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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — WSBT(AM) and WNSN(FM), owned by Schurz Communications, recently moved into a new, shared broadcast facility with Schurz-owned WSBT(TV).
The move allowed Schurz to consolidate operations into a single facility and create new studio layouts for each station from scratch.
Schurz Communications wanted to build showcase studios for WSBT and WNSN, which have been on the air for about 90 years and 50 years respectively. The goal was to create something special to respect the history and heritage of each station.
Management elected to work with Harris for turnkey studio design, installation and pre-engineering services, as well as a range of studio furniture and accessories, audio networking equipment and on-air and production consoles.
The Austin Group served as the general contractor for the entire building, providing initial floor designs for the studios along with soundproofing and other services. The plans were delivered to Nick Van Haaster at Harris, who assisted with furniture designs, wall configurations, acoustical treatments and wiring strategies.
A total of nine radio studios were planned, consisting of three on-air studios, two production studios, two voice tracking studios, a news booth and a producer’s booth for WSBT. The third on-air studio is for WHFB(FM), which Schurz operates but does not own.
The building is divided in half, with radio and television on opposite sides. The news booth is part of the TV newsroom design, and is the only radio studio separated from the rest of the operation.
Nick and his team did an outstanding job of executing the big picture concepts. This included an open concept that provided excellent sightlines between guest and host positions in the on-air and production studios; as well as a clean and modern look and feel for all studios.
The initial floor plans provided two areas of free space for the larger studios. The Harris team added two non-perpendicular walls to create angles for enhanced noise reflection, minimizing echo in the on-air studios. Sound treatment was added to the other two standard walls, creating an environment for high-quality studio audio at an affordable price.
Harris designed custom Smoothline furniture for each studio, with built-in wiring harnesses to expedite installation. The project had an accelerated timeline, with radio installations planned over a one-week period. The predesigned harnesses eliminated onsite connections, creating a plug-and-play situation. The harnesses were configured within punchblocks in the furniture to keep everything neatly arranged.
Stand-up furniture designs were customized for WNSN, a music station with a livelier atmosphere. The furniture accommodated five positions (three hosts and two guests) and stands 6.5 inches taller than the WSBT on-air furniture. The stand-up design also provides additional rack space for CD players and other components required for the music format.
WSBT is a talk station with a seated furniture design in the on-air studio to accommodate five positions. The producer’s booth faces the on-air studio, and the producer and host can visually communicate based on the intelligent design and layout.
The Harris SmoothLine modular furniture designs for the on-air studios include two turrets for various components and accessories (clocks and timers, dump buttons, CD players). The turrets can be moved around the surface to accommodate changes to live shows or room functions. Underneath rack systems house additional components including EAS units.
The surface of the furniture features built-in cough button panels with sleek profiles, as well as Harris RMXdigital on-air consoles, VistaMax routing panels for studio networking and World Feed Panels for connecting field recording and playback devices. Telos 100 digital hybrid phone panels are built into the consoles to maintain a clean feel and look on the Smoothline surface.
The on-air and production designs are color-coded per request. The WNSN furniture features a blue countertop with white guest wings; the WSBT design is the exact opposite. The production studio furniture features an earth-tone brown color, accommodating four positions per room.
The two voice tracking studios landed in tight spots and feature slide-out racks under the furniture surface so engineers can rotate the racks to access equipment for maintenance. Harris StereoMixer digital consoles were added to these studios along with VistaMax audio routing. The VistaMax system delivers the control and flexibility each studio needs to bring in audio sources from anywhere in the building.
The furniture designs in all studios have proved durable, with professional and attractive solid-surface countertops and a minimal number of posts for support. All of this lends to an uncluttered appearance that enhances the on-air and production environments for both stations.
The author is vice president and general sales manager of Schurz Communications.
For information, contact Scott Grueninger at Harris Broadcast Communications in Ohio at (513) 459-3400 or visitwww.harris.com.