For the first time in half a decade, sustained heavy downpours played havoc with match schedulers’ plans at this year’s Wimbledon Championships. But although this might have heralded some content challenges, the rain did not stop play for RSL (restricted service licence) radio station Live@Wimbledon Radio, which continued to broadcast from nine am to 30 minutes after the final match each day.
In charge of delivering the broadcast is long-term All-England Club media and production partner IMG Media, under a team led by Steve Tebb. In addition to local transmission with an approximate 10-mile radius (tournament visitors can even buy portable radios manufactured especially by Sound Decisions), Live@Wimbledon Radio can be heard extensively in the US via ESPN and Sirius/XM – the latter part of the satellite radio sector that “remains absolutely huge in the States,” notes Tebb.
Delivering this service is a small but dedicated team that includes, two editors, three live producers, a planning producer, four engineers (two on air at any time) and three audio editors – sourced from broadcast courses at Goldsmiths College – who “roll across multiple incoming feeds, including commentary, interviews and reports around the ground”. In terms of commentary/reporter positions, the team currently has 13 at its disposal.
Onsite set-up and integration are undertaken by RG Jones in the week preceding the tournament, with Gearhouse Broadcast supplying all equipment. The core kit list includes a Yamaha M7CL mixer, Genelec and Fostex loudspeakers, a 360 Systems Short/Cut digital recorder/editor, a Leitch audio router, a Telex Cronus talkback system, a CTP audio monitor and Wireless Works radio mics. Also in use are Sonifex commentary units, deployed in conjunction with Sennheiser HMD 25 headsets, Coles lip microphones, and USB audio interfaces from Roland and Focusrite.
In previous years, the radio team has also utilised Technica Del Arte’s groundbreaking LUCI broadcast software applications, which allow journalists to go live, record, edit and deliver audio to radio and TV stations using a mobile phone or laptop. “Due to 3G signals it was intermittent,” says Tebb. “However, we will investigate this again as bandwidth/technology are constantly improving.”
No dramatic changes are envisaged to the set-up or operational approach of Live@Wimbledon Radio in the near-future, but Tebb confirms that IMG “will continue to work closely with the [All-England] Club,” adding that “as and when additional commentary/reporter positions are built/available, we would look to add them to our areas of broadcast”.