Cumulus Cincinnati reinvents by rebuilding and reusing

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Radio Station 2.0
In a down economy, stations must be resourceful to reduce, reuse and recycle, even when building new facilities.

We decided to purchase two new consoles for the WRRM and WGRR air studios. These studios would be built first and would provide us a way to transition the stations one-by-one into the new facility. Our plan was to move the gently used Wheatstone G6 consoles and Bridge router system for WKTF, WNNF and WOFX. We needed to replace the aging analog and digital consoles in the production rooms and chose to install used Harris Impulse Digital and Airwave Digital mixers from our surplus equipment. We would also need to replace the aging automation system.

The second and third production studios are slightly smaller. Carl Cruse, morning show producer for the Fox, is at work.

The second and third production studios are slightly smaller. Carl Cruse, morning show producer for the Fox, is at work.

For the two new air studio consoles we chose Axia Element surfaces along with Powerstation. This would be the first Powerstation installation in North America, and we were extremely excited to get our hands on the equipment. 16-fader Element console frames were picked to accommodate all the sources needed in the studios. Axia was chosen for its versatility and Livewire IP audio technology. Additional AES/EBU and Analog Nodes were placed in the TOC for interfacing with any other source or destination requiring traditional audio wiring. We needed a system that would require the least amount of trunk wiring and be extremely quick to set up and deploy. Axia also provided us an excellent path to grow and build future studios without traditional TDM-based digital routers or analog wiring systems.

For our automation system replacement, we chose Broadcast Software International's OpX. The scalable and redundant multi-tiered architecture of OpX with the integration of Axia's Livewire IP audio drivers were a perfect match. Using high-availability network switches we easily connected all the OpX and Axia systems without wiring a single audio card. Our OpX installation included a master file server, multiple and redundant audio record/playback servers, studio clients and numerous other utilities to quickly import and export audio, create rotator carts and playlists, and easily automate satellite programming. The back-end functions of OpX also let us export artist/title metadata and information to our RBDS systems, streaming encoders, now-playing website banners and future technologies.

For our wiring design we wanted the highest performance and lowest cost wire and cable that could be used for analog audio, AES/EBU digital audio, data, control and even video. We decided to stay away from traditional and expensive multi-pair trunk wiring and instead chose to use inexpensive 650MHz spec CAT-6 cable for all our connections to and from the TOC and studios. For termination we chose to use Krone K-110 punch blocks, Neutrik audio connectors and L-Com RJ-45, RJ-11 and D-sub connectors. To save money we did not use a wiring integrator and instead designed our own wire distribution and grounding system, ran all the wire, mounted all the blocks and terminated every connection ourselves. We chose overhead data center wire management ladders and kept them below any plenum ceiling spaces for additional cost savings.

A wire tray exits the TOC feeding individual studios through square cable chase conduits.

A wire tray exits the TOC feeding individual studios through square cable chase conduits.

To house our TOC equipment we purchased Middle Atlantic WMRK series 48" deep server racks with split rear doors. An ever-increasing amount of broadcast equipment systems are server and computer-based. The racks housed square-hole rails with removable 10-32 cage nuts for mounting traditional equipment. With the square holes we were able to mount all the servers and computers with their proper sliding rail systems. In the past, I have run into so many situations where you unpack the latest, greatest server, go to mount it in a traditional broadcast equipment rack and find that the rails don't work or stick out the back. With the 48" deep racks and adjustable rails we were able to mount each piece of equipment exactly as it was intended.

To make network connections easy, the rear of each rack was outfitted with a 12-port CAT-6 patch panel that terminated to a master patch panel in the network switch rack. Each piece of equipment requiring a network connection could be patched without ever having to home run the wire.

Both the Axia and Wheatstone systems use standard RJ-45 connectors for their analog and AES/EBU audio connections. Crimping hundreds of RJ-45 connectors can take a very long time so instead we purchased inexpensive 100' CAT-6 pre-made cables. With the pre-terminated cables we could cut each one in half, plug the connector end into the equipment and terminate the other end directly onto the punch blocks. The left over cable was used for cross-connecting the blocks to their destinations. This wiring method saved us a considerable amount of time and money.

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