TWR Tries to Raise the Roof (Money)
While listeners may
associate radio with disembodied voices or the sounds of sports or musical
instruments, Radio World readers are well aware of the importance of the
physical equipment used to produce and transmit content — and also the
buildings that house that equipment.
Trans World Radio,
a nonprofit Christian ministry that evangelizes internationally through radio
programming, sees the replacement of a leaky roof in its Cary, N.C., office as
crucial. The organization is trying to raise funds to replace the roof on its
Americas regional and international headquarters. Here TWR produces and
distributes radio programming primarily to affiliated stations in the Western
Hemisphere; about 70 people work there.
put out a newsletter titled “When It Rains, It Pours.” It told readers that the
staff had to grab trash cans and buckets to catch drips of water, and asked for
donations. “This is a serious situation as it puts the building, along with its
equipment and furnishings, at risk — not to mention that it keeps us from
focusing on our mission here at Trans World Radio.” And it posted a video
making its pitch (see below).
organization was founded in 1952 by Dr. Paul E. Freed with the goal of broadcasting
in then-communist Spain. It uses multiple platforms to reach its audiences.
Because of the variety of needs and technological resources available in the many
countries it serves, TWR employs high-powered AM/MW, shortwave and FM radio, in
addition to streaming content to Internet users.
Alexander Knauss, former maintenance coordinator for TWR’s Cary office, the
roof project is expected to cost $89,814. Knauss was trained in historic
preservation by the National Parks Service, and he emphasized the roof’s
importance:“The number one thing they
will always say, when it comes to building maintenance and historic
restoration, is [to maintain] the integrity of the roof of the structure.”
Although the office was built in 1991, Knauss emphasizes that
maintenance and preventative care are crucial, no matter the age of a
structure. “Because we have been good stewards, we have been able to extend the
life expectancy of this particular type of roof by about a decade,” he said. “We’ve
certainly had to do some repairs along the way, but I believe we’ve taken good
care of it.”
Over the years, the roof has produced
anxiety. Knauss explained that heavy rain storms, which are not uncommon in
Cary, produce very specific concerns. “You’ll actually get a pond up there
maybe, which rises above the rocks and can sit an inch above the rocks. Of
course, that’s a tremendous amount of water weight on that roof,” he said. “If
there are any leaks, potential seams that could create a leak, that’s when
you’re going to have them, too.”
“Obviously, from a
radio broadcaster’s perspective, they do not want to have ceiling tiles come
down on their equipment. They do not want to have water migrating down on very
expensive sound or recording equipment.” A new roof should also cut cooling
costs. The white thermo plastic polyolefin material will reflect the sun’s rays
and better insulate the building, allowing the facility to operate with smaller
Additionally, if a leak should appear, it
will be much easier to locate the source. At present the staff must track every
leak on an overlay of the building’s blueprints before heading up to the roof,
clearing off the rock ballast system and, finally, repairing the fissure.
(The roof not only shelters but supports equipment. “There is
some minimal new dish system we put up there on the roof to capture news
feeds,” Knauss said. “Our president, Lauren Libby, is a ham radioman, and he
can’t get that out of his blood. So he has got an antennae system up on the
roof, too. He loves to hear our transmissions from some of our world sites. He
has that coming down into the building and can show our cooperating
broadcasters what the sound of an actual show is like from point A to point B.
Even though we’re not a target area here, you can still pick up many of our
stations with good reception.”)
Even in the age of
online streaming and social media (which have been incorporated into the
organization’s outreach), traditional radio is still the key medium for TWR’s
ministry. “There are many areas of the world where radio is still the number
one way of getting into remote areas or areas where they certainly put
restrictions on the use of Internet,” Knauss said.
Libby is featured in the fundraising video below.