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WNIN announces capital campaign

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  In 2017, WNIN is making a transformational change that reflects the area’s progress and growth.  By this fall, WNIN will be in a new building with much better facilities to serve our Tri-State community.

WNIN's Steve Burger talked with WNIN president and CEO Brad Kimmel about the timing of the move and the reason for the campaign.

SB:  “I’m Steve Burger, here with WNIN President and CEO Brad Kimmel to talk about the Move to Main capital campaign. What is that?”

BK: “Well Steve, we are making a move down to Riverside and Main to the old channel 44 building, as most people know it, right across from Old National (Bank).   The reason we’re doing that is we want to build the new WNIN Public Media Center, which is going to engage the public in new ways with that location.  So we’re super excited about that fact that we are moving and that we raising money for it.”

SB: “What will be different about that facility?”

BK: “Not only was that building purpose-built for television, so we’re able to take advantage of that,  we obviously are building radio studios for you guys.  What we’re really hoping to do and want to do is to invite the public into the building.

Part of that, you mentioned what’s different, one of the things that’s catching a lot of attention is that we’re building the first cinema-style theater in the downtown area since 1979. It’s going to be in our facility. It’s a small studio, about 50 seats, but we’re going to use it show prominent PBS programming and our down documentaries, like ‘Evansville at War’, where we actually interact with the audience. Also, other non-profits and corporations can use it for their presentations. So, it’s going to be a great asset to the gateway to downtown.”

SB: “What about the timing of this? Why are we doing this now?”

BK: “The Carpenter Home has served us well. We’ve been here since 1986, but the reality is, it’s an expensive place to maintain.  It’s a beautiful mansion, built by Willard Carpenter, but as you can imagine, it’s expensive for a non-profit to maintain.  Also, it’s tricky to use new technology here as you know.”

SB: “Yes, if you’ve ever ridden the elevator in the Carpenter Home, you’ll know why we’re moving…”

BK: “Exactly. Also, quite frankly, if it wasn’t for some members of the Braun family, who made us a donor incentive to purchase the building, we wouldn’t be able to move into the building, so we thank them for that. “

SB: “In the last two or three years, we’ve noticed a ground swell of support for public media in Evansville.  How much did that play into the decision?”

BK: “Well, you’re right. Particularly, right now on the radio side, we’re hearing from the public on both the radio and television side, the documentaries and local content on television are also garnering a lot of great comments.

But, I think you hit on it. The timing of the move to engage the public in a new way,  because the public is really starting to engage with us.  We’re starting to see that in the fundraising, we’re starting to see that in the way we do content, and some of the out of the box thinking you guys do on radio and we try to do on television.

This is an opportunity to, really, with the new location…you know, I joke that we’re kind of hidden in plain sight. We’re just off of downtown, but we’re in an area where there’s a lot of one-way streets and it’s hard to even find us.  But, sitting there, right on the river, right next to Old National Bank, I think are going to know where we are.”

SB: “We are a community-licensed, public media organization. We have a board of directors. What’s their vision for the organization going forward?”

BK: “I think the board sees it the way you and I do. That this is an opportunity to really redefine public media. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that this is a transformational time for WNIN.  Not only the new facility, but the new technology we're going to be purchasing for the new building. Part of that is, technology is changing….Just this device that we all carry around with us, this beautiful electronic device, is changing the way people behave, and WNIN has to adapt to that too.

So, the board, one of the things they’re excited about is we’re going to have some new technology which will allow us to do more digital production, which is key to our future.”

SB:  “What’s the goal of the Move to Main capital campaign?”

BK: “ The total amount that we need to raise from the public is about $3 million. We have the Carpenter Home, which is up for sale, we’ll have some revenue from it, but we need about $3 million from the public. And, we’ve already raised over half of that, just from the quiet phase, which has been through corporations and foundations, so the community is really starting to rally behind it.”

SB: “Who are we asking to contribute to the campaign, then?”

BK: “As I mentioned, we’ve really done well with the corporations, they’ve really stepped up, and understood the need to move public media into a location where it can engage the public.  We’re really turning outward now, to our membership, to our major donors and to the general public.

You’re going to hear more from us in the coming months. You’re going to get something in the mail from us if you’re a member currently. If you’re the general public, if you’ve never been a member of WNIN, this is the perfect way to engage with public media.  You can make a contribution to the capital campaign first, learn who we are, see our new facility and then you can become a regular contributor.”

SB: “We want to make sure that folks don’t confuse this with our operational budget.”

BK: “The trick for any capital campaign, for the organization that’s running it, is that we still depend on the operational funding that we get from people year to year.  That’s used to pay for the NPR programming, the PBS programming. We pay license fees in order to bring that to you.  It also pays for the local productions and news that we do, and the staff. 

So, we still need that funding.  We ask you to continue to give at your current level, and make a one-time gift to the capital campaign that will help us get into the new building.”

SB: “So, how can folks contribute to the Move to Main campaign?”

BK: “They can go on our website, look for the Move to Main capital campaign, and make a pledge through that site.  It also has information on the campaign, what we’re going to do, the vision for it. We encourage people to get excited about your local public media station, and to help us make this transition to a great and wonderful new location.”