A Clear Consolidation

October 1, 2008


The Z100 morning show has a small studio for production.

The Z100 morning show has a small studio for production.

Bringing together five New York City FM radio stations with long histories of being in their own studio space is no simple task. The planning for Clear Channel New York City's move began in 2005 when the first thoughts of consolidation began to take shape. After searching many buildings in Manhattan, a building in the trendy Manhattan neighborhood of Tribeca was chosen; the NYC stations would occupy 120,000 square feet on the 2nd, 3rd and half of the 4th floors in the AT&T building. Clear Channel Radio-New York also has space on the 1 st floor that will be built out as a 200+ seat performance space. This building was built in 1933 and for years served as home to AT&T's long cable division and was the spot where the first transatlantic cables came into NYC. This building offered a great space that could be custom built to meet all the needs of the five stations and also offered all the technical facilities a radio group could need.

All of the studios have a dedicated call screener area, like Z100's, which looks into the control room.

All of the studios have a dedicated call screener area, like Z100's, which looks into the control room.

The concept

Once the contracts were signed, Meridian Design, interior architects, began working on the design of the space. Josh Hadden, director of engineering and IT for Clear Channel Radio New York, had a concept of consolidating five stations under one roof while allowing them to each keep their unique identity and personality. This was accomplished by giving each station its own studio complex on the 3rd floor of the new building. These studio areas would have their own entrance off the main hallways and behind the doors, studios and programming offices for the station would be built.

The main lobby outside the commercial production rooms

The main lobby outside the commercial production rooms

Construction started in April 2007 and an aggressive time line was set. Luckett & Farley, project managers, and Lehr Construction Corp., general contractors, began with demolition of the 2nd,3rd and 4th floors. By September enough construction was done to allow Technet Systems into the space to begin the integration. Technet engineers, Bob Smith, Lindsey Collins and Mark Bizbee began the massive undertaking of pulling miles of audio cables and punching hundreds of thousands of Krone blocks. Soon after they started, the Clear Channel Radio-New York engineering team (led by Hadden) of George Marshall, Henry Behring, Doug Irwin and Jeff Smith began working on studio and master control room (MCR) configurations in the new space.

The master control room is visible through a glass wall.

The master control room is visible through a glass wall.



The MCR is the core of the new facility, containing 65 Mid-Atlantic racks. The racks are laid in five rows, each row with a unique purpose. The front row facing the windows overlooking a main hallway contains monitoring equipment including Belar Wizards, B&B Systems Phase Monitor and Arbitron PPM monitors. The first row also houses the six SAS 32KD router fames that are the audio core of the facility. The router is SAS's largest install to date allowing for 3072 × 3072 audio. Other rows of racks contain the 56 RCS Nexgen computers, as well as, utility computers for the studios, Vox Pro computers, Pro Tools computers, the Telos 2101 Hubs, office network servers, office telco and security systems. The MCR is truly the central core for the facility and all audio and data pass through this room. The MCR is also home to the 150kVA Toshiba G8000MM UPS system that floats all critical systems. The facility is also backed by a 2MW generator. The generator was bought from Qwest Communications with very few hours on it. That worked to the advantage of Clear Channel Radio-New York because it was a solution that was already in place in the building.

The 14 racks house the audio storage and playback system.

The 14 racks house the audio storage and playback system.

Krone blocks form the heart of the facility infrastructure.

Krone blocks form the heart of the facility infrastructure.

Studios

Clear Channel NY SVP of Programming, Tom Polman and Z100 DJ JJ press the button to launch Z100 from the new facility.

Clear Channel NY SVP of Programming, Tom Polman and Z100 DJ JJ press the button to launch Z100 from the new facility.

The 29 studios in the new facility were all designed around custom furniture from Omnirax. The furniture was designed and built in California and shipped and assembled in NYC. Each studio area for the stations contains two mirror air studios and some also contain two production rooms and a mix studio. The facility also has three commercial production studios, three imaging studios, three voice tracking rooms and a studio for Clear Channel Creative Service Group. The air studios have SAS Rubicon consoles, the production rooms have SAS Rubicon SL consoles and the voice tracking rooms have SAS Rubi-T consoles. The three commercial production studios have Digidesign Command 8 and SL consoles, and the imaging studios have Digidesign D-Command consoles.



The SAS 32KD and Rubicon system allows flexibility at the facility since audio can be available anywhere at anytime. This allows for very easy switching of studios for any reason. It also allows for all the logic to be handled relatively easily. The SAS talks to Nexgen for start/stop logic as well as text displays on the consoles. The Rubicon's also allow for the easy control of TFT 911 EAS, Telos 2101 phones and some custom logic needed for the Elvis Duran morning show on Z100. The flexibility of the Rubicon surface also allows for each station to easily have the console laid out how they want and changes to be made easily without the need to move any wires.

Large signs clearly identify each air studio.

Large signs clearly identify each air studio.

Large signs clearly identify each air studio.

The SAS 32KD gives a lot of redundancy to the stations: One of the biggest is three separate air chains for each station. This is accomplished using the ANI feature of the 32KD to spread the load around to different frames, so a frame could be taken down and it would be possible for the station to stay on the air with no interruptions. The three separate outputs from the router feed the three separate air chains. Each air chain has its own preprocessing, mostly Ariane Sequels, and its own Airtools delay. Each air chain also has its own Arbitron PPM encoder.

The first station to move into the new facility was Q104.3 (WAXQ) on Jan. 29, 2008, less than 10 months from when demolition of the space started. Next were Power 105.1 (WWPR) and then 103.5 WKTU, Z100 (WHTZ) and finally 106.7 Lite FM (WLTW). Only a lot of hard work and long hours by everyone involved could have allowed a project of this scope to be pulled off as well as it was in the time frame available.


Equipment List

Adtran Opti-6100, DS3M3T, OMM12VIRE, DS1VM2, ETHM8 4, Netvanta 5305 router
Aphex mic processors
Ariane Sequel
Audio-Technica 4033
Electro-Voice RE-27
Evertz 7700 frame, 7707 BPX, 7707 IFRA/IFTA, 7707 GPS, AT47-8, 7705 CWDM 3, 5600MSC, 5600ACO
Harris/Intraplex Digital Cross-Connect 9560, PT353 2
Neogroupe Neoscreener
Omnirax furniture
RCS Nexgen
Sierra Automated Systems consoles and system routing
Snapstream Enterprise
Symetrix/Air Tools profanity delays
Telos 2101, Zephyr Xstream
Yellowtec Mika support arms


Smith is supervisor of broadcast systems, Clear Channel Radio-New York and chief engineer of WWPR.



Want to read more stories like this?
Get our Free Newsletter Here!

Comments