Atlanta-based Cumulus Media owns high-quality FM and AM radio stations in 56 U.S. markets and the Caribbean. This number increased to 272 recently, following the acquisition of Nashville, TN-based WSM-FM and WWTN-FM, marking the fourth and fifth company-owned stations in that city alone.
With five stations broadcasting from two different facilities within the city limits, it was time to consolidate all operations under one roof. The media company already owned a two-story building in Nashville, so location was not a problem. Both floors were gutted to accommodate the remodeling required to add WSM-FM and WWTN-FM to existing stations WRQQ-FM, WQQK-FM and WNPL-FM.
The first floor was renovated for administration, business and sales. The second floor was rebuilt to house the studios and relevant personnel. The heating and air-conditioning systems were obsolete and needed to be replaced, and the entire electrical system was inadequate and required new lines to be installed. The ultimate design emerged following a tremendous amount of thought, planning and consultations with program directors and air staff.
Attention to detail was a priority. Each piece of furniture was designed to fit each room. Where people would sit and where TV monitors would go was taken into consideration. An acoustical consulting firm was hired to offer advice on achieving maximum efficiency in each room's noise rating.
Breaking with tradition, Cumulus built clusters, or “pods,” instead of linear rows of studios. Each air studio is grouped with its program director's office. Keeping each station's personnel together helped preserve its individual personality, and placing the program director in the cluster keeps him close to his people and the heart of the broadcast.
Another significant feature of the facility is a glass-enclosed live performance studio with its own separate control room. Designed and built around the specific needs of live acts, the room will serve a dual purpose as both a radio and TV studio. The company consulted with engineers from Country Music Television (CMT) and the Grand Ole Opry to be sure the studio incorporated enough functionality to accommodate acts both large and small, both radio and television. A daily morning television program, complete with graphics, will originate from the fully featured studio.
Once the architectural plans were nailed down, it was time for technical considerations. The media group has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Wheatstone, so it was an easy decision to go with Wheatstone's work-surface technology again. The entire facility is being built digital, from the CDs to the transmitter, with source gear as the only possible exception. The media company chose Wheatstone's new digital, modular D-9TV console to process audio on the television side of the operation, and a G-5 for the radio end. The entire infrastructure is based around a digital audio BRIDGE network router — a dual domain routing system that is expandable via fiber optic links to multiple router cages. The company designed its Houston, TX, and Eugene, OR, facilities around the BRIDGE system as well.
A great deal of equipment, furniture and functionality had to be packed into the five-station, 19,000-square-foot facility. The compact D-9 capitalizes on work-surface area. Its configuration includes multiple outputs, surround sound options, subgroups, DCM masters, monitor functions and communication circuits, as well as a wealth of operational functions.
With a low profile, through-counter design, the G-5's compatibility with the BRIDGE router digital audio network system will allow all studio control surfaces to access a common pool of shared signal sources. The media company chose fiber-optics over cable for digital links from each studio to the rack room. These single-run digital links saved enormously on wiring costs.
Completion of the five-station complex is scheduled for February 2004.
Scott Studios automation
D-9 TV digital television console
G-5 digital audio radio console
BRIDGE digital audio network router
European Cabinetry furniture
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