Public radio moving to Evanston

Cincinnati’s public radio has acquired property on Dana Avenue for a new broadcast and community performance center.

The property is in an office complex at the intersection of Interstate 71 and Dana called Keystone Parke, which includes the American Red Cross Cincinnati headquarters, a hotel, rehab hospital and another office building.

“Cincinnati Public Radio is excited at the prospect of adding our new facility to Keystone Parke, the area’s first all-Leed certified office complex,” said Richard Eiswerth, the organization’s CEO. “We enthusiastically look forward to becoming a part of Evanston, a dynamic, diverse, and up-and-coming family friendly neighborhood – close to Xavier University, King Records, and Withrow and Walnut Hills High schools, with whom we have had on-going educational relationships. Our project’s adjacency to Evanston Park will permit us to partner with the community and the Cincinnati Recreation Commission to sponsor a variety of free public performances, gatherings and celebrations.”

Artist rendering of new Cincinnati Public Radio headquarters at 2117 Dana Avenue, Evanston, just west of the Keystone Parke Hilton Garden Inn.

Cincinnati Public Radio, which owns WVXU-FM and WGUC-FM, plans to construct a new two-story, 30,000-square-foot headquarters. It’s the second time in three years that Cincinnati Public Radio has sought action for a new location. 

The nonprofit broadcaster abandoned its 2018 plan for building new studios at Ninth and Plum streets, across from City Hall, because site remediation, demolition and storm water issues more than doubled the initial $1.5-million cost.

The Evanston facility, on 0.79 acres at 2117 Dana Avenue, would nearly double the space Cincinnati Public Radio rents on the second floor of the Crosley Telecommunications Center owned by public television station WCET-TV at Central Parkway and Ezzard Charles Drive, across from Music Hall.

The new building will have a “professional recording studio that is about four times the size of our current Corbett Studio, which is our present production studio,” Eiswerth says. It will also have a large first-floor gathering space to “serve as a public performance venue for students, professional and amateur musicians, public lectures, political debates and public meetings,” he says.

The new location will have a podcast studio “available free of charge for the general public,” he said.

Being next to Evanston Park “will provide us the opportunity to partner with the Cincinnati Recreation Commission to host a variety of outdoor performances, gatherings and celebrations,” Eiswerth said.

Cincinnati Public Radio’s existing location in the Crosley center “has become insufficient for its current needs, so CPR has been fundraising and searching for a location to construct new offices,” City Manager John Curp wrote in a memo to Cincinnati City Council.

“The project will allow CPR to retain 40 existing FTE (full-time equivalent) jobs with an annual payroll of approximately $2.6 million, and the new location will additionally allow CPR to create three new FTE jobs with an annual payroll of $175,000,” Curp wrote.

The project is being funded by private donations and other private funds, he wrote. Current plans call for CPR to begin construction before the end of the year, Eiswerth said. 

“We are about midway through our capital campaign, so a lot depends on the speed and success of that critical initiative,” he said.

The 15-month construction will generate 50 temporary construction jobs, with an annual payroll of approximately $2.5 million, Curp wrote. “CPR’s project investment represents a $26 million total investment, including $23 million toward the real estate improvements and $3 million towards machinery, equipment and furnishing.” Curp wrote.

Because Evanston Park is adjacent to the west and south, “there are ongoing conversations with the Evanston Community Council and Cincinnati Recreation Commission to ensure that the edges of the project fit in harmoniously with the surrounding park,” Curp said.

WGUC-FM began broadcasting in 1960 from the University of Cincinnati campus. The station moved in 1980 to the Crosley center named for Powel Crosley Jr., the industrialist and broadcasting pioneer who started WLW-AM in 1922 and the city’s first TV station, WLWT-TV, in 1948.

WVXU-FM, founded in 1970 at Xavier University, moved from the Xavier campus into the Crosley center in 2005 after Cincinnati Public Radio purchased the station from Xavier. The proposed Dana Avenue studios are less than two miles from Xavier University.

Most of this article was written by John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years. He has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.

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