THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — For 16 years KCLU was located in a cramped California Lutheran University residence hall. Over the years the station used these facilities to cement a reputation as a formidable news & talk source for the region, winning more than 160 awards for journalism and a large, supportive audience.
In 2009 planning began for a new facility to meet the station’s growing production and on-air needs. We started with a “wish list” of the many studio, community and office spaces we wanted in our “dream” facility. But, translating rough sketches into attractive, functional work spaces isn’t easy and we knew that the consequences of our decisions would last decades.
A new studio for KCLU is under construction. Note the ‘indentations’ for guests and staff along with the cutout for the console.
Every dollar spent was another that had to be raised, so we were cautious and looked at a number of off-the-shelf options for studio furniture. Each seemed to sacrifice something that we considered important: work flow, sight lines, ergonomics, space utilization, visual impact. We decided that you don’t build a $3 million house and furnish it at Ikea. We needed to do it right.
We first met Omnirax designer David Holland at the NAB Show in April 2010. He showed us photos of the company’s projects, from modest to over-the-top.(We were looking for something in between!) Shortly afterward, we began a series of teleconferences to “audition” different shapes and configurations we’d dreamed-up.
Working with Omnirax went beyond configuration and styling. The conversations were wide-ranging, aimed at creating a facility that worked on every level. Sometimes what seems logical on the blueprints doesn’t always work in reality.
We puzzled through everything from the placement of studio windows for superior sight lines to the ideal location for computer monitors and desk-mounted hardware. I’m confident that these comprehensive considerations will keep future KCLU staff from cursing our names in future years.
As the project progressed, we discussed the equipment planned for each room and made sure rack and desk space would be adequate for what we envisioned. Later, we selected from a huge variety of colors and finishes that would make our furnishings look “at home” in a custom-designed facility.
We chose Corian finishes for the guest wings in our Master Control and Talk studios. It adds a nice accent to the design and really makes an impression on guests who stop by for interviews.
One of KCLU’s New Studios
Assembly of our furniture was overseen by our consulting engineer Tim Schultz. It’s heavy-duty stuff, so he pulled two of his brothers in for labor. Surprisingly, they were able to get most of it done in one weekend and everything went together beautifully.
The only complication came when we realized that the as-built dimensions of our smallest production booth were slightly narrower than specified. This was a problem, because we’d used every square inch to work that room into our floorplan. Omnirax was able quickly to redesign and manufacture a modified desktop to accommodate the space we had available. Today, you’d never know there was a problem.
Omnirax designs are known for graceful, curved lines. They’re “people friendly,” with no hard corners or sharp turns. Each of the microphone positions at KCLU is defined by an indentation that guides talent into their own individual work area. The furniture is also sturdy and beautiful, never failing to elicit a “wow” even from visitors who have seen plenty of studios. Each piece arrived precut for our Axia consoles, with wiring cutouts that precisely met wall conduits for easy access and simplified cable runs.
For most of us, the opportunity to build a new facility from the ground up is rare. Unfortunately, that also increases the chance of making mistakes. Working with Omnirax allowed KCLU to make the most of limited space, while creating a visually impressive and functional facility. We were able to test the feasibility of our wildest ideas and call upon the experience of someone who has worked on some of the finest studios in the country.
I’d worked in lots of major-market studios from Los Angeles to Seattle, so I knew Omnirax was great studio furniture. But I was surprised how willing they were to function as a true design partner, together with our architects, contractors and engineer. It gave us the confidence to try new things and maximize what we were able to achieve. We couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.
For information, contact Philip Zittell at Omnirax in California at (800) 332-3393 or visit www.omnirax.com