NORTON, VA. — On Aug. 20, 1953, Gap Broadcasting Company launched WLSD(AM). The station was assigned the frequency of 1220 kHz with daytime power of 1,000 watts and nighttime power of 45 watts.
The call letters represent the broadcast counties served: Wise-Lee-Scott-Dickenson in Virginia. Our station is located in Norton and our tower is located on the eastern border of Big Stone Gap, atop Powell Mountain near Maples Gap.
We have been in the community for decades now, and have seen a lot of change and growth over the years. Our studio has been no exception. Our latest project was upgrading our automation system to the state-of-the-art Arrakis Systems Apex system that we now enjoy.
What got us started looking for a new automation system came down to a few factors. The first factor was a format change, to a style of programming that was best described as unique. The second was the age and limitations of the existing automation system employed. The third on the list was the demise of our satellite dish. And then the last, and most of all, was the addition of an FM translator.
In 1975 WLSD(FM) was formed. WLSD(FM) later split to become sister station WAXM(FM). And starting this year, we brought WLSD back to FM!
When we saw Apex, our first thought was “Welcome to the 21st century!” Apex replaced an aging automation system that was running on Windows 98 and wasn’t very user-friendly. We wanted something that could do drag and drop, and not require you to record your audio in real time. But we also needed something networkable and accessible remotely.
Apex immediately caught our eye, and I was drawn to Apex for a few reasons.
For starters, I’ve had experience with Arrakis in both consoles and automation. I was a huge fan of the Digilink Xtreme system. Plus I have the tendency to do business with those that take care of their customers. Customer service is key in any operation, and I had only had wonderful experiences with their support staff. They are quick to help, and are always sharp.
Second, Apex offered a host of features that are useful and practical. A built-in music scheduler was a must in our new operation, and Apex has a convenient and quick way to set up music templates. The other feature that we appreciate is the flexibility to move between live and local to fully automated with the press of a button. This handful of features is what drew us to the system first. The other features have been more icing on the cake. We pulled the trigger on our order in June.
We felt blessed that the process of getting set up with Apex was quick and easy. Honestly, the installation went flawlessly. We are using the Apex Hard Disk option, which comes with the Arrakis Harmony Sound Card. Since we don’t do any satellite automation, there was no need to use their Bridge or Satellite routing. The hardware installation went from box to installed in under an hour. The Harmony Sound Card made things super easy with the use of Cat-5/RJ-45 and has four multiple outputs which are great for Apex’s built-in hotkeys. It also has a record input that allows you to take any outside source like our console and record for later.
So far, using Apex has been a delight. Some of our favorite features are definitely the scheduling and built-in tools. That all said, there are a bunch of features we haven’t touched upon yet, and we are excited to keep learning about all it can do.
One thing I recommend for a process such as buying new studio equipment is, “Ask questions.” If you don’t understand something, even if it’s something simple that is holding you up, reach out to Arrakis. They built the software and hardware from the ground up, so they are going to be able to point you in the right direction. When I was getting set up, I ran into a few settings that I didn’t fully understand such as setting up cart rotations and music fill. A quick call to support and all was fixed.
We are excited about our new addition to our studios, and look forward to growing our station with our community.
For information, contact Ben Palmer at Arrakis Systems in Colorado at 1-970-461-0730 or visit www.arrakis-systems.com.