• Wayside Tour stations get audio updates

  • The Wayside Tour gets new audio updates.

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    As the oldest continuously active military reservation west of the Mississippi River, Fort Leavenworth is rich with history. To highlight some of the key spots, Fort Leavenworth established the Wayside Tour in early 2000 featuring places such as the Command and General Staff College, the Buffalo Soldier Monument and the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery on its 22-spot tour.
    Of the 22 Wayside points, 19 include audio to explain the history of each landmark.
    “It’s about sharing the rich history of Fort Leavenworth,” said George Marcec, Garrison public affairs operations officer.
    When the Wayside Tour first began, brick pedestals at each site contained audio playback machines, which were often affected by weather and other hazards, Marcec said. With recurring problems arising, it was clear the systems needed to be updated.
    “Technology required it,” he said.
    The solution came when the Friends of the Frontier Army Museum contracted an OnCell audio phone system to update and house the organization’s own audio files and offered to host the Wayside Tour audios as well.
    “With the advent of the internet and other technology, it was easier to put the audio we had on a phone system like the museum has,” Marcec said.
    From there, over the course of about nine months, the audio quality was updated, recut and, in some cases, rerecorded and added to the Frontier Army Museum site.
    Megan Hunter, FAM museum specialist, said it made sense to offer use of the OnCell system to the Wayside Tour.
    “A lot of people that come here to the museum are very interested in history, so it just makes sense to collaborate together and to keep it all in one space,” Hunter said. “A lot of the time people will come visit the museum and, when we tell them about the Wayside Tour on post they’re very excited to go and learn more about the post’s history.”
    Thanks to the generosity of the FFAM, Fort Leavenworth only spent $2,000 to update the signs and, with the new system, will actually be saving money, Marcec said.
    “Now we don’t have to have somebody going out there to fix wires and a lot of times breakers would get tripped or wiring would go bad,” he said. “The players themselves eventually would just die and we’d have to buy new ones. Those are several hundred dollars apiece every time we had to replace that plus the labor to fix it. So, it really has saved us a lot of money already.”
    Collaborative efforts went beyond using the museum’s OnCell system when it was learned that Kristi Lee, manager of the Leavenworth Convention and Visitors Bureau, was looking to update the city’s Wayside Tour audios as well.
    Page 2 of 2 - “It was just coincidence that we were both at the same time having to update it,” Marcec said. “So, we did all the audio for the ones downtown also. Kristi had the scripts and we kind of helped her massage the scripts and then we actually had someone here with us and we cut all the audio and then gave it back to her.
    “Getting people to visit this area and share the history is everybody’s job,” he said. “We work a lot with the CVB to try to get people to visit the area and check out our history and our natural beauty that we tell the people to come out and see. We work a lot with them, getting tours on the fort and having visitors come off-post and on-post so this is really just an extension of that. A lot of our history is very intertwined anyway.”
    There are three ways to access the audio at each stop. First is by calling the number posted at each stop on the tour and putting in the appropriate access code. Second is by scanning the quick response code on the sign. Third is by visiting frontierarmymuseum.oncell.com, which lists all of the audio from FAM and both Wayside Tours.
    “It’ll be guaranteed,” Marcec said. “You don’t have to wonder if the audio is going to play or not. Now, it’s more accessible from anywhere.”
    Hunter said the updated system adds to any stop a person may choose.
    “The audio gives it a voice and it gives you a little more information than what we put in the text because you can only put so much information without dragging it on,” she said. “So, in the audio we tend to add more fun facts, more interesting facts and give it a life.”
    For a map of the Wayside Tour, stop by FAM or visit https://garrison.leavenworth.army.mil/index.php/about/visitor-information.
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