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New WFAE Hub to Open by Spring

“Engagement” space is inspired in part by projects at WBUR and WNYC

Public radio station WFAE(FM) is planning a new hub near the center of Charlotte, N.C.

Seeking more engagement with the community, it plans to move a number of station functions from its University City location in the northeast part of the urban area to a building located in an area of recent development focus called First Ward Park

President/CEO Joe O’Connor announced in September that the NPR affiliate had signed a deal to relocate “the majority of its University City operations” to the 12,000-square-foot space at 301 East 7th Street. It hopes to open it by spring.

Concept plans for WFAE’s new hub in Charlotte, N.C.

“While the space will bring WFAE’s news and business operations to a more central location, the organization plans to use it to expand its civic and community engagement opportunities,” said Executive Vice President and Chief Content Officer Ju-Don Marshall in the announcement.

She said the space will support live programming, events, “community conversations and training” and other initiatives including partnerships with organizations like the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and Blumenthal Performing Arts.

Concept plans for WFAE’s new hub in Charlotte, N.C.

The station’s daily broadcast studios and technical operations center will not move, at least at this juncture, according to Director of Engineering/IT Jobie Sprinkle, but its digital and broadcast news staff will be based there in hybrid operation mode, as well as administrative staff. He added that the project was inspired in part by WBUR’s CitySpace and WNYC’s Greenspace

The WFAE facility will be in the Philip Carey Building, which dates to the early 1900s and has had a range of occupants, most recently Google Fiber. 

Concept plans for WFAE’s new hub in Charlotte, N.C.

Richard Lancaster, WFAE’s board chair, said the work that was done to prep the building for Google Fiber makes the WFAE move “an extremely special ‘plug and play’ opportunity to expand our inclusivity and establish social capital.”

The station will fundraise to support the move and operational expenses, but Joe O’Connor expressed confidence that the space will be a revenue generator through “live events, branding and potential rental opportunities.”

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