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MALIBU, CA — Former MTV VJ and current Sirius XM satellite radio on-air personality Martha Quinn and her husband, show producer/engineer, composer, and former Fuzztone lead-guitarist Jordan Tarlow, were looking to create a brand new recording space that could handle production needs for her Sirius XM radio show, “Martha Quinn Presents.� The space also needed to accommodate Tarlow’s television commercial and film trailer composition work. An unexpected reunion with one of Quinn’s former neighbors led the couple to enlist Russ Berger Design Group (RBDG) to design their new studio.

“I saw a picture of BiCoastal Studios (a Russ Berger design) on a magazine cover, and fell in love,� Tarlow explains. “When I showed it to my wife, she recognized the studio owner’s name and said, ‘that was my neighbor when I was a kid.’ I called the owner, Hal Winer, and he suggested that I call Russ. It was the right decision for our project.�

The RBDG team designed a 1,100-square-foot studio consisting of a main control room, a large glass recording booth, a machine room, kitchenette, bathroom and lounge. The finished studio, named RadioBu, houses a Digidesign Icon D-Control console along with Tarlow’s large collection of vintage recording equipment and instruments. RBDG also developed a Precision Kinetics custom 7.1 surround monitoring solution to match the studio’s production needs. This setup makes RadioBu the first ICON-based 7.1 studio in Malibu. RadioBu is also equipped with ISDN for high-quality voice-over work.

In creating a studio that was functional yet inspirational, RBDG’s design focused on maximizing traffic flow through the existing structure. A small storage area was incorporated at one end of the space. At the other end, an entry vestibule doubles as a separately conditioned equipment and machine room area. The control room was designed with ample space for live interviews and performances, as well as for recording musicians. From his seat at the console, Tarlow can easily monitor the show while a group is performing to the side. The control room is also large enough to accommodate a custom broadcast table for multiple-guest, in-studio interviews.

Besides providing inspiration for the studio’s name, Malibu also played a factor in the design of RadioBu. Quinn and Tarlow wanted to enjoy the beautiful Malibu weather while working in the rooms. RBDG response was to include numerous windows and glass doors that allow natural light to stream into the studio. The entries at each end were designed to act as sound traps when the doors are left open. The resulting cross breezes both cool and inspire whoever is in the studio.
RBDG’s design included field-fabricated acoustical treatments. Auralex’s pArtScience SpaceArrays were chosen for distributing diffuse energy throughout the mix position and improving surround imaging. The existing structure’s low ceilings posed some acoustical constraints, so RBDG used a pArtScience SpaceCoupler cloud to improve the performance of absorptive ceiling material and to tame low frequency energy at the mix position. These acoustical elements, along with creative design work, resulted in a space that functions seamlessly, as evidenced by RadioBu’s first in-studio performance, with Curt Smith and the other Tears for Fears members.
“The studio sounds fantastic,� says Tarlow. “You can hear more clearly in here than any other studio I’ve ever been in. It sounds wonderful for mixing and voice recordings and the sight lines are perfect between engineer, talent and guests. This really helped me to communicate with Curt while still being able to sit at the console and monitor the show.�

“Martha Quinn Presents� airs on Sirius XM Channel 8 on Saturdays at noon eastern time.