Broadcasting from Fresno and Bakersfield, Valley Public Radio is the NPR affiliate for the greater San Joaquin Valley of Central California. Founded in 1978 and celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, VPR recently moved into a new facility in Clovis, just outside Fresno, which included upgrades to Axia Fusion consoles in multiple studios and Telos VX phone system. We checked in with Director of Program Content Joe Moore for an update on the new digs.
Joe says the facility was a long time coming. After a lengthy and successful fundraising campaign, KVPR broke ground in May of 2015, and moved in a year later. He says improvements were sorely needed. “Back when the station moved into its previous home, radio was a very different world. It was still an analog environment, and we were much smaller.” Valley Public Radio hadn’t kept up with the latest equipment, and it was time for some upgrades. “We had sort of shoehorned things into our old facility, which we’d not only outgrown, but it was aging, so it was time to look for something new.” Joe says the big improvement is the overall quality of the space.“Everything is greatly expanded.We have a newsroom now. We didn't have space for our news department before because we didn't have one back in the ‘80s, so that's a big addition."
Valley Public Radio Director of Program Content Joe Moore
In terms of technology, it's a smart building, so everything is integrated. “Every light fixture in this building has an IP address,” Joe muses. “Everything in the building is networked in some way—starting with the audio. We’ve made to move to AoIP and the Axia Fusion console.”
Joe explains what prompted the move. “Our engineer, Scott Dean, had some experience with Axia in the past and we were looking for something that would allow the facility to last a long time… Not just for today, but where we're going in the future. The flexibility of being able to select any audio source in the building on any console in the building, on any channel, on any fader, is really convenient. Just being able to use all of the different spaces and pull audio from any portion of the building is huge.”
"The flexibility of being able to select any audio source in the building on any console in the building, on any channel, on any fader, is really convenient. Just being able to use all of the different spaces and pull audio from any portion of the building is huge."—Joe Moore, Director of Program Content, Valley Public Radio
Joe adds that the installation was a breeze as well. "It saved a lot of time in the setup of the building, and really made that a lot easier. We integrated our audio playback and record PCs directly rather than going through sound cards and all of that, which has also been a big plus." Joe says KVPR has one of their old consoles still in service, but it's been networked into the AoIP system."We are able to do a lot more than we were with our old consoles. They were digital consoles, but everything was hard-wired."
Program Host David Aus at the Fusion console
In addition to the Fusion consoles, KVPR also adopted the Telos VX phone system with their recent facility upgrade, which Joe says has reduced a lot of cabling and represents a huge step forward. “When we do anything with phones on-air, in the past, the way it was set up, if we wanted to use it in another production room, we had to disconnect everything, swap out controllers, and move it over to wherever we needed it. Now with the VX system, I can pull up a phone call in any studio, on any console. That's a great advantage to us.”
A centerpiece of the new facility is the Barmann-Chaney Performance Studio, a space primarily used for music performance, which Joe says is something KVPR listeners and local musicians are very excited about. “As a classical music station, we do a series called Young Artist's Spotlight, which brings in talented young musicians from throughout our community and showcases them in live performance every spring,” Joe notes. Performances will now take place in the new performance studio, which is also used for community forums and other events.
"It's a permanent home,” Joe adds, and that's what we're really excited about. Our staff loves it. It speaks to the leadership of our board and our longtime former CEO, Mariam Stepanian, who just recently passed, as well as our listeners in getting this done and having a vision for Valley Public Radio as being an important part of our community. And with AoIP, Axia, and Telos, all our studios are much more versatile, and it's a draw for staff and potential employees to be able to work in an environment where you don't have to go through a lot of technical hoops just to do your job. Now we have a space that really allows our people to shine.”
For more stories of exciting Axia-equipped studios, check out these stories: