I don’t know when we first talked but I remember the conversation vividly. “I have an idea that may be a gamechanger that I want to get your thoughts on” was how the conversation started. “It’s an audio device that takes care of everything.”
On Monday, August 6th, I received a phone call from the front office - “You have a package up here.” I walked calmly to the office knowing what the package was and knowing that I had to play it cool as to not be judged by my new colleagues. The Henry Engineering SportsCaster had arrived. We talked about it at NAB in April and it was going through the testing phase. In June, it was headed to production. Monday August 6th, it sat on my desk. I know how Ralphie felt with his bb gun as he headed out for the first time but I had to wait. I still had to teach the rest of the day - though the SportsCaster still stayed on my desk throughout the day.
“All of that in 1 rack unit? Really?” was my thought when Hank Landsberg from Henry Engineering originally told me what the SportsCaster would do. Three microphone mixes from SportsPods, One from a field reporter, Two auxiliary microphones, with talkback to a variety of positions including camera operators, field talent, and booth talent…all in ONE unit that is only ONE rack unit in size!!
I set the Sportscaster up in my classroom. Three Headset mics, Three XLR cables, Two Henry Engineering Sports Pods and Two Cat5 cables later and I was ready to go with a set up that would allow for Two talent and a producer. The production trio can not only talk live on the air but also can have talkback both directions. It’s really that simple. I was shocked. I have been used to having to carry around a mixer and rigging the auxiliary outputs of the mixer to be able to have a producer mix but the talent had no control. With the Sportscaster and Sports Pods, the talent and producers all have control over when their mics are on and when they are live vs. when they are talking on a back channel.
I have used the set up a couple of times including during a football live broadcast. We have again partnered with the University of Georgia’s Grady School of Journalism Sports Media program. They bring 12 students to serve as talent each week for our football broadcasts. Here’s the scene: Two camera ops and the show producer on the roof, Two talent and Two producers in the booth, a sideline camera with reporter and producer on the sideline. The Sportscaster allows us to communicate with all of those people. (We have a wireless monitor system that we use to for those not in the booth to hear the communication). The producer on the roof can select who they want to talk with - the talent in the booth use the pods, the camera ops are on the “camera” channel, and finally the field team is available on “field.”
The Sportscaster’s mixer allows us to mix up to Three pods, One field microphone, and Two auxiliary inputs. The producer can mix the program feed on the face of the Sportscaster and use the build in LED VU meter to prevent peaking.
I really do think the Sportscaster is a dream come true for live broadcasters in every field - Radio, TV, Streaming. A 1R/U device that replaces a power supply for table top headphone mixers, a Six channel audio mixer, Three headphone mixers, and a talkback unit. It’s priced right for teachers. About $2,000 would get you the Sportscaster with Two Sports Pods. The piece of mind of knowing it’s a Henry Engineering brand product is priceless because you know every time you take it out, it will work!
For more information on the SportsCaster and all the audio products from Henry Engineering, visit their site at www.henryeng.com