Debuting in February 2020 during Black History Month, Black News Channel (BNC) operates out of its brand new headquarters facility based in Tallahassee, Florida. BNC is an independent network that is minority-owned and operated, whose mission is to provide intelligent programming dedicated to the unique perspective of African American communities. Almost immediately after bringing their new purpose-built facility online, the network had to shift to a remote production workflow as COVID restrictions sent people home. The flexible, IP-based comms system from Clear-Com, which had been installed in the facility by BeckTV, was able to flex to meet the comms challenges of today and tomorrow.
BNC is the nation’s only provider of 24/7 cable news programming created “by people of color for people of color.” One of the goals of the network is to recruit and train aspiring African American journalists and technicians, providing them with a world-class platform and facility where they can learn and grow. Part of this includes incorporating the market’s latest technology that new employees may not have access to otherwise.
Kenneth Thomas, Director of OTT/IT Operations for BNC said, “I was lucky enough to have used Clear-Com throughout my career, but that is not the case for everyone. The comms system was a priority from the facility’s inception, and I knew it would include Clear-Com.”
BNC equipped its facility with Clear-Com’s Eclipse HX® Digital Matrix with V-Series™ intercom panels throughout. Dante and MADI interface cards offered a variety of I/O to other audio, video, and routing equipment, and E-IPA IP interface cards enabled AES-67 for FreeSpeak II® wireless. The E-IPA cards allow for flexibility by providing IVC IP connections for the Agent-IC® Mobile Intercom App and LQ® Series Interfaces hosting SIP telephony and remote site connection capabilities.
In the Fall of 2019 and Winter of 2020, BNC staff spent time with Clear-Com’s Applications Engineer, Jonathan Sorensen, to familiarize themselves with the system and to finalize custom integrations for their workflows. When it became time to rethink aspects of the system to accommodate remote workflows, BNC relied heavily on their prior training and close relationship with Clear-Com to make the changes.
“I can’t say enough about how Clear-Com was there when we needed them, whether it was Saturday night or first thing on Tuesday morning,” said William Bennett, Sr. Network Engineer for BNC.
The Agent-IC Mobile App was crucial in the transition to much of BNC’s staff relocating into their homes.
Agent-IC is a fast-to-deploy solution that can integrate with traditional intercom systems, like the Eclipse HX digital matrix in BNC’s headquarters. The app can operate anywhere in the world over 3G, 4G, LTE and WiFi networks, allowing remote team members to effortlessly connect with the core intercom system.
“The flexibility of the IP-based system, and the amazing support from Jonathan and the team at Clear-Com, allowed us to seamlessly transition to remote production without a hiccup,” concludes BNC’s Director of Network Operations, Jefferson Walker. “The system is simple, it’s reliable, and the support from Clear-Com is outstanding.”