KINGSTON, R.I. — Chief CNN International Anchor Christiane Amanpour joined University of Rhode Island officials, faculty, alumni and students Sept. 27 at the grand opening of the school’s renovated $1.25 million Broadcast Center.
Amanpour, a URI Class of 1983 graduate, URI President David M. Dooley and Harrington School Advisory Board Chairman Richard Harrington, another URI alumnus, attended a ribbon-cutting at the facility, located in the Chafee Social Science Center on the Kingston campus. Amanpour also was at URI for a sold out lecture on press freedom the previous night.
Renovations over the past year have transformed the old TV studio into a new, high-tech hub featuring the latest tools for digital production, streaming and broadcasting.
The 625-square-foot studio boasts an 11-foot news desk that can accommodate five students on camera, four robotic cameras, an overhead lighting grid that improves lighting capabilities and an array of state-of-the-art LED lighting fixtures.
The control room has also been upgraded, featuring a powerful video router, modern audio board and communications system, along with a large video monitor wall.
Work started in August 2018 according to Jeff Fountain, manager of the center and instructor in TV production.
“We have a facility now that makes beautiful images with professional lighting and professional audio,” Fountain, a three-time Emmy Award winner for technical directing on NBC Sports’ live coverage of the Summer Olympics, said. “We’re giving students an opportunity to learn on equipment that they will encounter in a professional broadcast facility.”
Fountain, who also has directed live broadcasts for CNN, VH-1 and CNBC and was a promotions producer at WJAR in Providence, helped oversee design of the facility after joining URI in the fall of 2018.
“I made sure the center’s control room would function like any control room I’ve been in in New York,” Fountain said.
Grants from the Champlin Foundation and the URI Provost’s Office, along with private donations from prominent donors Richard and Jean Harrington and Herman Rose, along with other members of the Harrington School Advisory Board funded the work.
Adam Roth, director of the Harrington School and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said the school is grateful to those who helped make the center a reality.
“The URI Broadcast Center is the only academic facility of its kind and magnitude in the state,” he said. “Its cutting-edge technology will greatly enhance our curriculum and production capabilities, along with providing students the skills needed to succeed and become leaders in communication and media.”
With more than 1,350 students, the Harrington School offers 26 programs and concentrations in disciplines such as communication studies, film and media, multimedia journalism, public relations, sports media, writing and rhetoric and library and information studies.
While the new studio and control room will serve as a classroom for courses in such topics as sports media and TV production, it will also provide workshops for students and faculty.
New equipment will give students hands-on experience, including the ability to produce content remotely and oversee event broadcasts from buildings around the Kingston campus.
A new mobile production unit will serve as a traveling control room, allowing students to broadcast from on or off campus.
Fiber connections around campus will allow students in the Chafee control room to produce coverage of events like the Honors Colloquium in Edwards Hall or a basketball game at the Ryan Center, and then live stream them on Facebook or record them for later use on YouTube.
Yianni Kourakis, a sports director for WPRI and FOX Providence, will teach sports broadcasting as part of the Harrington School’s new Sports Media and Communication major.
“I am excited for my classes to learn sports broadcasting and all its components in a state-of-the-art, on-campus facility,” Kourakis said.