Behind the Scenes: Tools of the Trade
As it pours here in Burlington, Iowa, I thought tonight might be a good time to do a LumberBlog feature on my broadcast setup here in the booth. It’s a question I’ve been asked a few times, mostly by up-and-coming broadcasters that want to know what equipment to go after.
Believe it or not, not every broadcaster uses the same equipment or setup. Our setup at KCLN is not quite as advanced as some of the Tieline and Comrex systems that have gained prevalence in this league, but it’s very reliable and almost impossible to screw up.
I use a JK Audio RemoteMix Sport as both an audio mixer and a telephone hybrid, connecting straight into a dedicated or digital phone line to trasmit the broadcast. The RemoteMix Sport (pictured below) has three separate channels of which to mix audio. I usually use Mic 1 for my headset, Mic 2 for my crowd mic (or sometimes in-game interview mic) and Mic 3 for my computer patch (for pre-recorded interviews and highlights).
The keys on top might remind you of a phone keypad, because that’s exactly what it is. It’s very simple to dial the number back to the station and get right through. It’s not visible in the picture, but this board also has a Line Out on the back that exports the full mix of the three channels. I have this patched into my digital recorder to pick up the highlights you hear on the LumberKings Post Game Show and on this blog.
Speaking of my digital recorder, it’s a TASCAM DR-07 that I purchased from Guitar Center. Yes, that sounds off the beaten path for sports broadcasters, but the mini recorders that you buy at office supply stores just don’t have the audio clarity that my TASCAM does. Its original intent is to record music either live or straight off a mixer, so it’s perfect for sports. It cost me about $200, but it’s the single-most-important part of my gear.
This recorder captures MP3-quality audio (or WAV) and does so with a pair of stereo mics (hidden under the wind screen). I use this for all of my pregame interviews as a hand-held device and then patch it into my board to record the games. It records to a mini-SD card and holds about two games-worth of audio before I transfer it over to my computer.
Which brings me to the next-most-vital piece of equipment, my mobile office. AKA my HP Pavilion. Yes, I’m not a Mac guy, but I’ve gotten two-plus seasons of service out of my HP.
Aside from the obvious uses (game notes, rosters, email/internet access, blog updates) this HP serves as my mobile sound editor. That’s because I have Adobe Audition software on my computer (seen on-screen). I learned to use Adobe Audition while enrolled in an Advanced Radio class at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. This program allows me to edit all of my highlights and interviews, multi-track them with music and effects if I want to, and export to a final product. I can also fix clicks, pops and wind, speed clips up, slow them down, take out unneccessary pauses, etc. It’s quite a powerful program, and it’s not cheap. So start saving now!
Between innings, I’ll usually move my highlights from the TASCAM over to the computer so I can edit the clips to the right length and have them ready to play on the post-game show. I also will patch this computer through to my mixer.
Finally, the piece of equipment that makes me sound so good (I think)…my BeyerDynamic DT290 headset. My totally awesome parents purchased this for me last Christmas and I’ve already used it for the Fulton High School Basketball season and the first 40 games this year. Headphone selection is all about personal preference, and I happen to love this one.
There’s not too much to say about my headset, except that it’s comfortable and it sounds great. It’s also pretty rugged as far as headsets go.
Here’s a look at the whole setup working in conjunction. Assuming I have the space, this same layout is what I use at every ballpark in the Midwest League, including Alliant Energy Field. The binder is where I keep all of my stats and information that I flip through during the game. Behind is the tarped field here at Community Field in Burlington.
Hopefully this has been interesting to some of you. There’s more advanced setups in professional baseball, but this is how I bring my broadcasts to you. If you’re interested in purchasing any equipment of your own, I recommend the following sites:
- BSWUSA.com - They sell pretty much everything you can think of.
- JK Audio’s Website - Home of the RemoteMix line of telephone hybrids.
- Guitar Center - More than you’d think for the sports radio guy.
Any questions on anything? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.