|Capitol Networks’ Operations Center Bats 1000 on Memorial Day Weekend
by Rick Freeman
In the Capitol Networks’ Operations Center, the summer months normally mean performing routine tasks such as maintaining quality control for the Capitol AgriBusiness and North Carolina New Networks and beaming a handful of special programs to radio stations across the state by satellite. Yet the summer of 1999 was off to a very different start, as the Memorial Day weekend culminated with the successful broadcasts of over 70 different programs to more than 600 radio stations and countless computers around the world.
This many programs and such a broad base of broadcast outlets brings immense challenges. In the spirit of excellence, the Memorial Day weekend was a “zero-error” success. Capitol Networks Master Control Operators (who work very much like air traffic controllers, moving as much programming possible through a limited amount of “air space”) celebrated a 99% success rate transmitting over 400 programs in May 1999.
The weekend programming began with North Carolina State University and East Carolina University advancing to the NCAA regional championship games in Alabama and Louisiana. The tournament was cybercast and could be heard worldwide with the click of the mouse on each team’s home page. The NCSU broadcasts were also heard in Raleigh on student operated WKNC; the ECU games were broadcasted by WCZI in Greenville. The broadcast time of each game could not be determined until the conclusion of each team’s preceding game, leaving each Network Master Control Operator on stand-by for the next pitch. Winning performances and rainy weather extended the tournament into Memorial Day.
Meanwhile, the National events featured NASCAR competition from Charlotte. The races on Saturday and Sunday could be heard from coast-to-coast. Emergency back-up systems were in place in the event of satellite failure or for technical difficulties at any of over 500 stations airing the events. Capitol Networks also made the CarQuest 300 and the Coca-Cola 600 available online at three different locations on the Internet; “raceshop.com,” “broadcast.com,” and “NASCAR OnLine.”
Not only did the Network division have these sporting events, almost 100 other stations across North Carolina were depending on NCNN to bring them the latest news, sports highlights and weather. Listeners in six states throughout the Southeast were tuning in their local radio station for our latest agricultural news.