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Something new for news radio
Moving a radio station that’s been in one place for three and a half decades is one challenge, moving the only all-news station in Philadelphia is quite another. The entire process had the potential of inducing culture shock across every department in the station.
For 35 years CBS Radio’s KYW Newsradio, Philadelphia, shared space with sister television station, KYW-TV, CBS 3. KYW Newsradio enjoyed the benefits of the TV infrastructure in a building purpose-built as a TV broadcast facility. Even with several rebuilds and tech- nology upgrades along the way, the analog backbone of the facility remained basically the same. The move was an opportunity to update the facility, upgrade the infrastructure to a digital, router-based system and have an individual identity in the marketplace.
Building selection was handled from the corporate real estate section of the company and this allowed us to concentrate on layout and technical planning. Fortunately, the cho- sen building was on the same city block and physically connected to the building we were exiting. Additionally, the STLs and other anten- nas for the station were actually located on the roof of the new building. This of course saved much time and many dollars in establishing microwave links to the transmitter site.
The goal of the design for the new facility was to be versatile, redundant, reliable and easy to use. We used Peter Bloomfield and Associates for the design process. We have worked with the firm before, which has an extensive broadcast design resume. The firm fully understands the function and flow of broadcast facilities. We not only needed a functional design but a look that was consistent with KYW’s position in the Philadelphia marketplace.
The newsroom and studios were to be very open with clear site lines from the news desk to all critical areas of the operation. Studio windows and glass were strategi- cally placed and approved by the news director and staff. Two air studios, both identical in function, were also part of the design. Both air studios accommodate an anchor/co-anchor arrangement. The redundant studios allowed for preventative maintenance that was not easily handled at the old facility. Console layout and equipment placement involved the input from the staff. The end-users of the space were involved in the process along the way.
The technical objectives of the design were to be as flexible and repetitious as the physical layout. A digital infrastructure was the only choice. The need for rapid changes in the technical environment with the limited personnel resources of today is one of the major benefits of a digital platform.
Legacy equipment was limited to the digital audio stor- age system and the Burli newsroom system, in addition to select pieces of peripheral audio gear. Everything else was to be replaced due to age, obsoleteness, or the fact that it was shared with the television station.
SAS was selected for the console and routing system. The system met all of the technical and operational requirements of the KYW newsroom. Additionally, SAS was employed at our other sister stations in the market. Uniformity in system selection also provided the benefit of familiarity and support for all of our stations in the market.
One of the problems in configuring a digital system after so many years of analog habits is convincing the staff that they will actually have more functionality and flexibility in a system that appears to have less control and a physically smaller foot-print. It wasn’t until the system was operational that everyone could see the benefits. Accessing audio sources and making changes to the system layout were now normal operating procedure or a simple programming task. No changes to wiring; no patch cords.
Next, we decided on furniture for the studios, newsroom and news desk. We used Studio Technolo- gies for the studio furniture. Located in Philadelphia, the company was willing to work with us on a very tight installation and integration schedule. We specified Corian tops on the air-studio furniture since they receive the most wear and tear. We were planning ahead for the wear of another 35 years. Traditional laminate with T-edge molding was used on all of the other studio work surfaces.
Systems furniture was used for the Writer’s stations in the newsroom. We were able to configure the systems for the needed visibility from the news desk and achieve the custom look we wanted at an off-the-rack price. The custom requirements for the news desk and its physical size made it an architectural feature of the newsroom and became part of the custom mill work scope.
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