WRVO tunes into upgraded facilities

WRVO broadcastThe longtime dream of WRVO broadcasting from upgraded, digital facilities came true on Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year.

Some 37 years and 10 days after he first signed WRVO on the air in SUNY Oswego’s Lanigan Hall, General Manager John Krauss opened the first broadcast of the local National Public Radio affiliate from its new home in adjacent Penfield. The station was off the air for only a few minutes after leaving the old location, but Krauss admitted to feeling a swell of emotions saying goodbye from where he worked all those years.

“It was melancholy doing that last signoff,” Krauss said.

But now it’s full steam ahead in the new 5,000-foot, custom-designed area. “The tools are here to do some exciting things,” with an energized staff “looking forward to some new projects,” he noted.

The original momentum came from a $139,593 matching grant in 2003 through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Public Telecommunications Facilities Program, which U.S. Rep. John McHugh helped secure. “We needed to update and replace some wearing-out equipment,” Krauss said.

But the end product ultimately exceeded that vision.

Blueprints to upgrade WRVO dovetailed with campus-wide renewal plans, and SUNY Oswego officials decided to move the station into the former first-floor law-library space in neighboring Penfield Library.

The award-winning news-and-information station nearly doubled its original matching goal through strong support from listeners and businesses, as well as grants from community agencies, including a sizable boost from the John Ben Snow Foundation.

With the additional funding, WRVO developed a $370,000 budget plan for enhanced facilities, including two control-room studios and two production studios instead of just two renovated studios.

As opposed to its former hodgepodge of spaces, a walk around the new WRVO reveals a clean, modern atmosphere. Four sparkling studios sit next to each other with large “on-air” signs above the doors. Large windows facing the lake provide an infusion of natural light. State-of-the-art equipment sits in every studio and the tech center, which houses 14 computers that coordinate operations and connect to the transmitter.

All control boards, tape decks and other equipment were replaced in the digital upgrade and “brought up to the 21st century,” Krauss said. “This takes out the potential for audio noise along the way. We’re actually transmitting better signals than current radios can receive.”

This summer, the station hopes to complete the process of boosting its main signal at 89.9 FM to 50,000 watts. This enhancement will also produce a high-definition signal that will allow for multicasting, or broadcasting multiple WRVO channels. A grand opening celebration is planned for June, to coincide with SUNY Oswego’s Reunion Weekend.

An hour-long daily news magazine that they could not previously produce due to equipment and facility limitations is on the drawing board. Multiple studios and upgraded logistics now allow WRVO to produce programs with more guests and without hampering regular operations.

As broadcast radio competes against satellite radio, podcasts and expanded technological options, the upgrade and expansion position WRVO for a role in the changing media landscape, Krauss said.

“The future of successful radio is to stay in touch with your community,” he said. “We’re now equipped to build a sense of community with the region. That’s our mission for the next couple of years.”

For more information, visit http://www.wrvo.fm.

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PHOTO CAPTION: On air—Local “Morning Edition” host John Hurlbutt broadcasts from the new WRVO main studio recently at SUNY Oswego. The National Public Radio affiliate recently moved from the college’s Lanigan Hall into remodeled facilities next door in Penfield with upgraded, fully digital equipment paid for by grants and listener support.

(Posted: Jan 25, 2006)

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