Old Westbury Web Radio Educates Online, in the Studio

OWWR is an interdisciplinary learning environment for students of all academic disciplines July 23, 2015

The beautiful 604-acre campus of the SUNY College at Old Westbury, N.Y., is home to the college Internet radio station Old Westbury Web Radio. Located in the Student Union’s top floor, this 24/7 Internet radio station has grown significantly, not only in size, but in the quality of its technologies and programming.

OWWR is an interdisciplinary learning environment for students of all academic disciplines, and programming opportunities are available to them, as well as faculty and staff, alumni and community volunteers. The mission of OWWR is to act in the interest, convenience and the necessity of the public in conjunction with the college mission, while educating and entertaining a global audience. OWWR is a variety station that features news, talk, music programming and sports, as the official radio station for the SUNY College at Old Westbury Panthers.

When OWWR began 10 years ago this November, it consisted of three analog studios: one on-air and two production suites, with a small post-production workstation. The station began with a donation including equipment from Bloomberg Radio News and received additional support from the college. Today, OWWR (www.owwrny.org) has four studios and can be heard worldwide online and via Tunein Radio (keyword: “OWWR”).

EXPANSION PLANS

After many years of use, the original (donated) Audioarts R16 console started to run out of steam. The decision was made to upgrade and expand. I reached out to a trusted colleague and friend, our Chief Engineer Bob Anderson, with the result that OWWR’s main “Studio A” was upgraded to a digital console in the fall of 2014. The analog wiring and some equipment were removed; the studio’s wires were retraced, labeled and tested; new equipment was installed for expansion; and the programing and installation of the Wheatstone IP-12 was executed. It is here where all the live programming originates.

The other three studios are currently analog, for academic and production purposes, although “Studio C” is wired for backup purposes to ensure continuation of programming.

OWWR has always relied on Adobe Audition for recording, and BSI’s WaveCart for audio playback of breaks and station identifiers.

During the academic semesters, OWWR students produce and anchor news coverage, Monday through Friday at 6 p.m. They also record on-campus press conferences and programs featuring special guest lectures and execute a variety of interviews for air. The OWWR sports department covers numerous campus basketball and baseball games, including sideline reporting, along with pre- and post-game coverage. News and sports programming both feature a wide variety of politicians, authors, athletes, coaches, business leaders and other industry professionals.

OWWR, like all college radio stations, is also a haven for all musicians from multiple genres, both independent and signed. Over the years, hundreds have strut their stuff with live performances for both wired and acoustic sets. Other guests include comics, poets, actors, directors and you never know which DJ might pop in to rock the Technics SL-1200MK2 turntables and Gemini mixer.

When the OWWR News and Sports divisions are in the field, they use a variety of equipment including the Marantz PMD-660 and 661 flash recorders; the Olympus 320 digital camera and the Olympus 321 digital recorder; the Mackie 1402-VLZ portable mixer; JK Audio’s ComPack telephone interface; the Shure PGX24 (with SM58) wireless mic system; Behringer XENYX 2442 and UBB1002 portable mixers; and the Digigram UAX220 USB audio interface.

As you might expect, all specialty news, sports and entertainment coverage is made available for download or podcast on the news website, www.catalystradionews.org. You can also find OWWR on all major social networking sites.

PROVING THEIR SKILLS

In 2009, I decided that OWWR was ready to show concertgoers at Downtown Sounds (www.downtownsoundslive.org) in Glen Cove, N.Y., just what it is capable of.

The staffers of OWWR started to execute live analog phone cut-ins via a JK Audio RemoteMix 4, Shure SM2 headsets mics and Electro-Voice RE-50B handhelds. I’m the original concert host, and have been for 18 years, and I decided to up the ante: OWWR now webcasts both audio and video with four switchable cameras (Sony PD-150s and Canon Vixias) through an Edirol switcher, live on ustream.com (keyword: “OWWRNY”).

Soon, we’re planning to deploy a new Tieline Bridge-IT for digital webcasts.

OWWR is also host to the Diabetes Research Institute and St. Baldrick’s Fundraisers, providing on-location public address support, as well as live audio and video webcasting.

Now under construction is an additional analog production suite consisting of an Arrakis ARC-10, Behringer MS16 monitors, Electro-Voice RE-20s, a Behringer HA-8000 headphone amplifier, an American Audio Genie II phono-to-USB interface, and additional analog and digital playback connectivity. The new studio will be ready for use for the OWWR staff by the start of the fall semester.

Old Westbury Web Radio is also home to interns and work-study students, and participates in the SUNY College at Old Westbury Community Action, Learning and Leadership (CALL) program, that, for six consecutive years, has earned a place on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

Radio can play a major role in the development of the student at any stage of his or her academic career. OWWR engages students and provides an environment that encourages them to find their own voice, to strengthen confidence in their convictions, their thought processes, and their self-perception, while they assume ownership of their education and future at Old Westbury.

It is truly the students, faculty, alumni and community volunteers that make OWWR special. Old Westbury has the most diverse student population in the SUNY system, and to bring that diversity to the global marketplace while simultaneously playing a role in shaping the minds of students is amazing and gratifying.

Station Manager Joe Manfredi has nearly 20 years of broadcast and college radio experience and is an instructor in the American Studies/Media & Communications department, teaching a variety of radio and television courses at SUNY/Old Westbury.

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