There’s nothing like a brand-new studio to rally the masses.
But it’s also interesting to revisit a newer studio that has been around long enough for the new shine to wear off — to see how the studios held up after the honeymoon phase, when the dust had long settled and the equipment had been bumped around a bit, and what lessons might have been learned.
Several representatives of Wheatstone got our chance during a recent tour of iHeartMedia’s Portland studio facility, which was constructed in September 2012 out of office space on the top two of a four-story building in Tigard, Ore. Director of Engineering Chris Weiss showed us around the 25,000-square-foot facility and talked about what worked out well, and what he would change two and a half years later. While this facility was a notable one for Wheatstone, it involved numerous vendors, and Radio magazine Editor Shane Toven asked us to write about the lessons of the project in its entirety.
Chris Weiss started the tour by saying that the one thing he would change, if possible, was the space allotted for iHeartMedia Portland’s cluster of stations, which include KKRZ(FM/HD), KKCW(FM), KFBW(FM/HD), KLTH(FM), KXJM(FM), KPOJ(AM) and KEX(AM). But since that was a real estate improbability in Portland, he had to work with 25,000 square feet for all seven stations, about the same square footage as the older facility in downtown Portland but for almost half again more stations. The old studios along the Willamette River jammed in the two AMs and three FMs, plus a little extra for regular sportscasting of the Portland Trail Blazers. The new space would house these five stations, plus the two additional FMs that were previously located in an adjacent building, for a total of 17 studios.
Being able to build it from the ground up made all the difference. There were no stairwells to work around, and the space could be laid out where it made the most sense. As a result, architects Luckett & Farley, which have worked on a number of iHeartMedia studios, located all studios on the third floor on interior walls, with corridors separating them from exterior walls. Not having to soundproof for traffic outside came with a huge cost savings, since windows didn’t have to be triple-glazed or quadruple-glazed.