Steve Busch speaks in whispers, almost as if he's trying not to disturb the complicated machinery in front of him.

"Thousands and thousands of wires," he repeats, still in awe.

Earlier this year, he said, every single one "had to be unplugged, brought over here and plugged back in."

The time-consuming task was tackled by a small team of technically skilled workers and volunteers, who basically tore down the old White Rose Community Television studio and built it anew at the Rotary Kranich building, 120 S. Lehman St.

Busch, the station's director of regional partnerships, said it was a task that would have cost a pretty penny had they hired someone else to do the job. It's an example of WRCT trying to cut costs wherever possible, he said.

A television monitor on the studio wall shows Leigh Thomas of York City preparing her weekly show, An Ordinary Journey, on the White Rose Community
A television monitor on the studio wall shows Leigh Thomas of York City preparing her weekly show, An Ordinary Journey, on the White Rose Community Television station, with the help of Cliff Kern, the studios public access coordinator. The background for the show is generated by Kern on his computer. (Randy Flaum photo)

Budget issues: WRCT is nearly four decades old, but transitioned from a volunteer-run organization to a two-person department in York City's budget about six years ago. The station has faced tough financial scrutiny since.

But Busch is hoping WRCT will avoid the proverbial chopping block during the city's annual budget season this year.

First, he needs to raise about $30,000 and win the approval of people like York City Councilwoman Renee Nelson, who has repeatedly vowed to withdraw her support of WRCT if the station does not make significant strides toward self-sufficiency.

The station's budget -- a little more than $150,000 a

year -- includes two full-time workers and ongoing equipment updates. Volunteers continue to offset what costs could be, Busch said.

The bulk of the budget is funded by two sources -- franchise fees and a county contribution.

The city collects about $400,000 in franchise fees each year, and about $60,000 of it goes to WRCT, Busch said.

Two years ago, county commissioners first allocated $30,000 to WRCT. Last year, they agreed to double that amount.

The balance -- about $30,000 -- needs to come from somewhere else. Busch said he's recently begun asking the station's regular hosts to pay for air time. He's also planning a telethon and may start renting the studio to others.

Open house: On Tuesday, WRCT will host an open house from 4 to 7 p.m. at its new studio. The public is invited to stop by.

WRCT's new studio features state-of-the-art equipment, including a green screen and "virtual" sets for different shows. The studio cost about $220,000 to build -- all of which came from contract negotiations with cable companies.

Busch said he's hoping the open house will attract city officials to see what goes on behind the scenes at WRCT.

"I think it's important for council to ask those questions. I'm happy to answer them," Busch said. "We are part of city government, which means that we are part of the scrutiny. I believe that adds stability to the organization."

But, Busch said, he also thinks some city officials lack knowledge of how WRCT works. And that might have contributed to the station's status as a target for budget cuts, he said.

"They see what we produce, but they don't really know what we do," he said.

What's aired: The station films and broadcasts all York City Council, York City School Board and York County Board of Commissioners meetings. Those meetings are then available to watch on WRCT's website, www.wrct.tv.

Viewers can watch weekly shows hosted by backyard wrestlers, atheists and preachers -- to name a few.

Anyone is welcome to submit content for broadcast to WRCT. The station reaches about 100,000 homes in York County on Comcast cable channels 16 and 18.

"One of the reasons why I do this is because I believe in free speech," Busch said. "There is a value in allowing individuals to participate in the process of governing by watching what happens."

-- Erin James may also be reached at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.