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.

In the summer of 2008 I was asked by Cumulus Media Cincinnati, which owns and operates WRRM (Warm 98), WGRR (Cincinnati's Greatest Hits), WFTK (96 Rock), WNNF (Frequency 94.1) and WOFX (92.5 the Fox) to help plan, design and manage a complete studio and office facility move. With the purchase of WNNF and WOFX, the cluster had outgrown its downtown facilities and expanding in the existing building was not an option. The area had also been on a steady decline: It was time to make a move.

The Warm 98 air studio has one of the two Axia Powerstation systems.

The Warm 98 air studio has one of the two Axia Powerstation systems.

Karrie Sudbrack, local market manager, Gary Kline, Cumulus V.P. of engineering and IT, and I visited numerous buildings and locations. Would the building be easily accessed from all locations in the city? Would there be adequate parking? Did the facility have the proper security and safety for the employees? Were there clear STL paths to all the transmitter sites from the rooftop or could a small tower be erected on the premises that would accommodate these needs? Would there be enough space to expand or add studios in the future? Within a few short months and after many discussions, a perfect location was chosen.

The studios would be housed in a new and very modern building called Linden Pointe in the Norwood, OH, area. Norwood is a centrally located, up-and-coming neighborhood in the greater Cincinnati metro. It is surrounded by trendy retail shops, restaurants, businesses and night life. The floor chosen for the radio stations had never been occupied: It was a perfect blank canvas.

Getting started

The studio for 96 Rock is almost identical to the Warm 98 studio. WGRR's studio is a mirror image.

The studio for 96 Rock is almost identical to the Warm 98 studio. WGRR's studio is a mirror image.

The architectural firm selected for the project was SHP Leading Design. The SHP team worked with us to create an open office. Many radio station operators put their studios in a corner of the building to hide them from the public; our design would put the studios at the forefront of the facility. Two air studios would be placed on either side of the reception area with windows looking in. The rest of the studios and the technical operations center were laid out in the main hallway so clients and visitors would walk through and see them. Floor-to-ceiling windows bordered the entire space allowing a great deal of natural light. Walkways around the entire perimeter ensured the open feel. A giant common area and comfortable lounge areas were put in place to encourage collaboration. Only a few closed-door offices were proposed, but each would have glass doors and be visible from the outside.

Reduce, reuse, recycle

Building a facility of this size can be an expensive venture. Broadcasters in general have certainly felt the pain of the current economy and we simply could not look at the project with great big budget eyes. We would have to reuse much of the equipment we already had in place and purchase only necessary infrastructure items such as furniture, racks, wire, cable and connectors.

The main production room is the largest production studio.

The main production room is the largest production studio.

We moved a used 100kW natural gas generator from a former Houston studio facility. We reused our Best Power/Eaton UPS system from the old studio location. We even removed and reused the IAC soundproof doors from the old studios to save thousands of dollars.

For the studios we chose Omnirax's new Innova series line of furniture. David Holland of Omnirax took the time to help us configure and design a perfect fit customized for each room, console and operators' needs. We needed furniture that would be budget-friendly, but also very functional. It had to be sturdy and long lasting and we had custom size and usage requirements. Due to existing tenants on the floors below and above we could not run conduit to our studios and furniture. Instead, all the wire, cabling and electrical would have to enter the room and furniture through wall junction boxes. Omnirax's custom CAD design matched exactly to the plans and layout. Wire and cable were easily distributed throughout the furniture and the punch blocks were easy to access and terminate. We were absolutely amazed with the quality, craftsmanship and extremely easy setup of this furniture line. On the day of delivery, we had a small crew of six engineers. Less than eight hours from the time the truck pulled up we had unpacked, moved and assembled all eight studios. It was definitely an experience to remember.

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