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Inside WOSU Public Media’s Sparkling New HQ

The facility serves Central Ohioans with radio, TV, streaming and other media

Number 1: It had to have windows.

When WOSU Public Media started planning its new five-level headquarters six years ago, the staff made its desire clear: After almost 50 years in a windowless basement, the station deserved some light.

In the spring of 2022, WOSU completed its new facility in the 15+High University District. It’s a complete multimedia facility capable of TV, radio, streaming and post-production.

WOSU Public Media is owned by The Ohio State University in Columbus. Its radio services include 89.7 NPR News WOSU(FM) and Classical 101 WOSA(FM), with HD-1 and HD-2 channels on the two Columbus-area stations as well as its transmitters in several cities around the state.

Radio facilities are mostly on the second floor and consist of three air and five production rooms, a performance space with control room, a talk studio with TV capabilities (for streaming and for a show on the government channel), a newsroom editing space and an audio edit studio.

The newsroom includes radio and TV branding.

That’s in addition to two TV studios with associated control rooms, editing bays and master control. “There’s also a large street-facing public community studio with control room, used for all types of events, from performances to simple meetings and an audience up to approximately 120 people,” Director of Technology Michael Meadows said. “It’s capable of both audio and video productions for live on-air use, streaming or recorded production.”

The Radio Performance Studio. Kevin Petrilla is at the console, Brent Davis is at left playing banjo and Eric French on the right playing guitar.

The building also has a Media Learning Lab with small podcast both, available for the WOSU Classroom department for K–12 educational services and for OSU departments and students to use.

The tech center for this entire operation contains 40 racks and associated equipment plus interconnects to the transmitter sites.

The tech center for the entire operation contains 40 racks and feeds to numerous transmitter sites.

The 15+High University District is across the street from the original main gateway to campus and is being built to house university offices, the president’s office and street-level retail, as well as an outdoor mixed-use space. The station is much closer to the heart of the school now, at the center of campus (see map).

Meadows was part of the leadership group that oversaw the project, with Director of Business Operations Mary Alice Akins and General Manager Tom Rieland. Meadows led a technical team that included Manager of Radio Operations/IT Kevin Petrilla, Manager of TV Productions and Operations John Prosek, Chief Engineers Tim Kelly and Rick Hood, Senior Audio Engineer Eric French and TV Executive Producer Ben Bays.

Messer Construction put up the building, with architectural design by Meyers+Associates. RBDG Russ Berger Design Group provided studio architectural and acoustical design, while Diversified performed the integration.

Major radio components include a WheatNet-IP system with L Series and Dimension Three surfaces; Shure KSM 44A Microphones; Telos Alliance VX Enterprise Broadcast VoIP Phone System with Broadcast Bionics XScreen Call Screening software; and TBC Consoles furniture.

Automation and digital storage are on an ENCO DAD system. Multi-track performance editing and production is in Avid ProTools, with newsroom editing on Adobe Audition. Classical music scheduling is on MusicMaster while news content is done in NewsBoss. Comrex Access codecs are used for remote production and Sony robotic cameras serve the talk studio space.

This view of a radio talk studio in the foreground and control room behind shows the open design approach of the cabinetry.

“We went with a simple look for the studios,” Meadows said. “We worked with RBDG to really put the focus on the acoustical needs of the spaces. Colors and designs were designed to match with other elements throughout the building. 

“We worked with the architects to include callouts to our PBS/NPR brand and WOSU history. We have a whole wall that is a timeline of WOSU, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2022. One space is various old TV equipment used throughout the years, and there is a small space with old radios. We also have two large ‘selfie spots’ with Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers that visitors can take pictures with.”

The “selfie wall.”

Everything is connected across the enterprise. Audio and video can be moved throughout the building and studio spaces; TV/radio and streaming content can be produced and controlled from anywhere.

The site, he said, provides a real link with the community. “Being closer to the university opens up the possibilities for productions and performances with other college departments via fiber connectivity for WOSU to provide local content either through streaming or over the air.” 

Also, there are windows.

This story originally appeared in the free Radio World ebook “Spectacular Radio Studios 2023.”

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