Wheat:News November 2022

WHEAT:NEWS November 2022 Volume 13, Number 11


You Only Get Two Do Overs

Josh Lynch will be the first to say that everything you thought you knew about AoIP could be wrong, and that’s okay.

Even if what you know about radio could easily fit on a postage stamp, that’s okay too. It just so happens that his first involvement in a radio buildout was in 2018, after joining Draper Media as a broadcast engineer. The family-owned group in Salisbury, Maryland, had four television stations and one FM station at the time. We were integrating four radio stations into the facility and going IP for the first time ever with these new stations they bought. That was my first experience with radio and anything AoIP,” he explained. 

Fast forward to today, and Draper Media, which is serving Nielsen market 137 with seven radio stations along with seven TV stations, has one of the more sophisticated studio operations in the business. 

What happened between then and now? A few more radio stations and one do-over. 

Lynch helped configure his first WheatNet-IP radio facility with little more than his television background to guide him and not a lick of radio experience. But when Draper purchased three more radio stations that needed to be added to the facility, Lynch (now CE) decided to take a step back and do an AoIP system reset.

“We were running along just fine, but once I had a better understanding of radio, where everything is contingent upon the human element, I wanted to revisit everything from macros and salvos to crosspoints to make the system even better. I wanted to really think about what the operator in a radio control room is going to need at a moment’s notice,” he said. 

In between his duties which can take him from the TV master control room one minute and any one of eleven transmitter sites or a TV production satellite truck the next (and with help from in-house radio veterans Chris Wilk and Brian Shaw, and Brian Sapp with Inrush Broadcast Services) he was able to connect the dots better the second time around. 

Routable U-Mixers 

“It really opened the door to much broader automation capabilities once I understood what all the utility mixers can do,” he said. Lynch is referring to the two 8x2 stereo utility mixers unique to the system that are built into each I/O Blade access unit and can be used for summing, splitting, or performing crossfades and segues between sources from virtually anywhere in the WheatNet-IP audio network. Utility mixers are used to mix down channels from remotes or set up IFBs on the fly, and in Draper Media’s case, made it possible to control a variety of mixes for satellite or local insertion from the WideOrbit automation system. The automation system, which is integrated into the native AoIP environment using the WheatNet-IP control interface (ACI), can talk back and forth with any hardware or software element in the WheatNet-IP network.

Overall, having utility mixers at each I/O point along with GPI logic made it so much easier to route individual station program channels along with related salvos and macro sequences. “That was an aha moment. Just with the u-mixers alone, we cleaned up the program path tremendously, making it easier to follow for each station and creating easier-to-control distribution points for everything else down the line,” explained Lynch.

Draper went from using four or five utility mixers total to having at least one utility mixer in use on every I/O Blade for submixing phone calls, sports channels and VoxPro tracks. Combined with salvos, utility mixers provide powerful workarounds on the fly. “You can go into any of the rooms, pull up the phone lines, and reconfigure it to go live for any of the stations,” said Lynch. 

Routable Processing Tools 

Also unique to I/O Blades are audio processing tools that were underutilized before but now provide Draper Media with pre-processing of programming before it hits the STL, or for incoming SAT feeds for any of the group’s stations. “That solved another big problem for us because we could really clean up those feeds before they got too far downstream,” he commented. 

Just about everything audio related is now hanging off of, routed through, or controlled by WheatNet-IP audio networking, including console surfaces, submixes of audio, salvos to stop and start automation, and satellite cues. 

Within a few weeks after the do-over, Lynch spent an afternoon creating a touchscreen for monitoring all seven radio stations’ program paths using the WheatNet-IP Sceenbuilder development toolkit. “I wanted a way to get real-time VU metering of program path test points for each station, both the output leaving the studio and also after it hits the transmitter site,” he said. 

The resulting touchscreen has helped troubleshoot and resolve breaks in the air chain on at least two separate occasions and was relatively easy to put together – even for a Screenbuilder rookie. “I got my bearings in a little over an hour and had it fully operational in a couple of hours,” said Lynch.

For a tour of Draper Media studios, click here: 

You Only Get Two Do Overs



The three most important TV audio indicators for effective loudness monitoring, explained here.

1. LKFS/LUFS loudness indicator. The Loudness Unit Full Scale (LUFS) or Loudness K-weighted Full Scale (LKFS) measurement shows the averaged loudness level of audio over time, making it a more reliable method of leveling audio than, say, a peak meter. The generally accepted average loudness target level is -24 LKFS or -23 LUFS. You can’t miss this readout on a Wheatstone audio console – the LKFS/LUFS numbers are two inches high on the Strata display screen, for example. One LU (loudness unit) is equivalent to 1dB, so there’s a direct correlation between how far the meter says you're over/under and how far you move a fader to compensate.

2. VU indicator. The VU meter has been around for 80 years for a reason. It’s predictable, with predictable integration times and predictable release times. But, because it is an averaging meter, the peaks are often far higher than indicated. For this reason, expect to have about 20dB of audio headroom above 0dBVU.

3. Peak level indicator to read the transient peaks of the signal. This indicator tells you if peak levels are in danger of overloading the dynamic headroom limitations of the console. The clipping point is usually at 0dBFS. Peak signal levels run usually at or above -20dBFS, with transient peaks kicking up to about -6dBFS occasionally.



Q: We’ve just started to experiment with SNMP for monitoring our WheatNet-IP facility. So far, we’ve just scratched the surface of very basic monitoring but we can see how this could be useful for alerting and failover management. What can you tell me about SNMP and how we should use it for our facility? 

A: As you are discovering, each I/O Blade in your WheatNet-IP network has a unique MIB (Management Information Base) file with hundreds of data points and each I/O Blade also has a unique object address in the network, all of which can be used in a number of ways by the SNMP protocol. MIB data can tell you about the operation of the Blade or group of Blades, such as packet rates, changing bitrates or operating temperatures and overall health of the Blade. (For security reasons, we’ve set some of these data points as read-only, while others are set as read-and-write and therefore can be manipulated and controlled.) Servers and switches also have MIB files that contain relevant data pertinent to the operation of those units (although not all devices, or even IP audio networks, have MIB files. MIB data is critical for SNMP monitoring capability). MIB data can be organized by device or grouped in tables for viewing, say, a particular stream of data running across the network. This data can be useful for alerting you by email or text if, for example, silence is detected by a critical Blade in the network.

SNMP Alerting

A MIB browser can tell you basic information, but if you want to do more with SNMP, you’ll need an SNMP management tool that lets you manipulate MIB data using basic SNMP commands such as GET, SET and TRAP. By sending a TRAP message, for example, the client device can alert the SNMP manager to conditions like a CPU that’s overheating, if a router port is no longer responding or if a hard drive is approaching full status. If you don’t already have an SNMP manager, there are several decent freeware suites that you can download on trial. Our field engineers work regularly with SNMP and can answer most of your questions about setting up an SNMP monitoring and alerting system for your WheatNet-IP network that will work for your purposes.



Cox station KRMG-FM in Tulsa recently won another Marconi award for news coverage, bringing to seven the number of Marconi awards for the group and adding one more channel to its 200+ streams managed by WheatNet-IP audio network streaming appliances.

The secondary stream featuring KRMG-FM’s award-winning news is the latest addition to Cox streams for 57 stations in 20 markets and all related HD channels, plus on-demand channels. 

Previously, in most cases Cox replaced banks of PCs with a main and backup Wheatstream or Streamblade AoIP appliance per market. Each WheatNet-IP appliance is capable of 8 channels in and 32 output streams for both MP3 and AAC encoding to redundant CDNs, and provides provisioning, metadata support and audio processing for each unique stream.

“The overarching goal was to be able to spin up channels on a whim and process them for a large variety of source material and having it all sound good coming out the other end,” said Morgan Grammer, the DOE for Cox Media Group - Radio, Tulsa. 

In addition to not having to worry about Windows® updates, Grammer said Cox stations benefit from the appliances’ audio processing specifically designed for streaming. “We can maintain the excitement that comes with radio without having to clip everything to 0dBFS, which we don’t want for streaming because the codec can really turn that into grunge,” said Grammer, adding that level matching between sources is another big benefit of the Streamblade/Wheatstream appliances. “We ingest a lot of different sources from our ad partners and the last thing we want is music at one level and then deafening our listeners with an ad that comes on after,” he said.

All streaming is native to the WheatNet-IP audio network used in Cox studios, with no AD/DA required. Because the AoIP appliances include Nielsen watermark audio software encoders, that also saves additional units in the rack – complexity that Grammer can do without.  

“That’s the beauty of the box. We can keep adding more licenses and grow as we come up with more channels without having to deploy more hardware,” he said.


4 Vox Pro V 7 1 Adds Public Folder

VoxPro version 7.1 now has a public folder - the "Common" folder - that any user can access. 

This makes it easy to share audio files that are common to all day-parts, such as station imaging, promos and contests. Each VoxPro on your station LAN has its own Common folder, and all the Common folders are accessible to all of your VoxPro machines. No email or Dropbox required.

This is a free upgrade with every version 7 license. Contact techsupport@wheatstone.com and request a download link to VoxPro



By Steve Walker

Wheatstone Technical Support Engineer

Hardly a week goes by that the Wheatstone Tech Support department doesn't get at least one call from a customer who is having equipment issues due to a lightning strike or power surge. While it may not be possible to completely eliminate damage caused by electrical events such as these, there are some best practices you can implement in your new studio build (or even in your existing facility) that can minimize the likelihood of your consoles or other audio equipment being destroyed by the electromagnetic pulse that results from these events.

Use a UPS

Lightning and power surges create a short, but powerful over-voltage condition in your electrical systems that can damage sensitive equipment. The cost of replacing or repairing the equipment can be expensive but may seem minimal compared to the loss of revenue if your station is taken off the air. An uninterruptible power supply can go a long way toward protecting your broadcast gear from power surges. It has the added benefit of keeping you up and running during short-duration power loss events as well. You can protect each studio and your TOC area by installing small UPS units to power each cluster of critical pieces of equipment, but having units scattered around your plant means you need to have a strategy for ensuring that the batteries in those units are replaced regularly, before they start to go bad. Make sure any UPS units you use power the load off the batteries, isolating your gear from the AC mains.

A better, albeit more expensive, option would be a large UPS system that can power your entire TOC and studio core. This is easiest to implement when you are planning a new build and might be worth pitching to the decision-makers as a necessary, integral part of your new plant.

Implement a Grounding Strategy

UPS systems alone are only part of the solution. A good grounding scheme can go a long way to protecting your expensive studio gear from the destructive force that is packed in every lightning storm that comes your way. According to Jeff Keith, Wheatstone design and systems engineer with years of experience in the field, “Grounding in a broadcast facility is more or less a science. But there are some pretty good ground rules (pun intended).”

Here are a few of his suggestions:

Figure 1 GroundUse a single-point ground. This is also called a “star” ground system because everything comes back, as much as possible, to a single earth-ground point. “The worst possible condition is for surges to have more than one destination because that usually means there's some piece of broadcast gear 'in the middle.' Temporary (surge-related) voltage differences between AC and audio ground are the cause of most of the failures that we see here at Wheatstone. A thousand amp surge across an ohm of ground causes a kilovolt voltage drop,” explained Keith.

Additionally, you will want to use a large conductor for grounds. It might not be easy pulling a 2/0 or 3/0 copper conductor through your house cabling conduits, but the benefits of a properly designed ground system will pay off big dividends the first time a lightning strike finds that the easiest way through your system is straight to ground. (At transmitter sites you will probably want to use a minimum of 2”-4”-wide ground straps due to the high RF fields in play.)

“Today we have shielded network cables, too, so there's another 'wire' to consider. And even though network interfaces are transformer-coupled, those transformers are little tiny guys with not much of a 'gap' for a 10-20kV wallop. I've seen cases where an incoming surge jumped right across the transformer and found its way into the Ethernet switch's silicon guts and yes, the magic smoke got let out,” said Keith.

Don’t neglect proper grounding and bonding at the studio. Just because you may not have a 1,500-ft tower in your backyard doesn’t mean you are immune from lightning damage. Do your research and spend the time and money needed to implement a good grounding system at your studio—whether it’s a new build or an existing plant—as well as your transmitter site locations to protect your investment and revenue streams.


Want to build your own screens using Screenbuilder? Here’s a quick video from our partners at Agile Broadcast showing how easy it can be.


If you’ve been making your own virtual mixers and interfaces using our Screenbuilder or Consolebuilder development toolkit, or are thinking about doing so but don’t know where to start, register and log onto our Scripters Forum. You’ll find documents, starter scripts and a whole knowledge base available to you for making customized screens.



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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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