Clear Channel Rochester Moves

September 1, 2009


With its old location being demolished, Clear Channel Rochester trusted Lightner Electronics to get things moving.

In September 2008 I was asked to bid the project of moving Clear Channel Rochester's seven radio stations (WHAM-AM, WHTK-AM, WDVI, WFXF, WKGS, WVOR, WROO) from the old Midtown Mall building a few blocks away to HSBC Plaza. The project was necessary since the city of Rochester purchased the Midtown Mall building to demolish it and build a new 30-story office building. As an integrator, bidding the project was a challenge because of a unique requirement: Because the city was reimbursing Clear Channel for the move, the city had to review the bids. It also wanted two different bids from each bidder. The first bid was to relocate all the existing equipment and wiring with nothing new purchased. The second bid was to relocate as much equipment as possible and provide supplemental new equipment to allow a seamless transition to the new facilities. Clear Channel required that the stations had to remain on the air 24/7 during the move except for one time slot per station between midnight and 5:30 a.m. Monday morning when they could be off the air for the move. With a facility this large and so many shared resources it was a major challenge to quote.

The Brother Wease studio is set up as a circular talk studio with low sight lines.

The Brother Wease studio is set up as a circular talk studio with low sight lines.

Before we quoted the project, we visited the site and met with Mike Guidotti, the SVP of engineering for Clear Channel's northeast region, and the local market engineers. When I arrived at the Midtown Mall building I was shocked. What used to be a mall was just a vacant building. It was sad to see. We helped upgrade the Rochester facility back in 2005, and the mall at the time was thriving.

The project begins

We were informed in November that we had won the bid to move the facility. The plan we came up with was to purchase a new Wheatstone Bridge Router with necessary I/O cards, along with a new G4 console and source equipment, to move the first station without any down time. We also determined that new equipment racks, studio furniture and STL antennas were required to make the move seamless. After all of this was in place then we would be in a position to move the equipment from the old facility and keep each station on the air during the move.

Our first line of work was to schedule the delivery of the Middle Atlantic equipment racks. We had a very narrow timeline when the racks could arrive because the general contractor wanted to finish the rack room on its tight schedule. We also had to schedule the loading dock and freight elevator operator to get the racks to the 16th floor. Middle Atlantic was extremely accommodating and used its own semi truck to deliver all the racks on our schedule. Fifteen of the racks were built into the TOC wall so operators could access them from the hallway. The remaining 20 racks were installed in the TOC. As soon as the racks were in place we installed all the power strips and had the racks ready for the electricians to wire power to them.

Operator position, Wease studio

Operator position, Wease studio

While the general contractors were working on finishing the studios we concentrated on the rack room (TOC). The room needed to to allow the equipment to be installed quickly as we moved it from the old facility. We determined all the equipment going in each rack, and came up with a wire count. We decided to run at least one 25 pair CAT-3 cable to each rack punched to a Krone block in back of the rack for any logic or non-audio application. For the audio wiring we ran at least one Gepco 24-pair digital multi-pair cable to each rack. We cut the Gepco multipair cable so it was long enough to reach the bottom of each rack, then we installed the appropriate connectors for each piece of equipment. After the equipment was installed we dressed the cables and coiled the excess in Panduit mounted in back of the racks. The other end of the multi-pair cables terminated to Krone blocks on the wall.

We designed the rack room wall in CAD and plotted a very large template that showed each punch block and D-ring placement. This allowed us to pre-drill holes where each block and D-ring would mount, saving time and making it look extremely neat. The only problem with using the Gepco multipair cable is that it takes up a fair amount of space and is hard to route behind the punch blocks using the standard punch block standoffs if three blocks are stacked vertically. Our solution was to design a custom standoff bracket channel. The bracket has a large area to place all the cables inside and is slotted so the wires come out into the block. We had the brackets designed with threaded holes so we could use rack screws to mount the punch blocks to the brackets. The data contractor pulled one CAT-3 25-pair cable for control, and two 25-pair CAT-5 cables for audio terminated to Krone blocks to each studio. They also pulled multiple CAT-5 cables to each studio for data and the Wheatstone digital audio network.



With its old location being demolished, Clear Channel Rochester trusted Lightner Electronics to get things moving.

The three productions rooms have similar layouts. This is production 3.

The three productions rooms have similar layouts. This is production 3.

After TOC was finished work started on the roof. Thankfully Stephens' Media had radio stations located in the HSBC building in the past, so the roof was outfitted with a large platform and tower to mount STL dishes, and antennas. Also existing was a Patriot 3.8 meter C-band dish. This led me to believe the roof work would be easy. I was wrong.

First we had to schedule the freight operator to get all nine STL dishes (some 6') to the roof. One problem, the freight elevator stops three floors down from the roof, so we had to carry everything three floors up to the roof, including the dishes, tools, ladders etc. After all the STL dishes were installed we tested the satellite dish. When it had no signal, we found the mount was broken from the wind 300' off the ground! So we had to get a mechanical contractor to cut part of the mount, weld in new nuts, and then weld everything back together. All of this reminded us, when you're dealing with a high-rise building you will have challenges, and extra time must be planned to deal with the logistics of the building.

Finally the general contractor had the studios finished, so we worked with Vince Fiola at Studio Technologies to get the new furniture installed. After the furniture was installed I concentrated on building the WHAM studio because we had new equipment for it, while my other crews moved from studio to studio preparing each room as much as possible to install the equipment when it was brought from the old location.

Despite the best planning

Two guest mics (above) and the host mic in the Wease studio showing the low-profile design.

Two guest mics (above) and the host mic in the Wease studio showing the low-profile design.

At this point I guess you could say reality set in. We had so many planning sessions before we started, but as we were going through the construction we learned more and more about all the shared resources. ISDN equipment, satellite receivers, the Prophet Digital, reel to reels, etc., were all shared between the stations. I don't care how much planning you do, you always find out something the day of the move. No one said this would be an easy job.

Two guest mics and the host mic (this image) in the Wease studio showing the low-profile design.

We were finally in a position to move some of the studios. The first studios we built were the two voice-track studios using the existing Audioarts D16 consoles. We used the VT studios as temporary control rooms and ran two of the FM stations that do not have live morning shows from these rooms.

Next came time to move the studios utilizing the Wheatstone Bridge router system. Ahead of moving any equipment I programmed the system for each input and output in the studios and rack room, which saved a tremendous amount of time. As each G4 console and studio cage were moved from the old building to the new, we upgraded the firmware and software to be compatible with the new TOC bridge router cage. Next, the IP addresses were changed on each console because it was not necessarily being used on the same station as in the past. Instantly all the channel labeling and source assignments appeared on the consoles and they were ready to go. The system worked flawlessly. The only big challenge moving the Wheatstone system was the fact that we couldn't purchase a complete new TOC bridge system, only one cage, and the necessary I/O cards to move the first station. So as each station moved, we moved I/O cards and eventually the TOC router cages from the old location to the new one at a time. It took a lot of planning.



With its old location being demolished, Clear Channel Rochester trusted Lightner Electronics to get things moving.

Unique elements

Large windows allow plenty of light into the WDVI control room.

Large windows allow plenty of light into the WDVI control room.

The morning show on WCMF is hosted by Brother Wease. This studio is going to be on local TV in the future, so in designing the studio, everything had to be low profile. Wease's mic is a RE-20 on a 309 shock mount, mounted to an Atlas Sound boom. The guest mics are mounted on mic arms from RAM systems. They are all low profile, so everyone's face is visible without a big mic and arm in front of it. We used Whirlwind HBUC headphone boxes underneath the counter for the guests and talent to plug in their headphones and control the levels.

I mentioned the punch block standoff brackets we had built. I'll note that the labeling on the Krone blocks, which clearly says what each pair is for, is created in CAD. This eliminates needing to look in a document book to know what each block is for.

The control rooms, like WHTK, have traditional furniture layouts.

The control rooms, like WHTK, have traditional furniture layouts.

All the RF lines that run to the roof pass through a custom ground panel built by Harger.

For redundancy in the audio path we used Broadcast Tools SS4.1 Plus switchers on the STL inputs. Basically, we can feed each station directly from the satellite cage in the studio from the Bridge router or the automation with a push of the button. These switches also have a built-in silence sensor that feeds the Enberg panels in the WHAM studio telling the operators if any station is off the air.

One of the voice-tracking rooms that served as a temporary air studio.

One of the voice-tracking rooms that served as a temporary air studio.

To share ISDN units and simplify routing, the previous lot of selector switches was retired and replaced with a Wheatstone rackmount X-Y controller. Station personnel can select any source to feed the remote equipment.

I could write a book about all the work and planning that went into moving the Rochester facility. I think the most downtime we had on any of the stations was 10 minutes. I must say it was a stressful job, but the end result is a very nice facility achieved on a tight schedule within budget. Clear Channel had a great team of IT people who set up all the computers and the prophet system. The local market engineers also went way above the call of duty to make this move happen. I was impressed!


Lightner is president of Lightner Electronics, Claysburg, PA.


All lined up in the rack room.

All lined up in the rack room.


Want more photos and an equipment list? Go to the next page.



With its old location being demolished, Clear Channel Rochester trusted Lightner Electronics to get things moving.

Equipment List

Atlas Sound mic stands
Anixter CAT-5, CAT-3 cable
Audioarts X-Y controller
Broadcast Tools Connect O' Pad, SS4.1
Enberg BA12WL
ETA System PD8
EV RE-20
Furman Pluglock
Gepco DS624
Harger RF panel
JK Audio That 2
Krone blocks
Middle Atlantic PRO-MRK-4436LRD
O.C. White Elite
Omnimount 60.0 STX-PA
Panduit slotted duct
Rambro AMB-23, MBR-4
Rane HC 6
Symetrix 528E, 581E, 6100
Telos Nx12, TwoX12
West Penn 25226, 271
Wheatstone Bridge, G4, mic riser
Whirlwind HBUC


More Photos

The antenna installation on the roof.

The antenna installation on the roof.

The CAD-generated labels placed on a Krone block.

The CAD-generated labels placed on a Krone block.

The Lightner Electronics custom-designed punchblock mount.

The Lightner Electronics custom-designed punchblock mount.

Rows and rows of punchblocks.

Rows and rows of punchblocks.

The RF cable feed-through in TOC.

The RF cable feed-through in TOC.

From the roof

From the roof

From the roof
From the roof
From the roof



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