The governing board for West Virginia Public Broadcasting voted today to open a bureau in downtown Beckley and close its facility in Beaver.
The vote of the Educational Broadcasting Authority was unanimous.
Board members said they wanted WVPB to save money and increase its visibility by moving from the Raleigh Airport Industrial Park to downtown Beckley.
Closing the industrial park facility is estimated to save $100,000 a year, which will be re-invested in maintaining WVPB’s network of towers and delivery systems for its programs. No layoffs are planned.
The board told executive director Scott Finn to start looking for a potential bureau in the downtown Beckley area as soon as possible.
Also, WVPB will continue to serve the Beckley region as always on TV and radio, through our stations WSWP-TV and WVBY-FM.
WVPB has other facilities in Charleston and Morgantown, and is no longer using the studio in Beckley. The Beckley facility once held more than 30 employees, but today has only 9 employees, due to automation and state and federal budget cuts. Increasingly, WVPB needs some of those employees to be able to back up technical staff in Charleston and vice-versa because of staffing reductions.
In July, WVPB cut its budget by $1 million, or about 12 percent. The network reduced more expensive programming (such as British comedies on Saturday morning), shut down some TV translators, and reduced its staff from 72 to 54 employees.
The closure process will begin immediately, but could take up to 18 months to complete. Meanwhile, WVPB is seeking serious proposals from entities that could lease or purchase the facility.