A New Chapter

Aug 13, 2018

After years of planning and a year and a half of construction, JPR is ready to move into our new studio facility. By the time this issue of the Jefferson Journal lands in homes and businesses around the region we will be completing the final stages of our move, transitioning our daily service from our old facility in the basement of Central Hall on the Southern Oregon University (SOU) campus to our newly constructed studios just a stone’s throw across the campus.

Located as a component of The Oregon Center for the Arts (OCA) complex, which houses the University’s theater program and is adjacent to the SOU Music Building, this facility is a dream come true. 

Our new facility has been designed for the work we do today, while planning for how we might grow in the future.

It will improve every aspect of our work and provide new opportunities for us to engage the community in our public service mission. It will also create a performing arts hub on the SOU campus that we hope provides focus, synergy and collaborative opportunities for several of SOU’s hallmark arts and cultural programs.

First and foremost, the facility will provide a professional, state-of-the-art place for our staff to do its work. JPR’s current facility has been obsolete for decades and became largely inadequate in serving our programmatic needs when JPR evolved from a provider of a single program service to one offering three simultaneous program streams in the early ’90s. JPR’s current facility is a series of classrooms and offices cobbled together as studio spaces, some of which are hallways to other studios. It lacks running water and adequate air conditioning to keep up with the heat generated by lots of radio equipment.

Our new facility has been designed for the work we do today, while planning for how we might grow in the future. The facility creates organizational capacity that will allow us to expand our staff as we develop new resources while also expanding our ability to mentor students that will become the next generation of public radio journalists, programmers and professionals.

Some of the key benefits of the new facility include: 

• A newsroom that will enable us to double the impact of our local news department and include SOU students, interns, freelance journalists and community volunteers. Our newsroom will include two dedicated production studios equipped with new digital technology that significantly improves our capacity to produce local news content. We will use this new space to expand our award-winning news department in the coming year.

• A dedicated performance studio that will improve our broadcasts of live music sessions with visiting and regional musicians. This space will also enable us to conduct larger panel interviews with community and civic leaders and support a small live audience for select events.

• A network operations center that, along with our radio studios and newsroom, will be connected to backup electrical power so that JPR can be an informational resource for the region during public emergencies. This center will also be equipped with new state-of-the-art technology and deploy redundant cooling systems to ensure the longevity and efficient operation of our equipment.

• A dedicated public affairs studio from which the Jefferson Exchange and other civic affairs programs will be produced.

• Energy efficient construction built to LEED Silver standards utilizing LED lighting and high efficiency building systems that will lower our energy use, reduce our carbon footprint and advance SOU’s environmental sustainability goals.

It is our hope that this new facility will be a catalyst for new programming and collaborations that we have not yet imagined. Perhaps we’ll create new music and cultural events that JPR listeners and SOU students will enjoy. Perhaps we’ll involve OCA students in producing live sessions featuring professional musicians who perform in our new performance studio as a way to help students gain experience producing these types of sessions. Perhaps we’ll create new podcasts while providing a new academic opportunity for students to learn the techniques involved in audio “storytelling” and spoken word programming which is a burgeoning art form for public radio and in digital platforms.

We’re excited about beginning this new chapter in JPR’s history of service to the regional community. We’re also grateful for the many partners who helped make our new facility possible – the leadership of Southern Oregon University, the faculty and staff of the Oregon Center for the Arts, the board of directors of the JPR Foundation and the thousands of JPR listeners who believe in the power of public radio to create a better society -- and who generously support our work year after year.

Paul Westhelle is JPR’s Executive Director.