The Media Pool
When I arrived to the KHBS/KHOG TV market in 1998 the tertiary station KHOG in Fayetteville was running its locally sold spots by manually breaking away from the programming they were receiving from KHBS. The Master Control Operator on duty would change a crosspoint on their router and then manually trigger a series of spots to run off of their Odetics 3/4” (U-Matic) tape system. Just reading this makes many people that know what I’m referring to cringe and shudder.
One of the first tasks upon my hiring was to find a more efficient way for spots to air for both stations. After a lackluster demo by Tektronix for their new “Profile” system we purchased a Philips (now owned by Thomson) Media Pool system. This media server had enough inputs, outputs and shared hard-drive storage using Motion JPEG compression to more than adequately do the job so that all spots, promos and PSAs could be stored, scheduled and played back for both stations. In fact, we had enough spare room on the system to delay (when needed) the second of two college football games without having to use a complicated three tape machine circus.
This project seems like an easy task for any broadcast engineer, however in addition to feeding both stations entirely different video streams during a commercial break we also needed to have just the video for the remote station (KHOG) “look” back to us while still listening to the audio from the playing spot. Every hour we would run a spot that would announce to the viewer that they were taking a live look at our Radar sweep and the operator would take the video from our local radar system when cued by the meteorologist in the spot. Sometimes they would call for it, sometimes not. I designed the solution by using a simple Videotek RS-12A video/audio switcher and some interface circuitry I designed to switch from the main airpath signal to the output of the Media Pool during a typical break. The KHOG break would have the last Radar spot missing so the viewers in Fayetteville would unwittingly be looking back at the main signal and would see the Radar if the MCO put it on. It sounds simple explaining it now, but at the time getting everything coordinated and everyone on the same format was a lot more work than this description makes it seem…