This is likely to be the last post in this blog for the year (unless something especially interesting happens in the next week) — and I wanted to finish by showing you how our Upgrade 2011 studio renovation is coming along.
There are three studios at KUSP. Renovations in one are essentially complete, and another studio is nearly finished. Here’s a look at how they turned out!
Production Studio 2 was the first to get overhauled, starting in September. You can see its skin and bones back at this blog post.
This picture shows J.D. Hillard at work this afternoon. To his left is the “control surface,” which is where studio users mix the different audio sources and send them to the right destinations. This was always called “the board” (or by some of my British friends, “the desk”). Up to now at KUSP, a wire with the audio running down it would connect each source of audio to the board, and mixing and switching would happen inside the board itself. Now, what we have (in combination with the computer screen behind it) is more of a virtual device that sends instructions to wherever the audio is coming from (or going to) — anywhere in the station. Gigabit Ethernet switches connect everything together.
In front of J.D. is another computer screen on which we record and edit digital audio files; typically, the audio sources for that editing (such as the microphone in the picture) are what we have assigned to the volume controls, on-off switches, and other knobs (real or virtual) on the control surface.
I’ve written about the “blades” that are at the heart of the system before. These are the devices that take analog or digital audio signals into the system (converting the signals to packets that can move around on the audio Ethernet environment), or convert an output stream to a standard digital or analog audio signal so it can leave the studio (or be fed to speakers or headphones). This pair of blades has been rolling along nicely in our audio server rack for about two months now!
Once we had Production Studio 2 up and running, we started in on our main recording studio, Production Studio 1. Here, Bruce Larsen is carving the right-sized hole in the countertop for this studio’s control surface.
And here’s how the room looks today, back in operation. There is still a little bit of finish work to do but we’ve been using the room most of December. The first KUSP show to be produced here, by the way, was Bonnie Jean’s fine late-night program, “The Playlist.” Blades and source equipment (CD players, tape decks, and so on) are installed in the upright racks to the right and left of the control surface, which is a bigger, more versatile version of the one in Production Studio 2. People we interview sit on the opposite side of the counter, and the window looks into the Peter Troxell Performance Studio (also known as “Studio T”), which will finally get permanent equipment about ten years after my predecessor, Peter, started that project.
This close-up gives you an idea how much control we have of each audio source now. Any audio signal at KUSP can be assigned to any control channel in any studio; the display in the middle of the channel strip tells you what’s assigned right now. The blue and white buttons at the bottom turn the audio on and off; the vertical slide fader adjusts the sound level; and the buttons above the display let you select different destinations for the audio.
What’s left to do? We’ve been sidetracked somewhat by delays in getting carpet installed in the last studio to upgrade, which is our main on-air studio, but today we got word that the carpet should finally get to Santa Cruz the middle of next week. We will speedily move our on-air operations into Production Room 1 (so if you hear some unusual flubs on the air right around New Year’s, don’t blame overindulgence by the hosts!) and get the last renovations done. Then it’s on to 2012!
Once again, I want to express my gratitude to the hundreds of KUSP supporters who made special gifts in the first half of 2011 to match our federal grant and make Upgrade 2011 a reality. It’s a joy to produce radio in such a flexible and up-to-date facility, and we owe it all to you. See you next year!