Supports Public Radio
Northern Michigan University Board
of Trustees voted unanimously to continue providing annual general
fund support of $50,000 to keep the public radio station on the
air. Trustees will not take action on the public television station
until they receive additional information about the university's
liability in obtaining grants, financing alternatives for federally-mandated
digital upgrades, and marketing strategies aimed at students pursuing
Scott Holman presented the motion. He said the issue is not the
worthiness of public broadcasting on campus and in the region, but
the fiscal commitment required – especially in the case of WNMU-TV
– to continue operating in the midst of a challenging budgetary
support public broadcasting and want to see it work here,"
he said. "It has value in terms of the potential for involving
students and other disciplines. The U.P. community needs it and
it is a form of outreach for Northern. There are many champions
for these stations, which is necessary to move forward. Any project
with that level of passion, and with the technical expertise on
campus to support it, has a formula for success. But it's about
the money, folks. What still concerns me is the capital required
for the digital upgrades. We need time to understand this better."
Federal Communications Commission has mandated that television stations
convert to digital transmission. For WNMU-TV, this would require
one-time future expenses of about $2.2 million for master control
automation and transmitter migration to full power necessary to
facilitate the conversion.
stations are not required by the FCC to transmit their signals digitally.
That is expected to change, according to Eric Smith, director of
broadcast and audio-visual services at NMU. It would cost about
$300,000 for Public Radio 90 to replace its FM transmitter.
of concerns about the potential for obtaining grants to cover most
of these costs and the university's resulting liability, the motion
was amended to include the caveat that any capital commitment for
public broadcasting be deferred until a board-approved plan for
funding has been developed.
the future of WNMU-TV remains undecided, Smith said the board's
action was a step in the right direction.
will work hard over the next few months to address the funding issues
they raised, but what's important in the meantime is that the board
has demonstrated a commitment to public broadcasting at Northern.
That commitment is contingent – in large part – upon the public's
formal timeline was established for finalizing the issue. The earliest
opportunity for the board to address it again would be at the May
other action today, the board:
the purchase of property and structures located at 1504 and 1508
Presque Isle Ave., at a cost of $215,000, for potential future development
as part of the campus five-year master plan. No specific use for
the property has been determined. The funding will come from NMU
about $3.1 million in external gifts and grants;
the previously ratified three-year contract for employees in the
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
bargaining unit; and
resolutions honoring board chair Mary Campbell and trustee Scott
Holman, whose terms expire Dec. 31, for their service to NMU.