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KENW plans bureau at ENMU-Roswell

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Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell intends to start a public broadcasting bureau in April, with ENMU staff in Roswell and Portales saying that they see a need for radio and TV programs that focus on southern New Mexico as well as the opportunity to provide additional educational and creative opportunities for students and staff.

Donna Oracion, ENMU-R development director, said that space at the Instruction Technology Center has been dedicated for a studio and a control and office room.

Desiree Markham, FM development director for KENW at the Portales campus of Eastern New Mexico University, said that enough equipment exists between the two campuses to start broadcasting in two months without requiring any additional funding. Existing staff will provide oversight in the beginning, Markham said.

She added that the bureau has been envisioned for a while by KENW broadcasting director Duane Ryan.

By January, about $20,000 will be needed to buy generators and translators so that the Roswell bureau could operate independently of Portales if needed or wanted. Markham said at least some of the money is expected to come from grants.

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KENW TV is affiliated with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and has four channels associated with it, including FNX or First Nations Experience, provided by satellite from California. KENW FM is affiliated with National Public Radio, or NPR.

“The beauty of having this physical bureau at ENMU-Roswell is multifaceted,” Markham said.

She said Roswell is centrally located to allow good coverage of the southern and southeastern New Mexico region, which she thinks is not covered regularly by Albuquerque or West Texas broadcast stations. Another benefit is that it would provide students an opportunity to produce news segments for KENW or to produce news segments on behalf of commercial radio or TV stations in the area. Students could focus on the journalism aspect of the work or on the broadcast production side.

“We are open to it being very organic and evolving,” Markham said. “We want to do what works for ENMU-R, and that might not be what works on the Portales campus.”

Ron Flury, interim associate vice president of technical education at ENMU-R, said he thinks the facilities will build on the college’s existing Media Arts programs, which include a film technology component.

Eventually, he said, after the local broadcast facilities are operating and after the necessary groundwork with faculty, students, administrators and board members, the college could develop certificate or associate’s degree programs in journalism or broadcast production.

“Then they could move on to Portales with the knowledge that they have gained here in Roswell and they could continue on with their career path,” he said.

Oracion, who worked for years as a TV reporter and producer, said she hopes to be involved in the development of the broadcast bureau and its programs.

“We have a lot of great news here that might not reach the level of statewide coverage,” she said. “And we have a lot of news on our campus and region that it would be wonderful to have covered by our students to give them some real, practical, hands-on training in journalism.”

Oracion also said she thinks the bureau could be used in the very near future for producing the graduation ceremonies that are offered online during the COVID-19 restrictions. Flury said he thought the facility could have many uses for the college and community and added that the green screen to be part of the Roswell studio will offer opportunities for TV, film and digital productions.

Markham said that Portales might look at expanding at some point to other community colleges, which tend to focus more on technical education than four-year universities. That could include the Ruidoso campus of ENMU, she said.

A lot of broadcasting occurs now with smartphones, tablets and computers, Markham said, and the goal is to teach students in all those technologies, as well as prepare them to use the equipment and standards of commercial broadcast studios.

In addition to the future NPR and PBS bureaus, Roswell has two bureaus of Albuquerque-based commercial TV stations, as well as some commercial radio stations that provide information about the community.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.