The Kiowa County Media Center began installing a state-of-the-art television studio last week.

The Kiowa County Media Center began installing a state-of-the-art television studio last week.

“The systems will allow us to do everything that can be done in a television studio,” said Media Center Programming Producer Grant Neuhold. “This is as soon as we could have possibly [started]. We had hoped to have it finished when the building opened last year. I’m glad it’s now and not later, but I wish we would have been up and running sooner.”

The installation, which will equip the small studio space and control room with audio, video and lighting capabilities, will provide a modern workspace for local video content and contract work provided to potential clients said Neuhold.

He said he expects some of the first occupants to be members of the Kiowa County High School Media Club, who will create a school and local news program.

“[The Video Club projects] will give us a benchmark of what our capabilities are and what our limitations are,” said Neuhold who also mentioned hosting future county political debates in the studio.

The television studio will cost about $56,000 to complete after hardware and labor costs said Media Center President Jan West.

Brandon Utech, the former K-State technician who designed the Media Center’s mobile production trailer, has been doing the installation.

Neuhold said that the Media Center had been waiting to initiate the installation until Commons building contingency funding could be allocated to the completion of the studio.

According to Kiowa County Commons Building Project Coordinator Matt Christenson, the commons building came very close to its $6 million USDA budget.

The $697,000 that remained after construction was allocated in part to the Greensburg branch of the Kiowa County Library ($184,000 for book shelves) and the Kiowa County History Museum ($450,000 for displays).

The remaining $63,000 was committed to the Media Center ($53,195) and electronic sun shades for the museum and soda fountain (about $10,000).

Christenson, who is also a Media Center board member, said that following construction that at least a portion of the remaining funds were expected be spent completing the studio. 

Neuhold said he is fully aware of the possible change in makeup of the Kiowa County Commission after the Nov. 6 election.

“We understand that the commission might look at budgets and decide that cuts need to be made,” he said. “We understand that we may be one of those cuts. If that’s the case we need to be prepared for that.”

Republican 2nd District Commission candidate Bert Lowery, during a primary debate in August, affirmed his position that the Media Center may be a place as a commissioner he might look at for cuts.  “We need to get down to necessities,” he said. “I’m not saying I’m going to chop or cut [their budget] completely off, but if it’s not a necessity, Kiowa County doesn’t need it right now.”

Lowery’s Democrat opponent Bonnie Kuhn didn’t address cutting any funding and said she thought the Media Center was “progressive” and complimented the facilities adding, “I hope it works.”

Third District Commissioner John Unruh has made it clear that he is opposed to continued funding of the Media Center, so if the Republican candidates sweep the election, it may swing the commission in a more conservative direction than it has been in recent years.

Neuhold said that though the installation of the television studio was not directly related to the upcoming election, he acknowledged that the Media Center would need to seek significant alternative revenue streams in the near future.

“If [cuts come] we hopefully will be in a position to handle it,” he said. “I think we can get there. How soon, I don’t know. We’re hoping to be [more independent] by the time those decisions might get made. We also realize that there is not enough [business] here in Kiowa County to make us sustainable. We need to go regional. We’re going to expand, not just what we do, but where we do it. We’re trying to find those new ways to fund the center.”

Neuhold said those plans included the recent hire of Jessica Harris as a part time sales representative.

Harris will be responsible for finding advertisers for live feeds and selling production services in the region. “[Jessica]’s been on-camera talent for us and she’s been involved in production here. She knows the media center well.”

In the second year of broadcasting high school football and volleyball games, the Media Center is building momentum, as more people get familiar with their live streaming and video content, Neuhold said. The completion of the television studio will allow them to offer a wider range of services in advance of 2014 budget discussions.

“I have real vision and hope for where we will be a year from today,” he said.