Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Is Broadcast House Doomed?

The Hartford Courant reports today that Broadcast House, the longtime home of television station WFSB, Channel 3, may be demolished once the station completes its move to a new facility in Rocky Hill. The building, at the foot of Constitution Plaza, has been on the market for two months, but there have been no takers. Part of the problem is Broadcast House's unique configuration; using it for anything other than a TV station would require gutting the interior, according to the Courant.

When it opened in 1961, Broadcast House "was hailed as a marvel of modern architecture and technology, the first structure to be completed on Constitution Plaza after the razing of the Front Street neighborhood," the newspaper reports. The occasion was "so momentous" that a bronze sculpture and original symphony were commissioned for the dedication ceremony. "The music was later released as a record because so many wanted a copy," according to the Courant.

At the time, the CBS affiliate went by a different name: WTIC. It became WFSB following its sale by the original owner, the Travelers Insurance Cos. The call letters were later picked up by a new station, Fox affiliate Channel 61.

In his blog, WFSB anchor and reporter Dennis House explains why the station is heading for the suburbs:

"Broadcast House was built in the early 1960s, and it shows. This iconic building has served us well for the past 46 years, but it was constructed when our news crews shot stories on film, and technology has progressed rapidly since then.

"When Broadcast House opened, there were parking lots where skyscrapers now stand. For years, there has been no employee parking. Even all of our news vehicles can't fit in our rather small garage. Our new building has plenty of parking."