Red River Radio

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See-through studios

One important visual design aspect of the new performance studio is a large glass wall on the lobby side. Besides catching the attention of those walking into our building, it allows anyone in the control room to look straight through the performance studio to see anyone at the front door, a fringe benefit. The design included non-parallel side walls and the big glass wall is broken up by perpendicular segments. On the MCR side, the windows were all angled and large acoustic insulating doors were installed. (The doors had to be wide enough to easily allow for large musical instruments). In addition, 48 custom designed, locally built absorbing panels contribute to give us a warm sounding, flexible studio. The studio is large enough to accommodate performers and a small audience of about 40-50 people.

We wanted to be as "green" as possible, so all new lighting is LED and the floor is made from reclaimed wood in the performance studio and lobby areas. (The MCR, Production 1 and the Newsroom have carpeting.) Extra care was given to the air conditioning to assure that it was efficient and that there was no noise introduced from the ductwork into the studios. The offices and production studios are on opposite sides of the building, providing additional isolation from office sounds.

Looking through the great glass wall into the performance studio

Looking through the great glass wall into the performance studio

Early on we decided to use an audio over IP system. CAT-6 cables made interconnection a simple matter. We chose the Axia IQ system for several reasons. NPR -and the PRSS- was upgrading to new receivers built by International Datacasting. These included Livewire so it seemed logical to use Livewire elsewhere. Also, the Axia IQ control surfaces are easy to configure and understand. We do a lot of call-in programs so high quality phone hybrids were essential. We chose Telos IQ6 digital hybrids, which integrate seamlessly with the IQ consoles and Livewire.

The MCR has an additional mixing station connected to the performance studio. A Presonus digital console feeds both Livewire and a recording computer running several programs including ProTools and Sound Forge. Audio files are stored primarily on Glyph drives in the engineering racks for access throughout the facility. The Presonus also mixes live in-studio sound both for audiences and for the performers' monitors.

The MCR and Production both accommodate the board op/host and three guests. Sennheiser mics, primarily MD-421, are at all stations. Local sources include Tascam CD players, legacy DAT machines and a turntable in the control room. (A lot of those old jazz recordings are still on LP.) We also kept two of our Otari half-track analog machines so that old archival recordings of the symphony, opera, etc., could be transcribed and converted to digital at some point.

The performance studio provides a large, open space. Photo by Neil Johnson

The performance studio provides a large, open space. Photo by Neil Johnson

WireReady's ControlReady automation had worked very well for us over many years. The old studios ran an old version on computers running Win2000 so upgrading to the latest version on "modern" computers was a no-brainer. One of WireReady's strongest benefits is very reliable walk-away background automation which we use extensively especially on HD2 and HD3.

Several of the IQ features were not yet enabled by Axia in their software. Time being of the essence, we opted to use Broadcast Tools AES switchers. Eventually we will use Axia's Pathfinder software to handle the routing duties. Commands can be either automated or manually activated. Any of the studios can be used on-air on any of the audio streams or all of them at once, useful during fundraising pledge drives.

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