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I wanted to write a quick note about the audio feed of Wednesday’s council meeting, and apologize and take responsibility for some technical problems.
I know there was intense interest in the meeting because of the lawsuit filed over access, and because residents wanted to address the Dec. 20 manhunt for a suspect accused of shooting a police officer.
We did hear from several people during the meeting that they were having trouble hearing, or that the audio was dropping out, and I apologize.
There was no intention to censor anyone’s remarks. We worked as quickly as we could to rectify the problems in real time.
• If you missed any of the audio, you can find a downloadable MP3 at our website. It was posted less than an hour after the meeting ended.
• For those who do not have the ability to listen to MP3s, there is another file on YouTube that includes the entire meeting.
Hopefully everyone was able to hear those remarks on the replay.
In the interest of full disclosure: On Tuesday, along with city electrician Tom Rosso and city Solicitor J. Jason Elash, I did a practice broadcast from McKeesport City Council chambers, testing the Internet connection and the audio feed from the PA system.
At the time, the audio was clean and we were satisfied with the results. We also tested the phone interface and made several test calls, and everything sounded fine.
Unfortunately, the air conditioning in the chambers broke. On Wednesday evening, the temperature inside council chambers was 84 degrees at 6 p.m., and the windows had to be opened and fans were set up.
The background noise was enough to interfere with the microphones — including the phone interface. Boosting the volume on the Internet feed just boosted the background noise level. I was able to run to our radio studio, grab an additional microphone, and stick it next to the speaker.
I also was able to download a digital audio filter to remove most of the background noise in real time, but it took several minutes.
Fortunately, I did make a backup recording on my laptop, and also was given a copy of the city’s official recording, so we were able to have all of the audio online before 9 p.m.
Those files are completely unedited, though I did run digital noise reduction to remove the background noise only, and increased the volume on several quiet parts.
Speaking on behalf of our volunteers, board members and contributors, we take pride in what we’re doing, and want to do a good job. We also are willing to admit when we didn’t quite make it.
As a working journalist for nearly 30 years, I also believe completely in the public’s right to know, and in full transparency whenever possible.
If May’s meeting also is streamed online, we will at least be prepared for some of the things that went wrong this time, and know what actions need to be taken.
Thank you for your support over the years and for understanding. If anyone has any concerns, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (412) 357-2670.
Volunteer Executive Director and Member of the Board of Directors
Tube City Community Media Inc.
Originally published April 08, 2021.