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A Custom Remodel in Support of Freeform Radio

WXOX provides access to the airwaves for creative and experimental use

Custom shelving at WXOX. Photo by Sharon Scott
Custom shelving at WXOX. Photo by Sharon Scott

Community station ART FM WXOX(LP) in Louisville, Ky., values “creative energy built through respect and mutual understanding.” It also values its 100+ volunteer DJs.

So when time came to remodel on-air Studio A and improve Studio B for production and training, the LPFM’s management wanted rooms that would be durable, flexible and user-friendly.

Before the pandemic, the DJs had raised funds for a new console during Give-For-Good Louisville, a city-wide day of nonprofit giving. The station directors then agreed to match the funding for additional equipment and the studio remodel.

“As soon as we heard about cities on the West Coast shutting down due to the pandemic, we got busy teaching our DJs how to live-remote from home,” said Sharon Scott, co-founder and general manager.

“The WXOX studio was shut down completely in the spring of 2020, which gave us an opportunity to do a whammy of a facility remodel.”

The FM operation had launched hurriedly several years earlier in a 100-year-old building formerly used as a theater prop company and a hair salon. When the remodel began, there was still hair dye all over the place.

Brightly painted exterior of WXOX building with a rainbow-themed mural
“Our building is a living artwork,” Scott said. “We are recognized from blocks away by our beautiful mural by Wilfred Sieg of The Art Cartel.” Photo by Sean Selby

“In some areas, it looked like a crime scene. Therefore, getting fresh paint and new carpet was a top priority. We also replaced the overhead fluorescent lighting with incandescent track lighting.”

WXOX Chief Operator Sean Selby was the technical lead. He and Scott collaborated on the design using input from surveys and conversations with the staff and board.

“Due to the studio being closed to visitors during the pandemic, our teenage son Max Selby was the only other person to assist with the install,” Scott said.

Both studios feature Wheatstone Audioarts Air consoles, Sennheiser 421-II mics and M-Audio monitors. Studio A is served by three MacMini computers, one dedicated to MegaSeg automation, one to streaming with streaming with Audio Hijack, and the third to archiving, also with Audio Hijack. Studio B has one computer for MegaSeg and Audio Hijack. A GatesAir Intraplex IP Link 100 gets the signal to the station’s BW Broadcast TX300 V3 transmitter.

WXOX’s Studio A,painted in red, looks into a performance area through a custom window.
WXOX’s Studio A, in red, looks into a performance area through a custom window. Photo by Sharon Scott

“We couldn’t love any equipment more than our collection of Technics SL-1200 MkII and M3d turntables,” Scott said. “These are classics.” The rooms also have a mix of cassette and CD players; these all support the wide variety of program types, which include vinyl shows, talk programs, live music and other formats.

“At present we have only one stationary mic stand for our Sennheiser 421s,” Scott said. “The others float around the room on desktop mic stands, allowing the guests to sit or stand wherever they feel most comfortable and most creative. It’s a little thing but it embodies the freeform philosophy behind our approach to radio.”

Selby is also a master carpenter and furniture maker; he constructed the ART FM studio by hand, from painting the walls, to hanging the lights, to building the custom furniture.

Sean Selby of WXOX paints custom woodwork.
Chief Operator Sean Selby built and painted all the furniture including the heart-themed window frame. Photo by Sharon Scott

He built a desk with removable top to make the rear of the console more accessible. In addition to a hidden panel in the wall, there are wooden channels in the back of each tabletop to keep control of electrical wires and audio cables. A secret door opens into an IT cabinet.

The interior of the building also comes alive with original works by local artists. In non-pandemic times, the station hosts art exhibitions and other creative events in its live performance space.

See more interesting studio projects.