VRT deploys an illuminated remote radio studio

Compact solution for outdoor broadcasts makes its way into Studio Brussel and Radio 2 broadcasts

BRUSSELS – Public broadcaster VRT Labo Radio now uses its first “Light Remote Radio Studio” for the broadcasts of Studio Brussel and Radio 2.

Studio Brussel presenter Stijn Vlaeminck (center) controls the main VRT studio from his living room, with Studio Brussel engineer Wim Reyniers (left) and Labo Radio engineer Geert Cantens (right).

The broadcaster first tested the new mobile studio with MNM presenter Peter Van de Veire, when he hosted New York’s “Ochtendshow” (“Morning Show”). He then made a second test for the program “Bij Vlaeminck” (“Chez Vlaeminck”) Studio Brussel, where DJ Stijn Vlaeminck produced the show from his living room.

Labo Radio is the VRT radio taskforce for all station hardware and software systems used for radio production. In close collaboration with DJs, journalists and music programmers, Labo Radio is constantly developing solutions to help radio staff produce creative content.

The Light Remote Radio Studio uses Peplink Pepwave MAX HD4.

The Labo Radio team is also involved in the design and implementation of the next generation of VRT radio studios for the broadcaster’s future headquarters, which should be ready in 2021. By means of “proof of concepts”, Labo Radio, together with -air, aims to make the future radio studio more user-friendly and flexible through the use of new technologies.

“The main idea behind the Light Remote Radio Studio concept is that for outdoor broadcasts, we only take the ‘remote’ on site,” said Tom Hantson, VRT radio system expert and driving force behind the concept. “Audio sources such as phone, music, jingles or commercials stay in the main VRT broadcast center, the presenter’s microphone signal and audio source control are in place. “

The new concept consists of standard broadcast equipment such as a DHD 52 / MX console, a laptop computer controlling a Dalet Plus broadcast system, a Bionics Bionic Studio Broadcast telephone system, four Shure Beta 87 microphones or four Sennheiser HME headphones.

“VRT engineers have developed this technology remotely,” said Christophe Delplace, VRT radio support manager.

Tom Hantson (center) and Pieter De Coster (right) explain the operation of the Light Remote Radio to VRT CTO Stijn Lehaen (left).

“The DHD already had a ‘control link’ to control multiple cores with a single console, or to distribute the faders on a console to one or more remote users. The New York experience allowed us to test this long distance, and it proved to be successful, ”added Hantson.

The Light Remote Radio Studio uses a dedicated IP VPN tunnel using the Peplink Pepwave MAX HD4 router. “The big challenge was the delay and jitter when using the IP connection,” said Pieter De Coster, VRT Radio System Engineer.

“Too much delay would have been disastrous for the result on the air. We had good results with a buffer in the VPN tunnel, but it had to be doable for the presenter. In the case of New York, Van de Veire is an experienced DJ and has reported positive results with the solution.

The current final version of the Light Remote Radio Studio includes a feature that allows the presenter to fine-tune the delay from the outdoor broadcast location, synchronizing the output signal from the antenna with the DJ’s headphones. “It all comes down to balancing usability with the added possibilities this technology offers,” Delplace said.

“In the event of a problem such as loss of signal, the engineer at the VRT broadcast center receives an acoustic warning signal and can take control,” added Hantson and De Coster.

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With a second Light Remote Radio Studio in production, outdoor broadcasts require less staff and logistics. Does this mean the end of OB vans for the broadcaster?

“We are facing an increasing demand for on-premise broadcasts,” said Delplace. “Previously, we had to drive a OB van or truck with 10 flight cases to the site, and two engineers for 12 hours for standard production. The Light Remote Radio Studio comes in two compact flight cases with an engineer, reducing the amount of resources and assistance required to around 60%. This allows us to meet growing demand without increasing the workforce.

In September, VRT Radio 2 began using the Light Remote Radio Studio for its Saturday morning show “Start je Dag”, hosted by Kim Debrie. VRT’s Studio Brussel is also implementing the solution on Fridays for an eight-hour radio program from SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) throughout Flanders, offering “music at work”.


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