WSHU Capital Campaign...85% There And Getting Closer!

May 2, 2017

WSHU Public Radio is here to stay...and will be even stronger thanks to your support!

At this time, we are very pleased to let you know that we’ve raised over $7.9 million toward our $9.4 million goal. With your help, we will be able to raise the remaining $1.5 million to ensure the advancement of the mission of WSHU Public Radio.

We are building a long-overdue facility (Check out our live webcam: see construction in progress!). Without a new facility, we will not be able to properly serve one of the largest audiences of any nonprofit organization in Connecticut or Long Island (over 283,000 listeners per week) into the future. Our mission is to deliver top quality journalism and music programming free of charge to audiences over the radio airwaves and through internet streaming. It operates seven days a week, 24 hours a day as a valuable service to this region.

Over three decades of ever-expanding service to its communities, the station has consistently delivered international and national news and information through its growing cadre of community-based reporters as well as music programming that supports and enhances the important work of the region’s music ensembles, teachers and artists. While filling more and more community needs during 30 years of growth and evolution, WSHU has garnered many awards at the local, regional and national levels.

The station has also excelled at the quintessential New England virtue of “making do,” stretching every resource beyond its useful life, creatively and quietly juggling space and resources while upholding quality output, continually eking out another year from studio equipment and spaces that each year fall further behind in adequacy.

The Campaign: Renewing our Resources

Today, WSHU Public Radio must renew its resources by investing in new studios, technology and programs. In 1987, WSHU set up studios in a 1950’s era wood-frame bungalow. We would have never believed that the studios would still be housed there in 2015.

Producing and engineering radio programs is a staff-intensive and equipment-intensive business. Radio stations require large quantities of high-tech equipment, consistent satellite communications access, and support for staff members who work around the clock. In addition, the siting of a radio facility in relation to its satellite dishes and transmitters is critical.

A multi-year comprehensive needs assessment process, led by campus planners and the stations facility committee, has successfully identified a compelling opportunity for WSHU to break new ground toward renewing its resources.

The Site: Taking a Leadership Role

The new radio station would be designed and constructed to WSHU’s broadcast specifications - a set of soundproofing, HVAC and engineering requirements that make retrofitting unusually expensive. A larger and better equipped facility would advance the mission of WSHU Public Radio by better serving more audiences, while also restarting projects long on hold both for music and the local news initiatives. A planned auditorium space will enable WSHU to host its own events to serve more community partners, and to generate rental income. The education mission of the station could be revived, with re-launch of academic collaborations, of the national NPR training program and with and internship program expanding to area universities who have in the past been turned away.

Sacred Heart University’s Role

The University has made its own $2.5 million leadership gift to the WSHU Campaign, a generous and deeply appreciated gift from this valued partner, and an invitation to others to step forward and keep public radio strong in our region.

“Breaking New Ground”: FAQs

What is the “Breaking New Ground” campaign?

The “Breaking New Ground” campaign has two goals. The first is to replace the makeshift and outmoded 60-year-old studios that the station outgrew over a decade ago with an up-to-date and safer facility suitable for the larger staff and equipment requirements. In addition, the campaign would build much-needed fundraising capacity at the station at a time when subsidies to public broadcasting are waning, and would build long postponed new capacities in radio and internet-streamed programs, both in news and in classical music for the station’s audiences.

Why does WSHU need to raise money for these goals at this particular time?

A new facility has long been planned, and the station has worked for several years to explore both on-campus and off-campus options. An excellent opportunity emerged for a new home that offers highly favorable costs for new construction at a location of merit to the campus community and to the station’s audiences.

Are there advantages to the siting and location of the proposed new facility?

Yes, the location under consideration is ideal in several ways. Its visibility and vantage point just up the hill from the campus main entrance is excellent, and the largest parking lot on campus is directly adjacent. It offers the station strong exterior signage and high institutional visibility at street level, and is designed as a true destination for both campus and community audiences.

What is the operating relationship between the station and the University?
Sacred Heart University is the nonprofit owner of WSHU’s broadcast license and the legal operator of the station. WSHU functions as a financially independent campus department. The station’s general manager and executive team make all journalism and programing decision independently, with the counsel of University partners and a Community Advisory Board. In the new facility, as now, the University as license-holder will be the owner of all facilities and equipment. The station will continue to reimburse its campus partner for all direct and indirect costs for construction and operation.

When will the new facility open?
It is projected to open in the winter of 2017 or early 2018.

Shouldn’t the University fund the construction of the new media center building?

WSHU highly values its supportive and scholastic relationship with the University, while protecting and maintaining the institutional and journalistic independence demanded by its discerning audiences. The station currently reimburses the University annually in full for all direct and indirect operating costs, and seeks to operate as a financially independent department. WSHU’s share of the new building costs are substantially below market rates thanks to the University's generosity in providing the services of its architect, site engineers and project managers and providing no-cost financing of the construction while WSHU completes its campaign. In addition, the University has made its own $2.5 million leadership gift to the WSHU campaign, and encourages the members of the listening community to step forward to keep public radio strong in our region.

With so many urgent demands on my philanthropy, why should I consider making this campaign a priority?

The 60-year-old wood-frame converted residence, plus the adjunct storage trailers that comprise the current broadcast facilities are so sub-standard and compromised that no further investment is advisable. Without a new facility, increased electrical power, greater backup generator capacity, increased HVAC service, and improved satellite communications and internet access, WSHU will not be a reliable resource to its audiences in the near future. The mission of the station, to provide outstanding and ongoing news and information and classical music programs to its 283,000 audience members, cannot be advanced further without adequate facilities.

Who are WSHU’s governance leaders?

A group of community volunteers from Connecticut and Long Island comprises an active and engaged development committee working with the station on community outreach and fundraising. A five-member Community Advisory Board collaborate on issues of programming and audience service. In addition the 23 member board of trustees of Sacred Heart University, working with University President Dr. John Petillo and Senior Vice President Michael Kinney, work in concert with station leadership to assure strong management of the institution, its finances and operations.

How would Connecticut and Long Island listeners benefit from the results of a successful campaign?

A more adequate and better equipped facility would enable greater localization of the radio signal, more streams of programming, plus greater bandwidth for Internet streamed program delivery, while also enabling the development of new information and classical music programs. Housing all staff on site will reduce the inefficiencies of remote offices. A much needed volunteer program could expand beyond pledge drives, while academic collaborations with the communications, journalism in engineering departments would be revived and the current internship program would be expanded to more area Universities in Connecticut and New York. All these elements will improve the philanthropic impact of the station, contribute to new and enhanced program quality, and increase the ability of the station to remain on the air during blackouts in severe weather events, which audiences most need the support of its local and regional coverage.

Thank you for your interest in our campaign. For more information, please Capital Campaign Manager Elizabeth Lew at 203-371-1258 or elew@wshu.org.