Make all the damn noise you want: It's sound-proofed.
Richmond Independent Radio, our sole low-power FM station, has built a new live room — a larger studio in its Broad Street headquarters — to fit more bands and news, and to avoid making so much racket for the downstairs tenants.
Live broadcasts of local bands already were a part of the community-focused mission of WRIR-FM 97.3, but there wasn't good space for it. Allan Coberly, a sound engineer and host of “The New Breakfast Snob,” describes the old space as “basically a converted living room with a control room in a closet in the hallway.”
“We wanted a space big enough for bands to rock out,” says Mike Rutz, the station's music director (and Style Weekly music critic). “As we grow we wanted to continue to grow in quality as well.”
Noise coming from and into the studio was a problem, especially because the station lives above the Camel, a music venue. “We needed a way to protect our neighbors from sound and protect the building structure from vibrations caused by the bands,” says Julia McCauley, the station's director of operations.
The result is a volunteer-planned and -built insulated studio with a floating floor to absorb shock from bands. The space accommodates bands and gear as well as live news programs with round-table discussions and call-in shows.
Local content is matched by local materials: Carter Anderson, recycling activist and operator of Savethetrash.com, secured recycled and green materials to use in the construction. Acoustical Solutions was critical in design. And carpenter Cary “Bear” Dickens donated his services along with James Graham and electrician Bill Mickelboro. The result is a versatile, professional-quality studio. Local fusion favorite Hotel X christened the room during WRIR's fund drive kickoff April 24.
“The live room changes the nature of community radio in that the listener is part of the content of the show,” says Liz Humes, the local news and programming manager and the host of “Wordy Birds.”