Here at West Virginia Public Broadcasting, we’re working with Public Media Company on a plan to raise more revenue, reduce expenses and become an even stronger, healthier organization.
Our boards are giving feedback on these proposals now, and we’re expecting to receive the final recommendations in December.
One issue that’s being discussed is reducing the number of facilities we operate, and one recommendation is to close our Beckley facility on Industrial Park Road and open a news bureau in downtown Beckley.
Several important items about that proposal:
1. We will continue to serve the Beckley region on TV and radio, through our stations WSWP-TV and WVBY-FM. These important stations remain the same as always under any scenario. What we are discussing is closing the Beckley studio and master control operations.
2. No matter what, we plan to maintain a presence in Beckley. If our governing board, the Educational Broadcasting Authority, votes to close the station, we plan to look for an office, preferably in downtown Beckley, where we can host a news bureau and continue to be present for the community.
3. We are not anticipating layoffs at this time. Our nine employees in Beckley would be either transferred to Charleston, allowed to work from home, work in the new bureau, or some combination of the three, depending on the requirements of the job.
4. The estimated cost savings from closing the facility are $100,000 a year, which would be re-invested in maintaining our network of towers and delivery systems for our programs. Due to budget cuts, we have been under-investing in our infrastructure at a rate of about $400,000 annually.
5. We have three major facilities in Charleston, Morgantown and Beckley, and bureaus in Wheeling, Huntington (Marshall), Athens (Concord University), and Shepherdstown (Shepherd University.) The bureaus cost us nothing - we have agreements for free rent at each. We rent out space in the Morgantown and Charleston facilities to outside groups, earning the station more than $100,000 a year. We have attempted to rent space in our Beckley facility, but have found no takers. If anyone knows of someone who wants premium office/warehousing space in the Industrial Park, please let us know.
6. Meanwhile, we cut our budget by $1 million - that's about 12 percent of our entire budget. We did this by reducing more expensive programming (such as British comedies on Saturday morning), shutting down some TV translators, and reducing our staff from 72 to 54 employees. This has been very hard on remaining staff, who have stepped up and are working harder and doing many more things than before.
7. Our three major facilities were built at a time when WVPB employed more than 130 people statewide - more than 30 in Beckley alone, Now, because of automation and state and federal budget cuts, we're down to only 9 employees in Beckley. Increasingly, we need those employees to be able to back up employees in Charleston, and vice-versa, because we are now so small.
8. Finally, we are talking about ways to help employees make the transition. Some may be able to work from home, at least some of the time, or in the new downtown bureau. If we're allowed to use our own vehicles to help employees carpool to Charleston, we'll do that. Meanwhile, as all our employees are taking on new and additional duties, we are petitioning the state to allow us to compensate them for that, as is only fair.
West Virginia Public Broadcasting has a long and proud history or serving the Beckley area, and we are committed to continuing that service, no matter what.
We are always interested in hearing your feedback about how to make the station better – send messages to email@example.com.