Technology

West Texas Gets Hi-Def News

KDFA News Channel 10 in Amarillo goes HD; other Drewry stations in region set to upgrade 3/07/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

Next for HD: Laughton, Waco, Midland-Odessa

The recent launch of an all-HD facility in Amarillo, Texas, is just one of the operations Drewry Broadcasting is planning to upgrade to HD over the next few months.

“Our entire group is committed to making this investment in HD,” says Brent McClure, VP and general manager of News Channel 10 Media, which operates five stations owned by Drewry in Amarillo. “We were the first to go in Amarillo, but [the hubs in] Laughton, Okla.; Waco, Texas; and Midland-Odessa, Texas will go in the next two months to HD.”

Smaller markets have been generally slower to move to HD, and the move by Drewry to upgrade several facilities is good news for vendors in the run-up to the National Association of Broadcasters convention in April, where HD upgrades will be an important topic.

Besides Amarillo, the HD upgrades will take place in the facility for the ABC affiliate KSWO in Lawton, Okla., where Drewry is headquartered and the company also broadcasts Telemundo programming on a digital channel; CBS affiliate KAUZ in Wichita Falls, Texas, which also operates CW; NBC affiliate KWES in Midland-Odessa, Texas, which operates two digital channels; and ABC affiliate KXXV in Waco, Texas, where a Telemundo channel and a Weather Now channel are also produced.

The group has tried to use many of the same vendors for the other upgrades as it did in Amarillo, says Tim Winn, chief engineer at NewsChannel 10 Media in Amarillo: “We bought mostly the same gear, so we can share in training and discovery.” —GW

In a Prominent example of how smaller markets
are increasingly investing in high-definition
upgrades, the CBS affiliate in Amarillo, Texas,
KDFA News Channel 10, has launched local HD newscasts.
The upgrade in Amarillo is the first of several
hi-def upgrades that Drewry Broadcasting is planning
for its stations in Texas and Oklahoma over the new
few months.

“We are the first station to go HD [for local news] in
the West Texas region,” says Brent McClure, VP and
general manager of NewsChannel 10 Media. McClure
oversees the five stations run out of the Amarillo facility.
“We are the only ones doing HD, other than the
PBS stations, between Oklahoma City [to the east] and
Albuquerque [New Mexico, to the west] or between
Oklahoma City and San Antonio [to the south].”

Amarillo is a small market, DMA 131, but Drewry
Broadcasting decided go all-HD for the facility, which
operates five stations—KDFA NewsChannel 10; Telemundo
affiliate KEYU; independent station KZBZ
NewsChannel 10 Too; LATV; and the NewsChannel 10
24/7 News and Weather channel.

That entailed a major investment of more than $1
million and required Drewry to replace much of the
facilities’ infrastructure, with the installation of a new
router, master control, studio cameras, weather system,
graphics system and about two miles of cable.

“The plant was composite analog,” says Tim Winn,
chief engineer at News Channel 10 Media, adding that
the decision to go all-HD had a number of advantages
in terms of costs and work flow. “Now that we are all
HD, everyone can share across all of the channels a lot
more easily. It is all HD, and we don’t have to worry
about what is coming in and going out or try to train
people in different work flows.”

Highly Defined Plans

The construction and upgrade was handled in-house,
without an outside integrator, by relatively modest engineering
and IT staff that consists of three full-time
employees (including Winn) and two part-time local
workers.

The key to handling such a huge change in the station’s
operations was careful planning and training,
Winn and McClure say.

To lay the foundation for the HD upgrade,
Drewry acquired HD-compatible playout services
from Digital Broadcast four and a half
years ago and began moving to a file-based
work flow, adopting Adobe Premiere for editing
four years ago. Next came news playout,
which “has been HD for three years,” Winn
notes.

For the HD upgrade, the company made its
equipment purchases in May 2010 with deliveries
beginning in the fall. The new Chryon
graphics system was installed in November
and used in a SD mode, and the Sony HXC100
studio cameras arrived in December, providing
staff with ample time to get used to the new
equipment.

The new production switcher from Ross
Video went in two weeks before the launch of
HD newscasts on Feb. 23. And while the new
weather system from Weather Central went
live on that day, they had been training on the
system since November.

The station also acquired a Utah Scientifi c
400 series router and a MC4000 master control.
In the field, they are using JVC GY-HM790
ProHD cameras and have purchased Canon XF
305 cameras for creative services.

The carefully staged deployment of equipment
and a major focus on training the staff
allowed the Feb. 23 launch of the HD newscast
to go relatively glitch-free. “Training is absolutely
important both for the product and for
morale,” McClure says. “If people don’t know
how to use the equipment, it just creates an
atmosphere of frustration.”

As a result of the upgrade, all the work flow and
content, including the 52 half-hours of news produced
by the Drewry stations each week, is now done in HD.
So far, KDFA NewsChannel 10 is the only one broadcasting
in high-definition. The other four stations currently
are down-converted to standard-defi nition for
broadcast, though sometime later
this year they plan to launch an HD feed for its Telemundo
service.

E-mail comments to
gpwin@oregoncoast.com

Next for HD: Laughton, Waco, Midland-Odessa

The recent launch of an all-HD facility in Amarillo, Texas, is just one of the operations Drewry Broadcasting is planning to upgrade to HD over the next few months.

“Our entire group is committed to making this investment in HD,” says Brent McClure, VP and general manager of News Channel 10 Media, which operates five stations owned by Drewry in Amarillo. “We were the first to go in Amarillo, but [the hubs in] Laughton, Okla.; Waco, Texas; and Midland-Odessa, Texas will go in the next two months to HD.”

Smaller markets have been generally slower to move to HD, and the move by Drewry to upgrade several facilities is good news for vendors in the run-up to the National Association of Broadcasters convention in April, where HD upgrades will be an important topic.

Besides Amarillo, the HD upgrades will take place in the facility for the ABC affiliate KSWO in Lawton, Okla., where Drewry is headquartered and the company also broadcasts Telemundo programming on a digital channel; CBS affiliate KAUZ in Wichita Falls, Texas, which also operates CW; NBC affiliate KWES in Midland-Odessa, Texas, which operates two digital channels; and ABC affiliate KXXV in Waco, Texas, where a Telemundo channel and a Weather Now channel are also produced.

The group has tried to use many of the same vendors for the other upgrades as it did in Amarillo, says Tim Winn, chief engineer at NewsChannel 10 Media in Amarillo: “We bought mostly the same gear, so we can share in training and discovery.” —GW

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