Radio Veronica, Sky Radio Get New Studios - Radio World

Radio Veronica, Sky Radio Get New Studios

Sky Radio Group modernizes facilities, boosts efficiency
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Program Engineer Rene Minnema tests equipment
in the the Sky Radio on-air studio.

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NAARDEN, Netherlands —

Sky Radio Group

has revamped its facilities, relocating all of the group’s radio stations into two refurbished buildings at Naarderpoort in Naarden, just North of Hilversum.

In the same move, the broadcaster modernized all of its technical equipment to fit each station’s format and programming.

THE PLAN

“We had planned an internal refurbishment of one of the buildings that housed a few of our studios and we discovered that much of the gear, as well as the studios, were too scattered to be efficient,” said Charley Moolhuizen, operations director at Sky Radio Group.

“By implementing a drastic restructure, all studios have been grouped together, resulting in more effective and proficient technical operation. Further, the Classic FM, part of the Telegraaf Media Groep, the majority shareholder in SRG, move from Amsterdam to Naarden completed the radio picture.”

All of the studios were tailor-made — SRG appointed KB|MF, architectural acoustic designers, to draw up 3D animation plans for the six new studios and two central equipment rooms. “KB|MF also designed the new furniture — by placing ‘dummy’ working desks, they streamlined operations, presenter positions and visibility, bearing in mind the increasing use of visual radio images,” he said.

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Pictured in the Sky Radio on air room from left to right are
Okke van Bergen, project manager; Charley Moolhuizen, Sky
Radio Group director of operations; Ferdi Smit, senior technical
engineer for Sky Radio Group; Mario van der Ark, senior
technical engineer for Sky Radio Group; and Berjan Cornelisse,
senior technical engineer for Sky Radio Group.

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“The key element is that everything was repositioned to be in close contact with the actual system users,” added Berjan Cornelisse, senior technical engineer. “It’s the best way to build a studio: height-adjustable workplaces, equipped with telephone connections, USB access points, network and mains connections, featuring modern gear and also easily adaptable for playback of other audio sources.”

SRG opted for a DHD 5200RX digital console as the main platform, resulting in full redundancy between the two buildings, and the installation of a multipurpose control room. “The MCR is the intelligent core of the new studio, and serves as a central control utility for all of the broadcast functions and monitoring of the three main SRG stations — the affiliated thematic broadcasters and the MyRadio application,” continued Moolhuizen.

Throughout the whole process, SRG’s main technical goal was to maintain full continuity for the stations’ broadcasts. For audio monitoring, the broadcaster installed a Chromatec multichannel audio metering MADI-xx system, which features visual program monitoring and on- and off-air sources. In addition, an IHSE Draco Tera keyboard/video/mouse (KVM) system handles the distribution of image sources to the 35 TFT monitors placed in the SRG buildings.

TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS

The continuity element also played a crucial role in the design of the studio floor — a huge glass wall separates the central equipment rooms and technical equipment from the actual on-air and production studios.

Both the equipment rooms and the on-air studios were installed by studio integrators Digital & Media Solutions. The firm’s assignment was to develop a studio configuration that meets today and tomorrow’s digital standards.

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The Radio Veronica On-Air Studio

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The former DHD 4200 platform was replaced by DHD 5200 RX for the consoles and audio routers. “We have excellent working experience with DHD and with the firm’s Dutch distributor Media Utilities,” said Cornelisse. “The central equipment rooms allow us to take the DHD console out of the broadcast chain, and restart it without the audience noticing.”

A fully redundant Omniplayer playout system in combination with VoxPro 5 software manages broadcast content. “In close collaboration with manufacturers Music & Images, we made a few alterations to the Omniplayer such as a custom made expand function to monitor missing commercial and music files,” added Cornelisse. “The system also allows external content management, like editing or deleting commercials from the on air studio’s playlist without having to bother the self-op presenter.”

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Nicky Verhage, DJ Jeroen Van Inkel’s sidekick and
co-host, prepares the “Van Inkel in de Middag” show in
the Radio Veronica studio.

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The Radio Veronica

on-air studio is equipped with Genelec S30 digital monitors. “They go loud and louder,” said Cornelisse.

Sky Radio

and Classic FM studios use Neumann KH 310 and KH 120 monitors.

The biggest novelty is Radio Veronica’s “Live studio” — an extension of the Veronica on-air studio. The 20-square-meter live room opens up a broad scale of on-air activities for the station.

“The choice for a live music studio was made in view of our format,” explained Senior Technical Engineer Ferdi Smit. “Radio Veronica wants to boost its live music content. A nice example, where the new ‘Live–studio’ played a key role, was the Coverband contest, which took place in October, where we had live bands in the studio every day.”

The station built the live room as a “box-in-box,” meeting the highest technical and acoustic demands. “The adjustable wall between the on-air studio and the ‘Live studio’ is 99 percent soundproof in both directions,” continued Smit. “That means we can sound check for a live concert during a Radio Veronica broadcast in the on-air studio, or record a violin trio for Classic FM with a Veronica jock heating up the airwaves at full power, just three meters away.”

A separate live control room, equipped with a Yamaha CL5 72-channel digital mixing console, completes the live music department.

“With the Yamaha and a Dante IP audio network, we’ve set up a flexible recording and mixing network (for broadcast), connected with just one UTP interface,” added Smit. “Dante allows us to record anywhere in the building, like in the crew messroom or in any other studio room.”

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A View of Sky Radio Group’s Central Equipment Room

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The three rooms, for which KB|MF, in collaboration with Hoorn-based construction company DDB, took on the acoustic design, are also equipped with Panasonic PTZ multipurpose cameras for Radio Veronica’s visual radio images.

“Visual radio is gaining importance in the broadcast chain, and we wanted to implement video in a very expansive way, as well as to ensure the availability of appropriate tools to allow for the insertion of external content in the webcam streams,” said Mario Van der Ark, senior technical engineer.

“In addition to the four motorized full HD 360 Panasonic cameras in the Veronica on-air studio, the whole building is equipped with SDI connections permitting the use of either handheld cameras or the Panasonic cameras.

“Radio Veronica began broadcasting visual radio on Sept. 1with Jeroen van Inkel’s ‘Van Inkel in de middag’ (‘Van Inkel in the Afternoon’) show, and by now it has proven its added value. In a following stage, we will include video-on-demand options and get content on Radio Veronica’s social media pages,” said Moolhuizen. SRG’s technical team started with the studio infrastructure reorganization in October of 2013. “The key challenge was that we wanted to keep the stations on air during the whole operation,” concluded Cornelisse.

“In order to clear sufficient space for the new Radio Veronica studio we had to temporarily relocate the Sky on-air studio to another office in the building,” he said. “Then we built and tested the new Radio Veronica studios and stripped down the old Veronica landscape, making room for the new Sky studios. The whole operation took us seven months.”

Marc Maes reports on the industry for Radio World from Antwerp, Belgium.

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