Behind The Convention Technical Challenges


The radio networks had more than two weeks to send crews out to Cleveland to build booths and wire up work areas for the RNC, but they had to squeeze the same prep into a little over a weekend for the DNC. They’re also working within the same heavy security restraints in Philadelphia as they had in Cleveland.

Westwood One EVP News & Talk Bart Tessler tells RBR+TVBR Weekly Tech Roundup: “The convention center, where security and party briefings and other events take place, was downtown in Cleveland and within the security perimeter. For the DNC it’s in center city while the Wells Fargo Arena is in the stadium complex in South Philly. It takes more planning and a much bigger trip to go back and forth.”

WWO-News-DelaneyMontiHere’s the booth Westwood one and the RNC vendor built. It was below the light grid with a direct head-on view. They also took out arena seats and built a press row type facility with counter top for live broadcast for affiliate stations who attended. In the photo is Westwood One News and Talk VP Kevin Delany and Engineering VP Greg Monti.

To accommodate all the coverage, Westwood is issuing ISDN, Comrex access, and apps like QGo Live and Luci Live. And once in a while, even a POTS line, says Tessler.

Four years ago, convention coverage was largely driven by ISDN for point-to-point communications from the hall to the station, according to Steve Jones, VP & GM, ABC Radio. That was expensive. “This year, 75% of our remotes are getting programming via IP and 25% are using ISDN,” he tells us.

That’s because “the days of unreliable Internet connectivity … have changed.”

CBS Radio News VP Harvey Nagler tells RBR+TVBR in an interview the technical aspect is a lot easier than it used to be. “Years ago you had studios set up on the convention floor, with editors using reel-to-reel tape machines.”

“It’s easier to report from the area with an iPhone or apps for that phone, and you can get broadcast quality.” Personnel use some apps to edit the material on desktop or other device. “Some people can edit [the material] themselves on the phone.”

“It’s a big benefit to us in getting the product out,” said Nagler.