By Kevin Tucker
Chief Broadcast Engineer
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—With ESPN’s 2019 launch of the ACC Network—covering all Atlantic Coast Conference college sports—ACC schools needed to step up their production game. In order to fulfill the needs of both live national broadcasts and online, we at the University of North Carolina and its GoHeels Productions operation within the athletics department, needed significant upgrades to our infrastructure.
This was a major undertaking for two reasons: We needed to provide the hardware and personnel that previously would have been done by a broadcast truck; plus we cover a lot more events now. It was the perfect opportunity to build a new facility from the ground up, implementing the latest technologies. The RTS intercom system was a part of that.
STOCKING UP ON RTS
UNC’s new Athletics Media & Communications Center (MCC) is a twostory building housing three control rooms, a podcast radio room for live shows and a remote-controlled Bureau Cam Room for live coach interviews on ESPN. The previous facility relied on hiring remote trucks for national broadcasts, but the new MCC is fully self-contained. Our four-channel analog partyline intercom system has been replaced by a full RTS ADAM matrix frame, which is outfitted with 48 analog channels and 128 channels of Dante OMNEO digital.
The MCC features a total of 53 keypanel stations for communication, three of which are DKP-3016 portable desktop models that video board operators at the sports venues use to communicate with the control room. Mobile phones are easily ported into the system via eight TIF-2000A interfaces, also by RTS.
Another key component in seamlessly connecting the various sports venues is RTS ROAMEO, a wireless intercom system that essentially puts a full keypanel on the user’s hip, connecting into the ADAM system via wireless access points that are strategically located across the campus. A total of 15 AP-1800 access points provide coverage for men’s football and basketball—as well as the stadiums for field hockey, baseball, softball, soccer/lacrosse and women’s basketball—along with the Media Communications Center.
BIG TECH ON CAMPUS
With ROAMEO networked into the ADAM matrix, crew members can move between stadiums without changing wireless channels, enabling them to dial into the intercom matrix as if they were in the control room. ROAMEO has made things incredibly simple; when ESPN needs to communicate with people beyond our usual direct-to-web set-up, it’s no problem—we just grab a couple wireless beltpacks, program them in AZ Edit and it’s done.
Between the ACC Network and its online platform, UNC’s GoHeels Productions broadcasts about 75% of all athletic events on campus, including about 200 live telecasts throughout the school year. Depending on the event, the facilities draw from a diverse mix of full-time staff, freelancers and students from the university’s media and journalism programs, including all-student crews for some productions.
We chose RTS because we wanted the best and latest technologies, and we had no doubts that it would make everyone’s life easier—from the ESPN folks doing national broadcasts to our own employees and students who want to work in live sports as a career. We had already decided to go with IP-based audio, and RTS is an industry standard known for their reliability that plays nice with everything else that’s out there. It was an easy decision for us, and we’re very happy with the results.
Kevin Tucker is the chief broadcast engineer for UNC Athletics. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, visit www.rtsintercoms.com.