On May 20, 2002, WCBD-TV (Channel 2), a Media General Broadcast Group NBC affiliate in Mount Pleasant, SC, began broadcasting from its uniquely integrated digital facility designed by Professional Communications Systems (PCS).

Located across from a South Carolina landmark, Patriot’s Point, at the foot of the Cooper River Bridge, WCBD has been serving the metropolitan area of Charleston for more than 30 years. WCBD’s production and broadcasting equipment was in serious need of updating and the station was still operating out of its original building, a World War II era Quonset hut. It was way past time for a change, and Media General decided that now was the time to move into a new facility and into the digital era at the same time.

Specific goals and parameters were established at the beginning of the project. Media General wanted WCBD to be the leader in the Charleston market and to be able to provide its audience with a broadcast signal technically superior to any of its competition from the most sophisticated broadcast facility in the region. Although WCBD won’t initially originate high-definition television programming, the station did want the capability to re-purpose HD. Moreover, with the proven efficiencies of digital technology in video production, transfer and storage systems, it made sense to make the new station an all-digital facility.

According to Glenn Thomason, director of engineering for PCS, the broadcast systems integrator approached the project as building an “operational utopia” instead of an “engineering jungle.” By focusing on the operational needs of WCBD, care was taken to keep it simple to operate. The engineering complied with this approach while maintaining the very highest standard, Thomason said.

WCBD’s operational staff is happy with this simple-to-operate, yet powerful and flexible system. They are also pleased with the redundancy that was built in to allow them to work around any potential equipment failures. The facility uses as much compatible equipment as possible to maximize the amount of status monitoring/reporting and remote control available at several locations. Enough expansion capability was included in the design at the outset of the project so that any expansion requirements in years to come can be implemented with limited equipment purchases and input from outside resources.

Professional Communications Systems is an audiovisual and broadcast systems integrator specializing in design, engineering facilities planning and project management.

Design Team

PCS: Glenn Thomason, director of engineering and project manager Ed Kothera, sales engineer R.A. “Tony” Stephens, vice president/general manager

Ardell Hill, senior vice president, broadcast operations, Media General Richard Fordham, general manager, WCBD Jack Becknell, chief engineer, WCBD

Equipment List

Thomson Grass Valley switchers, routers Calrec audio console Pinnacle servers, character generator and still stores Panasonic DVCPRO cameras and decks Miranda conversion and distribution equipment Florical automation ClearCom intercom

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