Clear Channel Rochester Moves

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With its old location being demolished, Clear Channel Rochester trusted Lightner Electronics to get things moving.

In September 2008 I was asked to bid the project of moving Clear Channel Rochester's seven radio stations (WHAM-AM, WHTK-AM, WDVI, WFXF, WKGS, WVOR, WROO) from the old Midtown Mall building a few blocks away to HSBC Plaza. The project was necessary since the city of Rochester purchased the Midtown Mall building to demolish it and build a new 30-story office building. As an integrator, bidding the project was a challenge because of a unique requirement: Because the city was reimbursing Clear Channel for the move, the city had to review the bids. It also wanted two different bids from each bidder. The first bid was to relocate all the existing equipment and wiring with nothing new purchased. The second bid was to relocate as much equipment as possible and provide supplemental new equipment to allow a seamless transition to the new facilities. Clear Channel required that the stations had to remain on the air 24/7 during the move except for one time slot per station between midnight and 5:30 a.m. Monday morning when they could be off the air for the move. With a facility this large and so many shared resources it was a major challenge to quote.

The Brother Wease studio is set up as a circular talk studio with low sight lines.

The Brother Wease studio is set up as a circular talk studio with low sight lines.

Before we quoted the project, we visited the site and met with Mike Guidotti, the SVP of engineering for Clear Channel's northeast region, and the local market engineers. When I arrived at the Midtown Mall building I was shocked. What used to be a mall was just a vacant building. It was sad to see. We helped upgrade the Rochester facility back in 2005, and the mall at the time was thriving.

The project begins

We were informed in November that we had won the bid to move the facility. The plan we came up with was to purchase a new Wheatstone Bridge Router with necessary I/O cards, along with a new G4 console and source equipment, to move the first station without any down time. We also determined that new equipment racks, studio furniture and STL antennas were required to make the move seamless. After all of this was in place then we would be in a position to move the equipment from the old facility and keep each station on the air during the move.

Our first line of work was to schedule the delivery of the Middle Atlantic equipment racks. We had a very narrow timeline when the racks could arrive because the general contractor wanted to finish the rack room on its tight schedule. We also had to schedule the loading dock and freight elevator operator to get the racks to the 16th floor. Middle Atlantic was extremely accommodating and used its own semi truck to deliver all the racks on our schedule. Fifteen of the racks were built into the TOC wall so operators could access them from the hallway. The remaining 20 racks were installed in the TOC. As soon as the racks were in place we installed all the power strips and had the racks ready for the electricians to wire power to them.

Operator position, Wease studio

Operator position, Wease studio

While the general contractors were working on finishing the studios we concentrated on the rack room (TOC). The room needed to to allow the equipment to be installed quickly as we moved it from the old facility. We determined all the equipment going in each rack, and came up with a wire count. We decided to run at least one 25 pair CAT-3 cable to each rack punched to a Krone block in back of the rack for any logic or non-audio application. For the audio wiring we ran at least one Gepco 24-pair digital multi-pair cable to each rack. We cut the Gepco multipair cable so it was long enough to reach the bottom of each rack, then we installed the appropriate connectors for each piece of equipment. After the equipment was installed we dressed the cables and coiled the excess in Panduit mounted in back of the racks. The other end of the multi-pair cables terminated to Krone blocks on the wall.

We designed the rack room wall in CAD and plotted a very large template that showed each punch block and D-ring placement. This allowed us to pre-drill holes where each block and D-ring would mount, saving time and making it look extremely neat. The only problem with using the Gepco multipair cable is that it takes up a fair amount of space and is hard to route behind the punch blocks using the standard punch block standoffs if three blocks are stacked vertically. Our solution was to design a custom standoff bracket channel. The bracket has a large area to place all the cables inside and is slotted so the wires come out into the block. We had the brackets designed with threaded holes so we could use rack screws to mount the punch blocks to the brackets. The data contractor pulled one CAT-3 25-pair cable for control, and two 25-pair CAT-5 cables for audio terminated to Krone blocks to each studio. They also pulled multiple CAT-5 cables to each studio for data and the Wheatstone digital audio network.

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