You may soon hear a familiar voice with a new ID tag: “This is Faith Middleton of ‘Food Schmooze’ broadcasting from Gateway Community College in New Haven.”
That’s because the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network (CPBN), which is home to WNPR and CPTV, has created a partnership with Gateway Community College. The partnership will create a news bureau for WNPR — which broadcasts, among other shows, Middleton’s 38-years-and-running food show — and a new degree-granting program in the college’s humanities department that will provide new opportunities for students to get hands-on training in digital media.
Officials of the organizations announced the partnership at a press event Monday afternoon at Gateway’s downtown campus.
WNPR will move its local operations to Gateway from its current Audubon Street studio. No date has been set yet for the move; the goal is for the fall.
CPBN President and CEO Jerry Franklin said about 145,000 people who listen to WNPR will get to hear such new voice tags from hosts like Middleton broadcasting live each day from the downtown community college.
“We have been in New Haven for maybe 40 years and it’s just taken us a long time to figure out where we should be,” Franklin said. “We think this collaborative association with this gorgeous institution and its almost 13,000 students who come here is just extraordinary.”
The Gateway-based WNPR news bureau will produce local contributions to the Connecticut network’s daily newscasts as well as to the national “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered,” the New England News Collaborative and other shoreline reporting projects. WNPR’s daily “Colin McEnroe Show” and “Where We Live” will also broadcast at times from the New Haven studio.
The studio will also host a satellite program for the Institute for Advanced Media (IAM), which was established in 2014 to reach adult learners and veterans.
Franklin said that CPBN trains about 50 veterans a year in digital media skills, helping about 85 percent of them get jobs.
The partnership also will allow the network to expand its high school internship program, which currently serves about 100 students a year.
Diane Orson, WNPR’s New Haven bureau chief, said the new partnership felt like a perfect fit that will allow both institutions to enhance each other’s mission. The news bureau and studio will be on the main floor near the college bookstore.
“It is great to be in this beautiful building which to me has always symbolized a sense of the promise and possibility that educated, well-informed and engaged people can offer to their community and the world around them,” Orson said Monday. “That has never been more important.
“It feels like a great time for this to happen. There also is a wealth of great story opportunities in this part of the state from education to the arts to transportation to health and we can’t wait to dig into that.”
Gateway President Dorsey Kendrick said she was thrilled that the partnership was one of the last to come online before her tenure at the helm ends. Kendrick will retire on June 30. She said the partnership means more opportunities for students including internships and scholarships for Gateway students interested in broadcast and digital media careers.
“There should be many lanes of opportunity available for people and this is just one more lanes for those who many not have worked out in others,” she said. “I’m just really proud to be able to help in some way to make this become a reality.”
Evelyn Gard, director of public affairs and marketing for Gateway, said that CPBN already has an established curriculum. The college will be responsible for getting that curriculum accredited as an associate degree program that would then be a pathway for a student to pursue a four-year degree.
Mary Ellen Cody, dean of development and community partnerships for Gateway, said the partnership came together just five short months ago through meetings with CPBN and Gateway’s foundation board. She said over the summer CBPN will make its transition to Gateway. The target date for the academic program is January.
“They will be essentially self-sufficient,” Gard said. “They’re not taxing any of the resources from the college, so it’s a whole new operation.”
Mark Ojakian, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system president, said that the partnership highlights community colleges as places to get high-quality, affordable instruction.
“This is another one of those opportunities,” he said. “This really is the best of what we do in our community colleges. Everybody is welcome here.”