Learfield IMG College finds simplicity of operation and audio quality pleasing

This story was originally published in Radio World. You can view the article on their site here.

The author is chief engineer, Broadcast Operations Division, at Learfield IMG College.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — As the chief engineer of the Learfield IMG College broadcast operations division, my team and I spend our days assuring that all of our broadcast facilities, equipment, remote connections, satellite uplink and internet streaming systems are all operating correctly. In addition to these tasks, also make sure that our remote crews have all of the equipment and cabling they need to do a complete broadcast. As time has gone on, my expertise has grown to include doing this work for our podcast-creating networks as well.

Studio at Learfield IMG College

One of the sports production studios at the Learfield IMG College broadcast operations facility in Jefferson City, Mo. A Comrex sits on the center shelf in the rack.

Learfield started dabbling in the podcasting world a few years ago, and in the last two years we’ve gotten deeper into podcasting and Facebook Live streaming with many of the networks we work with. At this point, we’re using the Comrex Opal for several podcasts.

For example, we use it for a weekly coach’s interview podcast with Kansas State Network, North Carolina State Wolfpack Network and the Wisconsin Badgers Network. Some Learfield IMG College sports networks use podcasting platforms to provide a weekly 10-minute insight into the coming week’s football/basketball game, where the play-by-play hosts often interview an opposing team’s coach.

We primarily use Opal to acquire audio from our play-by-play host talents, who are usually connecting from a home office or from the broadcast studio at their university. We also often use Opal’s second connection to patch in either our coach, or an opposing coach that could be located states away.

We utilize Opal by sending a connection link to guests, who can then connect to it on a laptop or mobile phone with just a click. Because some of our recurring weekly podcasts are streamed live, we use Opal in a live context as well.

When we think about doing an interview, whether with a governor or with talent or maybe even a sports icon, there is nothing better than using Opal to obtain a rich, full fidelity-high-quality audio feed.

We recently used Opal to do an interview on a COVID response with Kim Reynolds, the governor of Iowa. We sent the link, the governor’s team clicked it and connected to the Opal, and we connected our talent. With no extra fuss, we did a three-way call and recorded it.


Wyatt Thompson interviews Courtney Messingham

Wyatt Thompson, right, the voice of the Kansas State Wildcat Network, interviews Courtney Messingham, Kansas State football offensive coordinator.

The audio sounded incredible — much better coming through the Opal — than we would have had on a standard telephone coupler line.

In our experience, connecting talent and individuals with Opal is very simple. We’ve been able to use this platform across many talent levels — from folks that are not technically inclined all the way to people who are extremely tech-savvy. We’re able to walk most people through it, and once they do it the first time, they’re like “Wow, that was really easy.” And to me, that’s the beauty of this system. We send you a link, you get it on your laptop or on your smartphone, you press the button and talk into it, and you’re basically done.

Comrex Opal is a fantastic solution. We’ve found multiple uses for it: everything from doing a podcast to a phone interview or a three-way call. It’s affordable, and the audio quality sounds like everybody is sitting in the same studio. For anyone in the broadcasting world who wants to put up a high-quality audio stream or audio feed, there’s no comparison to anything else in the market. Opal sounds 150% better than just a standard phone call.