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Beasley Gets a New Hub of Its Own in Boston

An 18-studio project supports six stations in this top-10 market

This facility story is excerpted from the Radio World ebook “New Studios That Dazzle.” Read it here

The task: Move Beasley Media Group’s Boston brands from their longtime home in the Dorchester neighborhood into a new 25,000-square-foot space in Waltham. The design and functions of the new home should befit some of the most popular media properties in the region.

They would include special accommodations for WBZ(FM) “98.5 The Sports Hub,” which required a large hybrid TV-radio studio flanked by dual-redundant control rooms. And the move should be done with no downtime or programming interruption.

Welcome to Beasley Boston.

The 18-studio integration, completed in late 2022, also involved new rooms for WBOS(FM) “Rock 92.9,” WBQT(FM) “Hot 96.9,” WKLB(FM) “Country 102.5,” WROR(FM) “105.7 WROR,” and WRCA(AM/FX) “Bloomberg Radio.”

Corporate technical leadership and advocacy for the project came from Beasley CTO Mike Cooney and VP of Engineering Lamar Smith. The local Beasley team included DOE Dennis Knudsen and engineers Dan Kaiser, Charlie Henneberry, Steve Conti, Josh Polonksy and Deb Benanti.

Sports Hub Control Room A

V Three Studios was the architect, and J. Calnan & Associates was the general contractor. The integration was done by Inrush Broadcast Services, requiring continuous staffing on the project, from three engineers at the beginning and end of the implementation phase, to up to eight during the peak of the implementation window.

“V Three describes the facility’s design aesthetic as a harmonious blend of technical precision and striking visual appeal,” said Shaun Dolan, partner at Inrush. “Faced with the challenge of an unconventional U-shaped structure with a serpentine layout and odd angles, Steve Burns’ team turned these challenges into sources of design inspiration.”

Racks in the TOC are showcased by floor-to-ceiling glass.

The layout of the broadcast facility is organized around a winding spine that elegantly navigates the space. Departments are thoughtfully placed, with the lobby, breakroom and performance studio at one end, and the broadcast on-air and production studios at the other. Administrative, sales, and promo and marketing teams are conveniently located in the middle.

“The design cleverly addresses the technical requirements of a broadcast facility while creating a dynamic and visually captivating space,” said Dolan.

The studios have a Wheatstone AoIP infrastructure with 20 control surfaces of various types (LXE, L and Sideboards). The WideOrbit Automation for Radio system is supported by 27 servers and clients, and the studios use approximately 40 codecs from a range of manufacturers.

Tony Massarotti and Michael Felger host the Marconi Award-winning “Felger & Mazz” show, a mainstay of Boston’s afternoon commute since 2009. They’re in the Sports Hub talk studio.

“Inrush has had the opportunity to work closely with various Beasley markets over the years,” added Brian Sapp, partner at Inrush. “The Boston market stands out due to the deep bench of talent who make heavy in-person use of their studio space, which is especially notable post-pandemic. 

“Beasley leadership has recognized this as a market advantage, and accordingly invested in first-class studios as they moved from Dorchester to Waltham. This applies particularly to The Sports Hub, which at times can feel more like a live TV production than a typical audio-first radio station.”

Bright wall treatments, on-air lights and studio windows capture the eye in this hallway.

The Sports Hub operates from a 600-square-foot showcase TV studio, placed prominently so as to catch the eye as a person walks into the facility. Its horseshoe-shaped set boasts six talent positions; the lighting helps the talent look their best from any of the available camera angles, and the acoustic treatment ensures each person is intelligible even when a heated topic progresses to a cacophony of passionate voices.

Several hours of shows are simulcast daily on NBC Sports Boston, an NBC regional network carried via cable in six states across New England and nationally via DirecTV.

The main studio of Hot 96.9 offers plenty of space for “The GetUp Crew” morning show and their guests.

The Sports Hub also is the flagship originating station for the New England Patriots Radio Network, Boston Bruins Radio Network, Boston Celtics Radio Network and the New England Revolution soccer franchise. A large production and engineering staff ensures these broadcasts go smoothly for the Sports Hub and for 80+ affiliates.

A single control room would not be sufficient to handle these broadcasts, which often overlap or run back to back. The Sports Hub talk studio is flanked by two mirrored control rooms centered around Wheatstone LXE control surfaces, which can operate in a hot-standby (primary/secondary) configuration, or in independent mode. 

Private phone booths and impromptu meeting areas.

In any case, a small LXE surface in the talk studio mirrors the state of the active control room’s surface, including the physical fader positions, which enables the in-studio producer to seamlessly share mixing control with the active control room. This is achieved through configuration of motorized faders and scripting originally provided by Chris Penny of Agile Broadcast and updated for the move to Waltham.

The Sports Hub production staff use Wheatstone ScreenBuilder panels to control audio routing dynamically throughout the day, depending on what studio the broadcast will be originating from, which network the program is for, which backfeed the on-site talent need to hear, and more. In the studios occupied by the music formats, talent uses ScreenBuilder panels to handle routine operations. 

Mike Dorris of Inrush created this panel to enable control and monitoring of ancillary equipment such as the profanity delay, EAS ENDEC and VoxPro.

See more photos of the project on the website of V Three Studios.

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