Quick Guide to Radio Studio Types

It’s a chilly morning; -9°C ( or 15°F if you use the imperial system). What better way to warm up, than to talk about a radio studio.

An account of this mystical room. What goes on inside the confine of its walls? And types of studios out there.

Why did I open a weather announcement?—Well, when you work as a presenter, knowing the present weather conditions & relaying this info to your listeners, is part of your business.

Let's fire off:

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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.

Broadcasting House by Stephen Craven

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, program director who may be the news director or news director, journalists or reporters, radio hosts, producers, marketers, system engineers, creative writers, social media coordinators, interns, admin specialists, sales consultants– tasked to find new advertising clients, and the really good ones will out in the field meeting clients, so might just miss them at the office.

Wow, that was a list! Now, the core functions performed at the studio are:

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. 

Production

  • Developing show concepts 
  • Creating audio imagery.
  • Coming up with scripts.
  • Sourcing on-air guests.
  • Preparing and editing reports, interviews, news segments, and other audio pieces.
  • Adding information to a track such as artist details, setting cue points & creating categories.

Scheduling/Programming

  • Creating daily schedules
  • Scheduling promotions, advertising, and on-air announcements, typically done by the traffic department
  • Deciding when to air programmes
  • Creating playlists
  • Setting up rotations (templates)
  • Setting up interviews
  • Preparing program logs
  • Voice tracking
  • Screening phone calls

On-air tasks

  • Introducing and interviewing guests
  • Executing shows
  • Posting on social media, Facebook and Twitter
  • Selecting and introducing music
  • Promoting the station’s programming through hooks, cross promotion
  • Enforcing the station’s identify by announcing the station call letters
  • Carrying out surveillance which consists of weather, time, and temperature checks

Types of radio studios

There are different kinds of radio stations (pirate, community, hospital, internet, community, commercial, digital) and different kinds of radio studios.

First, let's differentiate between self-operated studios vs. tech operated studios:

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: ​​​

Tech-operated studio/Engineer assist 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).

On-air studio

An on-air studio is a room used by the presenters to broadcast live shows. If the on-air studio is self-op, some of the equipment you'll find include a computer, CD players, mixer, microphones, boom arms, and more.

It'll have a table, where the audio equipment such as a computer set on top of it or installed. For instance, you can install a mixer on top of the broadcasting desk.

Most radio stations have a u-shape configuration to make sure every knob and fader is within the presenter's reach.

To enhance the sound acoustics, the walls of the on-air studio have acoustic panels to absorb and disperse sound reflections.

The studio room is soundproofed, which involves reducing the penetration of outside noises. For example, the studio room will have thick laminated glass on the windows.

Another sound proofing technique is including an airlock or sound lock in between two heavy-duty entrance doors.

Production studio

The production studio is designated for production work. In essence, it deals with content that's not live.

For instance, editing commercials & jingles, and putting together news teasers with recordings made by journalists. 

Some of the gear you'll find in the production studio includes the production PC, headphones, and monitoring speakers.

In radios stations, the production studio may have all the equipment as in the on-air studio, so it can act as its backup.

Announcers booth, performance studio or sound studio

The main 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. While most are smaller than the production studio and on-air studio, this may not be the case for all studios.

For instance: 

Some stations invite music bands to perform at the studio and may also invite a small audience to watch.

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 and tack back buttons.

And the control room will have the mixer deck, computers for live assist broadcasting, and scheduling.

From the control room, the audio is sent to the transmitter or streaming computer or 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.

Conclusion 

To learn more on configuring radio studios, get a copy of the Radio Production Worktext: Studio and Equipment.

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And stay warm.

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