Tieline Technologies

James May Broadcasts Live from Grand Union Canal


Wired Broadcast operates and provides location facilities for broadcasters throughout the UK and they use Tieline IP audio codecs for live broadcasts in a variety of challenging environments.

Radio Man Lab – a novelty feature created for Top Gear presenter James May’s BBC2 TV series Man Lab – recently presented a challenging brief to Wired Broadcast, which involved May broadcasting a five‐hour radio show live to Milton Keynes on an FM restricted service license (RSL) from a moving boat!

--- James May 1

With just one week’s notice, Wired Broadcast’s brief was to install and staff a fully‐equipped radio studio on a narrow-boat, an FM transmitter on top of a church in Milton Keynes and a reliable, broadcast‐quality stereo link between the two. This was achieved in order for May to broadcast his radio show to Milton Keynes on 107 FM stereo.

While on‐air, May’s narrow-boat studio navigated a 12 mile stretch of the Grand Union Canal on the outskirts of Milton Keynes. Guests were interviewed on‐board, on nearby craft and on the towpath, locks and pub beer‐gardens en‐route, and the whole endeavour was filmed for BBC2.

“The main challenge was to provide a reliable stereo link between the moving boat and the transmitter site,” said Johnnie Dymock, director of Wired Broadcast. “We used a Viprinet router on the boat with six 3G connections, and another at the church using four 3G connections plus a link to their guest Wi‐Fi. We also used a 3G amplifier on the boat as 3G signal levels were poor under bridges and through cuttings. The aggregated data connections created a reliable wireless IP connection for the Tieline Bridge‐IT IP codecs, which streamed a very reliable 192Kbps stereo link between boat and transmitter.”

The Bridge-IT codecs include advanced SmartStream software for IP packet management and the transmission link was glitch-free, despite the use of highly‐contended 3G connections in a challenging (and changing) terrain.

The studio, installed on the prow of the 72 foot Elizabeth of Glamis, comprised an assignable on‐air mixing desk, CD players and record deck, radio mics with in‐ear monitoring, GSM broadcaster phones for telephone interviews and Instant Replay for spots and jingles. A 15 watt stereo transmitter with processor and RDS encoder was situated on the roof of the church in central Milton Keynes.

--- James May 2

And the rest, as they say, was plain sailing. Wired Broadcast engineers were on hand to guide the novice DJ on his maiden voyage into radio as Man Lab Radio featured interviews, live music, phone‐ins, games and an eclectic mix of James May’s favourite tracks on CD and vinyl, leaving in its wake a canal full of bemused fishermen.

Other recent examples of Wired Broadcast’s live IP OBs include:

  • Radio Day: an OB kit was sent to Belfast for the opening of the Titanic Belfast Experience, with Downton Abbey’s Julian Fellowes.  Tieline codecs were used to link the audio back to Wired Broadcast’s offices in London. The signal was then “bridged” to various radio stations throughout the day.
  • In a similar way, Tieline IP codecs were used for live interviews with Tom Cruise from the red carpet outside Leicester Square Odeon for the premiere of Rock of Ages.
  • GMG Radio used Wired Broadcast’s Tieline codecs to broadcast live from the Take That concerts at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light.
  • The Roundhouse Trust used Tieline codecs throughout the Olympic Games to broadcast a live radio show every day, from a narrow-boat on the Regents Canal.
  • BBC Arabic and Persian used Tieline codecs to broadcast live from the US Elections.
  • Absolute Radio used Tieline codecs to broadcast their breakfast show live from Spitbank Fort, a Napoleonic fortress in the English Channel.

For more information please contact Johnnie Dymock on 020 8880 4840, or email broadcast@wiredbroadcast.com