Alpha Media has operations in 42 markets around the United States, stretching from Alaska to South Carolina, comprising about four dozen studio locations and 200 or so FM and AM licenses.
Director of Engineering Mike Everhart is one of several engineers I interviewed for our ebook “After the Masks Come Off.”
He told me that Alpha’s leadership has been putting lessons of the pandemic into practice.
“You’ll see it in future iterations of our studio builds. We’re entering a right-sizing operation in the Portland, Ore., market right now; and we’re looking at a move-and-build in another market in the next year or so that will take a lot of those lessons into account.”
The company was already heading down this road, he said, due the cost of construction, which Everhart said has ballooned well above the rate of inflation; a general decline in radio revenue in recent years; and the possibilities that technology brings for enabling remote work and creating more flexibility in the use of infrastructure.
“Those forces have come together and forced us to rethink the way we do these facilities,” Everhart said.
“We’ve been reducing the physical footprint. We’ve been reducing studio counts. We’ve been looking at hoteling workspace as opposed to dedicated individual workspaces, in the office as well as the studio. A person does not have a dedicated workspace all the time.”
A design principle of engineering is to seek efficiency, he said; but Alpha Media’s analysis has shown that traditionally radio is inefficient in their use of space, with low occupancy rates of desks and studios. He attributes this to a cultural paradigm in which a brand’s identity is wrapped up in the control room, where you build a culture to share with an audience.
“What we’ve found is that the culture and feel of a brand is what comes out the speakers and the feelings engendered in the audience members. It doesn’t come from the space, it comes from the head and the heart of the people producing the programs.”
With all that taken into account, and given the costs of building facilities and the expense of commercial real estate, “It doesn’t make sense to keep doing things the way we’ve been doing things.”
I enjoyed putting this particular ebook together and invite you to read more from Mike Everhart and other top engineers. Find it at radioworld.com/ebooks.
Comment on this or any article. Write to [email protected].