Sun Prairie Media Center serves the community of Sun Prairie, WI, by providing original local radio programming. Their programming is created by members of the community. Volunteers can come in and create shows about anything they find interesting. Their programming ranges from music, to community-focused talk shows, to shows about targeted interests like cars, farm-to-table, and literature. Even the local fire chief does a show.
“When volunteers sign up to be involved, they have access to our studio,” said Jeff Robbins, Executive Director of Sun Prairie of the facility. “It’s fully outfitted with all of the equipment one would expect to find in any commercial facility.” Volunteers have access to all of the equipment they need to do a radio show with up to five or six guests. As part of the studio set-up, Sun Prairie has a Comrex STAC VIP call management system and a Comrex ACCESS IP codec.
“We use ACCESS to do live radio remotes. With this equipment, we’ve done broadcasts from festivals around town, from football games, basketball games, and other high school sports games for our local access channel,” said Robbins. “We’ve also covered community events, like town hall meetings. Frequently, we do remotes just to get our DJs out there to interact with the community.” This past summer, Sun Prairie averaged one remote per week.
Because all of Sun Prairie’s broadcasters are novices, the station managers will teach volunteers to use any piece of equipment they’re interested in. “Most people come in with next to no radio or technical experience, and so we walk them through how to use everything,” said Robbins. “ACCESS has been very easy for our volunteers to use. Those that are a little more technically savvy have been able to figure out some of the more advanced functions, but everyone who has wanted to learn it hasn’t had any trouble.” For connectivity, Sun Prairie uses a mobile hotspot – “it has always worked really well for us,” said Robbins.
“When we were in the process of raising money to build the station, we learned it was a lot more fun to actually be outside and engaged with our listeners. It makes the station feel like a real thing, rather than a vague idea that people don’t really understand,” said Robbins of community engagement. “Having ACCESS has enabled us to be a real presence at community events, and it’s increased our involvement and visibility tremendously.”