It’s a chilly morning; -9°C or 15°F if you use the imperial system. Let's warm up by talking about radio studios.
So, here is an account of this mystical room. What goes on inside the confine of its walls, and the types of studios out there.
Why did we open with a weather announcement? Well, when you work as a presenter, knowing the current weather conditions & relaying this info to your listeners is part of your business.
Let's get started:
What is a radio studio
It’s a specialized facility for producing, recording and broadcasting live audio including interviews, commercials, and more.
Radio studios range in size from small in-home studios to large broadcasting centers like the BBC Broadcasting House that houses 36 radio studios.
BBC Broadcasting House: Credits Wikipedia.
What goes on in a studio?
Before we talk about activities in a radio studio, let’s first acknowledge the folks who work in the station.
Expect to find the vice president, CEO, program director –who may be the news director or music director, journalists or reporters, radio hosts, producers, marketers, system engineers, creative writers, social media coordinators, interns, admin specialists, sales consultants –tasked with finding new advertising clients, and the really good ones will be out in the field meeting clients, so you might just miss them at the office.
Wow, that was a list! Now, the core functions performed at the studio include:
1. Acquiring content
- Downloading songs from the internet.
- Ripping CDs.
- Recording audio in and out of the studio for instance when the reporters conduct interviews
- Third-parties sources such as syndicated shows
- Submissions from artists or record promoters
- Developing show concepts
- Creating radio imaging
- Coming up with scripts
- Booking on-air guests
- Preparing and editing reports, interviews, news segments, and other show items
- Adding information to a track such as artist details, setting cue points & creating categories
- Creating daily schedules
- Scheduling promotions, advertising, and on-air announcements, typically done by the traffic department
- Deciding when to air programs
- Creating playlists
- Setting up rotations (templates)
- Setting up interviews
- Preparing program logs
- Voice tracking
- Screening phone calls
4. On-air tasks
- Introducing and interviewing guests
- Executing shows
- Posting show updates on social media, Facebook and Twitter
- Cueing and introducing upcoming music tracks
- Promoting the station’s programming through hooks, cross promotion, etc.
- Enforcing the station’s identify by announcing the station's call letters
- Conducting out surveillance of the weather, traffic, time, and temperature checks
Types of radio studios
There are various kinds of radio stations (pirate, community, hospital, internet, community, commercial, digital) and different types of radio studios.
First, let's differentiate between self-operated studios vs. tech operated studios:
a. Self-operated studio
In a self-op studio, the DJ or radio presenter drives the desk. Another way of saying —the presenter operates the equipment such as the mixer.
Most commercial studios favor this setup. And the guests, co-presenters, and producers are in the same room.
Here a video tour of Life 101.9 radio station (also known as KNWS-FM) based in Waterloo, Iowa, the United States that’s run by the University of Northwestern – St. Paul in Roseville Minnesota.Official site:
b. Tech-operated studio/Engineer assisted broadcasting
In a tech-op studio, the technician or producer controls the programming from a second room (called a Control Room).
A sound-proofed glass will separate the two rooms. And the producer communicates to the presenters through a talkback system (with mic and receiver).
c. On-air studio
An on-air studio is the room used by the presenters when broadcasting live shows.
It may be self-op. In this case, it hosts equipment such as the on-air computer, CD players, mixers, microphones, boom arms, etc.
One of its basic elements is the broadcasting desk. It should be sturdy and spacious to accommodate the audio equipment, computer, guests, etc..
Most radio stations favor a U-shape desk configuration. This gives presenters easy access to knobs, faders, touch screens, etc.
Walls of the on-air studio are typically lined with acoustic panels that absorb and disperse sound reflections. This improves the room's acoustics.
The on-air studio room should be soundproofed. It involves reducing the penetration of outside noises. For instance, if the studio room has windows, the glass panels will be thick and laminated.
Another common soundproofing technique entails placing an airlock or sound lock in-between two heavy-duty entrance doors.
d. Production studio
The production studio is designated for production work. In essence, it deals with content that's not live.
For instance, producing commercials, jingles, promos, news teasers, etc.
The production PC is the most prominent gear in this studio. You will also find headphones, monitoring speakers, etc.
In large radios stations, the production studio may be stocked with similar equipment found in the on-air studio. It then acts as a backup.
e. Announcers booth, performance studio or sound studio
The primary function of an announcer's booths or performance studio is to record vocals or instrument sounds for pre-recorded shows or radio imaging.
It's usually equipped with microphones and headphones. Most announcer booths are smaller than the production studio or on-air studio. But this may not be the case in all stations.
For instance, some stations invite music bands to perform at the studio. They may also invite a small audience to watch the performance.
f. Control room
Most talk radio stations have an on-air studio and control room configuration.
The studio room will have tables, microphones, headphones, monitor speakers, cue lights, monitors, talkback buttons, etc.
And the control room will have the mixer deck, or the computers for live assist broadcasting, scheduling, etc.
Audio comes from the talk studio to the control room. Afterward, it's sent to the FM transmitter or streaming computer/device.
Here is an example of the Elephant Studios that’s part of London South Bank University’s multidisciplinary studio complex for students. Credits LSBU website.
Want to learn more about configuring radio studios? Grab a copy of the Radio Production Worktext: Studio and Equipment.
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Keep safe. And stay warm.
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