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Georgia Tech Overcomes Early Season Radio Delays

Sunday, September 20, 2009 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 2:42 PM, under , , , ,

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets faced a hurdle they did not expect in their season opener a few weeks ago; abnormally long delays between when action occured on Grant Field at Bobby Dodd Stadium and when the play-by-play was actually heard on the radio.

How bad were the delays? By some reports they were upwards of 20-30 seconds. An Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reader submitted a question to that newspaper asking why. So we worked with the AJC writer to try and explain what happened and how it has been fixed.

The answer we gave, edited for space is available over on the AJC web site.

Here is the full answer given to the AJC.

In normal circumstances, a true radio signal is fairly immediate. When you bring satellite into the issue, things change. You might notice if you are watching a football game on cable or satellite TV and listening to the game on the radio, the TV is consistently behind the radio. This is called "bird delay," which is the time it takes the signal to make it from the ground up to the satellite and back down again.

With the package between Georgia Tech and ISP, the broadcast of the game goes from Bobby Dodd stadium to Winston-Salem, NC, then sent to the satellite, and finally beamed back down to the affiliates of the Georgia Tech Radio Network. In the best of circumstances, you would expect a one to three second delay on the radio, not including the the 7-8 second "Janet Jackson" delay to protect against anything that might get a station or network in trouble with the FCC. (Note that this delay is removed during broadcasts out of Georgia Tech sports).

But with all things technology, any time you introduce a new piece of hardware or software into the equation, things can and do happen. According to 790 the Zone Program Manager Matt Edgar, this is what happened last weekend in Tech's season opener against Jacksonville State.

A problem with a new hardware interface at ISP's location in Winston Salem was not working properly, adding to the normal delay. In some cases according to Edgar, the delay was as much as 30 seconds behind. His engineers worked all of last week with the folks at ISP to fix the problem.

According to Edgar, the problem did not happen again last night, and the typical bird delay of 1-3 seconds was experienced. While station was deluged with complaints after the opening game, no complaints were received last night. Edgar was in communication with his engineers during the game, and was able to verify that both 790 the Zone and Y106.7 were in sync.

Getting the problem fixed was a high priority for Wes Durham, Director of Communications for Georgia Tech. "We got complaints from fans, and we spent a lot of time this week trying to reduce the delays down to something that was manageable for our fans who are in the stadium and/or watching on TV," said Durham by e-mail.

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