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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Amelia Kashian
Amelia Kashian
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Being passionate is one of the best parts of being human, and I am glad that writing has helped me recognize that. I have been writing stories since I was a little girl, and over...

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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.

Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Sal Wiertella March 1, 2024

WNMU prepares to go digital

NMU recently received a $633,231 federal digital television grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program which will help broadcasting students gain the experience necessary to start a career.

As of Feb. 17, 2009, all full-power television stations in the country will switch from analog broadcasting to digital. Any stations that do not have digital capabilities will not be permitted to continue broadcasting.

The Director of Broadcast and Audio Visual Services, Eric Smith, said he has been actively working with the NMU grant writer, Andrew Smentkowski to apply for the award.

He said the grant was a very competitive one, and that any station from around the country could apply for it. He added that NMU was very fortunate to receive the amount of funding that we did.

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“There were $5 million in the pool of money to give away, and of that, $633,000 came to NMU,” Smith said. “They awarded 19 projects in 18 states, and Northern was in the top 3 in terms of awards.”

Smith said that U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak is on the telecommunications sub-committee which oversees the digital conversion, and he authorized the grant money that NMU received.

Smith said he envisioned what the new equipment could do for the students in the broadcasting program.

“We happen to have one of the best faculty in broadcasting in the Midwest,” he said. “Not many higher education institutions have the kind of sophisticated equipment (that NMU is receiving).”

He said that adding this new equipment to our already great staff will help students to graduate with a solid knowledge of the broadcasting business.

“We’re doing this in three phases. The first phase was to update our technical core, which is done,” Smith said. “Phase two, which we’re in now, updates our transmitter and our microwave system so we can get the digital signal from the studio out to the transmitter … Phase three is what we just got the $633,231 grant for, it upgrades our production facilities.”

The upgraded facility and equipment makes it easier for students to get the kind of experience they would have in any quality television station, he added.

“This (equipment) is what gets them well-trained, there isn’t going to be a station in the country that is going to be able to provide better training for students,” Smith said. “You could pick NMU as your school for broadcasting and be assured that you’re learning from high-quality faculty with a very well thought out program and be working on some of the best equipment available in the industry.”

To put some of the new developments into perspective, Smith described some of the memory capacity of the digital recording system.

“All of our recording is done on hard disks, we have 24 terabites of capacity,” he said. “A terabite is 1000 gigabites. If you think about the NMU computers, you have about 80 gigs of hard drive in it. So, one terabite is equal to 10 of those laptop computers, and we have 24 terabites.”

Luis Gomez, grad. student majoring in public administration, said he has been a witness to the changing program for six years.

“It’s great to see the transition, to know what it was like before and see what it’s going to be like in the future,” he said.

Gomez said he is confident that the practical experience he’s gained at NMU will help him when the time comes to start a career.

“Without this (updating) process I would have been completely unfamiliar with the digital program,” he said. “We’re up to the level where we can compete with not only other schools, but also other broadcasting stations, we can produce tomorrows anchors, directors and producers.

“Other universities are not as advanced. Students don’t get the privilege to say they’ve worked behind the scenes or in front of the camera before they graduate, because they really don’t have the resources to do it. This digital upgrade will do a lot for the station, and so much more for the students,” he added.

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