Blue Ridge Public Radio is laying the groundwork for our future. As the result of a transformative investment we received in the Fall of 2018, BPR is in the midst of a major overhaul and upgrade of our studio and radio IT systems. Since my arrival at BPR in October 2014, this is a topic in which I have invested hundreds of hours.
Within the first few weeks at BPR, I realized that our studio/radio IT/broadcast systems were in pretty bad shape. I spent the first few months putting out fires and developing a plan of attack. I determined we could stabilize our existing studio/radio IT systems with minimal investment, but we needed to make a substantial investment in upgrading/replacing most all of our broadcast systems. By the time we launched our second service, BPR News in 2017, our Broadcast Systems were upgraded and reliably working with remote monitoring and alerting. Not a small task to say the least but well worth the efforts, as our department was spending way less time on the road and sleeping better.
That said, we were continuing to operate on borrowed time with a system pushing 20 years in age. I turned my attention to researching solution providers and designing studio/radio IT systems needed to take BPR to the next level. I spent a lot of time speaking with our staff, seasoned engineers in our local community, and the broader public radio engineering community. I also attended the PREC and NAB in April of 2017 where I spent a lot of time networking with Public Radio Engineers and vendors.
By mid-2018 we had all the future systems figured out, how they would interact with each other, and a solid understanding of funds needed to pull off the project. When our generous supporter toured the station and learned of the challenges and opportunities our technology infrastructure presented, she offered to make a donation to cover the costs of the technology components if we could get matching donations to fund the construction and facilities upgrades that needed to happen in tandem. Our development team is currently working on this $175,000 campaign, which has $70,000 left to go.
In the coming months, we will be undertaking a monumental project for our organization and the community we serve. Once this project is done we will have…
- A new & modern data center to house the core of BPR’s radio IT systems providing a space that is physically secured, environmentally controlled, protected by waterless fire suppression, and with the ability to run from generator power. This will be a first in the history of our organization.
- Almost all of the equipment in the data center will be new with only a handful of existing equipment continuing to be in service.
- New studio furniture with sit/stand capabilities
- New and modern studio consoles, microphones, and supporting studio equipment.
- Updated and modern Radio Automation Systems.
All of this together will provide us with a modern facility, therefore, improving our ability to produce the end product delivered to you, our listeners and supporters.