Media Watch


In the old days, every television station had a studio at its heart. That's where a fair amount of live programming would originate--a morning homemaking show for housewives, maybe a midday newscast, an afternoon kiddie show, the evening and late-night news, and local breaks in the weekend creature feature.

Today, though, with almost all programming gotten from networks or syndication, the only thing a TV station needs a studio for is newscasts, and maybe producing the occasional commercial. And if you're a small station that produces its news in somebody else's studio--as is the case with KWBA Channel 58, which uses KOLD's facilities for its 9 p.m. news show--you hardly need a studio at all.

So it was a small surprise to learn that KWBA has contracted with Diversified Design & Construction to turn its garage (the building was originally a Motorola plant) into a comfy new studio and four editing bays. Construction should be finished this summer.

Larry Lang, president of Diversified, says that it's costing $106,000 to build the facility, not including all the tech equipment that will go into the space. Gene Steinberg, the station's director of programming and creative services, declines to reveal the project's full price.

Don't expect KWBA to create a lot of new programming with its new space, though.

"The studio would allow us to do some limited local production," says Steinberg, "but the reality is that in this day and age, almost anything we do is going to be electronic field production, outside the studio." And the news will continue to emanate from KOLD.

Advertisers, on the other hand, should feel more comfortable when they come in to supervise the creation of their commercials, with the edit bays moved away from the busy master control area. "This will give clients more peace and quiet," Steinberg says.

Broadcast facilities, with their high electrical load requirements and need for heavy but silent air conditioning, have become something of a specialty for Diversified. The company built KWBA's transmitter site, the entire KGUN facility, and the newsroom and other areas at KVOA, and converted the old Best Buy at Oracle and Fort Lowell roads into a warren of studios and offices for Clear Channel's seven local radio stations.

Steinberg is happy about his station's expansion, but he notes that the romance of the TV studio is a thing of the past. "Now," he says, "a TV station is nothing more than a place for people to have offices and community access." Technical areas aren't even necessary; consider KWBA's Cascade Broadcasting-owned sister station in Tulsa.

"They have a production and sales force in Tulsa," says Steinberg, "but the actual tape machine that plays back Friends for them is here in Tucson."


Newsroom wags at the Arizona Daily Star immediately came up with a name for their new, almost all-female team of managers and enforcers: The Sopranos.
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