After being approved for a Public, Educational and Governmental Programming and Educational Technology Investment Account grant, the WPAA-TV studio was able to upgrade to state-of-the-art technology, according to Susan Huizenga, WPAA executive director.

The $150,613 grant paid for a new lighting system and new equipment for the public access station's studio's control room.

Standing in front of the green screen, which for now is just a green sheet hung up on the wall, it's hard to not notice the square lights emitting a bright light onto you. The new lighting system uses LED lights to save money and costs about $40,000, Huizenga said. There's also a 52-inch television mounted on the wall next to the window of the control room.

Huizenga is trying to get the word out about the South Orchard Street studio and the new equipment that residents can use for free."The facility is really awesome," she said. "It'd be even more awesome if people knew it was there for them to use."

The control room has changed the most. In the past, equipment consisted of an old computer with a keyboard and an old sound board. The sound board resembled a large amplifier outfitted with a number of small knobs and dials, some of which no longer worked, Huizenga said.

Now, the control room has a new light board, a large computer monitor, a broadcast quality monitor, new audio system and a new control board.

"We're ready to do the things people were trying to do when we first opened," she said. "The control room is 100 percent upgraded."

Jerry Sands, the technical director for the BobbyO Show and future program coordinator for WPAA-TV, trained on the old and new equipment.

"The light controls are much more involved. The sound is much more involved. Switching cameras is much more advanced," Sands said. "My learning curve flattened a bit, but now it's steep again."

The control room and studio is also carpeted, something Huizenga said was initially not allowed to be purchased with the grant because it wouldn't impact the production of programs. Prior to the gray carpeting, the studio had a bare wooden floor. "It impacts the sound. The building was an old barn before," Huizenga said. "The acoustics are so much better."

As Huizenga and her staff enjoy the new equipment, there's still work to be done. Huizenga is expecting a new green screen to be installed and an IFB audio connection to be installed in the studio. The connection will allow the staff in the control room to communicate with the camera crew, she said. The cameras being used for programs on WPAA-TV are also about 10 years old, so the staff are investigating whether the loan-out cameras can be used instead.

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