NextGen members Mary Steblein and Jennifer Caton pose on the "Citywise" set during the WXXI tour on July 10.

“People always say there’s nothing to do in Rochester. I just think they’re not looking hard enough,” NextGen Member Jennifer Caton said to me, as we made our way through the floors of the WXXI news station. We were among the six NextGen Rochester members who opted to join the Rochester Chapter of Young CPAs for a tour of WXXI on July 10. As we made our way through the station,  I couldn’t help but agree.

The tour had kicked off with a lovely social hour, followed by an introductory glimpse into the many services WXXI provides the Rochester-area community. “We are WXXI…we are you,” Radio Host Julia Figueras reminded us. And as she ran through the litany of programming and reporting WXXI does, from the extensive coverage at the annual Rochester Jazz Fest to great kids’ shows like “Homework Hotline,” from education to healthy living to the arts, I realized how fortunate we are, especially this day in age, to have an organization so deeply committed to sharing all the great things this city has to offer.

The welcoming messages wrapped up and we broke into groups for our tour. Our guide, Peggy, a WXXI volunteer of six years, gave us a thorough tour of WXXI’s many rooms and studios. The space was much bigger than I’d imagined, with a massive control room, lots of interview and editing rooms, a sound-proof music studio, a special satellite room to connect with national broadcast studios and much more.

NextGen Member Luticha Doucette on the set of "Homework Hotline"

The most popular part of the tour was a big room with four TV sets. Noticing our excitement, Peggy gave us extra time to embrace the inner child in us all — posing on the “Homework Hotline” set and doing mock interviews on the set of “Citywise.” There was an audible “oo” or “ah” with every new room we were shown. Check out some of the great photos NextGen Member Mary Steblein was kind enough to take on the tour.

For me, the part of the tour that resonated most was when Peggy showed us a special editing studio, which had been outfitted with a customized machine that enabled a blind radio host to continue to edit his show in the digital age. The work he did was in conjunction with a service WXXI provides for the visually impaired, in which they enlist volunteers to read the local community newspapers over the radio. Peggy told us that anyone with a doctor’s note can get the receiving device needed, at no charge, to hear the news program.

Wow, WXXI really does everything, I thought to myself. I wasn’t alone. The rest of the group was equally taken aback, I think, by the quantity and quality of services that WXXI provides for residents in the Rochester area. How do they do it? With help from people like you, we’re told. To learn more about WXXI, visit http://interactive.wxxi.org/.