(l-r) Renee Montagne, co-host of NPR’s “Morning Edition,” UMSL Chancellor Thomas George and Tim Eby, general manager of St. Louis Public Radio, cut the ribbon to open UMSL at Grand Center, which includes a new studio space for the radio station that had been located on the main UMSL campus. Photo: Yeseul Park / The Current.


by Maddie Harned, Staff Writer for The Current

University of Missouri – Saint Louis, partnered with St. Louis Public Radio 90.7 KWMU, proudly opened their shared new building to the public at Grand Center on September 15 at 10 a.m. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to welcome fans of St. Louis Public Radio, UMSL students, faculty and staff and the general public to tour the building located at 3651 Olive Street.

Present at the ceremony was Tom Eby, general manager of St. Louis Public Radio, who gave a speech minutes before the cutting of the red ribbon guarding the building’s unopened doors.

“I think, for us, the most exciting aspect of this is to give the chance to the community to really see this exciting space,” Eby said. “It’s a space where we can see doing more community engagement at, and the academic side for students is that they will be able to have some incredible experiences with media, which is very exciting.”

During his speech, Eby read a statement issued by St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay that proclaimed Sept. 15, 2012 as UMSL at Grand Center Day in the city of St. Louis.

Two-thirds of the building’s space is occupied by St. Louis Public Radio, KWMU 90.7 FM, an NPR affiliate. The other third of the building houses UMSL academics with three classrooms and meeting spaces. The radio station previously broadcast from the UMSL campus.

“It’s a true partnership. We are certainly family, and the building really reflects that,” Eby said.

A crowd tours the new UMSL at Grand Center facility. Photo: Yeseul Park / The Current.

Representing the university’s side of the partnership was Tom George, UMSL Chancellor, who gave a brief speech. While onlookers waited for the ribbon to be cut and the building doors to open, George’s speech gave an overview of how the Grand Center building became part of UMSL.

“After many extensive discussions which really took place over six months to a year, there was an enthusiastic response that said, ‘Yes, we should come to Grand Center,’” George said during his opening speech. “Everything fell into place and we couldn’t be more pleased about this.”

After the ribbon was cut, receiving an eager round of applause from onlookers, the doors to the Grand Center building were opened to the public. Complimentary refreshments and cake were available in a buffet-style arrangement.

After attendees picked up a mid-morning snack, the option to freely tour the $12 million building was available. A live radio broadcast, music and various food trucks from local restaurants were also present at the event.

To ensure that no curious spectators got lost in the three-story, 27,000-square-foot space, St. Louis Public Radio employees were set throughout the building to answer questions and guide onlookers.

“It’s a big improvement from where we came from,” Roderick Hutchinson, St. Louis Public Radio membership department, said. “We were on the UMSL campus in Lucas Hall, but also operated out of Clark Hall, and now we’re all housed in one building, which brings us all together.”

The radio station’s premiere air-date from the new building was June 18, 2012. Since then, St. Louis Public Radio staff members have moved into their new base from their previous offices.

“I think it would be great to encourage all the students from UMSL to come down and see the space,” Eby said. “I think folks will be really excited to see the academic space.”