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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Dallas Wiertella
Dallas Wiertella
Multimedia Editor

Through my experience here at the North Wind I have been able to have the privilege of highlighting students through all forms of multimedia journalism. Whether I'm in front or behind the camera, I aim...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

WNMU receives grant to go digital

It’s an all too common question asked almost everyday: What would you do with one million dollars? For WNMU-TV, this fantasy became a reality, and they’re using the money to go digital.

WNMU, a public broadcasting facility licensed by the board of trustees of NMU, received a grant of $1,004,083 from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The grant, announced by Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menominee), was given to WNMU to complete the station’s switch to digital television.

Eric Smith, general manager of WNMU, said he was very excited when he found out the station had received the grant.

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“In my wildest dreams, I knew it was a possibility,” Smith said. “I wondered if it would ever take place. When we got the call from Stupak, I was literally feet off the ground.”

Another person happy about the grant and its benefits for the station is Dave Bett, chief engineer WNMU-TV and WNMU-FM.

“I was relieved,” Bett said. “This is a mandatory conversion for all broadcast stations so grant funding is essential to the survival of our station.”

The over $1 million grant will allow the station to operate in a digital format, a change that is mandated by the FCC for all television broadcasters by February of 2009.

Converting to digital will have many advantages, for both NMU students as well as students in kindergarten through high school, Smith said.

Digital broadcasting allows a television signal to be split into multiple streams, so more than one program can run at once without any interruptions. WNMU can broadcast instructional programs for Northern while simultaneously broadcasting programs for the K-12 schools at the same time, he said.

“More things can be done at the same time,” Smith added.

New equipment will have to be purchased to make the digital switch possible. A new transmitter is one of the items the grant will pay for. The current transmitter is from 1983.

“It’s old and near the end of its life,” Smith said.

Along with the transmitter, towers will have to be upgraded for the digital switch and a new transmission line will have to be purchased and installed.

The grant will also pay for the digital conversion of WNMU’s microwave system, which delivers their programming from the studios to the transmitter site near Republic, Mich., Bett said.

Although the change to digital from analog is of course exciting, the switch will undoubtedly be a learning process for WNMU’s staff.

“It’s still a work in progress,” Smith said. “This is all so new. We’re not quite sure how to take advantage of it.”

Smith added that although $1 million may seem like an extraordinary amount of money to most people, the switch to a completely digital format will cost approximately $3 million, and he stresses that WNMU’s funding problems are not over.

“All this money does is help us with the federal digital conversion,” he said. “But if we had not received this money, we would have gone off the air.”

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