Office of Public Affairs

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Oct. 22, 2003


    OSWEGO -- Many staff members at WRVO, the National Public Radio affiliate based at SUNY Oswego, toil on broadcasting and production equipment that is older than they are. But that is scheduled to change, thanks to a $139,593 matching grant through the U.S. Department of Commerce's Public Telecommunications Facilities Program.

    WRVO must match that money through fund-raisers "over and above" existing efforts to ultimately purchase the $279,186 worth of equipment replacing outdated technology that is no longer serviced or even built, said WRVO General Manager John Krauss.

    "What we have to do now is revamp our active rooms," Krauss explained. "It's our 35th anniversary and we're tying our fund-raising into the matching grant."

    Congressman John McHugh, who helped secure the grant, cited WRVO's critical role in serving the region. "Public radio service is essential to a rural region's development and enrichment, especially one like WRVO that is operated through a university," McHugh said. "This funding is certainly welcome."

    The mixing console in WRVO's main control room, where staffers do on-air work and fade in NPR programming, is around two decades old. Such vital pieces as production room equipment exceed the quarter-century mark. Fred Vigeant, WRVO's operations director, often trains workers on equipment older than he is.

    The goal is "to put in place current technology able to restore our ability to do local programming such as 'Talk of the Region,'" Krauss said. That award-winning show was shelved because of technical limitations at the station's patchwork studio, he said.

    "We have a lot of 1970s and '80s technology tied to newer technologies and computers," said Jeff Windsor, the station's chief assistant engineer. "Modern technology will integrate more smoothly into our operating system."

    New equipment will include a studio-transmitter link that will replace considerably older technology serving this vital function. "It should improve our signal quality," Windsor noted. "That will be one of the things listeners will hear."   

    The grant also will provide "enough equipment to help us preserve our old-time radio collection," Krauss said of the popular evening programming that features archival entertainment. This will enable WRVO to preserve, catalog and make accessible to researchers shows on such media as 16-inch transcriptors, reel-to-reel and vinyl.

    "We'll have equipment that will help us clean it up, taking out static, pops and clicks," Krauss explained.

    John Hurlbutt, the WRVO morning host and program director whose voice many identify with the station, appreciates the chance to boost efficiency and sound quality.

    "You're grateful when the opportunity presents itself to upgrade equipment to provide for improvement of our products," said Hurlbutt who, like Krauss, has worked at the station since the late 1960s. "It's a major step in our  continuing development."

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Kate Percival working on equipment older than she is

RENOVATIONS SCHEDULED -- WRVO Traffic Manager Kate Percival works in a production room in the WRVO studios in Lanigan Hall. The console in front of her dates to 1976, and much of the equipment around her is more than 20 years and old. The outdated technology is due to be replaced as part of a federal grant that the National Public Radio affiliate recently received.

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