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Harris Helps Morehead WMKY-FM 90.3 Grow

Harris Helps Morehead WMKY-FM 90.3 Grow

Sep 1, 2002 12:00 PM

WMKY-FM 90.3 is one of two stations that make up Morehead State Public Radio. As a 50,000-watt station, WMKY blankets several counties in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. Housed on the campus of Morehead State University, the radio station was experiencing growing pains and needed to move to a new facility across campus.

When it came time to design and build the new facility, Dan Conti, the general manager of WMKY, who has had a long history with Harris, knew that Harris as a leading systems integrator would have the expertise to design and install their new studios. Because Conti had observed the quality and efficiency of Harris’ work at three other stations, he wasn’t surprised the corporation was able to create new, top-of-the-line studios from scratch and do so on a strict budget and tight deadline.

Chris Karb of Harris worked with WMKY over an extended period of time to get to know them and design a facility around the station’s specific needs. The result of this year-long project was a brand-new facility with four specific studios: an on-air room, a production room, a talk studio and a news room. The station also includes a roof and antenna assembly with a roof sled and an inter-room wiring and audio router wiring package. And, best of all, the project came in on time and within budget.

The on-air room features a Harris Impulse 20 on-air console, which the station had purchased prior to the move, and was able to reuse for the new facility. CD players, minidiscs and all necessary broadcast equipment are placed in the on-air room within easy reach of the operator. The room also contains four metal racks loaded with air chain equipment, routers, emergency broadcast gear and ancillary recording gear.

The production room is designed to mirror the on-air room as much as possible. This was done so that operators could use the production room as an emergency on-air room. The mirroring of the rooms allows operators to easily move from one room to the other if necessary. Another recently purchased Impulse console is incorporated into the design of the production room.

Connecting the on-air and production rooms is the talk studio. This room is designed so that a show host can interview up to five guests at one time. The furniture, when you first see it, is deceivingly simple with a straightforward flat desktop, but it hides a wealth of gear. Headphone amps and microphone preamps are in hidden racks under the table surface, and SAS Audio Router Heads (controllers) are neatly fitted into the surface. This table, designed by David Schlegel of Harris, uses screw-on legs that allow for the disassembly and removal of the table during pledge drives. Also, all the equipment in this room is able to �switch� from the on-air room to the production room if there was ever an emergency.

Systems designer Mark Colacito integrated a multi-pin audio snake cable into the table (as one might find in use on theater equipment) that runs back to a Sierra Automated Systems Audio Router. By programming in a series of �salvos� or �macros,� multiple connections can be made instantly by the push of a single button. This button is integrated directly into the Host cabinet. So, with the push of a button, the host can now route all headphones, microphones, speaker feeds and talkbacks to the desired studio. Simple solutions like matching colored pop screens on the microphones to corresponding, colored fader knobs on the console, allow operators to easily track which fader controls match up with each microphone.

The newsroom presented a series of challenges during the construction process. This room has more gear assigned to it than one typically finds in a news studio. A simple yet readily available mixer was an elegant solution to maximize newscaster operation. The mixer also needs several balanced inputs to integrate with router feeds from the tech center. A Dixon News Mixer expanded with a 6�1 switcher was chosen because it integrated smoothly and allows for one-button mixing, and as a rack mount unit, it frees up precious desk space for the newscasters in this small room. Amazingly, the cabinet design fits all of the equipment WMKY requested into this small space without feeling cramped.

Shannon Halladay, Order Administrator at Harris, kept a close eye on the budget, which allowed WMKY to scale back or expand portions of the job depending on the daily expenditures. When savings were found, they immediately could be used in other areas in the facility. This allowed for WMKY to get everything that they needed in the studio as well as a few extras that they wanted. Today, WMKY has a state-of-the-art facility that has the flexibility to meet the communications demands of today and tomorrow.

Facility Specifications

Roof & Transmission:
SCA Paraflector antenna
Andrew Heliax cable
Baird roof sled

Tech Core:
Harris 44RU racks
Sierra Automated System 16000 router
Sierra Automated System expansion chassis (32�32)
Krone blocks

Harris PR&E Impulse-20 consoles
Harris custom cabinetry
Electro-Voice RE20 mics
Symetrix 506 headphone amplifiers
Sony MDR7506 headphones
Denon DJ151 digital turntable
Tascam 122 MKIII cassette
Tascam CDRW 700 CD recorder
Sony CDPD11 CD player
Mackie HR824 powered monitors
Gentner SPH10 analog telephone hybrid
Sony MDS-E12 minidisc

News Room:
Dixon Systems NM-250 Newsmixer
Communications Division
4393 Digital Way
Cincinnati, Ohio 45040
800-622-0022; 513-701-5301 fax
[email protected]