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Periodic posts from Susi Elkins, WKAR general manager and director of broadcasting

Getting the Inside Out – 50 Years and Counting

Off the Record with Tim Skubick - 50 Years

Dear Friends,

In 1972, NASA’s Mariner 9 spacecraft sent back the first pictures from Mars orbit. Richard Nixon was reelected president. Atari introduced Pong, the first arcade video game. And HBO, the first premium cable service, launched that year.

And in 1972, on February 4, the first episode of Off the Record aired from this public broadcasting station on the campus of Michigan State University. The guest on the first show was Lt. Governor James Brinckley, facing a panel that included news correspondents from the Detroit Free Press, UPI, and WJR. Anchoring the discussion was Tim Skubick, show producer and legislative correspondent for WMSB (later to be known as WKAR).

Now, 50 years later, Off the Record is the longest running statewide public affairs program in Michigan. Tim Skubick, who today is Michigan's senior capitol correspondent, has anchored nearly every episode. Guests have included Governors Milliken, Blanchard, Engler, Granholm, Snyder, and Whitmer, either while in that office or as candidates. Skubick and his press corps colleagues have interviewed political figures representing every corner of Michigan and national figures including presidential candidates.

I first discovered the show as a student employee at WKAR -- coming in to work and having someone say, "You're going to run camera for Off the Record." It was really intimidating at the time because Tim Skubick is pretty commanding in his role, bringing newsmakers and correspondents together, asking the tough questions, and "getting the inside out," as he likes to say.

It wasn't long before I came to understand the role that the show plays in informing us all about what the issues are that we should be paying attention to and helping us learn as much as we can so that we can make smart decisions. It was exciting and one of my best experiences as a student having the opportunity to work on a show that makes such a difference in people's lives.

For WKAR and our partner public broadcasting stations, it's our mission to make sure that our communities have the resources they need to make decisions to better their lives. That's ultimately the role of Off the Record. And every person and organization who supports that mission -- individual donors, corporate supporters, volunteers -- is making a difference for their community.

I believe those who invest in public affairs and news reporting have a special place in history right now, when it's so necessary for the people of our state to gain factual information, hear insightful analysis, and get an inside look at the nitty gritty details behind decisions being made in and around our Michigan Capitol Building.

As Off the Record reaches this milestone, we’re proud to celebrate 50 years providing timely news and information to Michiganders. Congratulations and thank you to Tim Skubick and the hundreds, if not thousands, of journalists and political figures who have appeared on the show to keep the public informed and up to date on the political issues that affect our lives.

Thank you to our WKAR members and donors who have made this longevity possible.

And thank you to our public broadcasting partners in Michigan and Indiana for their production support and for providing Off the Record to their communities: WGVU-TV Grand Rapids, WCMU-TV Mt. Pleasant, WTVS-TV Detroit, WDCQ-TV University Center, WNMU-TV Marquette, and WNIT-TV South Bend.

Yes, it’s been 50 years… and counting. Off the Record with Tim Skubick continues to serve that vital mission -- getting the inside out -- that began with that very first broadcast in 1972.

Onward!

signature: Susi

Susi Elkins
Director of Broadcasting and General Manager

News from WKAR will never be behind a paywall. Ever. We need your help to keep our coverage free for everyone. Please consider supporting the news you rely on with a donation today. You can support our journalism for as little as $5. Every contribution, no matter the size, propels our vital coverage. Thank you.