New Hampshire Public Radio

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Twice the space and an open road to future expansion

Advantages and challenges

The blocks on the walls and ceiling are to support the acoustic treatments that will be applied.

The blocks on the walls and ceiling are to support the acoustic treatments that will be applied.

The plan was to have the new facility ready for its first broadcast on Dec. 31, 2008. NHPR had already worked with Russ Berger Design Group (RBDG) on the layout of the studio core in the new 20,000-square-foot space (about twice the size of the previous facility). The general architect, C.N. Carley and Associates, took the RBDG plans and designed the office and operations space around it.

One advantage to the new location is that is it about 2.5 miles from the main transmitter site for WEVO. The tower can be seen from the new studios. This was good news for the station, because that STL hop would be a single-hop. The previous studio location required a double-hop STL.

Studio B just as the final installation is nearly completed.

Studio B just as the final installation is nearly completed.

One challenge with the new facility was presented by the city zoning board. NHPR planned to install its satellite uplink/downlink antenna and a small tower for STL and other antennas on the roof. The city wanted the rooftop items to be concealed from view. A compromise was made by erecting a 20' x 40' steel enclosure around three sides of the antenna farm and HVAC cooling tower. The open side allows the needed line of site for the antennas.

Inside the empty shell sixth floor space, there were some additional challenges. The elevator lobby and restroom areas were fixed positions, but they were not difficult to incorporate in the design. The top-floor location, however, required some fire codes to be observed for roof protection. There was also some roof drainage plumbing that had to be left in place. RBDG and NHPR planned to build the studio core on a floating, elevated base. Wiring could be run in the 6” floor space underneath. HVAC would run above the floating ceiling. Despite these challenges, the studios have sufficient headroom, although it is tight in the space above the studios.

Studio core

As the plans for the facility were being drawn, it's important to note that the studio core was designed first, and then the offices were designed around that. You probably know of a station that was designed with the owner's or GM's office first, then sales, then some programming, and then finally a few closets for studios. This was not the case at NHPR. The studios — the area where the network's valuable product is created — came first. Even so, the offices are still comfortable and practical.

Installing the STL dishes on the roof

Installing the STL dishes on the roof

One advantage of locating the studio core in the center of the facility is that it reinforces the focal point of the operation. Even those staff members not directly involved with on-air operations feel attached to the prime purpose. No matter where you are, a studio is nearby.

The studio core is comprised of six control rooms (four smaller and two larger). The larger control rooms have studios attached to them. In addition, a small studio is available for voice tracking.

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