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Entravision Loving Its New L.A. Digs

There's a lot going on in Entravision's new headquarters on the Miracle Mile of Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles: 27 studios cranking out programming for five satellite programming services and three local L.A. radio stations.

There’s a lot going on in Entravision’s new headquarters on the Miracle Mile of Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles: 27 studios cranking out programming for five satellite programming services and three local L.A. radio stations.

But with 45,000 square feet of space laid out in a cleverly segmented design, the vibe in the second-floor facility is pure laid-back Southern California, from swoopy red “George Jetson” sofas in the lobby to sleek silver Wheatstone Generation-5 consoles in the air studio.

(click thumbnail)The facility is the largest installation of Wheatstone’s Bridge/Generation System to date, including 27 Gen-5 Control Surfaces. – Photo courtesy of Wheatstone.
In fact, project manager John Buckham says the glitz of the Wheatstone’s brushed-aluminum surface was a selling point as Entravision began planning its move from its old headquarters up in Campbell, near San Jose, to the heart of L.A.’s media community.

“We wanted something that looked classy, and the Wheatstone looked classy,” he said, notwithstanding that the router-based digital audio system had yet to actually go into production. “It turned out to be the best choice, though. It’s been stable and the jocks love it.”

Custom board

Entravision’s three local stations in L.A. – Spanish “cumbia” KLYY(FM); Spanish hits trimulcast KSSC(FM), KSSD(FM) and KSSE(FM); and modern rock KDLD(FM)/KDLE(FM) – had been using another make of console. Switching to the Wheatstones, which centralize more of their operations in the server room and use the console as a control surface, left some empty rack space in each studio for future use.

“The Wheatstone is amazingly compact,” Buckham said.

Wheatstone’s Phil Owens said the facility is the largest single installation of its Bridge/Generation System to date. The manufacturer supplied 27 Gen-5 Control Surfaces, 14 Bridge Satellite Router Cages and seven Bridge Router Cages. The studios are networked through the Bridge to form a large distributed audio and control system. The G5 surfaces range from 16-fader versions for the main air studios to smaller-footprint eight-fader versions for use in the Edit Rooms.

(click thumbnail)Server room, including Bridge Routers
Buckham said Wheatstone worked with Entravision to create a custom console. The G5 in use here was created for this project. It’s a stripped-down version of the larger G9, which incorporates controls that Entravision didn’t want or need in its studios, such as effects and EQ settings.

“In a radio environment, EQ (control in the studio) is not a positive thing. You want to make those decisions at a programming level,” Buckham said.

The facility was designed to serve nine program streams (there’s room for one more in addition to the five satellite services and three local stations), with each stream in its own dedicated “pod” that includes an air studio, an adjacent “image room” that can be used for call screening, newscasters or production, and a separate production room down the hall.

There’s one more studio with a big window overlooking the front lobby. It’s equipped with TV lighting and audio connections for TV crews, ready to be used any time there’s a star stopping by – not an infrequent occurrence in this neighborhood. (The offices of Variety and Daily Variety are one floor down, and right next door is the Miracle Mile building that will house Infinity Radio’s L.A. operations.)

Studio gear includes Shure SM7 mics – “We chose the SM7 for its forgiveness,” Buckham said – Presonus mic preamps, a brand Buckham discovered at a music-supply store in Berkeley, Tascam CD players and cassette decks, Omnirax studio furniture, an ESE master clock system, Telos 2101 phone system, Audion Labs VoxPro digital voice editors and Enco’s DADpro32 digital automation.

And don’t look for big, thumping studio monitors in this facility; each studio is instead equipped with Bose Free Space subwoofers and satellite speakers. The untraditional choice not only saved space in the studios, Buckham said; it also reduced the need for heavy-duty acoustical insulation between rooms.

“I figured you couldn’t make too much noise” with the Boses, Buckham said. Also, “They sound great.”

To the server

Entravision’s previous home in Campbell, which it had occupied for only a few years when it came time to move south, had Industrial Acoustics pre-fab rooms for each studio.

Buckham shied from that approach for the L.A. facility, in part because the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act would have required him to raise the hallway floors of the entire studio suite to meet the high doorsills of the pre-fab rooms.

Instead, the buildout of the gutted studio space, with design by Mediaway Architecture and construction by Taslimi Construction, began with two layers of sheetrock, a frame atop those, another layer of sheetrock above that, open-back insulation atop that layer, then two more layers of sheetrock on separate frames and an inch of linear glass insulation atop that.

Wiring was by Creative Studio Solutions and the Entravision technical staff. Cat-6 wiring connects Wheatstone frames in each studio to the server room at the core of the facility, which houses the Wheatstone router system as well as the audio processing (Orban Optimod 8400s for the local stations), Harris Intraplex T1 STLs, EAS gear, satellite uplinks for the network services (including the “Radio Tricolor” regional Mexican and “Radio Romantica” Spanish AC networks) and the facility’s computer and telephone networking.

(click thumbnail)A pair of these chairs highlight the lobby. – Photo by John Buckham
Neutrik said 2,500 of its connectors were used; CSS built wiring harnesses with Neutrik’s IDC type XLR cable connectors NC3FEZY-B and NC3MEZY-B, and some 100 each of the “P” series type XLR solder cup receptacles, NC3MP and NC3FP-1.

Construction on the facility began in summer of 2003, and staffers began moving in last February. About 30 came down the coast from the old Campbell offices; others had been working at scattered Entravision facilities around southern California. The facility also houses Entravision’s Vista Media outdoor advertising business and sales offices for XETV(TV) in San Diego, which Entravision owns.

In all, more than 100 people now work at the Entravision offices, with room for more. “They’re not tripping over each other here,” Buckham says.

Oh, and the undulating red sofas in the front lobby? Those came courtesy of the Ginsler interior decorating firm, which was also responsible for the color-changing lighting in the hallways and the red door frames. Buckham says they’ve already become something of a trademark of the space.