News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 21, 2011

Construction set to begin on Channel 10 facility

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — WTHI-TV Channel 10 is getting set to move from its longtime location at Ninth and Ohio streets to a new facility one block to the west.

After securing tax abatements for the project, WTHI-TV and officials from Garmong Development are now moving forward with plans for a new, two-story, 21,000-square-foot building at Eighth and Ohio streets.

Construction is expected to begin later this month and to wrap up in the spring with WTHI planning its first broadcast from the new building in May of 2012.

The 75 employees of WTHI-TV are looking forward to having a new, state-of-the-art facility in which to work, said Todd Weber, vice present and general manager of the broadcast operation.

“It’s going to be fun and it’s going to be exciting,” he said.

The estimated cost of the broadcast facility, including the land, building and equipment, is $6 million, according to the tax abatement petition filed by WTHI-TV and Garmong Development. Garmong is building the facility and WTHI-TV’s parent company, LIN Television Corp., plans to purchase the property after the building is completed, according to the petition.

New television stations are not built very often and constructing a new one from scratch is a challenge, Weber said. But this also presents opportunities to improve equipment, studios and efficiencies at the longtime broadcast operation, he added. Most programming on the station, including the news broadcasts, will be in high definition, Weber said.

The move for WTHI-TV will coincide with a move less than a block to the north by WTHI-FM radio. This will mark the first time in more than 50 years the television and radio operations, now under separate ownership, will be in different physical locations.

In addition to securing tax abatements for the new facility, another last minute hurdle to the construction of the new TV station was an attempt within the Terre Haute City Council to block planned construction of a new, 199-foot relay tower next to the new building. That effort died in the council in July, allowing construction plans to move forward.

“This multi-million dollar project reflects our tremendous commitment to our community, views and advertisers,” Weber said in a news release. “We are very proud and honored to be able to stay located in downtown Terre Haute and to help grow and redevelop the downtown area.”

WTHI-TV and radio have operated from the three-story building at 918 Ohio St. since 1954. Well known broadcast journalists and personalities such as Phil Jones, Joseph Benti, Betty Chadwick, Howard Caldwell, Bob Forbes and Jerry Van Dyke worked at WTHI-TV and radio over the years.

WTHI-FM and WWVR-FM, radio operations owned by Emmis Communications, will be moving to a planned new building at 925 Wabash Ave. Once the television and radio operations are out of the 918 Ohio building, Thompson Thrift, a local contractor, plans to demolish the building to construct a parking lot for the planned 925 Wabash building.

Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.

By the numbers

• The estimated cost of the project is $6 million.

• WTHI-TV and radio have operated from the building at 918 Ohio St. since 1954.

• WTHI is planning its first broadcast from the new building in May of 2012.