PBS Station WOSU@COSI Selects Max Air Console as Part of Transition to Digital
New Digital Audio Console Is Central to TV and Radio Operations
WOSU, a PBS affiliate licensed and operated by Ohio State University, recently moved into its new digital media center in the city's Center of Science and Industry (COSI), one of the country's major children's science centers. The venerable station, which for years has produced a variety of radio and television programming for the community—including programs such as the public affairs shows Viewpoint and Columbus on the Record—is now in a state-of-the-art showcase facility that is as much a hands-on science museum as it is a top-notch production center. At the center of this exciting new groundbreaking venture, officially known as WOSU@COSI, is a brand-new Max Air Digital Audio Mixing System.
Designed with future expansion in mind, WOSU@COSI's new Max Air console supports 106 channels, 24 program busses, 24 group/mix minus busses, 16 aux busses, 24 microphone preamps, 24 line level analog inputs, 24 pairs (48 channels) of AES/EBU digital I/O, and 24 line level analog outputs (not counting the monitor section)—all of which is housed in a 16+8 fader configuration. The mixing desk was purchased in May 2006 and installation of the system was completed in October 2006, with integration handled by Communications Engineering, Inc. (CEI) of Washington, D.C.
For the greater Columbus community, WOSU@COSI opens the doors to the exciting new world of digital broadcast. Guests to the facility are able to view TV and radio broadcast productions in progress through a series of large glass viewing areas that provide glimpses into both the station's studios and control rooms. Additionally, visitors can experience exciting hands-on digital media activities, exhibits and media literacy workshops as part of the WOSU@COSI experience.
"We handle a lot of programming—both radio and TV—and the new Max Air console will enable us to expand into new areas," John J. Prosek, WOSU@COSI's TV broadcast manager, said. "We anticipate adding more music productions, additional local shows and, hopefully, more series programming. We plan to be a major producer of non-sports OSU related programming for the Big Ten Channel, a national network devoted to Big Ten athletic and academic programs. The new facilities open a wealth of opportunity for us and our new Max Air will be central to much of this activity."
We handle a lot of programming—both radio and TV—and the new Max Air console will enable us to expand into new areas
Among its numerous features, the WOSU evaluation team was particularly impressed with the Max Air's touchscreen interface, the PatchNet on-screen digital routing system, which replaces a conventional patchbay and handles all console inputs, outputs and internal routing as well as the Superchannel function that enables any channel to be brought to the console's center for detailed control adjustments and graphics display of EQ, Dynamics, Pan and additional system parameters. "The Max Air's touchscreen interface, Superchannel and PatchNet features facilitate an entirely new way of working," Prosek said. "As we get acclimated to the new system, I'm confident these features will significantly streamline workflow for us."
While the WOSU staff has been working with their new Max Air for just a short time, they've already become enamored with its intuitive design—particularly its layout function, which enables individual operators to configure channel signal paths in relation to the physical channel strips. Layouts can be named and recalled at the push of a button and they enable the engineer to logically assemble sources for instant recall. "The Max Air's layout feature is a real time saver," Prosek said, "as it gives us the ability to configure the console for any show or event and then recall that setup and be ready to go on a moment's notice."
Prosek was equally enthusiastic about his experience with Avid customer and technical support. "Most of our initial information came by way of the CEI integration staff, then after installation, Avid Product Specialist James Tunnicliffe spent a considerable amount of time training our staff," Prosek said. "He was extremely thorough and subsequent questions have been addressed in a very responsive manner. I also had the opportunity to meet several other Avid staffers during this year's NAB show and, again, the entire team made every effort to ensure that our questions were being handled expediently. I look forward to developing a long-term business relationship with the company."
As a university-affiliated station, WOSU@COSI also has students working at the facility, and Prosek believes their exposure to the Max Air will be a positive point for future career development. "I believe the opportunity to work on a console of this nature will be a very important and beneficial experience for our students when they enter the market for a job," Prosek said. "By being able to demonstrate they have work experience behind a Avid console, I'm confident they will be taken seriously. Our Max Air is a positive step for both our present broadcast operations as well as the development of future broadcast professionals."
Avid has a successful client relationship with many PBS stations in the US including installations with KCET Los Angeles, KQED San Francisco, WEDU Tampa, WTVS Detroit, WMHT Schenectady, KOPB Portland, MPTV Milwaukee and WIPR in Puerto Rico.