Taking the Show on the Road

Taking the Show on the Road

I have long wanted to be equipped to easily do Govern America from any location, and on short notice. My intention is to be able to have a couple of bags of studio equipment that I can grab and go. Think of a “bug out” bag, only for remote radio broadcasting.

Originally, I thought I would have to buy several computers — one for each function — which is the way I do it in the studio. For instance, run Skype on one computer, the automation which runs the bumps and breaks on another machine, the actualities / clips on yet another computer. Then, of course, you have to have a designated computer to stream and record the show. I do have cloud automation which handles the streams when I am not streaming live from the studio, and it records the show, but I don’t like to depend upon a single copy. Furthermore, if there is any hiccups in the live stream, it would make it into that recording. We have affiliates that rebroadcast the show at a later time and we provide them with a clean copy, so if something goes wrong during the live stream, we can still provide them with a flawless copy of the show to run later.

Running several machines is okay for the studio environment, but when you’re considering duplicating everything you have in a studio environment for purposes of portability, not only is buying extra computers expensive in terms of dollars, it is also very cumbersome having to drag around all of that extra weight.

Hence, I got the idea of buying extra sound cards for the laptops. This way, each function can be put on its own sound card and all can be run on the same machine.

The reason why it’s important to have them all run on their own separate sound card, is that I need to be able to assign each program its own pot on the mixer so that it can be controlled independently of the others. For example, if you have someone on Skype, you don’t want to have the bumper music fire and override the person’s voice. Or if I’m playing an actuality going into or coming out of a break, I need to be able to have the music bed underneath the bite.

So, my hope is that by running multiple, external sound cards on a single laptop, that I can significantly cut down on the baggage I need to take on location. Additionally, it will be cheaper, which is always a plus.

There is still no getting around the need for a good mixer with no less than two mix-minus channels, at least one (preferably two) high quality microphones, all of the associated cables, power cords, and power strips, and some form of audio processing to keep the levels radio friendly. The latter part is going to be my next struggle.

There are many audio processing units that I could buy for this purpose. The one I currently use in the studio is a four channel rack mountable unit. I could purchase something similar, but I would prefer to have a much smaller piece of equipment. I’ve found a few small devices, but the quality has been questionable.

Ultimately, the idea is to enough equipment to produce the live show, from any location with a decent cell data signal, and not have to tear apart my studio equipment. Figuring out where all of the cables go, even with their being labeled, can be somewhat of a time-consuming process. It would be nice to avoid that headache.

The reason I want to do all of this is really two-fold. I would like to be able to have the capability to visit relatives or even go camping and not worry about missing the show. Secondly, and just as importantly, when the Internet goes down at my home studio location, I don’t have to worry about missing the show. We live in the country and our Internet has been unreliable. Often, it will go down on a Friday and I don’t know if it will be back up on Saturday, in time for the show. It’s very frustrating.

Having a portable studio would solve that problem. I would just take a couple of bags and throw them in the van, drive to a location where the cell signal is nice and strong, and go live from a parking lot some place. The van can be left running, with inverters being used to convert the vehicles DC current to AC for the equipment, and for climate control.

It is going to be fun to experiment with this, and for the first time in a while, I am actually making some good progress. Stay tuned.