BBC Radio 1’s season opening live festival broadcast for 2012 will be bigger and more technically involved than this year’s Big Weekend, writes Kevin Hilton. The Hackney Weekend will be part of the Cultural Olympiad celebrations, with the broadcast audio coverage building IP, MADI and fibre distriubtion as used for the 2011 event. Next year’s festival will host six stages, compared to the four for the Big Weekend held at Carlisle Airport towards the end of May (pictured). Richard Earle, outside broadcast manager for BBC Radio Obs, observes that each successive event builds on the work done and the technologies used at the previous one. The 2011 Big Weekend marked a number of firsts. It was the first time most of the new OB trucks in the BBC Radio Resources fleet had been together on a single broadcast. This gave the opportunity to connect the mobiles using their Stagetec Nexus hub routers. Seven OB units and a Portakabin studio were used for mixing and distributing feeds from the stages. An large amount of MADI was employed for cue programme, programme feeds and talkback, amongst other applications. It was controlled using touch screens running the BBC-designed BNCS (Broadcast Network Control System). RF specialist Wireless Works provided talkback, radio mics and a multichannel audio over IP system connected by fibre, backed up by a radio link. The IP connection delivered five stereo programme links to the transmission codecs; two SystemBase C520xr units, with a Telos Zephyr Xstream as backup. Because BT could not extend its ISDN lines across the airport, so two lengths of 1700 metre single-mode fibre cable was run around the perimeter of the site. www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/events/hackneyweekend2012/
Big Weekend gets big broadcast operation
Music festivals are generally created to catch the music of the time and tie it to a place that suits the vibe. TV and radio usually catch up and start bringing these events to a wider audience once they are established. BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend is staged like a traditional festival but was conceived to be as much a broadcast as a live happening.