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NAB 2017: Interview with Rob Chickering of Blaze TV

June 01, 2017 by Chuck Baker

Rob Chickering is both a well-known radio engineer respected in his profession, and a pioneer in the growth of visual radio, wherein a radio show is live-streamed to more fully engage audiences. Chickering relates the transition of the legendary Kidd Kraddick in the Morning show: from a simple webcam to using a traditional switcher and multiple cameras, then finally to a fully produced live-streamed program using TriCaster® both for the live segments and to add pre-produced video segments from the DDRs during breaks. TriCaster also enabled them to replay the completed show on a loop the rest of the day, making it available to new viewers, anywhere in the world, on Ustream.

Chickering became a savvy television engineer along the way. In 2010, one of the folks who reached out to the Kraddick team about live streaming was Glenn Beck’s organization, which later bought a TriCaster. Years later, Chickering is now SVP of Engineering and Studio Operations for *The Blaze, Glenn Beck, Mercury Radio Arts, *responsible for a production pipeline covering broadcast television and radio, and internet distribution of both live and pre-recorded video and audio programming.

TriCasters are the mainstay of the productions. “We’re probably originating 8 to 10 hours of content per day, some of it “pre-taped” and fed to our distributors, but we have a lot of live content as well,” says Chickering. An example he cites: “We have a TriCaster now that does Facebook Live 3 hours a day.”

One of the changes that Beck wanted for his programming was to get away from the huge pedestal cameras and get a DSLR/film look. Chickering observed that most switchers can’t deal with DSLRs and other modern camera types, but TriCaster’s unique technology for frame sync on every input can handle virtually any cameras in any combination. “We use DSLRs, GoPros, anything we please.”

The production group is in progress changing over to NDI® throughout the studios. “For us it’s the flexibility,” he says. “If you have one or two TriCasters and you can pull up any of those NDI sources on either TriCaster, that gives us the ability to do a remote from across the building, we can have TriCasters back each other up, we can do a new show and just throw in a few more sources, and we can share sources across TriCasters.”

“Being able to expand without running video cable, just adding nodes and network switches, that’s pretty cool,” Chickering concludes.

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