Construction to begin on new Melcher Center for Public Broadcasting

Jim Parsons

Managing Editor

The University of Houston's two broadcast organs came one step closer to moving into a new facility earlier this month.

A pre-groundbreaking ceremony was held May 8 for the $12-million LeRoy and Lucile Melcher Center for Public Broadcasting, a privately funded facility that will provide space for KUHF radio and KUHT television studios and offices.

The center will also house office and studio space for the School of Communication and a polling center for use by the UH Center for Public Policy.

Former UH student and Houston entrepreneur Melcher and his wife Lucile pledged $5 million of the expected $12 million construction cost. The Melchers have donated some $8 million to UH to date, including funding for the College of Business Administration's Melcher Hall and for the Melcher Gymnasium.

Melcher, who attended UH in 1933 and 1934, made his fortune with the chain of UtoteM and Ranger Market convenience stores.

The center, which has been in planning stages for more than a decade, is expected to greatly relieve overcrowding experienced by staffs of both the television and radio stations.

KUHT occupies a building on the far south end of campus off Cullen Boulevard. The main building was constructed in the 1950s, and additions through the years have worked to keep up with the station's increasing need for space.

Radio station KUHF occupies space in the Communication Building. A temporary building was recently installed to help ease crowded conditions in KUHF's offices.

The two stations hope the increase in space will help them through new technology and may lead to increases in staff in the form of student interns.

KUHT's instructional television courses, which account for more than one-third of the station's programming at last report, will give students in particular the chance to reap the benefits of new station technology.

Last year, the UH System Board of Regents appointed Dallas-based architectural firm Rees and Associates to design the facility. The firm has had experience designing various broadcast facilities over the past two decades.

Rees and Associates has been working on possible plans for this project for several years.

The new 60,000-square-foot facility will be constructed on land between Elgin Boulevard and the Gulf Freeway, near the Computing Center.

The building is scheduled for completion by fall 1999, according to UH officials.

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