How to Broadcast a Football Match on Radio | Brila FM's Larry Izamoje Share the Basics

Larry Izamoje, the chairman/ CEO of Brila FM, the first sports radio station in Nigeria, took sometime to share sports radio broadcast basics. Let's learn from the master:

"If you want your fans to be able to follow your team on radio, you need to make sure that a station or a network of stations carries the matches. That means the broadcast has to get from the stadium arena to the network flagship station and then to the network affiliates. How does it work?

From the Press Box to the Flagship
A radio broadcast is much like a telephone call. The announcer connect equipment to a communication line at the match site, and their description of the game (commentary), along with the cheer of the crowd is transmitted back to the station.

While a growing number of major stadium now boast fiber-optic links to satellite transmission facilities, most often the first leg of the broadcast is by landline, either POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) or high quality ISDN (Integrated Service Digital Network).

In either case, you will need a TA (Terminal Adapter) that links the announcers' microphones and tape decks with the communications line. Most broadcasters these days use a digital codec (Coder/ Decoder) mixer that delivers a studio-quality signal to the station.

At the Flagship Station
As the announcers describe the game, the engineer at the flagship station follows the commentaries along a prearranged CUE SHEET or format. When the announcer at the match arena says something like "we'll be back after this message," those words cue the engineer to play am advertisement. If the anouncers follow the format,  and the engineer at the station is paying attention, all the elements of the Match broadcast fit neatly together.

The flagship station will also frequently be the place where other announcers and producers prepare and broadcast pre-match, halftime and post-match programing to complement the actual match broadcast.

From Flagship to Affiliates
If the match is to be broadcast on a network of stations, then flagship  station's signal must be transmitted to the other stations.

For larger networks, satellite distribution has become the norm. Just as you rent the telephone company's facilities when you make a long distance telephone call, you can rent the use of a satellite transponder to distribute match broadcast.

The game broadcast is bounced from an uplink transmitter to the satellite orbiting over the earth and  then to each affiliate's receiver or downlink.

For smaller networks, a network of ISDN or POTS lines can distrt the game. If the network stations are relatively close together, the signal can be passed  from one station to the next over the air. The technique is most effective if the stations are FM (Frequency Modulatu) broadcasters.

AM (Amplitude Modulation) signals often covers more territory, they're subject to atmospheric disturbance or interruptions. FM offers a clear static- free signal. As was the case with the flagship engineer, engineers at each affiliate stations follow along on the cue sheet and insert local advertisements at the appropriate time.

Relevance of Radio today
I guess real-time video broadcast is where we are today. But it doesn't take away anything from audio broadcast. As long as people can't watch video while working  or driving a vehicle, radio is still the alternative for real-time mass communication.

Radio is still rooted deep in cultures of people in northern Nigeria. It does matter the gadgets or devices they use today, moving away from transistors to cell and smartphone, they breathe the very air of life with radio by their side

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