Corus Quay's Waterfront Radio Waves

January 1, 2011


Bill Waters (left) and Bill Hayes discuss the Toronto Maple Leafs with call-in listeners.

Bill Waters (left) and Bill Hayes discuss the Toronto Maple Leafs with call-in listeners.


Corus Entertainment is one of Canada's largest media companies, with interests in local radio, TV, children's animated productions and children's books. It operates nearly 50 radio stations across Canada; each station has a close tie to the community it serves. Its corporate headquarters are in Toronto, where construction of a new facility was recently completed to accommodate the growing needs of its various divisions. The local Toronto stations, CILQ-FM (Q107 Classic Rock), CFNY-FM (102.1 The Edge) and CFMJ-AM (AM640), also have a new home in the facility, but despite the corporate environment, the stations are more involved with their community than ever.

The new office building has approximately 500,000 square feet of space and sits on 2.5 acres of Toronto waterfront. The facility is the anchor project in the revitalization of the East Bayfront, which is designed to bring energy and business opportunities to the waterfront neighborhood.

Flanked by Canada's Sugar Beach on the west side and Sherbourne Common (a 3.7-acre park) and a yet-to-be-built George Brown campus on the east side, the area was previously a warehouse district.

The beachside location provides an ideal opportunity for the radio stations, which have studios at the ground level facing the beach. Each radio station has large windows to allow the public to clearly see inside. Public interaction is an important aspect of the stations' operations. John Coldwell, chief engineer of the stations, says the community presence was a primary effort in the studio design.

The studio for 102.1 The Edge includes a performance space with large doors that open to the beach area. Public concerts are typical; the station talent can easily walk out to the beach area with wireless mics to further interact with the public.

Kim Mitchell broadcasts the drive home show from the classic rock studio, which has windows on all sides for views into the studio.

Kim Mitchell broadcasts the drive home show from the classic rock studio, which has windows on all sides for views into the studio.


Big plans

How does a project like this begin? Corus first organized an initial infrastructure/engineering committee to bring together people from all its divisions -- TV, radio, IT, etc. -- to start planning the building. This committee examined the various needs and inter-workings of all the divisions. While this article focuses primarily on the radio side, this was much more than a radio station project.

The broadcast design was contracted to Siemens Canada. Siemens built a BBC facility in Glasgow, Scotland, with similar integration of various departments. Once the design plans were set and construction began in 2007, the radio integration was handled by the radio group. Later into the project (in 2009), GS Broadcast Technical Services was hired for integration services.

-- continued on page 2


Photos by Richard Johnson (unless noted)




Making the technical side of radio broadcast visible, the rack room is located within the two-story radio communication stairs and has its own custom radio wave glazing graphic.

Making the technical side of radio broadcast visible, the rack room is located within the two-story radio communication stairs and has its own custom radio wave glazing graphic.


The three on-air studios are housed on the ground floor, and the production facilities are on the second floor, adjacent to the sales and traffic departments. There are five Pro Tools production rooms with C/24 control surfaces. Four voice-over booths serve these studios. All the mics in the voice-over booths are tied to the Pro Tools systems and the Wheatstone audio network.

While three stations currently reside here, the plan allowed for a fourth station to be added later. As it is built, the radio facilities can also originate two network feeds as needed.

Each station has a master control room, small voice track room (a smaller control room) and a booth sandwiched between the two.

The Edge studio is very large, but it includes the live performance space. Measuring 30' x 60', the studio has public access -- listeners can walk into the studio. It features an elevated floor with small performance stage, a lighting grid and PA. As was mentioned earlier, large doors can be opened to allow visiting bands to play to the beach.

Q107''s control room racks with doors closed and open.
Photos by John Coldwell.

Q107''s control room racks with doors closed and open. Photos by John Coldwell.


This live interaction approach is not new to the station. Corus' experience with street studio radio began 15 years ago at the previous studios on Young Street.

Q107 is also experienced with street studio radio. It had a facility in the Hard Rock Cafe Toronto. The new studio is also set up for live on-air performances, albeit in a smaller space. A drum set and guitars fit comfortably. The morning show, hosted by Kim Mitchell, regularly has live guests. Mitchell is a professional musician as well, working solo and previously with a group called Max Webster. (He had a major solo hit in 1984 called Go For Soda.) Q107 also has a Pro Tools rack system, which Mitchell uses on the air with live bands. He also plays guitar on the air at times.

-- continued on page 3


Photos by Richard Johnson (unless noted)




The radio production cluster is positioned on the atrium wall. The white ribbon flows from public orientation, past the production rooms, up to the lounge and through the atrium to the slide.

The radio production cluster is positioned on the atrium wall. The white ribbon flows from public orientation, past the production rooms, up to the lounge and through the atrium to the slide.


Live experience

When the Edge studio was rebuilt on Young Street a few years ago, various ideas in studio furniture and rack placement were tried. Much of that experience was applied to the new studios. This approach makes the radio studio look more like a TV set than a radio studio. The visual appeal is part of the stations' efforts in listener interaction. Of course the three permanently mounted HD cameras with pan and zoom controls add to the TV feel. The camera feeds are routed to a mini TV control room on the second floor where the Corus Interactive department uses the feeds extensively.

Each control room has five 46" HD displays that can be fed from anything on the KVM network. These displays serve multiple uses, including digital signage. Common display uses include the console meter bridge, the NewTek TriCaster video output, the Pro Tools system and the automation view.

Networked audio system

When it came time to select the audio backbone of the facility, Corus evaluated many systems. After compiling I/O lists and considering features, Corus chose a Wheatstone Bridge System with E6 consoles. The TDM backbone was chosen over IP because of the size of the facility and the system's low latency. The entire audio router has a physical connection capacity of 1136 x 1072 mono signals.

Located in the front northwest corner of Corus Quay, the news room looks out over the city of Toronto and Canada''s Sugar Beach. The ceiling features FSC-certified wood and perforated metal panels.

Located in the front northwest corner of Corus Quay, the news room looks out over the city of Toronto and Canada''s Sugar Beach. The ceiling features FSC-certified wood and perforated metal panels.


In all, there are eight consoles in place, but there are many virtual consoles in use. According to Coldwell, Wheatstone created the virtual console for this installation, and they are primarily used in the newsroom. Multiple newsroom mixers tied to the routing system was not a preferred method. Because of this, the newsroom desks can be used to originate program content. Likewise, network feeds can be controlled from a news workstation without tying up a studio control room.

The behind-the-scenes technical facility for Corus Quay is also unique. For most radio-only facilities, it's logical (and easy) to build a central rack room. This was the desire for the radio side, but it was not possible with the other media outlets sharing the facility. Instead, the radio equipment is distributed among three rack rooms.

The first is the main radio rack room -- called the Radio Equipment Room (RER) -- with 12 racks. This is adjacent to radio engineering and houses all non-server-based equipment, such as ISDN codecs, tuners and other equipment that may need to be accessed directly. All the racks are 51RU. The extra height allots extra rack space that was lost by mounting the Belden GigaBix blocks in the racks instead of on a cross-connect punchblock wall.

Every rack has 48-point RJ-45 jackfield. These jackfields are wired to the rack at the end of every row. There are racks adjacent to the end rack, which has system patching. The end racks also house devices with high I/O needs, such as an IT router or switch. Likewise, cross-room patching is done in these racks. The Wheatstone Bridge frames are connected to GigaBix blocks; other equipment ties to the Bridge network via these blocks.

-- continued on page 4


Photos by Richard Johnson (unless noted)




Listen to the stations
Q107
102.1 The Edge
AM640

This is a good time to mention facility wiring. All cabling for the radio side is handled by the building's CAT-6 infrastructure. The CAT-6 cables are bundled in groups of 24 and wrapped in a braided sleeve. These cables, which run in trays, terminate to RJ-45 patch panels in the racks.

The entire facility is powered through a dual UPS system. This was designed from the IT side, which works well for equipment with dual/redundant power supplies. But most broadcast equipment has a single power supply. Because of this, APC power transfer switches were installed in every rack to feed the power rails. Some racks have three power rails to maintain the unique A or B UPS and the switched UPS feed.

The second rack room is the Technical Services Room (TSR). This 8,000 square foot room is the central data hub for all of Corus. There are more than 250 racks in this room, which was designed with a 24" pressurized floor. HP, IBM, Cisco and several others were involved in designing this room. One row of racks houses all the radio server-based equipment, including loggers, automation, digital signage and the Burli newsroom server.

The third rack room is the Demarc Communications Room, which houses all third-party equipment. A Wheatstone Bridge frame resides here to tie outside lines to the audio network.

Studio construction

The Building at a Glance
Corus Quay is an approximately 500,000 square foot office building located on 2.5 acres of Toronto's waterfront between Jarvis and Sherbourne St.

Corus Quay was developed by Toronto Port Lands Company, formerly known as the City of Toronto Economic Development Corporation (TEDCO) and will be owned and managed by Build Toronto Inc.. It is the anchor project in the revitalization of East Bayfront bringing life, energy and business opportunities to Toronto's waterfront neighbourhood.

Construction began in 2007, and the building took three years to complete. The building includes a 100-person theatre on the eighth floor rooftop.

More than 150 meeting rooms located throughout the facility with more than 250 areas for gathering, conversing and meeting in addition to individual workstations. A storage facility for 70 bicycles is designed to encourage employees to use non-carbon generating forms of transportation.

The building is flanked by Canada's Sugar Beach on the west side and Sherbourne Common (a 1.5 hectare park) and a yet to be built George Brown campus on the east side.

All the radio studios were designed jointly with the radio committee and architects. The base building area for radio has a recessed concrete slab. This allowed a floating concrete floor to be placed without the need to build ramps up to it. Non-studio areas where a concrete floor was not needed have a traditional computer floor. Most of the electrical service is run under the raised floor in the hallway. The studio walls were constructed with typical double-wall construction.

A prime objective in building the radio studios was to have clean desktops with low sight lines. His was mainly to reduce the visual clutter, which is important for the public view and for the video usage in the studios. The studios also have odd shapes, which were dictated by the building's exterior.

In each studio, three equipment racks are placed behind the operator. The center rack serves a visual use as well as a practical one, although not for the usual rack use. Two racks house equipment to get it off the counters. The center rack has a clock and display, but its prime function is to provide side access to the other two racks, which are mounted against the wall.

The floor-to-ceiling glass on the exterior studio wall was an acoustical challenge. The glass is sloped to help reduce the prominent reflections. Also, the windows between the studios are oversized to aid in public view to other studios.

The entire building is LEED certified. As part of this, all the track lighting uses LED fixtures. These are also controlled by a central lighting system, which uses motion sensors to turn lights on and off to save energy. While LED lighting is slowly gaining popularity, John Coldwell noted that finding LED lighting that provided both sufficient light levels and an appropriate color temperature was a challenge.

-- Continued on page 5


Photos by Richard Johnson (unless noted)




The news room contains two news booths for on-air reporting. The walls contain iconic Canadian, news related and Corus quotations.

The news room contains two news booths for on-air reporting. The walls contain iconic Canadian, news related and Corus quotations.


When the studios were completed, all three stations were transitioned on one weekend. The two FMS were switched on a Saturday, and the AM was switched on a Sunday. This meant that Monday morning had three morning shows launching from studios all at once.

The building itself has several unique features. There is a large atrium in the center, which includes a five-storey bio wall. This wall uses plants to naturally clean the air and reduce energy consumption. There is also a three-storey slide that starts at the top of the lounge and runs into the Atrium.

Looking back, Coldwell says the long time frame from inception to completion (four years) was a challenge. Trying to plan that far ahead was not easy. In some cases, desired equipment was not yet available. As the project progressed, some equipment was updated before it was even purchased. Still Coldwell is proud of what he contributed to the project, and he calls it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.


The Newsroom virtual workstation

The Newsroom virtual workstation

The newsroom dual monitor screenshot shows Wheatstone Virtual surface (newsroom mixer replacement), Cisco Softphone (hybrid replacement) and Burli Newsroom Software.

The newsroom dual monitor screenshot shows Wheatstone Virtual surface (newsroom mixer replacement), Cisco Softphone (hybrid replacement) and Burli Newsroom Software.


Equipment List
Adderlink Infinity IP KVM System
APC AP7750, AP7752, AP7930
Aphex 230
Argosy Mirage NC 24
AudioScience ASI 5111, ASI5044
Belden 3612 enhanced CAT-6, GigiBix, patch panels
Bose Companion 3
Comrex Access
Davicom MAC216
Denon DN-C640
Digidesign C/24, ProTools 003, ProTools 192, ProTools HD2 PCIe Core
Electronic Metal Form racks
Eventide BD600
Fanfare FT-1AP
iMediaTouch automation, Logger
Junger Level Magic LT
Liton LTD-80
Midas Venice 320
Moseley SL9003Q Starlink
NEC P461
Neumann BCM 104, U-87
Neutrik connectors
NewTek Tricaster TCXD300 HD
Omnia 6 EX, One
Omnimount 30.0, SCM-UA
Planar PT1911MX
RVA Canada mic flags
Sennheiser ew-135g3, ew-300IEM
Sony MDR-7506
Tannoy Precision 8D, Reveal 6 Speakers
Telos NX-12, ProFiler, Zephyr Xstream
Torpey GSP-1A
Vaddio HD-18 HD PTZ camera, Precision Camera Controller
Ward Beck POD 6B, QSP2/D
Wheatstone E6 1616, E6 2020, E6 Virtual Mixers, GP8, TDM Bridge, Wheatnet Blade 88ad
Yellowtec Mika

-- More photos on page 6


Photos by Richard Johnson (unless noted)




Spare control room

Spare control room

Cable tray with infrastructure CAT-6 bundled cables

Cable tray with infrastructure CAT-6 bundled cables

Anberlin playing live at Edge Studio. Photo by Martin Tan.

Anberlin playing live at Edge Studio. Photo by Martin Tan.

Mumford and Sons live at Edge Studio. Photo by Martin Tan.

Mumford and Sons live at Edge Studio. Photo by Martin Tan.

The eight Evolution 6 control surfaces, flanked by Bridge Satellite I/O frames.

The eight Evolution 6 control surfaces, flanked by Bridge Satellite I/O frames at the Wheatstone facility during final check.

-- Floorplans on page 7


Photos by Richard Johnson (unless noted)




First floor (Click to enlarge)

First floor (Click to enlarge)

Second floor (Click to enlarge)

Second floor (Click to enlarge)


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