Legislators visit WYSO amid station’s bid for state funds

Renovation is being handled by Dave Chappelle’s company Iron Table Holdings.

YELLOW SPRINGS — Comedian Dave Chappelle hosted state legislators and community leaders at the new site of the local WYSO radio station last Friday, as the organization requests $1 million in state capital funding for equipment.

More than half a dozen state senators and representatives from across Southwest Ohio met with Chappelle on Friday to view the renovation underway at the historic Union Schoolhouse in Yellow Springs. Chappelle’s real estate holding company, Iron Table Holdings, bought the building in 2020.

Chris Kershner, president of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, said the WYSO project was submitted to the region’s PDAC process (Priority Development and Advocacy Committee), where it was one of the highest-ranked projects seeking funding.

“It was a great meeting (at WYSO), and this is an exciting project that will contribute to the quality of life in the Dayton region,” Kershner said.

Legislators in attendance included Representatives Willis Blackshear, D-Dayton, Brian Lampton, R-Beavercreek, Susan Manchester, R-Waynesfield, Andrea White, R-Kettering, Scott Lipps, R-Franklin, Rodney Creech, R-West Alexandria, and Senators Bob Hackett, R-10, and Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg.

The radio station, which serves southwest Ohio, is currently located in an aging building on the campus of Antioch College. The renovation project, funded by Iron Table Holdings, includes restoration of the original structure and a modern addition.

WYSO has submitted a $1 million capital request for consideration in the upcoming state budget, to purchase and install state-of-the-art broadcast equipment, specialized acoustical treatment of the studios to make them more soundproof, and office furnishings. The total cost of equipment is $2.1 million, of which WYSO has already raised $1.1 million.

In February, Greene County commissioners awarded a $25,000 Community Investment Grant to Yellow Springs for that equipment, which the village applied for on behalf of WYSO.

If the legislature approves this capital request, the fundraising will be complete, according to radio station leadership.

“The Union Schoolhouse is the perfect solution,” station manager Luke Dennis said. “This partnership is yet another example of Dave Chappelle’s commitment to the cultural vibrancy of the Yellow Springs community and we’re grateful for the generous support he has given WYSO over many years.”

Constructed in 1873, the building is located near downtown and originally served as a schoolhouse for Yellow Springs. The new WYSO headquarters, designed by local architect Max Crome, will have room for a growing team of journalists and production space where the community can continue to produce radio shows alongside WYSO’s professional staff.

The headquarters also includes a performance space with an audience capacity of 100 people, which the station’s music division will use to host live performances from local and national acts.

“Dave’s not only restoring this iconic building, he’s positioning Yellow Springs to lead the effort to restore the region’s creative economy,” Dennis said. “A culture that Antioch College fostered back in the day, and one which made Yellow Springs a haven for art, music, academia and culture.”

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