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NPR Planned Move Has Ramifications for Distribution

Several projects need to be completed before NPR begins transmitting from new HQ

Another topic discussed at the Association for Public Radio Engineers meeting here in Philly was NPR’s planned move to a new building, its backup operations center and earth terminal refurbishment.

Several elements of these projects need to be completed, or nearly so before NPR’s planned move some five minutes away from its current Washington location.

Dick Kohles of NPR Distribution said very tentative plans are to move and consolidate the entire current headquarters and distribution, whose offices are spread out at different Washington locations, into the new site and begin transmitting from the North Capitol Street site by June 2013.

NPR Distribution conducted a successful test Aug. 30 from its backup National Operations Center in St. Paul, at Minnesota Public Radio headquarters. Now, the relevant MPR staff is being trained in how to bring up the NPR Distribution system without any help from Washington in the event that Washington (or at least the NPR HQ) is destroyed or NPR personnel have to vacate the building during an emergency. A test for this kind of event is planned for October.

Construction for the new building networks operations center is slated to begin in the next 18 to 24 months, Kohles said. It would initially be built in the current headquarters and tested there so that by the time of the move, the system is debugged, he said. “Our systems are so complex, the days of shutting down one building and moving to another one overnight are long gone.”

The point of the earth terminal refurbishment is to prepare for the next 8 to 10 years. In Q1 of 2010, NPR plans to query member stations about the state of their satellite dishes and support hardware.