CHICAGO, IL Clear-Com®, a global leader in critical voice-communication systems, equipped WLS-TV, an ABC-owned television station, with reliable communications capability for the broadcast of the 2011 Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, the country’s largest evening holiday celebration. WLS-TV used two Clear-Com Tempest®900 900 MHz digital wireless intercoms and three HME DX200 2.4 GHz digital wireless systems to coordinate its production and broadcast with improved range in coverage and unfailing wireless connections.
Clear-Com’s Tempest900 intercoms simplified communications and improved the working environment of the WLS-TV team by broadening the communications range, providing a secure connection, and delivering remarkable audio quality. The reach and reliability offered by the Tempest900 systems allowed the “event coordinators” to roam and communicate along Michigan Avenue, at any given time. This wireless intercom effectively covered a three city block span, between the Michigan Avenue Bridge to the south, and Illinois Street to the north, without the issues of audio fading or connection loss for the crucial event coordination.
“The Tempest900 functioned well, providing reliable communication throughout an extensive area of Michigan Avenue, even though it is an RF-hostile environment,” says Mike Cunningham, RF/Audio Engineer for WLS-TV. “We simply installed two Tempest900 systems at a single location at the base of the festival route, and that was sufficient to enable clear conversations to occur throughout the course of the event. This installation allowed for faster decision making, shortened response time, and ultimately, more effective collaboration.”
Not only does the Tempest900 operate in the license-free 900 MHz range away from crowded frequency bands, it also utilizes patented Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) radio technology, allowing a narrow band signal that is continually changing frequencies to break through RF noise and interference. Further, the Tempest900 significantly increases communications range, powerfully penetrates dense structures and offers high resistance to multipath interference. The Tempest900 digital wireless system was developed to provide dependable communication and efficient coordination for extremely demanding environments such as those posed by coverage along Michigan Avenue.
Other features of the Tempest900 that benefitted the coverage were the abilities of the T-Desk software to check signal strength and battery life and the BaseStations’ ease of integration with third-party technologies. The T-Desk monitoring software was used to remotely adjust microphone levels, at the BaseStation, in real time from an easy-to-use graphical interface, thus increasing clarity without interrupting users. The Tempest900 seamlessly interfaced with communication devices in the production truck, interconnecting with the existing wired system and three HME’s DX200 wireless units.
Proven successful in previous years, Clear-Com’s HME DX200 digital wireless intercoms were again utilized in conjunction with the Tempest900 systems for stage managers, lighting and producer intercoms. The broadcast team employed the HME DX200 at the base of the parade route and the Tempest900 antennas along the parade itself. Clear-Com’s advanced digital wireless systems geared the WLS-TV crew to broadcast and safely coordinate festival performances and float movements along the entire route.
“One million people from all across the country gathered for the Magnificent Mile 2011 Lights Festival, and even more will watch it from their homes,” says Michael Rucker, Senior Regional Sales Manager for Central USA, Clear-Com. “We’re proud that our Clear-Com wireless intercom systems were able to help the ABC7 team reach their full potential to broadcast such a grand holiday event with reliable wireless coverage.”
Chicago’s Magnificent Mile 2011 Lights Festival featured over 40 impressive floats and musical performances. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, from the Walt Disney World® Resort, led the illumination of more than one million lights on 200 trees along Michigan Avenue. Streaming video from the November 19 live broadcast of the 2011 Magnificent Mile Lights Festival is available at WLS-TV’s website at abc7Chicago.com. The program will be rebroadcast throughout the holiday season by ABC7 Chicago and 72 markets nationwide.