In November 2002, GM Dale Ouzts retired after 23 years and Tom Rieland became the fourth general manager of WOSU.
On April 5, 2005, Classical 89.7 WOSU-FM became the first station in central Ohio to broadcast a digital radio signal, officially starting the digital “HD Radio” era in Columbus.
In February, 2003 WOSU-TV went digital and provided the first multi-cast digital signal in the Columbus market which provided more than one channel using digital broadcast technology).
As part of the digital transition, WOSU had to transition to purchasing digital production equipment including high definition television recording. The impetus to invest in digital equipment and expand its community impact led to an agreement with the COSI Columbus (Center of Science and Industry) in downtown Columbus to share space and build new broadcast studios and outreach space.
With initial seed funding from Ohio State University, WOSU@COSI opened in September 2006, after three years of planning and renovation.
WOSU had success in major gifts to fund the facility, including the largest single gift in history from Battelle ($1.6 million) and other major support from AT&T, Nationwide, Scotts Miracle Gro and AEP, along with a number of individual gifts. The unique nonprofit partnership was lauded across the country and the PBS related NETA Conference was hosted in Columbus to showcase the facility.
WOSU@COSI houses a state-of-the-art digital media center, and has been designed as community space; a local gathering place for civic engagement, forums, performances, events, and meetings; an interactive exhibit area; and television and radio studios. The media center occupies approximately 12,000 square feet of space in COSI’s former Gallery 1.
In an effort to expand its news and public affairs audience, on January 14, 2008, WOSU-FM switched to a mixed news/classical format, introducing NPR news magazines during morning and evening drive-times along with several popular NPR weekend programs such as Weekend Edition,Car Talk, and Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!, plus This American Life from Public Radio International. Many of these programs were simulcast with its AM sister station WOSU-AM.
In December 2010, WOSU purchased commercial station WWCD. That station was given new call letters – WOSA – and switched to a full-time non-commercial classical music station.
WOSU-FM switched to a full-time NPR news/talk format, simulcasting with WOSU-AM.
WOSU also converted four of its repeater stations: WOSB in Marion, WOSE in Coshocton, WOSP in Portsmouth and WOSV in Mansfield to all classical music services. This established all day public radio news and public affairs and all day classical on two FM stations in central Ohio for the first time.
“Columbus Neighborhoods: Short North” debuted in March 2010, the first part a documentary series. “This project is the largest in WOSU’s history and we’ve been gratified by the community response and support,” said WOSU Public Media General Manager Tom Rieland. “We believe Columbus Neighborhoods, running through 2012 and beyond, helps us understand who we are, so we can understand where we’re going as a community.”
Television staff regularly produces Columbus on the Record, In The Know, and Broad & High, and continues to document local treasures such as the Ohio State University marching Band (“Pride of the Buckeyes”) and the now-closed Lazarus department store Many Happy Returns to Lazarus).
The radio side remains busy, earning No. 1 radio news operation in Ohio for 2010 and 2011, while the classical folks produce the Amadeus Deli, Saturday on Stage, Saturday with the Pops, Serenata, Symphony at Seven, and live broadcasts of Columbus Symphony, Columbus Jazz Orchestra (including the first broadcast from the newly renovated Lincoln Theatre using robotic cameras), ProMusica Chamber orchestra, etc.
On December 15, 2011, WOSU concluded a transaction to sell the 820 AM frequency, which served the University and community well for over 89 years.