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Philly Broadcaster Appreciates the Details

User Report: WBEB goes custom with Studio Technology for furniture design and build

WBEB On-Air Studio with Studio Technology Furniture PHILADELPHIA In the spring of 2008, in the midst of negotiating for a new lease, WBEB was told by the landlord that the building had been sold and the space we occupied was to become an eye surgery center. We were given one year to complete a move of offices studios and two equipment/server rooms.

Once you get past the basic stuff like finding a building to move into, hiring an architect and choosing a general contractor, the defining thing that will make or break the presentation of any broadcast facility is the look of the studios. Especially when the air studio is a feature of the lobby, as it is in our new facility.

Important considerations

We gave careful consideration to what kind of furniture we wanted in the studios so we could show our facility with pride and make the staff feel proud of the company they worked for.

We looked at all the prefab furniture, the semi-custom furniture where you can pick from stock items and add custom elements, etc. But no matter what we looked at the cost was essentially the same.

So after all the looking around was over I contacted Vince Fiola from Studio Technology, a custom furniture builder focusing on radio broadcast facilities. I’ve worked with Studio Technology in the past on several projects and they have always delivered great furniture at a great price with all the special features broadcasters love.

Such features include things like wireways that are actually in the right places, doors that don’t need three hands to open and close, and visual features that make the studio someplace special instead of a room that looks like your first college radio station.

Vince was great in helping design the actual furniture, by advising us on dimensions, seating, working angles and sight lines. He collaborated with the architect and design people and our staff to coordinate colors and visual features. After some back and forth, he came to us with a furniture design and AutoCAD files that could be integrated into the construction drawings being completed by our architect.

During the construction phase of the space, he made on-site measurements on several occasions to address cabling transitions from premises walls to the furniture and the fit and “people” spacing that affects the feel of the room.

When it came time for installation, we were committed to using union trade labor. Vince was instrumental in working with union carpenters to get the installation done on time with no issues whatsoever. The union guys even commented how well the furniture fit and went together. You just don’t hear that very often.

After all the dust settles you have time to reflect on your decisions. Here are some of my thoughts.

Production Studio When it comes to studio furniture, you want something a little nicer than the plastic-edged modular “cookie cutter”-type furniture that seems to be everywhere these days.

You want a company where the owner is the design guy and oversees every aspect of your furniture construction and installation. And Vince was great at listening to what we were trying to achieve, and injecting the ergonomic and artistic aspect of the design. Vince truly “gets” the whole studio experience and how it should be laid out.

Having the ability to directly collaborate with a furniture designer and architect is a must. And being able to have CAD drawings to incorporate into the main design drawings saves a lot of time and eliminates mistakes.

Luckily, Studio Technology is local to us in Philadelphia. Realistically, though, we probably would have used them to provide our studio furniture no matter where they were located in the country.

You get one shot at building the facility you have to live with for a long time. It’s most important to choose contractors and vendors that can deliver services and products that will make you proud to be a part of the project. I feel that I did just that with Studio Technology.

Chris Sarris is chief engineer for WBEB(FM).

For information, contact Studio Technology at (610) 925-2785 or