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KEXP operates one of the most influential listener-supported radio stations in the world, 90.3 KEXP-FM Seattle, with online and on-air service reaching over 200,000 global listeners each week. On KEXP’s YouTube channel, videos of exclusive live performances garner millions of views per week.

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The Goal

Facility Relocation

In 2015, in advance of an expiring leasehold, KEXP planned a move to a spacious 27,000 sq. ft location in the heart of the historic Seattle Center. They turned to ZTransform to provide design consultation for the technical requirements of the facility. 

This expanded operation would feature a state-of-the-art live performance studio, public performance space, DJ booths, audio production suites, video editing suites, a central machine room and a video control room for live productions.

The Challenge

Communication is Key

The increased scale of the operation required ZTransform to contemplate the best way to resolve the legacy communications and production intercom issues KEXP has historically endured with performance spaces in diverse locations. They were also looking for more collaborative workflows with visibility into the status of work product.

To add to the challenge, the sound-sensitive areas of the new operation would need to be isolated from the intrusion of noise and vibration coming from the multi-year construction effort in neighboring Key Arena. 

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The Solution

Solving the Right Issues, the Right Way

From the outset, ZTransform work closely with the client, the architect and the general contractor to develop a space plan that would satisfy the unique needs of KEXP’s various operational spaces and environmental noise concerns. From critical adjacency decisions, to customized technical furniture, automated workflows, and sound isolation booths, ZTransform addressed the specific needs of KEXP operators and on-air talent alike.

The Result

Design Intent Plus a Surprise Benefit

The updated design for the video control room and performance spaces resulted in significantly improvement workflows for the video production crew, while the arena construction noise was mitigated with the addition of a new acoustically isolated DJ Booth/Production room built by ZTransform.

From this new facility, KEXP streams live events to Facebook and has over 1.2 million YouTube subscribers, where they post recordings of live studio performances.

In an unforeseen, but positive turn of events, a back-up DJ room designed to be a dual-purpose audio production suite during facility construction, became a critical space during the COVID crisis – allowing for social distancing as DJ’s prepped for back-to-back shows. This became a favorite room for much of the KEXP staff.

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Key Technologies

Technologies and brands provided as part of this project included:

  • Ross Video: NK Routing
  • Carbonite switcher
  • xPression graphics
  • OpenGear processing
  • Sony studio and PTZ cameras
  • Clearcom intercom
  • Forecast technical furniture

Hybrid IP Signal Routing

Wireless Production Communications

24p Production Switching and Graphics

Key Services

Planning & Development

Detailed workflow mapping, space planning, technical furniture/casework, specification of electrical, acoustic and lighting.

Engineering & Design

Design included AutoCAD based architectural interface drawings, build-to system functionals, and wirelisting package with pinout details.

Systems Integration

Complete installation, configuration and commissioning services were provided. A key focus was on future growth and ease of system upgrades.


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