The New Studio 4 at WABE(AM) ATLANTA — Studio redesigns represent more than a technology change in the radio broadcast facility. Essentially, they can create a seismic shift in the personality of the entire operation.
Harris Broadcast and its PR&E studio solutions helped us achieve that complete change in look and feel at WABE(AM) in Atlanta — along with technical upgrades that have introduced new operational efficiencies across the facility.
WABE has served the Atlanta region since the 1950s as a public broadcaster. The station broadcasts classical music and NPR news programs to listeners online and over the air. The new design has injected new life and energy into that mission.
The design initiative focused on the upper floor, with new furniture, production and on-air equipment to support the existing Studio 1 and Studio 2 spaces. A large conference room was stripped and converted into Studio 4. (Studio 3 remains downstairs and was not part of the project.)
The seeds were planted through drawings to map out electrical requirement, and ensure the desired furniture layouts would fit in each room. A local electrician established new runs to a generator-connected UPS to bolster on-air protection. The Harris Broadcast team recommended using Cat-5 trunk cables for the best performance. The redesign also included new soundproofing for each studio prior to delivery of the furniture.
We chose Harris Broadcast PR&E Smoothline furniture for each studio. The desks are very clean and low-profile and blend in well with the complementary cabinets. The surfaces are spacious to the point where clutter is not an issue. A sturdy overall build supports all critical on-air and production equipment.
We chose the sit-down designs, which replace stand-up desks in Studios 1 and 2. This ensures that our hosts are seated and well within reach of on-air consoles without uncomfortable stretching. Furthermore, the Smoothline designs build boom mics, headphone jacks and associate amps and audio settings directly into the surfaces — giving each host and guest complete control from their positions.
The ability to handle weight is extremely important to the overall operation. Each surface accommodates PR&E NetWave consoles and three monitors connected to a central computer. Smoothline cabinets atop the surface house CD players, mic processors and other source equipment. Studio 4, now the largest of the group, adds an underneath Smoothline cabinet for power amplifiers and audio processing equipment.
We like that Harris Broadcast punches intelligently placed holes for cable runs and equipment connections in advance of delivery. This makes most of the process plug and play. All holes were in the right position for mic booms, harnesses and cable trays to expedite installation.
The custom furniture designs include a grayish top with black trim that looks very sharp, and blends well with the surrounding environments. Studio 1 is our main on-air studio, with one host and one guest position. Studio 2 serves mostly production needs, with one host and two guest positions.
Studio 4 opens up new possibilities for WABE with its much larger size (23 feet x 15 feet), accommodating one host and four guest positions at the larger desk. We expect to use this space for talk shows and live entertainment down the road. We will also move annual pledge drives to this studio as the quarters are far more spacious than the previous location in Studio 2.
Technically, the studio redesign also opened up the opportunity to improve audio distribution and source sharing across the facility. SCMS, the sales arm for this project, recommended a PR&E VistaMax to tie everything together. This feeds audio to every studio and console, with extra redundancy through hard-wiring to network and satellite systems. This ensures we can still feed audio and reprogram destinations easily if the facility network goes down for any reason.
Meanwhile, the NetWave consoles bring new simplicity to the on-air and production operation, with plug-and-play modules for operational flexibility, along with clean, easy-to-read VU meters to check audio levels. Overall, they look very nice and add to the clean, modern feel of the studios.
Above all, the entire project has boosted morale across the facility. This was a very old building that was built in the 1950s. Bringing in new equipment, furniture and cabinets has created new energy, and provided a cutting-edge feel that expands what we can do as a radio station. In this way, the project truly represents a seismic shift in personality at WABE. The Harris Broadcast PR&E team and solution, with contributions from SCMS, played a significant role in making it happen.
For information, contact Brian Clifford at Harris Broadcast in Ohio at (513) 459-3714 or visit www.harrisbroadcast.com.