By Laura Beth Saaman, V/T Commercial student intern
Justin Antoniotti, the President and General Manager of WPTZ and WNNE, joined the station in July 2016, relocating from a similar position in Pittsburgh. His job involves virtually all aspects of what makes the station run smoothly which includes programming and entertainment from three different networks running on three different channels.
The designated market area that WPTZ covers includes the state of Vermont, a few counties in New Hampshire, and upstate New York. For years, the station operated out of a studio in Plattsburg, NY with a smaller studio in Colchester. As the station grew and advanced technologies became integrated into its broadcasts, the parent company, Hearst Stations out of New York City and one of the nation’s largest media companies, decided it needed to construct a new, modern facility in Vermont– effectively replacing its Plattsburg location. V/T Commercial was hired to work with Justin and his team to find the new location in Vermont.
“The search was probably longer than from what V/T Commercial is used to. We had various specific requirements for what we needed to operate a television station. I had to help drill down to those key requirements that we had and then Tony and the V/T Commercial team had to apply those to what was available. We looked at a lot of property and it all came back to those key requirements. If we didn’t have those things it wasn’t going to be a successful location for us.”
Justin said some of their key requirements shifted as they viewed spaces and saw what was available, but there were several needs that had to be met. The new location had to have an unencumbered line of site to face Mount Mansfield in order to send signals to the transmitter on the mountain top. The station also needed clear connections to its satellite in the southeastern sky. Most importantly, the search had to be kept completely confidential so as not to disturb its current staff or alert its competition. The search process ultimately took about 2 ½ years to successfully complete and its new, state-of-the-art studio opened in South Burlington in the summer of 2019.
“We are very excited to be moving forward and finally opening this location. I think for us to have a better physical facility really allows everyone to better serve the community. At the end of the day that is what it is all about: how we serve our community. This facility will allow us to do it at a different level because we have all new equipment, all new beautiful workplaces and I know our team is going to be thrilled to get to utilize that.”
Justin found the expertise that Tony and the V/T Commercial team had to be integral in the process. He described his experience that made working with V/T Commercial so successful.
“I found Tony and V/T Commercial to be extremely well connected and to be very knowledgeable about what our needs were. I find that to be successful you need to surround yourself with those who recognize the challenges and know how to conquer them. I think V/T’s knowledge about everything that was available or was about to come available was key. I was very grateful that we were working with a team that was aware of all our possibilities because it took us a long time to find something that checked every box to work for us.”