Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Move! Pt. 1, By Dave Montgomery, Engineer

The Lead In To The Move

Pat Walsh was the General Manager, Wayne Moss was the Operations Manager, and the station was still owned by Lin Broadcasting. The station was located on the West 7th street building, a former doctor’s office.

Pat had been told that the State was going to extend the partially complete I-630 “Wilbur Mills Freeway” to connect I-30 in downtown, and extend it to far west Little Rock. Western Little Rock was growing rapidly, and it was immediately apparent that a quick way from the far-west bedroom neighborhoods back to the State Capitol area and downtown business core was needed. So plans were drawn up by State Highway Department engineers, and the KAAY building on West 7th street just happened to be in the planned State Capitol exit of I-630.

The highway department made contact with Pat, and advised him that they intended to buy the building, tear it down, and build a freeway off ramp in its place. Negotiations were held and an equitable solution was reached. We were given a timeframe to move (I think it was about 24 months but I am not sure of this point). Pat advised corporate and the clock started ticking.

About the same time, we had decided to upgrade the KAAY control room with a new audio mix console. We decided on the RCA BC-7 since it was approximately the same capability and size of the existing Collins 212. (RCA BC-7, Collins 212 consoles)

After several planning sessions, we came up with a console control layout that was very similar to the Collins, which would make training the DJ’s easy. Basically, we duplicated the layout of the Collins console onto the new RCA console so that the controls for each tape player and turntable was as close to the same location on the new console as it was on the old one.

The RCA console did not have enough inputs, so I added two more inputs, one each for the “left” turntable and “right” turntable. I had no space on the main panel, so I added them onto the meter panel – the “left” turntable control was just left of the left VU meter, and the right turntable was located just to the right of the right-hand VU meter.

We also wanted to upgrade the studio microphones – we had been using RCA 77DX ribbon microphones, and it was felt new microphones would help give us a punchier sound on the air. We obtained a Shure SM-7 microphone and an Electro-Voice RE-20 microphone. Both were tested on the air over a period of time, alternating from one to the other, and eventually the RE-20 was chosen.  (RCA 77DX, Shure SM-7, E-V RE-20)

The main control room was the biggest room in the building, and was formerly an X-ray room in the former doctor’s office. The studio layout was straightforward – the rear wall was a flow to ceiling record storage rack and cabinets that were used for various control room items. The audio console was on the opposite wall, facing into the newsroom through a large double pane window.

When sitting at the console, there were audio tape cartridge machines on the left and right sides of the console. On the far left wall was a large cartridge rack that held commercial announcement tapes and some program related tapes. You can see the general layout in this photo of Jonnie King hard at work in the West 7th Street studio.

We did not completely know it at the time, but choosing these new microphones and audio consoles would play an important role later on when we designed the new studio technical facilities.

Next: Part 2....DM

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