WOSU Public Media announced Thursday that it will launch a $12 million capital campaign to raise money for a new headquarters.
The new headquarters will be located at the corner of 14th and Pearl streets as part of the 15th + HIGH project, said Tom Rieland, general manager for WOSU.
“It’s not just a new headquarters, it’s also a public statement of the future of public broadcasting in Central Ohio,” Rieland said.
The 15th + HIGH project plans to create a new hub of activity on campus that Ohio State is dubbing “University Square.”
The project will cost $30 million and WOSU is hoping that the community will assist with $12 million of that cost, Rieland said.
So far, the community is not disappointing. Rieland said WOSU has already received $9 million from donors such as Andy and Sandy Ross, the L Brands Foundation and the American Electric Power Foundation.
WOSU is contributing $7 million that was earned from selling TV station WPBO in October 2017 and will self-fund the equipment and infrastructure. The rest will be covered by a loan with Ohio State, Rieland said.
“All you have to do is see where we are today and where we’ve been for almost 50 years,” he said about what prompted the move.
WOSU provides a 24/7 NPR station, the only classical music station in Columbus and a PBS station all from the basement of the Fawcett Center located on Olentangy River Road.
“We have six staff [members] that are not even in our building. They have to be housed elsewhere because there’s no space for them in our building,” Rieland said. “[With the new headquarters] we will be all together for the first time.”
Rieland said the new location would not only give WOSU room to grow; it also will make the organization more visible on campus and in the community with a goal to increase public engagement.
“One particular thing they were after was to really engage with the overall campus-area community,” Chris Meyers, the design architect for the project, said.
Meyers said they plan to have a community room that could hold about 150 people for a wide variety of events. The new building also will house a media lab that will allow members of the community to create their own work.
“They might be creating it first for themselves but one advantage that we would have is to see those people that really do a great job in that area and we can also elevate their work to WOSU,” Rieland said. “We feel like we are basically mentoring the media creators of the future there so that’s very exciting for us.”
The building, which will consist of four floors and a basement, will have a variety of public spaces for podcasts, broadcast and 360 degree videos, but also will be the full production operation for WOSU, Meyers said. This includes radio and television studios and editing spaces as well as offices and gathering areas.
“It’s a very exciting building design,” Meyers said. “It’s planned to be in pursuit of some really great green-design components. There’s an elevated roof terrace. There’s a lot of interesting aspects of creating spaces for WOSU to really engage with the community at many different levels.”
Construction is planned to begin early next year and will probably take between 12 and 14 months to complete, Meyers said.
“We just see people stopping in and having an experience in our space,” Rieland said. “That’s what we want people to have so they engage with us totally different than they do today.”