As you consider building your new LPFM or internet station, take some time to think about the people that will be operating it every day.
A radio station has a lot of things going on…
– You may have a live guest and a telephone caller as part of your program.
– You may have a co-host at a remote location, connected over the internet.
– You need to record an interview for later use, at the same time the computer is playing pre-recorded files on the air.
– You may have a producer on a telephone line that you need to hear in your ear, but his voice should not go out over the air.
The station outlined here will have multiple microphones and headphones, a telephone interface, an internet codec, an automation computer, and a mixer to manage them all.
The person operating the mixer needs to understand how to get each piece of audio sent to the right destination. A mixing board that’s “purpose-built” for radio broadcasting will be able to do all of these functions with a few simple button clicks.
Some folks try to economize by using a “general-purpose” mixer (like Mackie, Yamaha, etc) because they cost a bit less than a radio board.
A general-purpose mixer may have a hundred (or more) controls and buttons, and all the cables are right on top. If any of those controls or cables is disturbed, or put in a wrong position, your program will suffer. And the person that’s running the show may not have any idea how to get it back to the original configuration.
General-purpose mixers are missing many of the functions that we need in broadcasting, like microphone on/off control, muting of the room speakers when a mic is active, remote starting of playback machines, etc. (Some of these functions can be added with external equipment, but that adds to the number of controls and cables.)
Broadcast mixing boards have all the wiring hidden from view, and have only enough controls to get the job done. Most of the “configuration” is baked in to the board, where it can’t be accidentally disabled by an unskilled user.
In addition, broadcast mixers are built to operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They are rugged, quiet, reliable, and easy for even the least technically-minded user to understand.
Do it right. Use a broadcast mixer. We have several models made especially for LPFM and internet use. Have a look at the Audioarts AIR1 and AIR4, and the Arrakis ARC-8, ARC10, and ARC-15. We have more, but these will get you started in the right direction.