AVALON, CALIF. — KISL(FM) is a unique radio station — located on the beautiful island of Catalina, in the city of Avalon, 23 miles off the southern California coast. This is an island that is completely independent as far as physical connections to the mainland. It has its own power plant, water supply, sewer system, phone via microwave etc.
KISL was licensed in the early ’90s on 88.7 FM with a power of 200 W.
It is a community radio station staffed and operated by volunteers. The programming is mostly automated but 30 percent of it is live. When DJs come into the studio they push the “big red” button and go live. The format is very loose, as long as the content is not offensive. The station is also used when we have special events such as a blues and jazz festival, the air show and July 4th parade (a big deal). Organizers use the station to simulcast the announcer.
And when we have local elections, the candidates come to the station to pitch their cases. We have also done many live concerts.
The station had an old (very old) PR&E console that came from KMET in Los Angeles. It was showing its age. Plus, the studio was worn down, with dirty carpets and more.
Since we are a community nonprofit station with a limited budget, most of the equipment was donated or found. “If you are going to throw that away, can I have it?”
About a year ago, we received a very generous donation from the owner of ACE Clearwater Enterprises. He also lives on the island part time, and was very excited that we had our own radio station.
We ended up replacing almost everything. The choice for the console was to keep it analog but flexible. The Arrakis MARC-15 was one of the few that could be configured for our needs with the right line, plus USB digital inputs, telco, etc. It had to be durable, able to withstand inexperienced operators and high humidity, because we are located in the harbor.
In addition, it had to be very easy to operate and similar to the old one we had. That is important for the operators since they are not “professional” DJs and this way they would feel comfortable with the new setup.
Of course it was very exciting to get all new equipment. And since we use PCs a lot, having USB input on the console was great. I had to do some modification to make easier for the DJs. Arrakis was very helpful in providing additional documentation to help me. Also, I bought a few matching blank panels for additional controls and functions.
I understand that the RJ-45 connector is the new standard, but not the best to work with for our analog-dominant application. With audio and control on the same connector, the installation was not as “clean” as I hoped at first. However, after I found a Cat-6 patch panel, the installation came together much better — RJ-45 from the console to the patch panel and there was a standard 66 punch block that would accept 22-gauge wire. That way I can run Belden 8451 shielded cable to the different points in the system.
In addition, if I need to troubleshoot or check levels, I have found it is easy to do with an RJ-45 adapter.
So far, everything sounds clean and the operators are happy!
For information, contact Ben Palmer at Arrakis Systems in Colorado at 1-970-461-0730 or visit www.arrakis-systems.com.