KSBJ Rebuilds and Launches NGEN

June 1, 2012

KSBJ Studio

KSBJ, a non-commercial contemporary Christian music radio station based in the greater Houston area took to the airwaves in 1982. Since signing on, the station has grown its audience by adding several additional transmitters sites to its coverage. The main transmitter on 89.3 is in Humble, TX, and covers Houston. The other sites include:

◊ 96.9 KXBJ, El Campo, which covers Southwest Houston, Sugar Land and Katy
◊ 89.5 KZBJ, Bay City
◊ 89.7 KUBJ, Brenham
◊ 89.3 KXGJ, Victoria
◊ 92.5 KWUP, Navasota, which covers Bryn and College Station
◊ 91.1 KYBJ and 89.9 FM K210DF, Lake Jackson
◊ 99.5 K258BZ, Sugar Land
◊ 93.3 K227AI, Bryan/College Station
◊ 99.7 K259AH, Brenham
◊ Sky Angel Channel 225 IPTV

In 2010, KSBJ began transmitting an HD Radio signal on its transmitters. With HD Radio multicasting, the range of transmitter sites and online streaming, the board management decided to develop a format aimed at a younger audience. NGEN was launched in November 2010. But to create this program stream, the station needed a studio upgrade.

The studios were ready for the upgrade as well. The plan started by gutting the existing space and starting over. It was an in-place rebuild, but because the new format wasn't on the air yet, there wasn't the need to shuffle operations back and forth to keep signals on the air.

Peer Recognition
KSBJ won the NRB Radio Station of the Year for Major/Large Markets in 2010. This award recognizes the station that best represents excellence in providing service to the community, faithfulness to the mission, commitment to the Gospel, and personal integrity.

The work started by building new on-air and production studios for KSBJ. There was sufficient room in the building already, so the work could be carried out without interrupting the program. KSBJ is live 24/7, and at no time was it necessary to switch to an automated feed during the construction.

Once the new KSBJ studios were finished, the focus turned to gutting and retrofitting the old KSBJ studios to become the new NGEN studios. The four studios are mirrored sets of two for each station.

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In with the new

Having served KSBJ well for nearly 30 years, the previous studios were showing their age. Over time, more equipment was added as it was needed. The unintended consequence was more heat and unwanted noise in the studios. The fresh start not only added digital equipment and routing, but moved the computers to a server room where the fan noise and extra heat are not affecting the studio operation.

The studios are all mirror images of each other.

The studios are all mirror images of each other.

A major design focus was to build the studios to maximize the artist experience. The studios are cozy rather than having lots of hard surfaces and glass. The intent was to make the rooms inviting. This helps the on-air staff of course, but it also helps guests feel more relaxed. Engineering and programming worked together to determine where everything would go.

In keeping with the inviting feel, all the equipment has been placed to reduce clutter and maximize operational use. The computer monitors are mounted on a single monitor tree to get them out of the way but still in a single-focus area. Computers and servers are housed in the server room and accessed via KVM extenders. The KVM is set up that one keyboard/mouse accesses all the various systems. This minimizes clutter in the studio. As a backup, individual keyboards and mice are mounted in pull-out drawers to directly access the systems as well.

The suspended mounting platform keeps the mic booms off the counter top.

The suspended mounting platform keeps the mic booms off the counter top.

Another unique installation aspect is the mic boom mounts. You can see in the photos that mic booms are not mounted to the countertop, but instead are supported from the ceiling. This was done to clean up the countertop area, but it also eliminates transmission noise from getting in the mics.

The mic booms and an on-air light are mounted to a wooden platform that is suspended from the ceiling via a metal pole. This pole is braced to the ceiling struts with isolators. The result is something of a mic boom spider that allows the mics to be placed wherever they are needed.

The stand-up air studios can accommodate up to five guests. A full band has been hosted in the air studio, but the facility also has a small auditorium that will seat about 200 people. This space is used for the stations' fund drive as well as during some artist performances. The production studios are a sit-down height.

Another unique element is that the facility uses an Axia Livewire network and Logitek Mosaic and JetStream engines together. When the studios were being built, the Logitek surfaces provided the features and options the stations wanted, and the Axia network was already in use. The two systems work together to provide the routing needed.

To distribute the programming, the stations use three distribution links: satellite uplink, which feeds some remote sites, an MPLS network and over-the-air to feed one translator.

The NGEN format is gaining in popularity. Since its launch it has been carried on the HD2 of 89.3 KSBJ and 92.5 KWUP and the main program on 93.3 and 99.7. This summer, NGEN will become the primary program feed on 89.5 KZBJ, 91.1 KYBJ and 99.5 K258BZ.

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The server room

The server room

Equipment List

Adobe Audition
Airtools Voice Processor 2x
Audion Labs VoxPro
Avid Protools
Axia Livewire
Barix Exstreamer 1000
Broadcast Tools silent sense
Denon DN-620
Digital Alert Systems Dasdec EAS
JBL 4410A
Logitek Mosaic, JetStream
Moseley Sl-9003
Nautel HD Exporter, Importer
Neumann TLM-49, TLM-103
RCS NexGen
Symetrix 628E
Telos 2101
Tieline Commander G-III

The roof promotes the station.

The roof promotes the station.

The wall of the generator building promotes NGEN. This wall is also used as a backdrop for photos when guests visit the station.

The wall of the generator building promotes NGEN. This wall is also used as a backdrop for photos when guests visit the station.

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