Text and photos by SCOTT FYBUSH
If you’re following my travels purely through Site of the Week, you might jump from last week’s installment, which found us en route to Florida just before New Year’s 2019, into this week’s, which finds us in Miami in late February, and you might conclude that we spent a good chunk of the winter soaking up the South Florida sunshine.
Alas, we did not; in between that installment and this one, we were back in the depressing gloom of the western New York winter, where the only sites we saw were ones close to home (which we actually showed you back in April!)
So by the time the third week of February rolled around, we were ready and eager to get back south. As with so many of these trips, there was something important to see while we still could: the studios of three of Entercom’s stations, a few months before they were due to combine with the rest of the cluster in new digs a few miles away.
This building at 194 NW 187th St., near the Broward County line in North Miami, has seen a lot of radio pass through it in the last couple of decades. Originally home to the offices of an auto racing team, it was renovated in the 1980s to become the studios to Gilmore Broadcasting’s WLVE (93.9). Consolidation in the 1990s eventually put WLVE in the hands of Clear Channel, which eventually moved three more stations into the building – WZTA (94.9), WIOD (610) and WINZ (940).
And then Clear Channel moved out and Beasley moved in, renovating the building to become home to its WQAM (560), WKIS (99.9) and WPOW (96.5). That station lineup remained stable, but its ownership didn’t – Beasley swapped the cluster to CBS Radio a few years ago, and then Entercom bought CBS Radio, which made these three stations sisters to the former Jefferson-Pilot/Lincoln Financial stations a few blocks away. (We saw that cluster in 2015 when we first visited Miami.)
Confused yet? We don’t blame you – the key point here is that after all these years of radio in this building, it was all about to go away, and we wanted to see it before it left.
Walk in with us, and you’ll enter a two-story atrium with offices off to one side and an enclosed studio complex right in front of you. This is where the FMs in the cluster operate, with country WKIS taking pride of place with the showcase window looking out to the front hall through that triangle window.
There’s a hallway in back that separates two clusters of studios, providing some separate space toward the rear of the building for “Power 96,” WPOW (96.5) and its main air and production rooms. (Each of the FMs here had its own dedicated production room; this was a nice studio configuration indeed and must have been downright luxurious back when it was just WLVE here!)
A row of programming offices and the staff lounge run along the side of the studio pod, and in back there’s a rack room and engineering area. (There’s more engineering space in a sort of loft area upstairs, too.)
We mentioned the office area adjacent to the studio pod – you get a nice bird’s eye view of it as you head upstairs to the other side of the building, which I believe was added on later. Here we’re looking over the offices toward the front of the building; the studio pods for WKIS and WPOW are in that space on the right side of the picture, and the other side of the building is off to our left across what was once an open-air patio that was later enclosed.
Over on this side of the building is where we find WQAM, the sports station that is the flagship for the Dolphins, Hurricanes and Panthers. (It rebranded a few months after our visit as “560 the Joe,” named for the nearby stadium where the Dolphins play.)
WQAM’s talk studio and control room are up here along a second-floor hallway, across the stairwell from the office area where the talk hosts and producers hang out. WQAM was, among other things, the last radio home for veteran talker Neil Rogers, and one studio here was still named for him, even if he did most of his broadcasting from Canada in later years.
Another studio up here had been converted into a small video production space, and we had to do a double take at the sound treatment on the walls. Some sort of high-tech covering? Nope: it’s a few packages of square Chinet plates, probably from the Publix down the street, neatly affixed in a grid to keep reverberation under control.
So now you (and we) can say you’ve seen this building while it still existed. In next week’s installment, we’ll show you the transmitter sites that go with these studios – and now we, too, need to get back to South Florida to see the new facility that replaced both this one and the former Jefferson-Pilot facility up the street. (We wonder how WQAM is getting along these days with its new cluster-mate and former sports rival, WAXY 790 “the Ticket”?)
Thanks to Eddie Huerta at Entercom Miami for the tours!
We have a great lineup of podcasts here on our site. While you’re catching up with your summer reading, don’t forget about your summer listening. Now is the time to make sure you’re up to date with Top of the Tower.
Our latest one features Donna Halper discussing her life in radio, from her time at WMMS when she helped Rush get US airplay, to what she learned from Arnie “Woo Woo” Ginsburg.
Don’t forget you can still visit our store to check out our other great products. We’ll be taking preorders for the 2021 calendar soon. Stay tuned!
And don’t miss a big batch of Miami IDs next Wednesday, over at our sister site, TopHour.com!
Next week: More Miami, 2019