December 17, 2010

Grant funds digital upgrade for WSIU television

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A $749,000 grant will help Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s WSIU Public Television upgrade its television production facilities.

The grant will enable the station to replace analog equipment with new digital studio cameras and lenses, camera pedestals, teleprompters and camera control units. Digital switching, routing, and monitoring equipment purchases will help the station create a fully functional local production studio.

The Public Television Digital Transition Grant is from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service.

“This grant is critical to WSIU’s future,” said Greg Petrowich, executive director of WSIU Public Broadcasting. “With so many citizens watching us for free, over the air, we must maintain the highest quality in our digital signal.”

It will likely be fall 2011 before the digital upgrade begins, Petrowich said.

“Throughout rural Southern Illinois, our viewers depend on WSIU for programs that address issues of local importance,” Petrowich said. “This long-overdue modernization of our television production facilities will enable us to continue to produce locally relevant content that meets the needs of the communities we serve.”

WSIU Public Television produces more than 190 hours of local content each year, including live coverage of major political speeches, local forums and debates, a 30-minute newscast, and the weekly public affairs magazine series, “WSIU InFocus.”

Students in the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts will also benefit from the upgrade by using digital equipment that meets industry standards.

“We're thrilled to receive this USDA grant,” said Gary P. Kolb, dean of the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts. “It will allow us to introduce truly state-of-the-art equipment into our production workflow at WSIU, which will benefit students, faculty and staff. WSIU continues to be an integral part of our academic programs in the college and what benefits them directly impacts the education we deliver in our classrooms as well as our research projects.”

WSIU’s core broadcast signal extends to more than 1.1 million citizens in 37 predominately rural counties across Southern Illinois, southeastern Missouri, and southwestern Indiana.

WSIU spent more than $9 million on digital television conversion through a combination of grants from a variety of sources. While the station can relay public television programming as fully digital, WSIU produces locally originated programming with aging analog infrastructure, some of which is nearing 20 years of service.

(Monica Tichenor, the public information and promotion coordinator for WSIU Public Broadcasting, contributed information for this news release.)