Olson, president and CEO of KSMQ Public Service Media, owner of the public television station located in Austin, said the station’s new building in downtown Austin should help make the television station more of the Austin community.
Construction on the new TV station building began a few weeks ago, Olson said, and KSMQ will open its new facility at the end of next summer.
“No one ever sees us,” said Olson, referring to the station’s current location tucked between Riverland Community College and Interstate 90 on the west side of Austin. “Being on Oakland Avenue will increase our visibility and our viability.”
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Although the station has been providing content since its founding in 1972, the building the TV station has called its home for four years has kept it somewhat off the radar of the community. The new building will make KSMQ physically visible as part of the Austin community, which will help the station connect with the community, Olson said.
“In our community of 24,000, one block from City Hall, County Courthouse, Police and Fire Hall,” Olson said, “all these people coming to us talk are right there. “
This increased connection takes many forms. For example, the new $ 5.1 million, 9,500 square foot building will include a conference room that local nonprofits can use for their meetings. The station is also planning to host more events, both indoors and outdoors. These events, Olson said, can range from concerts and town halls to candidate forums and community education.
For example, last year the KSMQ partnered with other local agencies to educate the public about the importance of completing the US Census. By having an easy-to-find downtown location, such events can be better tracked and reach the intended audience more thoroughly, Olson said.
The new station will also provide a better environment for the station’s work, Olson said.
Uniformly flat floors, for example, will work best for robotic cameras. The building will also be equipped with other technological changes which should bring the station’s productions to a more modern level.
After all, Olson said, the station broadcasts to 700,000 people in 20 counties.
The location will also place the station at the heart of the economic redevelopment of downtown Austin.
This, said Craig Clark, city administrator for the city of Austin, is part of the new look of downtown Austin that has seen the opening of more retail and restaurant businesses, more apartments, including a new development on Main Street on the site of the former YMCA. , Austin’s new community recreation center, and other improvements to the downtown community.
“There is dynamism,” said Clark. “Each of them is a piece of that dynamism.”
Clark said the community is heavily invested in the success of KSMQ. While the state contributed $ 2.5 million to the new $ 5.1 million facility for the TV station, the remainder was collected mostly in Austin. The city helped with $ 450,000, he said.
Olson added that between donations from the public and generous help from the Hormel Foundation, the station was able to raise the rest of the necessary funds.
“It’s a very visible corner of downtown, from a traffic standpoint, so that gives them importance in the downtown area,” Clark said. “It’s definitely a partnership, and it’s so fitting that this is a public TV channel since the public has bought into it.”