Main studio, Oneonta, NY

Another small market build out

Finishing up another studio build out in an unrated market. There are some engineers who think that small market work is beneath them. That is fine with me, I enjoy it.  Once again, creating a nice, functional, modern facility while not breaking the bank poses some challenges.   I like to take sort of a minimalist simple approach while not compromising good engineering practice.  Another challenge is rebuilding an existing facility.  Each studio needed to be demoed one at a time with the stations playing hop scotch from studio to studio around the work.  There were four studios total plus the rack room.  There were also several other renovations going on at the same time as this project.

Looking at the overall facility, the client decided that one studio would be the main room where multiple guests could be seated, etc.  The other rooms would have guest microphones, but they are smaller rooms and limited to one guest each.  The smaller rooms have AudioArts Air4 consoles while the main studio has an R-55e.

WZOZ console, main studio, Oneonta, N
WZOZ console, main studio (Studio A), Oneonta, NY

The main studio had existing studio furniture that was in reasonable shape so we decided to reuse it.  While we had the studio ripped apart, the paint and carpet where updated.  The main microphone is an Electrovoice RE-20, the guest mics are Heil PR-20UT which are inexpensive and have excellent characteristics for a dynamic microphone.  Since this faces a fairly busy street, I put in some very basic DBX 286S mic processors with a little bit of downward expansion.  Adobe Audition is used for production.  I have also used Audacity which is available in both Windows and Linux flavors.  Acoustical wall treatments are coming soon.

Main studio, Oneonta, NY
Main studio, Oneonta, NY

The counter tops in the smaller studios were traded out with a local kitchen supply company.  We used Middle Atlantic BRK-12-22 racks with castors on them to install a limited amount of rack equipment.  Each one of these studios is nearly identical; a AudioArts Air4 console with JBL powered monitors.  The microphones in these studios are Heil PR-20UT with console supplied mic preamps.  These studios are used for WSRK, WDOS, WBKT and WKXZ.  All studios are off line when in automation, which means each can be used for production and other purposes.

Studios B-E, Oneonta NY
Studios B, Oneonta NY
Studio C, (WDOS) Oneonta, NY
Studio C, (WDOS) Oneonta, NY
Studio D, (WSRK) Oneonta, NY
Studio D, (WSRK) Oneonta, NY.

We started the TOC from scratch. This area was occupied by a bunch of empty file cabinets previously. The original equipment racks where in Studio A.

A riser was installed from the racks straight up to the roof for the STL, monitor antenna and satellite dish transmission lines.  Everything is grounded with a star grounding system connected to the main building ground which consists of driven ground rods and the water main.  The STLs have Polyphaser IS-PT50HN lightning protection devices installed.

900 MHz lightning protectors on STL transmission lines
900 MHz lightning protectors on STL transmission lines

The racks are Middle Atlantic MRK 4031.  Since this building was built sometime in the mid 1800’s, the floors are a bit uneven (along with almost everything else), so a fair amount of shimming and leveling was needed to get these units bolted together.

Racks and equipment
Racks and equipment

Each rack has its own UPS in the bottom and they are all on separate breakers.

A manual transfer switch controls a dedicated electrical sub panel.  All of the racks and studios are powered from this sub panel.  Below the transfer switch is a NEMA L14-30 twist lock male receptacle for generator connections.

Studio/TOC sub panel and transfer switch
Studio/TOC sub panel and transfer switch

The total load about 18 amps.  The station is looking to trade out some generators for various transmitter sites.  I suggested that they get a couple of the portable Honda inverter generators, which are very good have excellent power regulation, frequency stabilization and fuel economy.

The existing Scott’s Studio 32 system was updated with new computers.  This is an interim step until a new automation system can be installed next year.  Each station has it’s own BT 8.2ss switcher which can select any studio to go on the air with.  That flexibility makes moving from studio to studio easy.  It also allows for all the stations to be simulcast, which is handy in the event of an emergency.

Punch blocks are mounted on plywood attached to the back wall.  We left extra space for a new phone system.

The EAS monitor assignments are met with roof top yagi antennas.  I like drawings and diagrams, as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.  This is an image I created on Google Maps using the transmitter site coordinates for each of the EAS monitoring assignments.  That gives me good local aiming points for the various antennas needed.

EAS monitor assignment headings
EAS monitor assignment headings

Other drawings include a floor plan and block diagrams for each station.  I have a Viso template that I use for these.  I find that having these diagrams on hand in a book is very helpful in the event that somebody else needs to go to this station to work on things.

Block diagram for WDOS, Oneonta, NY
Block diagram for WDOS, Oneonta, NY

Finally, the wiring documentation which shows where each wire originates and terminates. Again, if I am not available and somebody else needs to do work here, this is very helpful. All the studios are laid out the same, so figure out one and then the rest falls into place.

Screen shot of wire run spreadsheet
Screen shot of wire run spreadsheet

There is still a little bit of clean up left and some old equipment to get rid of.  Otherwise, it’s a wrap.

9 thoughts on “Another small market build out”

  1. Any engineer who thinks small market work is beneath them isn’t a very good engineer. and is that a Ubiquiti surge supressor I see?

  2. I did a new studio buildout in a small-town a couple years ago…new construction. AM-FM combo, R-55e in the FM, AIR1’s in the newsroom and interview studio, and a refurbished Medalist. There’s a tornado shelter in the middle of the building which doubles as an interview booth that can be switched to both air chains if needed. We didn’t have much space in the new building, and the co-located AM made RFI a concern, but we made it work.

    Moving them from a crumbling, mouse-infested craphole to a new clean space felt good. The station is well-regarded in the community, which makes it even more satisfying.

  3. Impressive work, Paul! Looks very nice!

    Can you elaborate at all on how much soundproofing they’ve got between the studios? I imagine by “more sound treatments coming soon” you’re talking about something soft and/or foamy on the walls to knock down the high-freqs and slap echoes, but I imagine they’ve got something dense behind the walls to isolate each studio from the other, and them all from outside noise sources…correct? Can you elaborate on that at all?

    I’m curious to know what small market stations deem to be “soundproof enough”. I often see big market stations that go to obscene lengths to get really soundproof construction when careful locating of the studio and judicious use of microphones (like an RE20) can get you about 80% of the way there for most situations. I know one very small market station that’s in a small house adjacent to a busy thoroughfare in town that has 18-wheeler trucks rumbling past all the time. The only soundproofing treatment is that the doors are all solid-core and the walls (like the house) is old-school construction which is heavy on thick, dense wood. They use SM7b’s and you don’t really hear the traffic on the air at all.

    I see what appears to be some double-paned windows with non-parallel panes, which is cool. Anything special about the walls and/or ceiling? Is the floor just poured concrete or something fancy (like raised, room-within-a-room design)?

  4. “Since this building was built sometime in the mid 1800’s, the floors are a bit uneven…”

    Sounds like a similar vintage to my grandmother’s house in Massachusetts. I don’t know if it was just a century of time ‘seasoning’ the oak structure, but when my cousin decided to do some renovation work, he was constantly burning out saw blades trying to cut it.

    I feel for carpenters having to work with ancient wood like that…

  5. Gregg, fixing up stations that are still in the business of doing good radio feels good.

    Brad, good questions. Basically all of the partitions were existing. I did a little bit of investigation and determined that the walls are framed with staggered 2×4 studs and insulated. The studs are first clad with homasote and then drywall. The drywall is screwed into the homasote only and not the studs. The ceilings are constructed the same way with fiberglass insulation on top. The windows, as you noted, are double pained with an uneven airspace in between pains and the doors are solid core with gaskets. The floors are the original building floors, which are wood on 3 x 6 joists, which look like either pine or fur. In other words, somebody constructed the studios properly. This appears to have been done sometime in the mid to late 1990’s with exception to the floors, which are original to the building.

    Geoff, those old buildings have a certain character about them. Perhaps the oldest studio building I have ever worked in was a stone building dating to 1760 or so. It was burned in 1777, then rebuilt and repurposed several times over the years. The radio studios were on the second floor and constructed in 1960. It was an interesting experience.

  6. Thanks Paul! Yes, that does sound pretty “hard-core” as da kidz say. Probably that’s about as soundproof as you can make it without ripping everything out and putting in concrete walls, or putting in a room-within-a-room design. Either of which would be quite pricey.

  7. Personally I enjoy all broadcast engineering work. I’ve done work in a top 10 market (my main full time job) and build radio stations in unrated markets. It’s all fun to me. Each has different challenges but in the end it’s the job that counts, not the city. Nice work here.

  8. Paul, another nice job! these are very function and neat studios. I really like the logical flow diagrams and punch block wire documentation. In short order someone not familiar with the facility can figure it out. It looks as if this market can get a good long time use of of the studios you built.

    Personally after building studios in both unrated markets and markets 1 & 2, I always liked the smaller markets, a lot less drama, and pragmatic sound logic usually prevailed.

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