Thursday, November 19, 2009

Chicago's Seven Storefront Studios

The banners promise that Loyola University's new $400,000 streetfront television studio in The Clare at Water Tower (55 East Pearson Street) will open in autumn 2009, but I think we can safely say that isn't going to happen.  Especially considering that Loyola only got its permit to build the studio on October 2nd.

Loyola's will be the seventh streetfront studio in Chicago.  WGN radio was the modern pioneer with this in Chicago (though it's been done in other cities since the 50's).  720 was quickly followed by WMAQ, WLS-TV and eventually WBBM-TV.   I always thought WFLD had a great opportunity to open one when the Bennigans at Michigan Plaza closed, but that opportunity was missed.

Of course, WGN-TV (2501 West Bradley Place) and WTTW are half-way to the suburbs, so there's no point in them even trying.

Sometimes these are called "storefront" studios instead of "streetfront."  In that case, WLUP and WKQX are actually the leaders, since they have had a storefront presence in the Merchandise Mart (222 Mart Plaza) for years.

Storefront studios in Chicago:

WLUP's storefront at the Merchandise Mart

WKQX's storefront at the Merchandise Mart


  1. Perhaps there may be another. The doorman at Library Tower tells me the spot next to CVS (530 S State)is going to be a broadcasting studio. They just started converting the raw space this week. I was wondering if it might be for Columbia student radio.

  2. Interesting. I'll look into it. Thanks for keeping your ears open!

  3. Well, it's been two weeks since I e-mailed Columbia College's PR department. I guess it's not interested in answering questions from the public or getting free publicity.

  4. Hello,

    I'm a Senior at Columbia and have heard nothing of their radio station moving. It is currently housed in 33E. Congress with windows inside the lobby facing the elevators and entrance of Congress. If the studios in the Mart count, I think so should Columbia's radio station. BTW, the station is 88.1 WCRX. Also, just because cameras are "small" (those are meant to be shoulder mounted BTW) doesn't mean they're any less powerful. In fact, NBC uses that same setup in Studio 5 and if you look at many sporting event cameras, they have the same body but just have huge lenses so they can zoom way more than these standard lenses can.


  5. Brain,

    Thanks for your comments. In the last week, Columbia College's PR department has suddenly started to communicate with us so we should have fewer mysteries to puzzle out.

    I used to be able to listen to WCRX when I lived at Lakeshore East, but unfortunately it doesn't come in where I am now. I'll swing by 33 East Congress and check out the studio windows later this week.

    As for the cameras, yes they are small. It has nothing to do with zoom. You're not going to do much zooming inside a TV studios. Here's what a current modern professional quality studio camera looks like:

    As you can see, it is much different than what Loyola's studio has been outfitted with.

    I'm not trying to be critical, just stating a fact as someone who worked for 20 years in broadcasting.

    Heck, my college TV station had Army surplus cameras from the CCTV system of a warship, so you kids should be happy with what you have.


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