New England Public Radio breaks ground on Springfield expansion
SPRINGFIELD — New England Public Radio broke ground Monday on a new downtown Springfield facility, ushering in an expansion designed to boost the station’s profile in the center of the region’s largest city.
The nearly $7 million production and operations facility will be located in the historic Fuller Block Building at the corner of Main and Bridge streets, not far from an existing studio at the WGBY-TV building. NEPR will continue to use that studio.
A smaller version of the station’s current facility — the Five Colleges Studios at the University of Massachusetts Amherst — will be upgraded as part of a capital campaign and used primarily for news production, recording interviews and intern training.
The NEPR Foundation has raised more than $5.5 million through its 50th Anniversary Capital Campaign, and another $1.4 million is needed to fully fund the building project.
The station will spend the next year renovating the 17,000 square feet of space it bought on the first floor and basement of the building. Plans call for the first floor to be gutted and rebuilt, with the basement area incorporated into the design.
When completed in the spring of 2014, the space will house four radio production suites, a technical operations center and music library and office space for about 25 programming, operations, engineering, development and administrative staff.
Martin Miller, the station’s CEO and general manager, said the expansion will help boost NEPR’s profile and enable the station to play a key role in the Greater Springfield-UMass Amherst Partnership to revitalize the city.
“We will now occupy a very public space — inviting a new level of community engagement,” Miller said.
He was joined at a ceremony Monday by U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and representatives from UMass Amherst and Gov. Deval Patrick’s office.
NEPR includes public radio stations WFCR 88.5FM and WNNZ AM640 and 91.7FM.