I just got back from Menards to buy a few tables to set up a mock arrangement in the new studio. I figure it's a decent investment to put up a mock studio, to see where I want the rack, the compressor, the pre-amp, the wiring and the rest before plunking down a few grand for modern, modular furniture.
There are so many choices to make. We have, basically, a really cool empty room with windows on all four sides and in the middle I gotta choose the broadcast furniture, which in turn sets the tone for the whole room. A primary choice is do you want things at desk height or counter height?
It's a huge difference, and I've broadcasted at both. In the ancient WJOB studio, you sit in the middle of a U shape, with computers and laptops and switchers and even turntables all around you. It's a classic radio setup that someone designed 60 years and it's worked pretty well since.
At the new, temporary studios we went counter height, as if you're sitting at a bar. But instead of a traditional U shape at the height of a desk, I had Rob Ellis build a huge, glass-topped TV-like table. Both the traditional radio and the contemporary TV setup have their advantages.
If you sit in the center of the U, at the height of a desk, then you have all of your machines within arm's length. You can reach back to your right to play an album, and you can reach forward to your left to adjust a guest microphone. You have the main mixing board in front of you and there's a huge rack to your right with CD players and satellite switchers and so forth. At least that's how it is in the WJOB bunker.
Now at a TV-like table, you're not hunkered down in a seat.. it's more like sitting at a bar. And if you know anything about me as local radio guy by now, you know that I don't mind sitting at a bar. It's natural, especially with a brass rail down by your feet. But at the temp studio I am not in the middle of the U. I sit at a table, with a little auxiliary table a little lower to my right that has the main mixer, the mic mixer, headphone splitter and a few other things. It's functional, and when there's a camera on me it looks better than a cluttered radio studio. But still, I'm not that comfortable sitting on a bar stool on the edge of a table.
What I think, ultimately, is I'll either buy or have Rob build is a combination of the traditional radio U and the contemporary TV broadcast table. In other words, I want a counter-height U broadcast setup.
You may ask yourself - why is local radio guy going on about the shape and height of his studio furniture? Who gives a shit?
Good question. I've been looking all over the internet for blogs or comments about how to design a radio slash TV studio from scratch... and there's not a lot out there. So one day some guy in Turlock, California, say, is gonna be looking to build from scratch a multimedia studio for his commercial station that's located in a college campus tech center and he'll find my blog and he'll feel good about himself.
Here's what I figure.
1. I want the feel of a traditional radio studio. That's what I grew up with in radio. It's what was there when I worked at WJOB the first time around in 1985, and it's what I have broadcasted in for the first seven years of my morning show. I feel comfortable in the middle of the U where I can EQ everything and play from the computer easily and even throw on an album.
2. I want the look of a contemporary TV studio. A main reason that we are moving to the Purdue tech center is to do video. So when the camera looks at me with all of the trucks in the background, I don't wanna be sitting there with all of this radio equipment cluttering up the shot. No microphone booms sticking out of the table and stuff like that.
There's gotta be a way to accomplish both form and function. But I don't feel I've mapped it out just right yet. So I went to Menards and bought three tables - 2 six footers and an 8 footer. I'm going to make a temporary U and set up all the equipment on that and just see. It's at desk height, so you never know I might like that in the end. I doubt it, though. One of the things that I like about the counter or bar height is that you can stand up and walk around and rest your hands naturally on the table. That's important to the camera, also. I'll let you and the guy in Turlock know how all of this turns out.