WJW (Channel 8) will begin broadcasting reports from a new space at the University of Akron, possibly as early as today.
The final technical touches are being worked out for the Fox affiliate’s reports, which will come from a studio used by the university’s Z-TV television production center in Kolbe Hall, which also houses UA’s School of Communication. Z-TV will now share the space with WJW.
This is a change of venue for WJW, which had been broadcasting from a facility in Summit Mall since 2000. Dave Nethers, a WJW reporter since 1997 (and a University of Akron graduate) who often reported from the Summit Mall location in Fairlawn, will be based in an office in Kolbe.
“There was nothing bad about it,” WJW General Manager Greg Easterly said of the mall location. “It was a very visible location. We had always had a vision to tie a store in with it. … We had an idea of what we wanted it to be and it never quite came together that way.”
But the university gives the station a base closer to the center of Akron. WJW aims to strengthen its Akron coverage; the station’s managing editor, Toni Garbo, will talk about its plans and the UA studio at a meeting of the Akron chapter of the Public Relations Society of America today.
Akron-Canton has often been a battleground for the Cleveland TV stations. For example, WKYC (Channel 3) at one time produced an Akron newscast for other outlets, and WEWS (Channel 5) has a studio in the Akron Beacon Journal building as well as a news partnership with the Beacon Journal.
Easterly repeatedly called this a win-win situation for the university and the station.
“We’ll have at least one crew out of there every day,” he said. “We felt that going to the university was such a logical location. No. 1, they’re such a vibrant part of the community, and so visible. … And they have such wonderful facilities. And to be in an educational environment … it’s just nice to be around young people who are interested in our business. And we’ll see where that takes us.”
In addition, being on campus gives the station ready access to UA instructors and staff members who can provide expert insight on a variety of topics.
As for the university’s benefit, School of Communication Director Elizabeth Graham said in a news release that “the presence of Fox 8 News is a welcome addition to the media operation in Kolbe Hall,” which also includes the Buchtelite newspaper and radio station WZIP (88.1-FM). The media platforms aim to “offer students a seamless marriage of academic coursework with hands-on skill development,” Graham said. The Channel 8 presence allows students to observe professional work; there will also be internship opportunities with the station.
“We have different things we can explore,” Easterly said. “But we aren’t looking there to hire full-time employees. We have employees that do our work.”
WJW will pay the School of Communication $1,000 a month to cover upkeep, maintenance and parking costs.
Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and for Ohio.com, including in the HeldenFiles Online blog at www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles and on Twitter (@rheldenfels) and Facebook. He is also an assistant lecturer at the University of Akron. He can be reached at 330-996-3582 and firstname.lastname@example.org.