WFCR exposes more than news in its new studio

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Facility Showcase, Nov 2009

Connection to the main studio

Technical integration of WFCR's two studios is critical. Springfield reporters have to use the station's news wire and production software, file stories and get e-mail. A two-way audio link is needed to produce live programs, so that if the local broadcast of NPR's Morning Edition is to originate from Springfield, the raw satellite feed can be sent down on one channel and the finished program sent back to Amherst.

At this off-campus site, the Springfield studio needed its own telephone and Internet connections. DSL lines leased from a local ISP support a VoIP phone system and the Internet connections. Reporters can access WFCR's computer system for ordinary purposes like e-mail, but a direct connection to the News Boss server proved problematic through the relatively slow DSL lines.

At this writing, WFCR is experimenting with two possible solutions: one creates an internal News Boss website that acts as a transfer point for data moving between the two facilities, and the other uses importers at both ends of the link to pull in data from the other end. To send live program audio back and forth, WFCR will install a point-to-point IP audio link through the DSL circuit.

Taking a tour

The office with two reporters in front and intern workspaces beyond. Photo by Scott Tulay/Juster Pope Frazier.

The office with two reporters in front and intern workspaces beyond. Photo by Scott Tulay/Juster Pope Frazier.

Visitors enter through the office, whose facade of maple-framed glass and maple-veneered walls make the visual statement the station sought. The office contains work spaces for reporters and interns and a small alcove that doubles as a meeting space and green room. From the office, visitors enter the corridor that connects to the broadcast rooms, and rises four inches to meet the raised floor.

The studio is 12' by 15', with one angled wall to break up standing waves. A custom designed desk places the program host on one side facing the control room and three guests sitting along a curve on the other. The table sits at an angle so the host has good sightlines into the control room between seated guests.

The control room at the end of the corridor is 20' by 15', on the other side of the angled wall. Custom designed furniture places the board operator facing two guest positions across the counter and the studio beyond, with a director's station behind the operator on the right and the call screener behind on the left.

Putting it into action

The work progressed quickly. Architect Kevin Chrobak had his first look at the space in December 2007, plans were completed by early spring, and the contractor began work in July. Named for major supporters of WFCR, the Peggy and David Starr Broadcast Center was dedicated in January 2009.

Reporting and programming from Springfield has developed step by step. News reports filed by resident reporters, interviews with Springfield-area guests and live call-in programs are putting the bureau to good use.

WFCR's Sustaining Success Capital Campaign, which supported the creation of the Springfield studio, now turns its attention to improving the station's main studio. The experience and knowledge gained in developing the Springfield studio will contribute greatly to the next project's success.

Malawista is assistant station manager of WFCR. He managed the Springfield studio project along with chief engineer Chuck Dube, CBRE.

Equipment List

AIS Matrix office furniture
ATI distribution amplifiers
Audio-Technica AT804
Belden equipment rack
Comrex Bric-link
Crown D45
Dell computers
Denon DN-C635
Harbeth P3-ES2
Kinetics Model RIM floor isolation system
Middle Atlantic rack panels
Presonus D8 microphone preamps
Shure KSM44
Sierra Automated Systems Rubicon
Studio Technology studio furniture
Tascam TU-690
Tectum acoustical wall panels
Telos 1x6, Telos One, Xstream
Torpey CLK20B
Yellowtec Mika

Project Team

Kevin Chrobak, principal architect, Juster Pope Frazier
Laurie Frazer, interior designer, Cobalt Design Studio
L. N. Berneche, contractor
Chuck Dube, CBRE, chief engineer, WFCR
Richard Malawista, assistant station manager, WFCR

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