The New Media Landscape

Jun 1, 2012

When I was young I had a fascination for all things technical. “Kind is it?”  “Size is it?” “What is it?” were the queries to my parents even before grammar and syntax became important. And while my parents did their best to answer my questions, my curiosity was both quelled, and stimulated, by broadcasting.

The Zenith radio next to my bed took me to places I had never dreamed of. Especially at night, the plethora of distant signals bouncing off the ionosphere at once, took me to Boston, and then to Chicago, to Atlanta, to Houston, and even to Toronto, all with a slight adjustment of a dial illuminated by the comforting glow of vacuum tubes. The power of the spoken word, in a myriad of different accents, stimulated my imagination and actually induced me to get to bed on time in the hopes of hearing something new, unique and exciting.

Amazing and Unexpected Places
Television brought its own sense of adventure. The private listening of radio morphed into communal viewing as ideas were shared and core values nurtured in a familial setting. With the addition of pictures, a whole new realm was uncovered. That small black and white screen, with rounded edges, took me to amazing and unexpected places. Even though there were only a few channels to watch, and stations signed on and off seemingly at will, I was hooked. I distinctly remember staring at a test pattern patiently waiting for what the day’s program would bring. TV taught me about people and places I had only heard about. The pictures brought culture to life and helped define my sense of the world.

Learning from the Best
As the years have slipped by, my fascination with the media, and those who helped define it has grown. I have been fortunate to learn from the best. Jim Quello, a 1935 graduate of MSU, got his first broadcast job at WKAR-AM. He later went on to lead WJR-AM through its golden years. And at a time when most people were content to retire, Jim enjoyed unprecedented bi-partisan support for his 23-year stint on the Federal Communications Commission. To the end, Jim was an ardent supporter of the value of free over-the-air broadcasting and all the responsibilities that entails.

Charles Osgood carries on in a similar tradition, upholding the values of responsible broadcast journalism and perfecting the use of the medium to convey powerful thoughts and ideas. His lyrical style of writing focuses the attention on the topic rather than presenter, and his inclusive delivery style involves the audience in ways that painfully few of his peers can match. These pioneers, along with many, many others have helped shape my views and given me a standard to strive for on a daily basis.

A New Journey
And so it is with a great sense of pride and responsibility that I embark on this new journey with WKAR. I am committed to the value of public media and am honored to work with our talented and dedicated professional staff as we set out to explore the new media landscape.

While the screens have gotten larger and more colorful than my boyhood memories, the value of the imagery is more important today than ever. On the radio side, the proliferation of musical styles and delivery options makes creation of a high quality product mandatory to stand out amongst the crowd. The advent of web-based digital media, be it streaming of content or community outreach via social media, has given us one more avenue to present our audiences and members with the utmost in quality.

No matter the outlet, we will strive to honor the rich heritage that public media has built, respect the legacy of those who have gone before us and build a sustainable organization that will pass along our fascination and commitment to quality for generations to come.

I’ll look forward to sharing further thoughts on our vision, direction and plans in the months ahead.