For immediate release
April 16, 2002
Jenny Lawhorn

NPR Expands Westward Coverage, Presence Enhanced With New Production Center

WASHINGTON, DC - In a far-reaching step toward national expansion, NPR has purchased property in Culver City, CA, that will house a new multimedia West Coast Production Center. NPR plans to begin occupying the 25,000 sq. ft. building at 9909 Jefferson Boulevard in September 2002, following improvements to equipment and acoustics. NPR's Los Angeles news bureau and the production staff of The Tavis Smiley Show will be the first groups to occupy the center, which will eventually accommodate about 90 employees.

Adding to a tradition that began more than 20 years ago, NPR's expanded presence in the West will enable NPR producers, editors and reporters to more broadly explore and reflect the cultural diversity and innovative spirit of the region. NPR's reporting from the West will emphasize trends in culture, the arts, entertainment, new media and music and will examine the business side of the arts and entertainment industry. The new center will also boost NPR's reach to dynamic Western audiences and communities that are uniquely represented in the region, and that reflect America's rapidly changing culture. It will also strengthen NPR's connection to scores of member stations throughout the West, serving millions of listeners.

"California has been an early testing ground for some of the most significant developments in American society, culture and politics," said Kevin Klose, president and CEO for NPR. "The West Coast Production Center will deepen NPR's connection to the creativity, thought, diversity and trends that are hallmarks of the American West, bringing listeners a broader world of ideas, events and culture."

At a time when most broadcast news organizations have reduced bureau operations, NPR has continued to expand and now has 11 foreign bureaus and 19 domestic bureaus. The West Coast Production Center is the first large-scale production center NPR has established outside of Washington, DC. As NPR's second-largest facility, the center will also provide emergency backup to the network.

A total of $6 million in contributions toward the acquisition, equipment and operating costs of the West Coast Production Center have come from generous foundation donors, including $1 million from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, $2 million over two years from the James Irvine Foundation and $3 million over two years from The David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

NPR acquired the property in Culver City through a transaction with the Welk Group, Inc., the holding company for the Lawrence Welk family interests. The Lawrence Welk Foundation assisted in the transaction, ensuring that NPR's vision could be realized. "We are very pleased to have the opportunity to work with the family of Lawrence Welk, who himself has had such a rich relationship with public broadcasting over the years," said Ken Stern, NPR executive vice president.

"We are proud to have been able to assist NPR in its West Coast initiative and have enjoyed working with the wonderful people of NPR," said Marc Luzzatto, president of the Welk Group.

NPR, renowned for journalistic excellence and standard-setting news, information and cultural programming, serves a growing audience of nearly 20 million Americans each week via more than 680 public radio stations. NPR Online at brings hourly newscasts, news features, commentaries and live events to Internet users through original online reports, audio streaming and other multimedia elements. NPR also distributes programming to listeners in Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa via NPR Worldwide, to military installations overseas via American Forces Network and throughout Japan via cable.

The Welk Group, Inc., is the holding company for the Lawrence Welk family interests. The Welk Group owns and operates the legendary singer-songwriter, folk and blues music label Vanguard Records, the roots, folk and bluegrass record label Sugar Hill, and the easy listening label Ranwood Records. In addition, Welk has significant commercial real estate holdings and owns and operates resorts and timeshare resorts in the Palm Springs and San Diego, California, areas and a music-oriented resort in Branson, Missouri.