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The production studio

The production studio (enlarge)

New-found flexibility

Embracing a router-based audio system has provided significant flexibility for the stations. One main advantage is that any source is available to any station, and any studio can be used to feed any station. This provides one level of backup for all the stations. The Imediatouch system has built-in server redundancy in case of a failure, and if part of the Axia system were to fail, the problem could also be routed around. As a final backup plan, each station has a Broadcast Tools switcher to take a feed directly from the automation or any other desired source.

The flexible routing has also allowed Saga to expand the programming of one station. The two AMs run sports formats, and the old studio had insufficient resources to run WYSE on its own, so it simulcast WISE most of the time. With the new studios, there is adequate capability to route sources so that WYSE can often run unique programming. This was particularly useful during the local high school football season.

The new studio layout also takes advantage of the routing flexibility. The large talk studio can now easily be used for either station as it is needed.

Like many facilities now, there are times when an in-studio audio source or feed is needed. For this, Harris World Feed panels are placed in each studio. In addition, a custom Balsys panel housed in a weatherproof box was installed on the front patio to accommodate live broadcasts from the front of the building. Also, each studio has a pop-up data port for power and Internet connectivity.

The WISE air studio is a mirror of WOXL air.

The WISE air studio is a mirror of WOXL air. (enlarge)

The facility has a 110kVA natural gas generator to power the building if commercial power drops. To supplement that, several UPS battery systems are in place. The on-air operations are powered through a large UPS. In addition, each studio has its own smaller UPS. The various UPS systems provide 1 to 1.5 hours of backup power, which easily covers the generator transfer time, but it also provides some cushion in case there is a generator problem.

The facility's HVAC system is designed to prevent the typical problem that many studios suffer. Each studio has its own climate control. Air is fed into each studio, depending on the season, this air is conditioned (cooled) or filtered outside air. If heat is needed, the filtered air passes over heating strips in each studio's duct work so that each studio can maintain its own perfect temperature.

Meeting the challenges

Any project has its share of unexpected challenges, and this one is no different. The west side of the property looks into a bluff. To accommodate the low look angle of the satellite dish, the dish is installed in the southeast corner of the lot. Mounting the dish on the ground and clearing the trees on the bluff would have probably provided minimal clearance, although the dish also faces into the parking lot. If any large vehicle passed in front of a ground-level dish, the satellite signal would be lost. The Balsys solution: raise the dish. It is mounted so the center of the 3.8m dish is 12' off the ground. The foundation — an inverterted T — is buried 8' into the ground. Raising the dish improved the clearance over the bluff.

The satellite dish was lifted into place with a crane. To complicate this part of the project, there are power lines running near the satellite dish mount. The crane had to lift the dish over the power lines to put it in place.

The voice tracking/second production studio looks into the WOXL air studio.

The voice tracking/second production studio looks into the WOXL air studio. (enlarge)

The facility installation was completed in April 2007, but it did not go on the air until some RF STL issues were resolved. The studio site does not have a clear line of site to any of the transmitter sites. Saga leased tower space on a mountain-top tower and relays the STL signals to the various transmitter sites from there. A small STL tower was erected at the studio to hold the necessary antennas. Obtaining the necessary zoning clearance for this studio tower was a challenge, but it was finally approved.

WYSE has a variation in its STL path. The WYSE audio is carried to the WOXL transmitter site via an STL where it is injected into the WOXL-FM subcarrier. A subcarrier receiver at the WYSE transmitter receives the audio for retransmission. This eliminated one STL path from the project.

So now that the project is complete, the stations continue to learn the new capabilities of their facility. Chief Engineer Gary Robinson notes that routing changes once considered an obstacle are now simple matters, and the overall installation has gleaned praise from visiting radio engineers. While the goal from the onset was to build a top-notch facility, the directive was to build it right and build it well to provide modern, flexible facilities. By doing this, the result is a showcase that the station staff and owners are proud of.

Equipment List

  • Adobe Audition
  • Alesis RA300
  • Audio Science ASI5042
  • Audion Labs Voxpro
  • Avocent LV830-AM
  • Axia Element and audio network
  • Balsys Technology Group project management, system design, systems integration
  • Balsys Wood Arts Furniture, maple wood ends for Axia surfaces
  • CBT CBT-2
  • Cisco WS Series
  • ESE ES185U, LX5112
  • Fostex 6301B, RM-2
  • Harris World Feed Panel
  • Heil PR-40
  • Henry Engineering Multiphones
  • Imediatouch
  • Krone punchblocks
  • Linksys hubs
  • Middle Atlantic GRK Series, RM-KB-LCD17
  • Minuteman UPS
  • O.C. White Pro Boom Elite
  • Omnimount monitor mounts
  • Sony MDR7506
  • Tannoy Reveal 6
  • Tascam CD01UPRO, CDRW2000, 112MKII
  • Telos 2101

More images on next page.

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