CSU-Pueblo's KTSC 89.5 Rebuilds

June 1, 2011


Colorado State University - Pueblo combines media efforts, building a new media facility.

Master control at the CSU-Pueblo Buell Communications Center.

Master control at the CSU-Pueblo Buell Communications Center.


KTSC 89.5 recently celebrated its 40th year of operation serving southern Colorado. Within a four-decade span the station has transformed from a 10W experiment into a Pueblo radio staple. Listeners over the years have enjoyed a multitude of programming alterations.

If you dialed up 89.5 in the 1970s, you would have heard an eclectic combination of jazz, rock, classical and blues. The 1980s added an emphasis on contemporary artists and the station's first trials with public affairs, news, sports, and talk content. During the 1990s, KTSC-FM had success reaching audience members with AOR, modern rock and CHR. By the end of the decade the station had adopted the moniker "Rev 89, the Revolution," and earned the #2 rank in the market with a 7.7 12+ AQH share. In January of 2002 Rev flipped formats to rhythmic/CHR and ratings pushed even higher, they were the #1 rated station in Pueblo two years in a row earning a double-digit 12+ AQH share during the spring of 2003.

The Rev 89 main studio is built around an Arrakis ARC-15.

The Rev 89 main studio is built aroun#d an Arrakis ARC-15.


By 2004 the station had started to prepare for a major overhaul in studios, production space, and transmission. The Mass Communications Department and Center for New Media (MCCNM) at Colorado State University – Pueblo, which owns and operates KTSC-FM, had also begun the sketching process to consolidate the emphasis areas of the major under one roof. Department Chair Jennifer Mullen says, "It became increasingly difficult to provide quality curriculum with faculty, courses, and media labs spread between two buildings at opposite ends of the campus; today's convergent media environment requires integration and we knew the answer was to move the department into the public television station. We have partnered with public television for 30 years anyway, and the move would solidify that relationship, as well as provide a real environment of media integration. The move would energized the students at KTSC-FM who would now be the focal point in the foyer of the building, and no longer relegated to old offices in an outdated facility."

This would ultimately mean moving the department's student media labs, which included the FM, a magazine and an online newspaper across campus. The plan also called for relocating the offices of seven professors, creating a new iMac lab with 22 stations, and building a server/network independent from campus fiber connections that could support the needs of MCCNM students, faculty and staff.

The power upgrade

In 1997, the KTSC-FM relicense application hiccupped on a question about ERP compliance, so the department felt compelled to replace the station's transmitter and antenna that had been in service for more than 20 years. The antenna was a Phelps Dodge CFM-LP-4. With the relicense process starting in the fall of 2004, the majority of the year was spent securing funding for and installing a Harris Z5FM 5kW solid-state FM transmitter equipped with the Harris Superciter FM exciter and the ERI LPX-6C-HW low-power circularly polarized FM antenna with 1/2-wavelength spacing.

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Colorado State University - Pueblo combines media efforts, building a new media facility.

KTSC-FM was granted relicense in April of 2005 and the department shifted its focus on a move to the Buell Communications Center (BCC), which housed the offices of a Rocky Mountain PBS affiliate, a 2,500 square foot TV studio, four production suites, a student PC lab and a couple of classrooms. By 2009 campus administration had approved the move and a facilities facelift to accommodate MCCNM and several new admissions offices that would be housed in BCC as well.

Tayler Zinanti broadcasts afternoon drive from the main studio.

Tayler Zinanti broadcasts afternoon drive from the main studio.


The department allocated roughly $80,000 to pay for Rev 89's new studios, the iMac lab, software updates, new video cameras and lighting kits, and the server/network. Specifically, the FM rebuild budget came in around $15,000; MCCNM needed affordability and durability in their choices.

Faculty and staff attended the 2010 NAB Show to finalize decisions about studio furniture and multiple equipment improvements for both audio and video. Ultimately, they settled on Arrakis for the majority of the Rev 89 upgrades. The company's consoles coupled with its Gemini/Digilink automation system had helped transform the station in the 1990s. KTSC-FM Station Manager Mike Atencio noted that Arrakis' proximity to Pueblo was part of the decision.

Revolution staffer Javier Banuelos edits a promo in the production room.

Revolution staffer Javier Banuelos edits a promo in the production room.


Chief Engineer Dan Thomas looked at the studio project from several perspectives. First, he wanted reliability and equipment the students would probably face in the industry. Second, with the studios moving into a highly visible area they needed to look professional and inviting to prospective students. Lastly, the tight budget and state regulations were an important consideration.

Atencio and Thomas chose the ARC-15 for the main studio and the ARC-10BP for production. KTSC-FM staffers needed at least four microphone channels and 10 source channels in the main studio to handle the station's I/O needs. They considered the PC soundcard channel for audio playback and record a definite plus; the telephone interface and cue system were more than adequate.

The 10-channel production console was ideal because it allowed Rev 89 staffers to connect multiple audio sources to be seen on real VU meters. The console also suited the needs of RMPBS producers building soundtracks or laying down voiceovers, as the production room is shared by both MCCNM and the affiliate.

The Arrakis Balanced U seemed like a fitting choice to support the ARC-15, microphone booms, an audio editor, a couple of PC monitors, and KTSC-FM's various rack mount units. Staffers wanted furniture that could comfortably accommodate three announcers and a board operator. Atencio admits the Balanced U was a bit outside the budget, but after seeing it on the exhibit floor at NAB they were sold.

The department picked the Omnirax FRC36MAF to house the production studio equipment. It was an affordable, capable furniture choice considering the surface could double as an inviting video editing suite if needed.

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Colorado State University - Pueblo combines media efforts, building a new media facility.

Stay on time

The studio installation took just less than two weeks. The timetable was based on two variables: equipment delivery and the completion of fiber lines to connect the new studio to the transmitter site. Thomas broke the ice on the installation by assembling the Omnirax furniture and inserting appropriate production pieces. Next, he pulled together the Balanced U and began building all of the I/O connections for the station's audio sources. With university fiber in place, he locked in the station's Lascomm multimode fiber units. This fiber connection eliminated a pair of old analog audio cables that ran almost 1,000'.

Chief Engineer Dan Thomas assembling cables on day four of the installation.

Chief Engineer Dan Thomas assembling cables on day four of the installation.


Early on in the planning process, Thomas had communicated to the department that he wanted to get the students involved in the installation. KTSC-FM staffers were already pumped up about the possibility of a new main studio and production room so it didn't take much convincing to get them to lend a hand. Rev 89 Student Station Manager John Dalton says, "The move went a lot smoother than I expected, the staff was really helpful and excited to get into the new studio." Thomas says that working with the department's student broadcasters, who as he put it, "are the real KTSC-FM soul and sound," was enjoyable. Thomas says the students offered suggestions and help whenever needed, and they learned on the job at the same time.

RMPBS Producer Ken Sciacca was also looking forward to having new neighbors at the television station considering the Rev 89 move to BCC would create new prospects for collaboration. Shared use of the audio production booth means a better utilization of space and resources. Students can put their production skills to use doing voiceover work for the TV station. RMPBS staffers thought the increase in student presence might also provide more opportunity for majors to get involved with the television production that takes place daily.

The only real issues the team faced during the installation were getting every thing in place to start the work. Thomas says there were some ordering glitches and paperwork involved that slowed them down a bit, but the university staff always came through. He added, "As a broadcast engineer you always would like to have more new goodies but economies must be obeyed; the overall experience was great fun for me, we're lucky to have an administration that is supportive of the station and staff."


Lovato is an associate professor in the Mass Communication and Center for New Media at Colorado State University - Pueblo.


Equipment List

Main Studio
360 Systems SC182 ShortCut
Adobe Audition 2.0
Arrakis Accent Balanced U, ARC-15
Carvin H400
CSI FM/AM P-FA
DBX 286A
Electro-Voice RE27
Gemini CLX-01
Gentner SPH10
Powergold
Sage EAS Endec, Endec receiver
Scott Studios SS.32
Tascam CD-RW9075L

Production Studio
Adobe Audition 2.0
AM/FM stereo receiver
Arrakis ARC-10BP
Carvin H400
DBX 286A
Electro-Voice RE27
Fostex CD200
Omnirax FRC36MAF
RCA STA-3850
Roland DS-50A
Scott Studios SS.32

Remotes/Field
Audio-Technica ATW-RT3
JK Audio Remote Mix Sport
Roland Edirol R-09
Sennheiser HMD280
Shure L4, SM2



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