TECH SPOTLIGHT

Quincy Upgrades Centralcasting With Harris

Quincy Broadcasting is upgrading its seven-year-old centralcasting setup with an infusion of new technology from Harris Broadcast that’s expected to improve the group’s workflow and cut down costs. Hub stations can now distribute syndiacted programming, and the group has plans to use the technology for new tasks in the coming year.

Quincy Broadcasting is upgrading its seven-year-old centralcasting setup with an infusion of new technology from Harris Broadcast that’s expected to improve the group’s workflow and cut down costs.

The upgrade is bringing the group’s twelfth station into its hub-and-spoke model next month and allowing the hubs to time and distribute syndicated programming, in addition to some new proprietary tasks, like distributing syndicated promos.

“Each of the hubs will do a variety of things, but we’re not going to duplicate any efforts,” says Brady Dreasler, corporate director of engineering and operations at Quincy. “This means significant cost savings for us.”

Today, 11 stations are using the new setup, with the twelfth, KWWL Waterloo, Iowa, going live in mid-October. The hubs are located at KKTC Rochester, Minn., WGEM Quincy, Ill., and WXOW LaCrosse, Wisc. Each control a couple of stations, which have a variety of primary and secondary channels, like CW, This-TV and Me-TV.

For the first time, all hubs will downlink syndicated content and distribute to the spoke stations. Previously, the stations were on their own.

“The stations will still be responsible for their local spots and dropping them in an FTP folder, and occasionally monitoring the playlist, but this makes it significantly easier for them,” says Dreasler.

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By mid-2014, Dreasler says the hubs will start taking on new tasks, such as distributing promos for the syndicated programming.

“We would tag all of those in real time,” he says. “And we would time those promos at once, but the tags would be generated by a graphics device at each station that would individually insert their own date and time.”

Dreasler also plans to use the new technology for other innovative tasks, but declined to comment at this time.

With the upgrade, Quincy Broadcasting is completely equipped by Harris Broadcast, from traffic to transmitter. Quincy decided to go with Harris for a variety of reasons. The company has a facility in Quincy, Ill., and Quincy Broadcasting has been a long time customer, using Harris transmitters and its OSi traffic and billing software for several years now.

But it was the support aspect that intrigued Dreasler the most.

“We’ve struggled before with service when we’ve had multiple vendors in an area like master control,” says Dreasler. “You inevitably have trouble and everyone points fingers at the other guy. This solves that. I have one finger to point now.”

Quincy launched its hub-and-spoke model in 2005 as part of an HD transition, and had since been using equipment that’s hanging on by a thread, says Dreasler.

Its automation, for example, was by VCI Solutions, a company that has changed hands several times and eventually went out of business in 2010, leaving the group without support for the past three years.

Dreasler says the servers at the master control room were also outdated and needed to be replaced.

Operators at the hub stations now monitor programming using Harris multiviewers and distribute network programming using the company’s ADC automation. The group updated to Harris Nexio servers to help improve media ingest and playout, in addition to Harris routers to accommodate all signal distribution. Stations are also now using Harris’ Selenio encoders.

The endorsement of technology comes at a good time for Harris, which is busy rebranding itself as a more streamlined company. In June, Charlie Vogt, a former executive in the voice-over-IP industry, was named CEO, and was charged by the Gores Group, the company’s owner, to turn the ship around following years of lackluster returns.

At the IBC Show in Amsterdam earlier this month, Vogt said one of his top goals is to make it easier for customers to buy and integrate Harris’ solutions. Next month, Vogt holds a meeting with his top sales and marketing executives to hash out what the new Harris Broadcast looks like.

“We can invent nothing new and just dramatically enhance our customer’s experience,” says Vogt. “And then there’s nothing but upside as we continue to innovate and bring new products to market and help advance this industry.”

Dreasler says he looks forward to working with Harris and its new leadership on future projects.

“The message I got from them is that they’re becoming much more customer-focused,” he says. “They’re trying to become much more nimble and help customers solve problems quicker going forward.”


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