By Walt Ellis
Senior Radio Engineer
|PHOENIX — The Arizona Cardinals traveled to London this past season to play the Los Angeles Rams as part of the NFL London Games. As an engineer for the Cardinals, I traveled with flagship station KMVP(FM)/98.7 to cover the game.
We had multiple shows to produce in the time we were in London. “Doug and Wolf Show,” the KMVP morning show hosted by Ron Wolfley and Doug Franz, was set to broadcast all but one of the six days we were abroad. We also needed to produce our weekly show, “The Big Red Rage,” from The Admiralty, a pub in Trafalgar Square. Not to mention, we needed to get our play-by-play and color commentary on the air during the actual game. So there were many moving pieces for us to manage.I always carry two Comrex ACCESS 2USB codecs for backup. But because all the pregame shows, in English and Spanish, were going to be done from a big tailgating party outside the stadium, I decided that we would need four portable units that could work with Wi-Fi and cellular signal. Upon the release of the new ACCESS NX, we decided to add two of those portable units along with mixers to our kit.
When we arrived in London, we only had an hour or so to set up. We immediately went to a conference room in the hotel that was preconfigured for our broadcasts and booted up the ACCESS NX that I’d taken with me in my carry-on, with no time to test anything. Because the Arizona Cardinals have a terrific IT department and the networks had been configured, I plugged the LAN cable into the ACCESS NX, plugged in some headsets, and we were on the air by the time “Doug and Wolf” started at 6 a.m. Arizona time.
About an hour and a half after we settled at the hotel, the second ACCESS NX unit arrived. I set it up so that our sideline reporter and pregame show host, Paul Calvisi, could do his hits for our local news station. After a snafu with the hotel Wi-Fi, I hooked up the ACCESS NX unit to a second LAN connection in a separate hotel room, Paul was able to do all his updates, and it worked out wonderfully. We used the same setup for two more days of broadcasting — it went off without a hitch.
For one day, we broadcast the “Doug and Wolf Show,” Paul’s sports updates and an expanded two-hour “Big Red Rage” show from The Admiralty. On a balcony inside of this pub overlooking the main floor, we set up the ACCESS NX units with a LAN connection. All of the shows went off without a hitch. On game day, we set up the two NX units to do all the backhaul of the two pregame shows that were outside of the stadium, and then inside of the stadium my two ACCESS 2USB units were used in conjunction with ISDN units for the actual game day broadcast. In all of these cases, our ACCESS units worked perfectly.
If you have familiarity with the ACCESS 2USB, a few differences are noticeable as soon as you unbox the ACCESS NX. You see that there are two mic inputs instead of one. This means that you can immediately have two people on the air without adding a mixer. That’s a huge benefit.
You also notice the larger screen. This makes the unit easy to read in the field, plus the menus are simple to navigate. Additionally, I really like the level controls, especially the input control that lights up red if the levels are starting to get too high. If you’re not watching things closely, the light makes it easy to see if something is going awry.
Our ACCESS units were our primary and only means of broadcast for most of the shows we pulled off while in London. I enjoyed using them — they performed flawlessly, and our programs sounded great.