Playing a vital role in keeping its listeners connected during the Coronavirus lockdown, community radio station, East Leeds FM’s newly created remote broadcasting setup has an Allen & Heath SQ-5 at its heart.
Although created as an Internet broadcaster, East Leeds FM identified a need to provide information, advice and company over FM radio to vulnerable older residents without Internet access. The station quickly secured a temporary FM license and created a new daily show, Keeping A Distance, Staying Close. With presenters and technicians unable to access the station’s regular home at the Chapel FM arts centre in Leeds, UK since March, it fell to volunteer and former BBC sound engineer, Phil Driscoll to devise a solution for recording and broadcasting the show.
Phil’s office has become the nerve centre of the organisation, handling the live broadcast, external presenters, contributors and interviewees along with playout of pre-recorded material and jingles. An Allen & Heath SQ-5 console, originally purchased for recording brass band performances, is now moonlighting as a broadcast console, mixing the main programme, handling talkback and managing clean feed cue sends to remote contributors.
“The SQ-5 has performed flawlessly. The flexibility of the routing and the multiple mixes has meant that I can configure it to behave like a radio desk, even though it wasn't designed as one,” comments Phil. “The trickiest challenge was setting up individual talkbacks to each outside source so that I can talk to contributors without disturbing the presenters on air. With some inspired help from the A&H community forum, I arrived at a solution using mute groups on softkeys which gives me an individual talkback button for each remote source.”
A ZED-420 console is used as the main output desk, with its USB output driving the station’s FM transmitter and webcast. Three smaller studios are set up in presenters’ homes, including one employing a ZED-14 mixer for pre-recording content.
Following the success of Keeping A Distance, Staying Close, East Leeds FM has equipped an additional remote studio with an SQ-5 to broadcast youth-oriented evening shows.