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KRCQ radio moves in with sister stations

KRCQ announcer Dave Lee practices for his show, Real Early with Dave Lee, playing around with the new, state of the art board and digital automation system. DL NEWSPAPERS/Paula Quam

It’s hometown radio meets big city technology — KRCQ is movin’ on up as it moves across town.

The station known as “Real Country 102” has now joined its sister stations, Wave 104.1 and KDLM, as they all broadcast from under the same roof on Richwood Road.

But this most recently adopted station (acquired by Leighton Broadcasting in 2010), is moving in with some broadcast bling the other sisters may surely envy.

“We took some fairly older technology and upgraded it to what is now considered cutting edge technology in radio,” said Leighton Broadcasting General Manager Jeff Leighton. “The stuff is what you’ll see in New York and Chicago, so to have this kind of technology in Detroit Lakes is a big deal for us.”

The station was literally ripped out of its home on Jackson Avenue last month, as the country station and its radio personalities began broadcasting out of the main building on Feb. 2.

When that happened, KRCQ listeners got quite an ear-full.

“We have a whole new chain-link to getting our sound to the air that is much more crisp — like CD or in-studio quality that sounds much better,” said Leighton, admitting that the switch-over has come with it some technical glitches.

“But we’re going to get those ironed out within the next couple of weeks and then we’ll have the best sounding station anywhere, up against anybody,” said Leighton.

The new KRCQ studio may be better, but it isn’t bigger. The new switchboard is about half the size of many of the older boards radio stations use, but Leighton says it can also do “100 times what the old ones can do”.

When the changeover was made, the entire building and its three stations switched its network over to WheatNet, which now gives the multi-station facility the ability to broadcast any of its stations out of any of its studios, including the production studios.

All content from both the AM and FM stations, are now shared and at the fingertips of any of Leighton’s producers or personalities.

“So if we ever have  a failure in our main broadcast studio, we can move our operations over to the production studio and never be off air, whereas before we might have to figure out something here, get an engineer to come from three hours away and might take a day to fix,” said Leighton.

And since the show must go on, the collective crew working for all three stations is busy pushing through the technical glitches and getting comfortable with their new radio style.

“It’s really humbling because you’re learning things all over,” said Dave Lee, KRCQ morning show announcer, “and sometimes you get mad at yourself, but it’s a learning curve and tomorrow it’ll be a lot better and a month from now it’ll be like…how did we ever survive without it?”

Veteran radio personality Andy Lia may know how to survive without it, as he has been in radio for 50 years. But he also knows change and radio come hand in hand.

“It’s OK, I’ll figure it out,” he laughed, pointing out the computer automation system that he is learning. “Eventually I will be able to mix some of my own things in there, but I’m not quite comfortable enough yet,” he says, adding that with the change in technology also came a lot more options in music.

Despite the hiccups that almost always come with a big change, this one will also be offset by some much-welcomed simplifications.

The endless entanglement of wires that accompanied the old studios has now been replaced by simple, single cords that handle it all.

“For every 1,000 we ripped out of the old studio we probably replaced with 20 in the new,” said Leighton. “It is a thimble of water compared to the Pacific Ocean,” joked Lee.

Selling off the old blue house-looking studio and streamlining all productions to one building is also an efficient move for Leighton Broadcasting, which now has all of its 19 full time employees and eight locally-produced shows under one roof.

“Now if we produce a commercial that runs on more than one station, we don’t have to send one off to KRCQ and one off to KDLM — it’s all just right there for everybody,” said Leighton, who says it’s also much easier to have just one facility to manage.

“And it’s nice to have everybody here…” he said, sounding like the proud father of three sisters, “…to all work as one, big team.”

Paula Quam

Paula Quam is the editor for Forum Communications Co. newspapers in Detroit Lakes, Perham and Wadena, all in Minnesota.

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