who knows, they might.

Larry: The video I saw, it was still a tape.

Kirk: Yeah, yeah.

Larry: I thought that was really, really weird. The other machine that I had, and I can't even remember what the brand was, but it was a huge reel of tape and it had 60 seconds worth of tape and then a clear window and 60 seconds worth of tape, and clear window. So you would have like maybe 30 spots on one reel of tape. It would play and then it would stop when the window came up. The problem was if you played maybe cut 12, and the next one that it was scheduled to play was cut 20, it would go into fast forward and it would count the little windows...

Kirk: Counts...

Larry: …you'd hear it going ti, ti, ti, ti, ti, ti. Well, if it was close to the end of the tape, it slams on brakes. Well, if it was very close to the end of the reel, sometimes it would run completely off the end of the reel and you had to load it back up.

Kirk: Oh, gee.

Larry: But it just wore the brakes out in a hurry.

Kirk: You know they did something like that at [inaudible 00:24:34-00:24:37] thankfully, pretty short-lived. I want to say in the early '90s they did that with cassette tapes. Now they weren't clear, they did have some cassettes with metal on each end, but they had cassette tapes with a tone burst on them.

Larry: Oh, yeah.

Kirk: And the computer would remote and by computer, I mean like a VIC-20, Commodore 64.

Larry: Yeah.

Kirk: Whatever it was would run these cassette machines back and forth.

Larry: TV, because I know we're talking about radio, but TV used to do that on film. They used to have a projector that would play all the old movies, and when there was time for a break they would put a piece of tinfoil. It would actually just crimp it into the film itself...

Kirk: Film, yeah.

Larry: …and as it went past a sensor, it would set off the "roll the next tape for the commercial" and stuff.

Kirk: Wow.

Larry: The problem is those things sometimes would come off and get hung up in the gate...

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: …and the film would break, and there would go your cartoon all over the floor.

Kirk: And those have sold enough in [inaudible 00:25:35-00:25:37] burn a hole in the...

Larry: That's right.

Kirk: Hey, we're talking to Larry Wilkins, and Larry is from Montgomery, Alabama, or actually Prattville, Alabama, and he's been an engineer for a long, long time. Are you retired? Do you consider yourself retired, are you?

Larry: Well, yeah, I actually retired from full-time broadcasting.

Kirk: Okay.

Larry: I worked in radio and television. As a matter of fact, the first after I got out of school. I actually went to electronics school and took the guy I was telling you about, my mentor at the radio station told me, when I graduated from high school, he said, "You need to go and get some electronic training."

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: Because, he said, "It doesn't matter, as long as you learn electronics, how it works, then you can work on washing machines or radio transmitters"

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: "because electrons flow in the same direction. It doesn't matter what it is."

Kirk: Right.

Larry: So the only thing I could find at the time was a radio and TV repair school. Back then they used to repair stuff.

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: So I went to that. That was a two-year school. It just so happened, and things just sort of fall into place. It just so happened that my TV instructor was a contract engineer at a couple of radio stations.

Kirk: Okay.

Larry: So I sort of got able to work some and studying some on transmitters as well. But then when I got out of that, I went into TV for a while, and then I came back to the dark side. Or maybe I went to the dark side when I went to TV.

Our class from the school actually came to Montgomery. This is down in Dothan, Alabama, down in L.A. again. We came up to Montgomery for a road trip. We went out to what was then the Big Bam, 740, WBAM...

Kirk: Oh. Yep.

Larry: …owned by the Brennans.

Kirk: Okay.

Larry: Fifty kilowatt. And then we went over to Channel 12, the NBC affiliate. And a funny thing over there, I walked in and the chief engineer, Dick Payne was his name. We were down in the control room and walking around, and he looked over at me, there had all the scopes and the monitors, and he looked at me and he said, "Mr. Wilkins, what do [inaudible 00:27:35-00:27:37] signal for?"

Well, my face turned red and I begin to scratch my head and I didn't want to be ignorant, you know. And I said, "You know, I think it's [inaudible 00:27:45]," and he said, "Well, you know, that's right." And he turned to the rest of the class and he said, "I'm not picking on him. It's just that he applied for a job and I wanted to see if he knew anything." So apparently I did, so because I worked there a number of years.

Kirk: Oh, that's a good question. And [inaudible 00:28:01], that's the right answer.

Larry: That's right.

Kirk: Yeah. I was going to say for gray scales, but that's what you're checking for is the...

Larry: Or either go from 401 to 403, you know.

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: Stairs.

Kirk: Yeah. There you go. Oh my goodness. Hey, we're talking to Larry Wilkins and Larry, after our commercial break, you're going to run us through some of these notions about live mixing, right?

Larry: Okay. We can do that. All right.

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Kirk: Hey, it's Kirk Harnack, and oh, here we go. Here we go. Hey, it's Kirk Harnack, we're back. I sent Larry on a little trip, but he's back now.

Larry: I had to go pay the bill.

Kirk: Pay the bill for the, yeah. All right.

Larry: All those Cokes you're drinking.

Kirk: And thanks a lot to Omnia for sponsoring This Week in Radio Tech, and the new VOCO 8's amazing, amazing box. I don't think they're actually shipping yet. They'll be shipping within a few weeks. I got my hands on actually the first one, I think. Okay, so [inaudible 00:31:37] one of the things that you really, that I've known you most for, is working with the Alabama Broadcasters Association.

Larry: Right.

Kirk: Tell me what you're doing there.

Larry: We actually started, in addition to the Alternative Broadcast Inspection Program is administered through the ABA as well, and then the EAS is part of ABA as well. But what happened several years ago, about four years ago, really, we found out. Some managers came to the ABA and said they were having trouble finding engineers to replace all of us old-timers that were aging out, or trying to expand their staff. They wanted to know was there a school where they could go and recruit.

Well, the answer to that question obviously was no, especially in the South, and not too many around the country that teach the technical side. There are a lot of colleges that teach broadcasting, but typically that's a news production...

Kirk: Oh, yeah.

Larry: …camera operation, and stuff that way, but not the actual [inaudible 00:32:33-00:32:37]. So one of them looked at me and said, "Can we start our own?" And I said, "What's this 'we' stuff? You're all staring at me." So we actually did. I got with Jim Bernier, who was the chairman of the SBE certification committee at the time...

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: …and I'm on the certification committee as well, as we discussed it and figured out how we could put it together.

The way the Academy actually operates, we do a week-long class, five days for radio, and a separate week-long class for television, and we do that twice a year. It's primarily designed for people who are interested in getting into engineering that have little or no technical experience.

Most of them are like, from radio are announcers, production people. I've actually had a couple [inaudible 00:33:24-00:33:26] attend the course, so it's designed for people that need to learn the basics. We try to do it in a block diagram form. We've had, that being said, [inaudible 00:33:34-00:33:36] the newcomers, we've had a number of seasoned engineers attend as a refresher course, and also to get knowledge about the new technologies, digital and HD and stuff that way.

So that's how we actually got started. We do two classes a year for radio and two classes a year for television. We offer the opportunity for them to take the SBE certification exam at the end of the class if they wish, it's not required, but we proctor it if they want...

Kirk: Oh, okay.

Larry: …to take it. Then we began to offer some one-day seminars on particular subjects, primarily aimed at the seasoned engineers.

Now we've done HD radio, we've done digital audio processing, we've done IP fundamentals for broadcast, which is a big thing now. And we've done HDTV. We bring in people to do those one-day classes or seminars. Those have been going well. We actually did one with your cohort, Frank Foti, on...

Kirk: Frank Foti, sure.

Larry: [inaudible 00:34:36] seminar on digital processing.

Kirk: Okay.

Larry: This was on Memorial Day weekend, believe it or not, and on a Saturday, and we had close to 50 engineers show up for that.

Kirk: Well, engineers aren't big golfers and boaters and stuff like that.

Larry: That's right, that's right. We may have cooked the hamburgers up, but that was about it. But we had a good turnout. Last year, one of the new things that we have added, we got to looking around and one of the things that I try to stress in the radio and in the television class, too, because they have audio. Even though some TV engineers say...

Kirk: They may forget about it.

Larry: …some TV engineers say, "Audio. Oh, that's that noise that goes along with the picture." Well, yeah, that's right. So one of the things that's really big to me is quality. Quality audio. Somewhere down through history we sort of rocked the other way. We were always big in quality when it first started, and then we got to going in the area of quantity of audio [inaudible 00:35:35-00:35:37]. I'm not a real big fan of the loudness war, as you can tell.

Well, we're trying to bring it back, bring back the quality. Nowadays, with the modern-day processors, you can do that. You can stay loud and also have good quality. So we talk a lot in the class about quality and we teach about how important these things are, the ears. I mean meters and all that are fine, but your customer, this is what they use...

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: …is the ear.

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: So although we're not a medical class, we actually do sort of… I've got a picture of the inside of an ear, a drawing...

Kirk: Sure. Sure.

Larry: …that we talk about how the inner ear works and how the… it's got its own little equalizer, a spectrum equalizer and AGC built into it and how it messes up with the brain, you know, so it creates the sound. So this is what you're actually supposed to use, even in radio...

Kirk: Yes.

Larry: …and in live audio as well. So we began to talk about that, and then we found out that there's a lot of stations now [inaudible 00:36:35-00:36:37] that are installing performance studios where they can actually have groups come in to perform, either on the air or record or whatever. As a result, they have to install mixing consoles. As engineers know, there's a difference in a mixing console and an on-the-air board.

Kirk: By the way, you're absolutely right. I have visited a number of Clear Channel, now iHeart...

Larry: Right, right.

Kirk: Cumulus...

Larry: Sure.

Kirk: …and Cox, and usually in the bigger cities, but not always It doesn't have to be a big city where you'd have a little performance area.

Larry: That's right.

Kirk: In fact, during that commercial we just watched, from WAY-FM, one of their control rooms actually doubles as a really small performance studio. They have six or seven mics and they can put a group in there and mix them with their ordinary normal on-air mixing console. But you are teaching people how to use a proper live sound console...

Larry: Mixing console, and how you do that. And we're [inaudible 00:37:35-00:37:37] in their production rooms to give their production people more creativity in producing spots and images and stuff that way...

Kirk: Okay.

Larry: …with all the effects. So what we do in our – so we started to have, we would put together an "Art of Live Audio Mixing" seminar. We did our first one last December in Birmingham at the - we have a training center. The ABA, and I didn't mention this a while ago, and I think I should, they were so nice. Their building had a storage room in the back with roll-up garage doors and all that.

They subdivided it when we started and made a classroom out of half of it, with overhead projector and a big bench to put all the equipment on and all that kind of stuff. So that has worked out really well. So our first "Art of Live Audio Mixing" was actually done there. We began to get requests about doing it in other cities.

We did one in Montgomery a while back where we actually had it at a church, and we – oh, and we invite not only broadcast engineers, we invite church [inaudible 00:38:35-00:38:37] because the reason we wanted to do that, a lot of the people who mix for churches are volunteers. They may be plumbers or doctors or something during the week...

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: …but they volunteer their service, which is good for the church, to volunteer their services. But they're not that well versed in what the board does...

Kirk: Right.

Larry: …or how to do that, you know.

Kirk: Right. Do you get a lot of, "Well, they told me to push this up to here."

Larry: That's right.

Kirk: "and they told me to push this up to here."

Larry: That's right, yeah. Which… may I tell another funny story?

Kirk: Absolutely.

Larry: I was working at a sports station and we had a lady running the board. She did a very good job, but I noticed one morning the audio was awful. So I go walking down the hall with the other engineer, we had two engineers there. And I looked in there and the meters were just pegged. So I walked in I said, "You need" the talent was in another room and she was watching through the glass, and I said, "You need to pull your levels down. You're way too high." She said, "Well, where do I need to set this fader?" She called it a knob, but a fader.

Kirk: Yeah, sure.

Larry: [inaudible 00:39:35-00:39:37] set that. I said, "It doesn't matter where you set it. Watch the meter? That's what you want." "Well, where do I set the knob?" I said, "It doesn't matter. Watch the meter, and set it wherever it is." She turns to the other engineer and says, "Will you tell me where to set this fader? He won't tell me." So yeah, a lot of people are that way and they say "Don't touch this, don't touch that." you know.

Kirk: You were very polite about that. I have told I've run across disc jockeys, the same way. "Well, they said to put it right here." I said, "But you're blowing the meters out," or "Your meters are way too low", which is usually not the problem.

Larry: No.

Kirk: And, "Well, that's where they said to put this." I said, "You know, we could hire a monkey to come in here and put the fader at that same point every time. We really could. But we're paying you more than we pay a monkey. I need you to put that fader wherever it needs to sit so that the level's right."

Larry: When they move over to mixing...

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: …and whether it's live sound, and I've mixed live sound [inaudible 00:40:35-00:40:37] years...

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: …in churches and live events. I really enjoy it, I probably would have done that more if there'd been more money into it than broadcasting, I guess. But mixing live audio is a lot of fun, and I did 20 or 30 years mixing audio for the Auburn Radio Network, which was with a 16-channel board.

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: So it took a lot of inputs to do a football game. There's actually an art to it. And once you learn the art to it and what each one of the different things do, like equalization, the gain structure, and stuff like that, you can sit down at any console, it doesn't matter if it's a Yamaha or a DiGiCo or Avid or PreSonus, whatever it happens to be, once you see where those knobs are, then you're good to go. You know what they're supposed to do.

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: So in our seminar, we start – we actually have a console, we have one set up here that we're going to show tonight and we go through the gain structure. One of the biggest things that people mess up [inaudible 00:41:35-00:41:38] mixing console, it's in some broadcast consoles as well, you have a trim pot...

Kirk: Yes.

Larry: …on the input...

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: …and that goes back to "where do you set the knob". You can have the output peaking 100%, like it should, and be overdriving the fire out of the input.

Kirk: Right.

Larry: So you need to make sure that the input is set right. I can't tell you how many times I've been watching a newscast on television and they switch to a remote feed, and it's just distorted, terrible. I know that the person running the board has the pot where it's supposed to be, where it's peaking right, but they're overdriving the front end.

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: So especially, some consoles have just a little light, a little clip light...

Kirk: A clip light, yeah.

Larry: …that comes on if the level is too high. Most mixing consoles actually have a trim pot so that you can adjust it to get to the right level.

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: Now that we're in digital, you have to remember that digital reads in what's called dBFS, dB Full Scale...

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: …not DBn [inaudible 00:42:35-00:42:37] that gets a lot of people confused, and you can actually see as you turn this where that goes. One word on dBFS, people are not as familiar with it, it starts, the top of the line is 0...

Kirk: Right.

Larry: …and it counts negatively coming down.

Kirk: Right.

Larry: And we always – and Frank actually mentioned this when he was doing the processing seminar, he said, "When you get to 0, that means that the digital word that you have created when you do A to D conversion, is all 1s."

Kirk: Yeah. Nowhere to go.

Larry: "and you can't go down to the Home Depot and buy another sack of 1s. They're gone." His favorite quote that I always remember, he said, "When you overdrive something in the analog mode, it sounds grungy. When you overdrive something in the digital mode, it's really grungy. It goes terrible in a hurry."

Kirk: Right.

Larry: So that's one of the main things we do in Live is teach them gain structure, how that actually works. Then we go through and equalization. That's another thing that people, they know what it is [inaudible 00:43:35-00:43:37] bass and treble on your car radio.

Kirk: Yes. Sort of.

Larry: Yeah, sort of. But most people don't really understand what's going on under the hood when you're equalizing. The buzzword in live-sound people and recording-mixing people is never boost. You always cut.

Kirk: Yeah, yeah.

Larry: Reason for that, when you get multiple mics, whether it's people talking or singing or a band playing, the more mics you have, as you know, the more cluttered the sound's going to get. It gets all jumbled up, and you can't seem to get it very well defined where they can hear the different instruments and the different singers.

So what EQ does on a board, what you normally would do is begin to carve out areas, like particularly like a cymbal on a drum doesn't have any low end, so you can cut out the low end. There's no need to have that, because it will make it sound muddy and pick up other things. Here's the trick that [inaudible 00:44:3500:44:37] time and I used to do this and I didn't really know that I was doing this till somebody told me, hey, that's what you're doing. The way that you do it, you take like maybe let's take a kick drum...

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: …and you just have the guy hit the kick drum. Well, you go to the equalization and you boost it now, they say don't boost but cut, but in this case you boost it all the way up, and on the modern consoles, you can sweep that notch back and forth in the frequency range.

Kirk: Right.

Larry: You sweep it back and forth till you hear something that sounds terrible. It doesn't sound like a kick drum. It's got some overtone or something. When you find whatever that is that doesn't sound good, notch it out. And then you...

Kirk: Oh, okay. So you're boosting it temporarily to find it, and then you're going to get rid of it.

Larry: Temporarily, to find it. And then you're cutting.

Kirk: Okay.

Larry: And you do that with all the instruments.

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: And in addition to cutting out things, you sort of have to be a semi-musician to do this, because you have to know what the instrument's range is...

Kirk: Right.

Larry: …whether it's a bass guitar or a lead guitar, [inaudible 00:45:35-00:45:37]but you sort of just get rid of the stuff that you don't really need. What you're doing is, first of all, you're making the sound better for each instrument, but you're also carving out little areas for other things. One of the biggest things is on a lead guitar, electric guitar, is really, really, brassy-sounding around 2.5k.

Kirk: Okay.

Larry: Well, there's something else in a band that's 2.5k. The voice.

Kirk: Oh. Male or female or either one?

Larry: Either. The human voice, and the ear itself...

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: If you go back and talk about the ear...

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: It's most sensitive at 2.5...

Kirk: Sure.

Larry: Because when the Creator built us, it was to communicate with each other.

Kirk: Yeah. Yeah.

Larry: So if our voice is 2.5k centered, then our ears are 2.5k.

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: Well, if the lead guitar is 2.5k, you're not going to be able to hear the vocal. So you purposely carve out a little of that 2.5k. It's still there, but [inaudible 00:46:35-00:46:37] leave room for the vocalist. So EQ is more about carving things, room out for other instruments and other singers.

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: And when you do that, the sound is so much better.

Kirk: When you're and we only have a couple minutes left but when you're mixing some live sound, what do you use on a channel strip in terms of compression, if any?

Larry: A lot of the boards, the newer boards now have what's called plug-ins.

Kirk: Okay.

Larry: You've got all the effects you want to do, and you can just drag and drop it over to a channel strip.

Kirk: Ah, okay.

Larry: Like the one we have here has built into it a gate.

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: A gate is just like what the name says, it's a gate. When there's no audio there, just turn it off.

Kirk: [Inaudible 00:47:18], yeah.

Larry: The less mics you have on at any one time, the better the sound's going to be. So that's what a gate is. Then compression is just that it'll bring the low levels down and sometimes you can use it to get a little more punch on a particular instrument, snare drum or a tom and all. [Audio drops out 00:47:35-00:47:37] there's upper compression, expansion, and stuff that way that you can use, but typically you use the biggest thing that you use first, once you get your gain structure set, is the high-pass filter.

You can get rid of a lot of stuff by using that high-pass filter. You just roll off stuff down below. You have a female singer that doesn't sound like J.D. Sumner, why have it opened up for way down there...

Kirk: Right.

Larry: …because all it's going to do is bring up other junk that doesn't need to be there.

Kirk: By using high-pass filters, can you reduce opportunities for feedback...

Larry: That's correct.

Kirk: …in a live PA situation?

Larry: That's correct.

Kirk: Okay.

Larry: You can do that as well, and then but the gating is next. You can gate any, especially on the drums, if he's not they don't play the toms all the time. They play the snares and the cymbals and all. Every once in a while, they hit a tom.

Kirk: Okay.

Larry: Why have the tom mic on all the time? Because it's going to pick up other stuff and just muddy up the sound.

Kirk: Right, but you don't want to have to move the fader up and down. That's why you use [inaudible 00:48:35-00:48:37]...

Larry: And gates simply has a threshold...

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: …and if it falls below a certain threshold, it's just like turning the pot off.

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: It turns it off.

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: And there's soft knee, there's all ways you can play with this so you don't miss the beginning of the hit of the tom.

Kirk: Sure.

Larry: And then they actually, one of the things I saw the other day, I was actually over at the convention a while ago, I know we're running out of time, but over at the NAM convention...

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: …land the guy was telling me about it where you can actually, you can key a gate off of another instrument. So when...

Kirk: Oh, okay, okay.

Larry: …so what they wanted to do, if you had a bass guitar...

Kirk: So you mean the gate from one mic channel would key the gate for a different mic channel.

Larry: That's right.

Kirk: Okay.

Larry: Or the frequency, you can use the frequency.

Kirk: Okay.

Larry: If you really wanted to get the snap of the kicker on a bass drum...

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: …but the bass player is sitting it over there and he's playing the same thing...

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: …because he's taller than me...

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: Well, you can actually trigger the gate on the bass guitar, on the drum...

Kirk: Oh, okay.

Larry: …so it will [inaudible 00:49:36-00:49:37]. Look at it on a compressor. You'll see that frequency go down every time the drum hits, which actually it's turning the bass player off the moment that he kicks the drum, so he doesn't cover up the kick of the drum. So there's all kind of fancy stuff like that you can use to actually clean up the sound. The whole thing is trying to make the sound as clear as it possibly can.

I watch a lot of YouTube videos from front-of-house mixers, and invariably John Cooper, who's Bruce Springsteen's front of house, Nathan Lead [sounds like 00:50:13], who does Chicago, they all talk about making sure that the lead vocalist is heard. There's nothing worse than the audience leaving and saying, "That was terrible. I couldn't hear the lead singer."

Kirk: Ah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Larry: Cooper mentioned one time, they had been doing Bruce Springsteen, and they were like on their 13th show of a tour [inaudible 00:50:35-00:50:37] do these little articles about the shows. And he said, "In 13 shows in the trades, the word 'sound' and 'audio' was never mentioned," and he said, "I love that. That means I'm doing my job correctly."

Kirk: Oh yeah, right, right. Nobody's complained about it. Yeah, yeah.

Larry: I tell church people that...

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: I say, "Don't get your feelings hurt if nobody comes up and say, 'Oh, that audio is great.' Because if they don't say anything"

Kirk: That's right, that's right.

Larry: "they know everything is fine."

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: People complain when it's not right.

Kirk: Years ago, I had the same thing about camera work on live television.

Larry: Oh yeah.

Kirk: That [inaudible 00:51:11-00:51:13] cameraman is great. No, they only talk about it when he missed that ball. Can't he follow the player?

Larry: That's right.

Kirk: Can't he follow the quarterback?

Larry: Yeah. And I started at an age when you had the immortal Vince Wagner [sounds like 00:51:21]...

Kirk: Oh yeah, and Charlie Thurman [sounds like 00:51:22].

Larry: …and nothing would drive a director worse than saying somebody racking on the air. Oh, that was a disaster.

Kirk: Hey, we're going to wrap the show up here in just a few minutes. We've been talking to Larry Wilkins. He's with the Alabama Broadcasters Association. At the end of this commercial when we come back [inaudible 00:51:35-00:51:37] folks how they get in touch with you...

Larry: Sure.

Kirk: …or Alabama Broadcasters. Hey, you know what? I think I remember where I put that power supply. It's probably two booths back on the bench.

Larry: So I need to run back two booths.

Kirk: Otherwise we're going to get cut off here in case my battery runs out. Could you do that?

Larry: I can do that.

Kirk: You're an engineer.

Larry: I'm an engineer.

Kirk: I'm going to do this commercial.

Larry: Here we go.

Kirk: Okay. Yeah, Kirk foolishly left his power supply back – we were going to set up in a different booth and we ended up setting up right here instead.

Hey, our show is brought to you in part, This Week in Radio Tech, by the folks at Lawo, and Lawo crystalCLEAR console. Now, I want you to check out this website if you would. And Larry found the power supply. Thank you, Larry. It's L-A-W-O. Lawo is a German name, Lawo.com, and if you look on their website and then go look for the crystalCLEAR console. Look for the radio products that's good, Larry, it's magnetic, it just holds in there magnetically – look for the crystalCLEAR product. You're going to find this console called the crystalCLEAR virtual radio mixing console. Now, what is it that makes it virtual? Well, it's the really cool way that you control the faders. Larry and I were just talking about faders and buttons and adjusting different aspects of how it all works. Oh, you know what, Larry? You're going to have to plug it in the top row.

Larry: I have to get up again?

Kirk: Yeah, you have to get up again. I'm sorry. I have the most complicated setup. I'm sorry. Yeah, as you know by not getting shocked when you touch the back of that, that row's actually designed not to have any power. There we go, yay.

Larry: Big-time show business.

Kirk: We've got a green light and now a yellow light. Thank you. So back to the crystalCLEAR console. This thing is really cool. I've dreamed for years about having a touch-screen broadcast console, and this is a multi-touch touch screen, so you can put up to 10 fingers on this at once. Now I can't think about that many fingers at once, but I could try and run two or three fingers.

I could run two or three faders up and down at the same time, or I could run the speakers up and down, the headphone volume up and down. And because this console is totally designed in software, you can have it be very context-aware. So the kind of show that you're mixing, you can make the console prepare you for easy operation for that show.

So you can have automatic mix-minuses, automatic – you touch a button to talk back to a talent, whether they are on a codec or a hybrid or a satellite link or intercom or just across the room with headphones. Touching talkback will talk back to that person. You don't have to think about how's it going to get there, which bus does it have to be in. It's already in the right bus. It's already figured out for you. It's just amazing when you design a console in software.

So the crystalCLEAR console has another part of the console, not just the touch screen, which by the way can run anywhere in the building, it's just got to be on the same computer network, the same LAN. But it's its own PC. In fact, you can disconnect it and guess what? The console keeps working. It keeps mixing together the last thing it was doing. Well, the DSP engine [inaudible 00:54:35-00:54:36] located in whatever rack is convenient for you, probably in the same control room, but it could be back in a rack room.

It's got all the audio inputs and outputs, the mic inputs and the analog line and inputs and outputs, the AES digital inputs and outputs. And if you're into the new world of Audio over IP, it does RAVENNA and [inaudible 00:54:56-00:54:58] AES67. So it's really ready for the future and ready for right now. You can plug your stuff right into it and have yourself a console on the air in just a short time.

Check it out on the web if you would. There's a video on the webpage. It's Michael Dosch, who's the Director of Virtual Radio Projects at Lawo. Again, go to Lawo.com and look under products and radio consoles and hit the crystalCLEAR button, and click on Mike Dosch's explanation of how the crystalCLEAR console works. Dual power supplies, all the things that make a professional console really worth having. Check it out. Thanks to Lawo for sponsoring This Week in Radio Tech.

All right. We've been talking to Larry Wilkins from Montgomery – Prattville, Alabama, I'm sorry. And I mentioned Montgomery years ago. Well, we did an SBE meeting together.

Larry: That's right, that's right.

Kirk: What was that, about a hundred years ago?

Larry: A hundred and twenty.

Kirk: It's a long time.

Larry: Yeah, Troy Pennington [sounds like 00:55:50] was there.

Kirk: He was, yeah?

Larry: Yeah, he sent me over there, he was...

Kirk: Yeah. Wow. Wow. All right. So if people want to be in touch with you, but let's imagine that you're an engineer somewhere in the country, probably in the Southeast, but you could come from anywhere, and you're interested in one of your upcoming events or seminars. How could they get on your mailing list or find out about it?

Larry: You can actually go, if you go to the ABA website, which is just AL-BA.com, and there's an engineering tab. If you click on that engineering tab, one of the links in there is the Engineering Academy, and it gives a list of all the dates of when the classes are, with online registration. So they can just click on there and register right online.

Kirk: We'll put that in the show notes. The website was AL-BA, as in Alabama-Broadcast Association...

Larry: Right.

Kirk: ….com, and we'll put that in the show notes. And these are really worthwhile. I'll tell you how good they are. They asked me to come speak at one.

Larry: That's not good. I don't know what I was thinking.

Kirk: I don't know what you were thinking, no. I'm glad you got Frank Foti instead. So yeah, check the show notes and you'll have instant access to their calendar to see what's coming up in the next few months.

Larry: Yeah, you don't have to be from Alabama.

Kirk: Right.

Larry: When we started, it was just going to be for Alabama, but we began to get calls from all over the place...

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: We had people from the real L.A., Los Angeles, and Nevada, New York. We actually had a lady fly in from Alaska to take our radio course one time, and actually took the test and passed it, so...

Kirk: Wow. So, and make sure I don't, you give, you proctor SBE tests that are related to the subject matter you've just talked about?

Larry: What we do is the SBE, the class that we teach covers everything that's in the CBT [inaudible 00:57:35] broadcast [inaudible 00:57:36] -ology, which is the entry level.

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: So we cover everything that's on the test. We don't tell them what the questions are...

Kirk: Sure.

Larry: …but we cover the subjects in there. The most important thing, there's no cost.

Kirk: What?

Larry: There's no cost for the classes.

Kirk: But you have to pay for your hotel if you're...

Larry: Yeah, you have to pay for the hotel, but for the actual classes...

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: There's no cost.

Kirk: Yeah.

Larry: There is a charge from the SBE for the exam...

Kirk: Right. Right.

Larry: But we just pass that along.

Kirk: But you can choose to take the exam or not.

Larry: Yeah, that's right.

Kirk: Okay.

Larry: Yeah.

Kirk: Wow, that's amazing. So we'll put that in the show notes. Check it out. And it's time for us to go [inaudible 00:58:09]. Larry, thank you so much.

Larry: I've enjoyed it.

Kirk: I've enjoyed sitting. I've enjoyed learning about live mixing, too, and hey, if you want to find out more about this, if you're in the Nashville area, get on down to the Piccadilly Restaurant on Murfreesboro Road right now...

Larry: Yeah.

Kirk: Because we're about to eat and then Larry's going to talk to us for an hour, or maybe as long as we can keep him here. If that's not enough, then sign up for one of the classes in Alabama.

Larry: Right.

Kirk: All right. Good deal. Hey, we're just about to wrap up [inaudible 00:58:35-00:58:37] Tech, Episode number 264. Larry Wilkins has been our guest. I'm Kirk Harnack here. We're on location live at the Piccadilly Restaurant. Thanks for putting up with a one camera, one microphone, and I'm so sorry that Chris Tobin couldn't be along with us today. We'll have him back next week.

Hey, coming up on some future episodes, next week we're going to try really hard to bring you the show live from Australia. I'm going to be at the SMPTE convention in Australia, and they do it every two years in Sydney, and two years ago we were able to do the show live because a very nice company gave us some bandwidth and it was awesome. We had to turn the camera around. It was upside-down, being on the other side of the world. Had… to… turn… the… camera. Never mind.

Larry: Let me write that down.

Kirk: They didn't teach you that in TV school?

Larry: No, no. I'll have to Google that.

Kirk: So we're going to and if I can't be with you from there, then Chris Tobin will be on, so watch out for that. So we'll look forward to seeing you next week on This Week in Radio Tech.

Topics: Broadcast Engineering