A time for a change

Kansas Public Radio looks forward to new home

The housing situation of Kansas Public Radio � home of KANU-FM 91.5 � is less than ideal.

The 100,000-watt public radio station at Kansas University has been in antiquated surroundings at Broadcast Hall since Kansas Public Radio's first day on the air, Sept. 5, 1952.

"Our old studio is affectionately called the 'mud hut.' When it was built, I understand it was made of mud bricks that came from the Kaw River," said Janet Campbell, the station's general manager.

"I don't have an office � that's one limitation. We've never had our whole staff under one roof. And all of our archives and promotional material burned up with Hoch Auditorium in the fire there in 1991."

Wait. There's more.

"It's not handicapped accessible. We have a man in a wheelchair who does our vintage jazz show, and he can't get into our on-air studio. Skunks lived under the building at one time; we had to flush them out. And the attic is a firetrap," Campbell said.

Funding well underway

It's no surprise that Campbell and Kansas Public Radio's entire staff are eagerly awaiting their move into a new, 9,500-square-foot broadcast facility with a $2.2 million price tag.

The building will be attached to the Baehr Audio-Reader Center, at the end of a long driveway off 11th Street on the north edge of campus.

The studio, which will have two stories and a walk-out basement, is expected to be finished by March 2003. Ground was broken for the building on May 8.

The project, in the planning stages for 2 1/2 years, is being funded privately. No membership money will be used, Campbell said.

The studio has two major benefactors: Lawrence philanthropist Tensie Oldfather, who has given $1 million; and James Sonderland of Overland Park, a member of Kansas Public Radio's board of directors, who has given $500,000.

"We're still in the process of raising the rest of the money. The KU Endowment Association gave us a bridge loan to get us started. Our hope is to have all the funds in place by the first of the year," Campbell said.

Campbell is also director of Audio-Reader, a longtime sister service of Kansas Public Radio that serves vision-impaired Kansans.

Luxurious amount of space

The new broadcast facility will seem like a dream come true for the station's staff.

Designed by architect Kenneth von Achen of Eudora, the building is intended to blend in with the residential style of the 1920s-era structure that houses Audio-Reader.

Along with 24 parking spaces, the building will have a vestibule and reception area. It will be handicapped accessible, with an elevator.

There will be a suite of offices for Campbell; Darrell Brogdon, program director; the station's accountant; the news director; and the development staff.

Aside from an open area for reporters, the building will feature four production studios, a live studio, an on-air studio and a music library.

Station engineers will be housed in the basement, where there will be computer servers, a shop area, storage and the building's mechanical systems.

"We even have a room that is not yet assigned (for a purpose). I find that luxurious," Campbell said.

The spacious music library in the new facility will be especially appreciated.

"We have 30,000 CDs stored everywhere in Broadcast Hall. We have a music library there, but it can't hold them all," she said.

But the facility's live studio will be the crown jewel of the project.

It's being designed by an acoustics expert from KU. The studio will enhance the station's ability to promote local musicians through live performances every week or two.

"It will probably be the finest recording studio on campus. I can't even begin to imagine the possibilities this will allow us to consider," Campbell said.


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