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Switching Scenes: Or, Will Fort Worth's Loss Turn Into Dallas's Gain?

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Came across this interesting item on the Interwebs today: CRM Studios is being forced to move out of its longtime home on the downtown Fort Worth RadioShack Corporation campus. Which is a very big deal, even if you've never heard of CRM. Because, see, years ago it was RadioShack's in-house ad agency -- among the largest of its kind anywhere in the world. "It was built to save RadioShack tons of money," says CRM's chief marketing officer, Tom Kirkhart, who confirms the anonymous posting. ("Reads like it was written by a competitor," he says, laughing.)

And the studio did make money for RadioShack, for a long, long time. Then, a few years ago, it moved across the complex, expanded into a 48,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art production facility and morphed into CRM, which, among many other things, provides all of the in-house programming for the likes of GameStop and generates some $8 million in revenue annually. But three years after the studio was showcased in Broadcast Engineering, CRM's being kicked out to make room for a Tarrant County College District medical lab. In June, the TCCD bought the RadioShack complex for $238 million -- in cash -- and, following an $80-million redo, intends to open it as a college campus come September 2009. So CRM gets the boot. But to where? Dallas, maybe?

Maybe. It'd make sense, as Kirkhart says CRM ideally will find a more "centralized" location. "But we just don't know yet," Kirkhart says. "We're working on moving out at this point. We're still trying to sort out where to go. And it's sad. It's state-of-the-art. It doesn't get any bigger in terms of wow. And they're gong to come in and gut it and turn it into a medical lab. They bought the whole campus, and we're on it, so, ya know, there ain't much squatter's rights at thar tpoint. You can bitch all day, but you still gotta move.

"The sad part is, I don't think TCCD understands what they have," he continues. "They're looking at this as a shell they can put labs in, but they don't understand this is a state-of-the-art facility with duel floating-slab floors, soundproofing, 11 edit bays that are, if anything, overbuilt. There's nothing like this in the country, certainly not this part of the country, and they're going to tear it down after three years, when it's all brand-new stuff."

Then again, Fort Worth's loss might wind up Dallas's (or Las Colinas's) gain -- should CRM find a home here. One thing's for certain, insists Kirkhart: "We're not dead, not by a long shot." --Robert Wilonsky

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