Electronic Media program prepares for next generation

Broadcasting General Manager Thomas Bennett operates one of the cameras during filming QTV’s “The Follow Up”. Tuesday, Nov. 26. (Rebecca Roberts/Photo Editor)
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By Michael Piwowarski, editor-in-chief.

UNIVERSITY CENTER – Thomas Bennett, general manager of broadcasting at Delta College, sits in his office in the courtyard level of A wing, home of the Electronic Media broadcasting facilities. His office is in the last part of the entire main campus that has not been renovated since 1961, when Delta College first opened its doors.

“The bathroom down at this end is original 1961,” Bennett says, referring to the restroom facilities on the west end.

Now, planning is underway for this to change.

The board of trustees approved a motion Nov. 12 to award a contract to TowerPinkster to provide architectural and engineering services for the EMB renovation project, as well as approve a $5.9 million budget.

“We have both interns and student employees down here,” says Bennett. “We want to increase the amount of opportunities for them. We think it’s better for them, it gives them experience, practical experience, and it’s better for us. It gives us students that can not only do the job but do it well and we think that we can create a good symbiotic relationship that benefits both sides.”

Kim Wells, associate professor and coordinator of the Electronic Media program, says that the reworking of the EM facility is a step being taken toward improving the program, as well as integrating Delta’s new journalism program more.

“Moving forward I believe the two programs will only get stronger as we work together to create new and unique opportunities for our students,” says Wells.

Part of the project includes expanding on the facilities, including adding new recording and editing facilities for students to use for both Electronic Media and journalism projects.

“The Electronic Media department is really growing out of our current space.” says Wells. “Right now, I am redesigning how our physical space will look – with more storage for media equipment, additional editing bays, and a sound booth for audio recording.”

The facility for WDCQ-TV, Delta College’s PBS affiliate, was already renovated and upgraded in 2003 in the station’s move from analog to digital. Therefore, the main focus of the project is in the radio facilities for WUCX-FM (Q 90.1), Delta’s NPR station, and the northern side of the EM hallway.

However, the equipment is still due for upgrades. Bennet says that cameras, for instance, will be replaced so that Q-TV can broadcast in 4K.

Facilities management director Nick Bovid said in a memo to the board of trustees that architectural finishes, mechanical and electrical systems are either at or nearing the end of their useful life. This includes 15+ year old broadcasting equipment which is still in use.

“We are looking to improve our infrastructure to be IP based, digital based, where we are migrating and have been migrating everything from analog to digital, and now to more of an IP base,” says Bennett. “So that’s going to be one of the areas we’re looking at.”

In addition, equipment that is used and checked out by EM students – including cameras, microphones and tripods – will be upgraded soon.

“As the program coordinator, I update and replace cameras every couple of years,” says Wells.
“In January, students will see some new cameras, tripods and microphones available for their use.”

As the facilities being renovated have not been significantly updated since 1961, asbestos is among the major challenges that will be faced in construction.

“When they actually do the construction, they will have to wall off the area and make sure that when they’re doing it, they have to wear special equipment to remove [the asbestos], and make sure none of it gets out in the area,” Bennett explains.

Bennett says that physical construction will not happen for a time though, as the EM project is currently in the planning stages.

“The planning stage is going to be about a year long,” says Bennett. “The timeline that I’ve seen has about a year planning, so 2020 is pretty much planning and getting prepared, and then in 2021 is when the construction would happen that year. So we’re about a year away from any physical knocking down of walls.”

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