KBEM-FM: Revitalizing a Station, Reviving a School

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During the Upgrade-a-Thon, while everyone else was otherwise occupied, I prepared one of our production rooms for the task of being our main on-air studio. At the time, the bulk of our station’s switching and routing was done by a Broadcast Tools 16x16 switcher. I set up a 16x4 to run parallel while I started disassembling the master control room.

Disassembling old furniture

On July 18, 2013, immediately upon completion of the fundraiser, I officially began tearing down the existing studio. After removing the old console and all other equipment, I borrowed a sledge hammer from the janitors and gave each one of the summer interns and staff members a good whack at the old furniture before I finished it off. It was a very satisfying feeling, I must say. Upon emptying the studio space, patches of carpet and paint from the original 1981 construction were visible. The school district paid for the updates for that as well as the installation of electrical outlets under the floating floor to power the new equipment.

New studio furniture

I ran into a bit of a snafu when the new furniture arrived from Forecast Consoles. I had found Forecast at NAB while spending a whole afternoon furniture shopping. They sold me on their product’s durability, something that was important to me when you consider high school students and their gum, pens, paper clips and whatever else could damage the furniture. Although Forecast had constructed the piece perfectly, I had misunderstood their drawings. The wiring cubby is apparently at the foot of the host, under the control surface. I had planned for it to be under the rack turret and that’s where the outlets were installed. Oops. I decided to run audio and network wires through their cubby and still feed the power as originally planned. Forecast offered to make custom panels to hide the mess I had created for myself, but the cost of custom work concerned me. After some brainstorming, we decided to put a shelf in that space to hide the wires and provide some extra surface area that wasn’t the table top. Luckily, the Room Essentials bookshelves at Target fit in that space perfectly, leaving about half an inch of clearance around the top and sides. The best part was that it was on sale for $18.

Wheatstone LX24 console, LCD monitors, Radio Station HUD (above)

We went live from the newly constructed studio on Oct. 9, 2013 — a few days early of my 90-day goal. I sat in with each of our hosts the first two days to answer any questions or address any concerns they may have. The new studio was a hit with the students, one of them saying it “looks like something from Star Trek.” I decided to add a heads up display from Radio Station HUDs (a custom data display system based on the Raspberry Pi) for the convenience of the air staff, a feature that is second in popularity only to new control surface. The LX-24 console has been user-friendly and the Wheatnet routing invaluable to me and the way I designed the station’s future.

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