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Studio Builds, the never ending cycle

The lease is up, its time to move! Yay, we get to rip apart the old place and redo it! Again! It seems to be a matter of course that every few years a radio station will move. Such is the case with WKZE in Red Hook (the town, not the area in Brooklyn). Their lease is up on the “Grotto” location, so the owner has decided to move to a new location, closer to the center of town.

The new location was the former thrift shop.  I know this because while I am working there, a constant stream of older people stop by and tell so.  Once, while working alone doing some pre-move work punching down wires and computer network cables, I had to use the facilities.  There I sit, on my porcelain throne, when I hear, “Hello?” in and old shakey voice.  A quick glance at the door reveals it is not locked.  Oh, NOs!  Okay, don’t say anything, she’ll go away.

“Hello?”

“Hello?”

“Hello, is any body here?”

“Hello?  Very strange, the doors are open but nobody is here.  Hello?”

Oh for the love of Pete, “I’m in the bathroom,” I finally said.

“Where is the bathroom?” said the interloper.

I refused to say anything else and she finally left.  She could have taken all my tools, if she wanted to.

Anyway, the studios themselves are pretty simple, one production studio and one air studio.  A T-1 line to the transmitter site, which turned out the be the hardest thing about the entire operation.  We moved the old Radio System consoles rather than purchasing new equipment.  Radio Systems has a program called a Millennium upgrade, where you buy a new control surface, which replaces all moving parts, for something like $2,300.00 or so.  For that, basically, a new console is had.

Radio Systems Former RS-12 now Millennium 12 console

Radio Systems Former RS-12 now Millennium 12 console

The new production room is long and narrow.

WKZE new production room

WKZE new production room

The air studio is large and spacious.  They often have live music from this studio, which is really cool.  The station uses Prophet Systems automation equipment, although it is live most of the time.

WKZE air studio before furniture is installed

WKZE air studio before furniture is installed

The main office area is one large room where desks will be located.

WKZE office, painted no furniture yet

WKZE office, painted no furniture yet

We are moving in stages:

  1. Prep work, installing all the computer network cable, phone system cable, pulling all the audio and control wiring.  Then the contractor finished up the drywalling and painting.  Nice Colors!
  2. Ordering phone lines and T-1 line.  Ahhh, the phone company, such a pleasure to deal with, we had to pull a new cable through the underground conduit from the street to the building because the old cable did not have enough pairs.  The conduit length is about 75 feet or so.
  3. Removed the old production room console and took it to the shop to rebuild.  It was not that difficult really, although a little cumbersome.  I throughly cleaned out all the dust dirt and other detreious materials from the console frame and install the new control surface.  I also checked all the power supply voltages with an oscilliscope to make sure there was no ripple.  The original consoles were made in 1992, not bad for an 18 year old board.
  4. Built a new production room with the rebuilt board.
  5. Tested all computer jacks, audio wiring, etc prior to move.
  6. Move T-1 circuit and all office and studio telco lines to the new location.  Fortunately, the phone company is a local company not the big V we have in other cities.  They were able to work with us and get things paralleled to the new location, something a large company might not have understood.
  7. On the air from the production room at the new location
  8. Remove the main rack, intact and move it to new location
  9. Remove office phone system and install at new location
  10. Remove and rebuild old air studio console
  11. Install rebuilt air studio console in new studio, wire
  12. Transfer operation to new studio

Right now, we are on step #6.  That is going to be done next Tuesday (the day after memorial day) morning I believe.  We should have the move completed by the end of the week.  I’ll post updates as they become available.

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4 comments to Studio Builds, the never ending cycle

  • J. Aegerter

    It never ceases to amaze me about the principals or management executives of certain radio stations with regard to moving. In my mind, I would only lease facilities if I was forced to. Having a co-located studio-transmitter operation to me seems to be the most cost-effective operation. In addition, it enhances the value of the station when it comes time to sell. It also relieves the technical staff from hurrying and scurrying around meeting deadlines and is less taxing on all station personnel. Moving costs include rebuilding studios and this isn’t cheap these days. Re-modeling of buildings to suite a broadcaster usually require architectural plans, building permits, and various trades unless the staff engineers happen to be real handy. And then there is the acoustics and “livability” of the studio that makes for pleasant working conditions for the staff. I guess I am an ultra-conservative in that I believe a station should remain planted for life unless a real good opportunity for engineering improvement such as increase in power, a better channel assignment, or both could be had. But the schools today seem to be teaching the business administration graduates or “executives” that moving around and spending money somehow improves station image and will lead to more business and revenue. I don’t believe this for an instant.

  • admin

    In most cases, you are correct. This station is atypical of radio these days as it is single station owned by a person and he doesn’t have a mortgage. They actually do very well in the community and are highly thought of and well listened to. Unfortunately, the transmitter site is on a hill top about 15 miles east of town and it would be difficult for people to get there, much less find them on a map if the moved the studio to the transmitter site.

    For him, it makes sense to rent/lease space in a building near the center of town.

  • J. Aegerter

    I see that the station is 98.1 with 1.8 kW ERP and a cardiod pattern. Somewhat unusual around here, but I suppose out east there is more congestion on the band. I forgot to comment on the T1 line to the transmitter. I am surprised at this since STL’s are more economical for normal stereo broadcasting. Is the station HD? This might explain the reason for the T1. Also am curious as to transmitter brand in service and antenna brand/model.

  • admin

    Not at all uncommon around here to have a Class A FM station shoe horned in using a directional antenna. The antenna is an ERI (I think). The transmitter is a BE A model tube type. The T-1 line is used because it is hilly terrain and a 120 foot tower would be needed at the studio to get a line of sight with Fresnel zone clearance to the transmitter site.

    They do not run HD radio.

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