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Build it big, build it right

Build it big, build it right

Sep 1, 2004 12:00 PM, By Matt Sheahan

The Entravision Communications-Radio Division developed a plan to create a new, centralized facility for its radio stations in Los Angeles that would also house its satellite operations from Campbell, CA, near San Jose. This would prove to be a significant move. The target date was for the facility to be completely operational by early 2004.

The master control room houses rows of racks. Much of the wiring was completed off-site and then installed later.

The corridor walls have an open space at the top that conceals the wiring trough. The designer used this space to provide colorful, indirect lighting, which provides a changing palette of colors.

The main lobby at the Entravision studios.

Entravision has created one of the largest U.S. Hispanic radio networks in the nation, reaching a potential audience of more than 20 million listeners. The new Entravision facility houses a number of the company’s flagship broadcast networks including Radio Romantica, which consists of adult-contemporary, romantic ballads and current hits; Radio Tricolor, which is a personality-driven, Mexican country-style format; and Super Estrella, which is music-driven, pop and alternative Spanish rock.

The new studios are located on the Miracle Mile in Los Angeles, in the same building that houses Miramax and Variety.

This radio station cluster includes a total of 27 studios: nine on-air studios, nine image studios and nine production studios. The floor that Entravision planned to occupy had to be completely gutted, redesigned and rebuilt to accommodate the new studios, a massive master control and router system area, as well as office and lobby space.

For this project to work, Entravision had some decisions to make. Decisions regarding control surfaces, studio furniture, the myriad choices of studio equipment � CD players, cassette decks, headphones, interconnection cable, more than 5,000 XLR connectors and studio monitors � were all considered to build an entirely new studio infrastructure built from the ground up.

The decision to use an integrator instead of locally contracted help was based on availability of technical talent in LA. Retaining the required number of people to create an installation team for the duration of the project was a challenge. Hiring an integrator solved this problem.

Entravision needed 27 control surfaces for this project. The choice was the Wheatstone Generation-5 digital control surface for all 27 studios. Wheatstone describes this new product as �a straightforward operational surface with the benefits of digital technology and the graphics of digital display.� The Gen-5 provides the flexibility of system-wide source, mix, and destination control, an extensive mix-minus section, and an event store, name and recall system. Entravision LA was the first broadcast company to install the Wheatstone G-5 control surface in all its studios and CSS was the first integration firm to install them.

John Buckham, Entravision’s project engineer, approached Omnirax for the design and construction of the on-air, production and image room furniture. While well known in the music industry, Omnirax is a relative newcomer to broadcast furniture. Buckham was familiar with the company’s work and thought the design approach would be a good fit for the unique requirements of the project.

Entravision wanted a stylistic feel that reflected its modern, upbeat corporate image while at the same time taking advantage of all the technological advantages their new equipment would offer.

The Omnirax design process proceeded from simple drawings to CAD design and full-scale renderings. Each type of room was addressed individually, paying special attention to the Showcase and Super Suite studios. Site visits from Buckham confirmed fit, finish and detail as prototype rooms were completed. The furniture was shipped largely assembled with major components installed on location.

Studio equipment

There were still studio equipment choices to be made. Entravision chose Tascam, Neutrik, Telos Systems, Krone, Belden and others to help create their new studios. Hundreds of pieces of equipment, thousands of feet of interconnection cable, and more than 5,000 XLR connectors were needed for the job.

Broadcast integrator Creative Studio Solutions (CSS) contacted an Entravision station in the Midwest to inquire about the station’s future integration needs. That phone call put CSS in contact with John Burger, Entravision’s vice president of engineering. Burger told CSS of the future plans in LA and through a series of meetings, Entravision chose CSS as its broadcast studio integrator.

One of the significant integration challenges was logistical. CSS used its Pre-Build Solution for this integration project. The majority of the wiring infrastructure was built, tested and documented at the CSS facility in Colorado and then shipped to Los Angeles for final installation.

With the assistance of Omnirax, CSS was given a working template of the three types of studio to be installed: on-air, production and imaging. Using these templates, CSS built most of the wiring infrastructure without having to be on-site. CSS used Stardraw Studio Documentation Software for this project, which facilitates the process of creating detailed engineering schematic of the studio infrastructure.

A project of this scale required all the participants to work closely to meet the specific deadlines. The Entravision engineering staff, Wheatstone, Omnirax and CSS collectively solved the common last-minute issues that arose, smoothing the integration process.

One unique design element solved a challenge in cable routing. Instead of running cable through conduits or beneath floors, a cable trough soffit was built into the hallway walls. The walls stop about one foot short of the ceiling. Over the top is a cable tray that is about 1′ wide and 8″ deep. Cables can be easily added or accessed with minimal effort. This soffit also houses the hallway lights, creating an aurora borealis effect throughout the facility.

Today, the Entravision LA stations broadcast full-force from their new studios on the Miracle Mile. All studios are fully functional and Entravision is back to the business of increasing its visibility as one of the nation’s dominant Hispanic-language broadcasters.

Equipment List

Belden wire and cable
Bose speakers
DBX Quantam II
Dorrough 280 meters
LPB Silent Booms
Middle Atlantic racks
Neutrik connectors
Omnirax furniture
Shure SM7-B mics
Stardraw Studio Documentation Software
Tascam 122 MK III cassettes
Drawmer DA-6 distribution amps
Enco DADpro32
Gepco wire and cable
Hafler P1000 amplifiers
Tascam CD-450 CD players
Tascam DA-40 DATs
Tascam DDRW2000 CD recorders
Tascam MD-801R MKII Minidiscs
Telos Systems 2101 phone systems
Vox Pro editors
Wheatstone Bridge router
Wheatstone Gen-5 control surfaces

Sheahan is the communications manager at CSS, Wheat Ridge, CO.

Soffit detail photos by Rick Hunt, VP and director of radio engineering, Entravision Communications.