WYSO plans to move to historic Yellow Springs building with help from Dave Chappelle

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WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio, will vacate its studios on the Antioch College campus after the lease ends in 2023 for a historic school near downtown.

Dave Chappelle, a Yellow Springs resident and WYSO supporter, bought the Union School House last year. After hearing that the station was looking to relocate, he offered to renovate the building to WYSO’s specifications and rent space at the station.

“This move to a new building and the relationship with Dave is not just a facility solution for us,” said General Manager Luke Dennis. He pointed to the building’s location, next to a main village road where cars and pedestrians might notice it more than they do at its current location on campus.

“We see this as an important part of our audience development efforts,” he said.

The new building will include community gathering spaces for up to 120 people, where Dennis said the station hopes to host studio performances and continue the audio production training that WYSO offers to community members. Additionally, the performance space offers options for digital engagement opportunities, such as a YouTube channel.

“We’ve always wanted to have a really good, camera-ready setup where we can film the bands playing live on WYSO and have more digital offerings around our music programming,” said Dennis.

WYSO began exploring relocation options after acquiring its Antioch license and becoming independent in 2019. The station has been in its current office since 2012. The building has a leaky roof and lacks spaces large enough for shows or events.

The current building also does not have enough room to accommodate WYSO’s growth. The station has tripled its reporting staff in the past 18 months and plans to continue to grow.

WYSO considered building their own studio in Yellow Springs, but decided the project would be prohibitively expensive. Given the recent transition to independent ownership and the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic, station executives have decided now is not the right time to launch a major fundraising campaign, Dennis said in an e -mail. Rental options in Yellow Springs were scarce, and the resort briefly considered researching locations outside of the village.

That’s when Chappelle called and said he wanted to help ensure the station stayed in the village, Dennis said. Chappelle offered to renovate their newly acquired historic building to meet WYSO’s needs and work with the resort to negotiate a long-term lease.

Dennis said that without Chappelle’s offer, the station would likely have stayed in its current building for a few more years to reassess its fundraising capacity. Antioch hopes to eventually sell the building, which might have left WYSO with few options to stay in Yellow Springs.

“The fact that we can stay in the village for sure – everyone is celebrating,” Dennis said. “It’s a small town, but a huge percentage of the people who live here listen and are members.”

The construction project, funded by Chappelle’s firm, Iron Table Holdings, and designed by architect and former Yellow Springs resident Max Crome, will include a complete renovation of the existing building, a 10,000 square foot addition and a radio tower 150 feet. WYSO will occupy the basement and the first floor, while the second floor will house the professional offices of Iron Table Holdings.

“We hope that the publicity we get from it will get more people to listen to WYSO and that there will be creative synergies with Dave,” said Dennis. “Really talented and interesting people come to Yellow Springs all the time to interact with Dave… It’s an added benefit to being in his orbit that we could interview people or [that] musicians who come to town to work with Dave could organize a workshop for our young high school radio students.


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