By Gary Langley
Interlochen Public Radio
Interlochen Public Radio is a public news organization and classical music station located in Interlochen, Michigan. We are part of the Interlochen Center for the Arts, a large cultural center that offers arts education to students from all over the world in many different disciplines. Interlochen Center for the Arts also hosts concerts with world-class performers, and we regularly broadcast these to our listeners here at IPR.
IPR has been using BRIC-Link for many years. When I joined the station 3 years ago, I upgraded them to BRIC-Link IIs and started using them for more live broadcasting. These were primarily used to pull in and air a live program called Stateside from Michigan Public Radio in Ann Arbor, MI. Every Monday through Thursday. The connection is made just before 3 o’clock and their program airs live from 3-4pm. The BRIC-Link IIs are so reliable that we can connect regularly with no difficulty. In fact, Michigan Public Radio’s engineer Bob Skon was able to set this connection to automatically connect each time.
Since beginning my job at IPR, we have been branching out into more live events and using the BRIC-Link IIs more and more. On Fridays during part of the year, we connect with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and we broadcast their performances live. We also have built a live kit which uses a wireless craddlepoint router, and a BRIC-Link II which we can now use to go live from anywhere there is a cellular broadband connection.
In the 2018 International Radio Program Competition, we won an award for a live broadcast that we aired utilizing the BRIC-Link II. The New York Philharmonic was performing in Ann Arbor, Michigan and we wanted to carry the concert live. To make this a reality we set up a IP link from Ann Arbor Michigan to our radio station over four hours away, and then used a second BRIC-Link II to upload it to Content Depot for distribution to other stations. It was the first satellite uplink that IPR had ever done, and the sound quality was outstanding because of the quality and ease of use of the BRIC-Link IIs.
We also have been using BRIC-Link II for interviews. We often get requests from other media outlets to set up interviews with people who are local or in the area – they come to our studio, where they can be interviewed by someone in a remote studio. When that remote studio has IP codecs, all we have to do is perform a quick test, and then move forward with the interview. We regularly connect to Michigan Public Radio stations, but we’ve also connected to the BBC and to commercial stations across the country.
Our BRIC-Link II provides such great sound quality that it really does sound like the person being interviewed is in the same room as the host. It’s allowed us to replace the ISDN lines of the past which cuts costs as ISDN lines are becoming more expensive. We also make good use of the Opus codec, which provides us with high quality audio with very low latency and our live concerts sound superb.
BRIC-Link II is easy to use. Once it’s installed and it is setup on the network, all connections are saved in the Switchboard list. This makes it very easy for our hosts to manage the connections themselves. We provide them with a one-sheet of information for reference, but training is a breeze. There is a shortcut on the desktop that they click on to login to the BRIC-Link II, then they select the connection they would like to make and click connect, and that’s pretty much it. Periodically we test it to make sure it’s working, but this is mostly set it and forget it.
BRIC-Link II is very intuitive to use. It fits into most studios – whether you’re running analog or digital, you have options. BRIC-Link II is very easy to implement and integrate into your system to be up and running in no time. I’ve recommended it to friends and fellow engineers for STLs and for a wide range of other functions, and it’s allowed us to expand our live programming here at Interlochen Public Radio.