Fort Wayne’s FM public radio stations are getting a new home – and repurposing a high-visibility downtown building that’s been vacant since it was hit by a fire in 2012.
Northeast Indiana Public Radio Inc. on Wednesday closed on a purchase of the former Glorious Church building at 210 E. Jefferson Blvd., just east of South Calhoun Street, said Douglas Powers, chairman of the nonprofit’s board of trustees.
Officials hope the new location brings the two stations – WBOI and WBNI – out of the shadows of an industrial park off Goshen Road – and provide more opportunities for community involvement, Powers said.
“Ecstatic,” he said when asked his feelings about the purchase, which will double the size of the current studio and place the stations’ staff closer to government and cultural centers.
“We’re very hard to get to right now, and no one knew where we were,” he said of the current location at 3204 Clairmont Court.
Powers said NIPR will begin a capital campaign for renovation of the building and to invest in new digital broadcasting equipment because “most is at or beyond its useful life.”
Radio announcements in recent days have told listeners the station’s transmitter is running on low power, and the station has been advertising for a chief engineer for some time, he confirmed.
If the campaign goes well, the station also would like to hire more people to cover local news and issues, he said.
No timetable for the move was announced, but estimates are two to three years for the renovations.
A donation enabled the station to complete the $145,000 purchase, but upgrades and renovations are expected to be substantial, Powers said.
“To be honest, the place is kind of a mess inside,” he said of the three-story, 13,200-square-foot space.
But, he added, the site was considered attractive because it contained an auditorium-like space that could be used for concert performances or panel discussions that could be broadcast live.
There is also enough parking for employees and nearby public parking, he said.
Peter Dominowski, NIPR president and general manager, called the new building “an important step in the future of our stations.”
Costs for the renovations and upgrades are expected to be $3 million to $4 million, Dominowski told radio listeners late Wednesday afternoon.
He added that having the stations more visible and downtown could be “another thing we can point to when we’re trying to attract people to this area, attract creative minds and continue to build the downtown area and the region. We want to play a larger role in that.”
NIPR has two stations, WBOI-FM 89.1, which airs news and diverse music, and WBNI-FM 94.1, which broadcasts classical music.
Source : journalgazette.net