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WVBR caps first week of programming in new facility

One of WVBR’s new vinyl turntables which allows vinyls to be played live on air.
Sun beams into the room where more than ten thousand vinyl records line the shelved walls from floor to ceiling. For WVBR, classic hits are coming from a brand new facility and Ithaca’s classic rock station wants to use its new home at 604 E. Buffalo St. to mix the classic and the modern.

The new home in Collegetown is equipped to allow the station to expand. “We’re going to have stronger media content, more video content, a lot more live music,” Michael Mallon, WVBR’s director of communications, said.

The station, founded in 1935, is owned and operated by the Cornell Radio Guild (soon to be renamed the Cornell Media Guild). In 2000, WVBR was forced to move facilities from 227 E. Linden St.–their building was condemned–and began operating out of a facility near East Hill Plaza, Mallon said. The group is independent from Cornell University, but has a special contract with the school to recruit new members on campus.

One such member is Eric Blumberg, a Cornell senior and WVBR’s program director. Blumberg said WVBR would not have been able to move facilities without the help of other students. “A lot of people put in a lot of hard hours to get all of this equipment over here, and all the electronics set-up,” Blumberg said.

Most of the funding for the new facility comes from WVBR alumni donations. The donations exceed $680,000. “We did a capital campaign with the alumni of the station, who used to work here when they were at Cornell,” Blumberg said. “We have a lot of successful, prominent alumni who are more than willing to help out with the great future of the station.”

The Collegetown studio is equipped with six production booths spread between two floors, all with the capability to go live on the air. The facility has a live-studio that also houses WVBR’s vinyl collection.

WVBR has approximately 10,000 vinyl records in their collection all organized alphabetically and by genre. “They are mostly used by the weekend specialty show hosts, but students have been known to throw a classic rock hit on the air from our vinyl library once in a while as well,” Mallon said.

DJ’s can play this vinyl on one of two new turntables embedded into the desks of the broadcast studio.

WVBR’s programming ranges from classic rock to psychedelic, and, in its new facility, they hope to broadcast more local music. “We have a pretty solid local music thing going on,” Mallon said. “‘Tuesday’s With the Band’ brings on a local band every Tuesday.”

Arbitron, the company responsible to tracking radio ratings, dropped the Ithaca area in 2009, so WVBR no longer has access to listener data. However, “Bound for Glory” is WVBR’s longest running show and has been broadcasting folk music for approximately 46 years. Blumberg alleges the program is the “longest running folk show in the US.”

Despite the new facilities and equipment, Mallon believes it is the content that will keep listeners coming back. “I think our format is something completely unique and special,” Mallon said. “It really provides Ithaca with something to listen to at any given point.”

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