WTOP-10 receives high-definition update from SA

WTOP-10's Al Roker Television Studio hopes to enhance quality of career development for involved students with the help of SA, administration and alumni.   (Alexander Simone | The Oswegonian)
WTOP-10’s Al Roker Television Studio hopes to enhance quality of career development for involved students with the help of SA, administration and alumni.
(Alexander Simone | The Oswegonian)

Student Association passed a bill Tuesday committing to fund WTOP-10 with approximately $350,000 over a ten-year payment period toward a high definition upgrade.

The complete cost of the project amounts to approximately $500,000 for new equipment and network infrastructure compatible with industry-standard high definition.

“[With this bill passing], I look forward to hundreds of new freshmen coming into Oswego, walking into the WTOP studios and having a big smile on their faces because they are about to get the best experience that they can to prepare themselves to go out in the real world and get a job when they graduate,” said Justin Dobrow, general manager of WTOP-10. “That is what WTOP is all about.”

With the monetary support of the administration and alumni, SA is able to make this commitment based on the money available in SA reserve accounts compiled of the extra money clubs and organizations were unable to use over the years.

The Oswego State administration guaranteed to loan SA the total up-front cost of the project without interest. The Alumni Association has also made a pledge to start communicating with alumni and asking for donations to reduce the overall debt that SA would owe the school.

According to Matthew Peters, SA Director of Finance, and Tyler Jodeit, SA Assistant Director of Finance, SA wouldn’t be able to fund this project without the support of the administration.

“The reason why it is possible is because it is over a ten-year payment plan,” Jodeit said. “We can realistically spend a little bit out of our funds each year, but we cannot deal with the up-front cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars right up front.”

Peters also knows that the contributions of the alumnus also make this possible.

“In addition, with them getting help from alumni donations, we would not be able to do that. We wouldn’t be allowed to do that,” Peters said.

The Office of Development and Alumni Relations has already received a donation of $100,000 from an anonymous donor.

That, combined with the $45,485.66 WTOP-10 has put toward this project from their savings account, which is allocated towards this upgrade, to reduce SA’s commitment of up to $500,000 to a maximum of $354,514.34 over ten years.

After committing to fund WTOP-10, SA’s debt to the administration will continue to reduce based on the amount of money alumni chooses to donate.

The expense of the project is based on the cost of the equipment needed to be replaced and upgraded.

According to Dobrow, WTOP-10 is a decade behind and the equipment they use in the studio only last eight to 10 years and is extremely expensive.

For example, the cost of a tripod to hold one of the cameras WTOP-10 uses is $15,000.

According to Dobrow, the cost for the upgrade would be cheaper than consistently replacing broken equipment over time.

Because SA is separate from the administration and WTOP-10 is considered a part of SA, the administration is not able to directly provide funding to WTOP-10.

“The administration’s involvement is simply to support the student effort because they typically cannot and that state fund cannot be used for student organizations and that’s why we have a student activity fee that is governed and allocated by SA,” said Jerri Drummond, Dean of Students and the administration advisor of SA.

After the School of Communication, Media and the Arts updated, one of the Studio A, Oswego State’s broadcasting studios in Lanigan Hall, to HD this past summer, the administration realized that WTOP-10 called for the same update.

The administration lends their support for WTOP-10 because of the necessity of the update and the service the organization has served to the Oswego community.

“[WTOP-10] reaches about 80,000 alumni, so to keep alumni connected to the institution they can click on WTOP-10 online and access academic, cultural and athletic events to be connected to the institution. That is something our alumni have grown to expect in high quality and it is really one of the premiere ways alumni stay connected to the institutions,” said Kerry Dorsey, Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations.

According to a statement from the Office of Development and Alumni Relations, they are committed to continuing fundraising efforts with the potential individual alumni, particularly those alumni from the School of Communications, Media and the Arts, to support WTOP-10’s station operations and conduct an equipment replacement program.

With all factors considered, the Senate was unanimous and passed the bill by general consent.

“We have to show that we support the development of our students,” said Emily Nassir, SA vice president. “If it is going to have that much of a colossal effect on our campus then it is something that we should be supporting.”

As for the future, WTOP-10, SA and the administration hopes to develop a plan to support an upgrade in the future.

“We recognized that this is not a onetime occurrence,” said Nicholas Lyons, Vice President for administration and finance. “That this is going to happen again at some time and that this is what is going to be replaced and that is when we started to think that development can help in fundraising so that not only can we can help pay this debt off, but continue in the future to generate money that can be put aside that will go to the next project.”

Now that the bill is passed, WTOP-10 plans to work with the administration to come up with an exact figure for the necessary equipment. WTOP-10 plans to recycle or donate the old standard definition equipment.

The renovation of the broadcasting studio is scheduled to take place during the summer.

“This upgrade will improve WTOP’s broadcast quality for all aspects of its productions including news, sports and original productions,” Dobrow said in a statement. “This equipment allows students to become professionals with a GPA, but more importantly, allows them to graduate and be professionals without a GPA. On behalf of WTOP, we are so excited for the road to HD and the chance to continue the WTOP legacy.”