Austin PBS Holds Groundbreaking for New Home on ACC’s Highland Campus

Austin PBS, the city’s nonprofit television station, held the grand opening of its new headquarters on the Highland campus of Austin Community College on Saturday.

The station – also known as KLRU – operated at the University of Texas for about 60 years before moving to the 45,000 square foot Austin Media Center. The new space includes three television studios, including the Pfluger Keller Community Soundstage and a studio for ACC’s public-access channel, ACCTV.

Luis Patiño, president and CEO of Austin PBS, said the new location gives the station more space, additional community rooms and a black box studio to use for new productions. He said the biggest opportunity offered by the move is the ability to partner with students and the ACC communications and outreach department.

“This stunning facility allows Austin PBS to be more accessible, facilitating focused engagement around educational, social, civic and cultural content in a flexible environment,” Patiño said in a press release. “We look forward to inviting the community, collaborating with local creators, and sharing stories from our diverse and compelling city, not just locally, but nationally and globally.”

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Austin PBS, which was originally founded in 1962 as KLRN (KLRU was created in Austin from what is now San Antonio-based KLRN), has been planning the move from UT since 2018. new location, Austin PBS will continue to tap shows such as “Central Texas Gardener” and “Overheard with Evan Smith,” while taping of the station’s long-running concert series “Austin City Limits” will remain at ACL Live at the Moody’s Theater.

Patiño said being at a community college allows the station to work with a more diverse group of students, including those who attend other ACC campuses in Austin. The station also plans to promote diverse programming by creating Spanish content and partnering with creators who create content focused on culture, music, education and civic engagement, he said.

Fiona Feder, 4, dances on the Austin Kiddie Limits family lawn during Saturday's grand opening of the new PBS headquarters on Austin Community College's Highland Campus.  The station operated at the University of Texas for about 60 years.

“ACC is probably one of the most innovative colleges and one of the colleges in the city that’s probably doing some of the best work at really making college affordable and accessible,” Patiño said. “They’re really intentional about reaching out to the community, so it’s just a huge opportunity for a community media organization like ours.”

During the grand family opening ceremony, the station welcomed the audience with appearances by PBS KIDS characters, story readings and performances by artists such as DJ Chorizo ​​Funk.

In addition to listening and dancing to hours of live music, attendees made puppets, built their own wildflower bundles, played with green screen technology using backdrops from PBS Kids and recorded messages in a sound booth that will air on Austin PBS.

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Austin Mayor Steve Adler, ACC Chancellor Richard Rhodes and other community leaders hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to kick off the dedication. Rhodes said the partnership between Austin PBS and ACC will provide students with the opportunity to gain real-world experience and prepare to join a highly skilled workforce.

“ACC is the nation’s leader in transforming the way students learn. The college strongly believes in equity, diversity and inclusion,” Rhodes said in a press release. “Like Austin PBS, ACC puts the community first, which makes partnering a natural fit.”

Patiño said the new location will be a hub for early learning programs and civic engagement within the community. In addition to the station’s programming, he said, he hopes the facility will eventually host town halls or events such as mayoral or gubernatorial debates.

Brett Newman and his daughters, Luna, 4, and Cora, 1, pose with Princess Presto on Saturday at the grand opening of the Austin Media Center, the new Austin PBS headquarters.  Activities included food trucks, music, story time and photo ops with PBS characters.

“The biggest goal is to really make Austin PBS one of the top leaders in the nation’s public broadcasting system,” Patiño said. “We believe there’s no reason we can’t create content that resonates in the local market, is relevant statewide or regionally, and also has the potential to be a national show.”