Red River Radio
Red River Radio's move to new studios was long overdue. Housed for 28 years in "temporary" buildings that were installed on the Louisiana State University Shreveport campus in 1964 (originally as the campus snack shop), our public radio network needed a new home. Flagship station KDAQ went on the air in Shreveport in 1984 with three repeater stations and a translator added over the next few years. As the NPR affiliate for Northwest and Central Louisiana, South Arkansas and East Texas, geographically we are one of the largest public radio networks in the system.
The metal buildings were in poor condition, a rat's nest of patchwork repairs behind racks was a confusing mess, and even the custom-built Ward Beck console in the MCR had been so cannibalized over the years that there were few cures left for any new problems. (Open slots in the mainframe did leave a convenient space to warm one's hand on a cold day or to provide shock therapy as needed.) With the studios and offices in different buildings, work flow and communication were complicated, especially on a rainy day!
Feasibility studies confirmed that the best solution was a new home. Plans were initiated to build a new facility from the ground up. Priorities included more space, more production capability and routing to better accommodate all of our audio streams including our main channel, HD2, HD3 and the Internet. Ease of use was also important so that talent would have an easy transition. Another obvious requirement was that the new facility should house the studios and offices under one roof. We also wanted an attractive facility that would be inviting during special events.
A new feature
A major focal point was the addition of a performance studio for live music events. Our line-up includes a wide variety of music - classical, jazz, blues - alongside regional and national news. Over the years, bands had often performed live in the tiny lobby of the old studios, spreading out in front of the drink machines across from the MCR. Hardly an ideal situation! On a stormy day, the raindrops on the metal roof overpowered anything going on in the studios, including the announcers. Fortunately that was coming to an end.
About two years into the planning, an old church building that had been annexed by our university became available. This building had served not only as a church, but also as a student union, offices and classrooms. Remodeling and restoring this building would be a challenge but also save us more than a million dollars from the original estimates. We jumped at the chance. Architect Mark Prevot of Prevot Design Services was engaged to deliver a workable concept. The LSUS facilities director, Don Bloxom, would oversee construction progress on our end. Mark Wilson was our consulting broadcast engineer.
The building was an A-frame design built in the 50s. The original raised brick altar area still existed and it was tempting to keep this somehow for the new control room, but ADA compliance issues forced us to bring everything down to the same level. Nevertheless, the MCR could occupy this place of honor, looking out into the middle of the building, which would become the performance studio.
We wanted to take advantage of the high ceiling in the middle of the building. We hoped it would provide visual beauty in the performance studio and felt we could bring the space under control with proper acoustic treatments. The original ceiling was hidden by the drop ceilings that had been in place for decades; we didn't know what we would find above them. We hoped that we wouldn't run across any serious obstacles.
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