Ergonomically Designed Broadcast Furniture
Our entry into custom designed ergonomic Broadcast Furniture was serendipity. We were approached by John Buckham, then of Entravision Communications, to tackle a 27 studio project on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. Completion of that job caught the attention of Phil Lerza, chief engineer at KFRC, just across the bridge in San Francisco. Anyone who knew Phil knows that he was a consummate engineer with an extreme eye for detail. We met with him and the outgrowth of the construction techniques we developed over the course of our 12 studio project became the heart of our Innova Line of custom broadcast furniture.
This was 2004, and the broadcast industry was ripe for change. Computers were beginning to proliferate, digital was replacing analog and the requirement for massive amounts of racked studio equipment was diminishing. To our perspective, studio furniture clearly needed an overhaul as well. What we found seemed to be construction modes based in 1960’s kitchen cabinet construction – lots of heavy cabinetry, solid trims, glue blocks, screw blocks, shims – you name it. By this time, we’d been making ready to assemble custom furniture for nearly 20 years and successfully shipping it all over the world. We knew we could do the same in broadcast as well.
Given the 24/7 nature of the Broadcast Industry, we opted to build our line entirely in High Pressure Laminate, rather than the lighter melamine laminate we use in much of our Technical furniture. We stuck with particleboard cores because it offers just the right combination of strength and stability to last for years. We added steel bracing under console cut-outs, mechanical fasteners to hold things together and devised the “G-Bar” raceway system to carry wire throughout the furniture and hold the system’s components together.
We split the difference in how we deliver the furniture to customers. Equipment racks, be they “lowers” (under counter racks) or “uppers” (above counter raised turrets) are fully assembled in our shop by guys who do it day in and day out, guaranteeing absolute precision where it counts the most. The remaining elements – the supporting panel system and the counter tops themselves are flat-packed. Nothing we design goes out the door that hasn’t been assembled and fully fit-tested and photo-documented in the shop before shipping. The result is that our furniture is built like a tank, but is remarkably easy to assemble. Here’s what Yancy McNair, Regional Engineering Director for Cumulus Media has to say about it – he knows:
“Omnirax has spoiled me with its easy design and assembly. It actually takes longer now to unbox and unwrap everything than it does to assemble it. If it were up to me I would never buy anything else.”
As we came to know the Radio Market, we quickly learned that it’s the engineers who are at the heart of a station’s operation. Given the realities of the world we live in, talent may come and go, and station management and ownership may change, but the engineers tend to remain and bear the brunt of keeping the facilities operational. We vowed to become – “The Engineer’s Choice” – and we have. The key to doing this has been to listen to what they need the most:
“¢ The ability to pass wire virtually everywhere
“¢ Trust that the furniture will not only stand up to years of use, but withstand a bit of abuse as well
“¢ Easy installation and integration
Engineers need and want a furniture company that is responsive to the needs of everyone involved in a studio project. We like to call this approach serving the three masters – we cater to the engineers, but we also must be responsive to owners and management as well as the talent: board ops, producers, screeners and guests who sit at our furniture. An investment in studio furniture must return a financial gain to the station. Our construction methodology allows us to keep prices down and value high; our nested-based manufacturing reduces waste, but it’s our Collaborative Discovery and Design Process that ensures that the furniture you do end up with is not only what you want, but what you need.
It would be hard to dispute that one of the most important strategic goals in radio broadcast is to create good sound over the airwaves. Our custom designed Broadcast Furniture helps stations make money by looking great, lasting a long time and also by improving the quality of the product itself. When we entered the market, Broadcast Furniture was all straight lines with the occasional curve. We immediately put curves where the people go – because to us it seemed obvious. Why not fix the positions? This way sight lines and “sound lines” are set and ergonomically optimized – gear in the right place, monitors in plain view, freeing talent and guests to have an unobstructed, relaxed interaction. How many PD’s can attest to nervous guests not knowing where to sit, how to position a mic and where to look for headphones and switches? We build all this in – inherent in the design and layout of the furniture.
We call this “design science” – we’re thinking about facility design, multi-studio interactivity, usability – not to mention branding, color consulting and the addition of state of the industry accessories (see M!ka) – all the time. Most engineers –if they’re lucky, get to build a handful of facilities over the course of their career. Doing it day in and day out, we’re able to bring our expertise and the experience gained in building thousands of installed studios to bear on your particular needs.
When done right (see our Gallery and Case Studies for lots of examples), we achieve a kind of paradox. On the one hand, our furniture is transparent to its operation. That is to say, it’s not in the way – just there doing its job supporting everything else that’s going on. On the other hand it most assuredly is there – the biggest thing in the room in fact. So we build it rugged, we build it exactly, and we build it with pleasing lines and proportions that harmonize with the environment it lives in.
But even with all of this, we deeply understand that the most important service we provide to our customers is personal. Our promise is that we will “make your furniture headache go away.” We know that furniture is a significant expense in broadcast, that the stakes are high, that on time delivery is essential and that functional design is paramount. We have long-standing relationships with many of the major corporations in the industry, as well as mid-market and smaller owners and operators. Give us one chance, and you too will become a Customer for Life.