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Periodic posts from Shawn Turner, WKAR general manager

When I think about this past year

Speaker on stage
Amanda Pinckney
Shawn Turner, then interim director of broadcasting and general manager, addresses guests on the 100th anniversary of broadcasting by WKAR in August 2022.

Dear friend of WKAR,

Where does the time go? A colleague of mine here in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences recently reminded me that December 1, 2023, marked one year since I officially began in my role as general manager at WKAR. I had served as interim general manager since April of 2022.

When I think about this past year as general manager and the months served as interim GM, I can’t imagine a better introduction to WKAR’s long history of service and to the people we serve today in our community.

It has been a busy and inspiring time.

We wrapped up a yearlong celebration of our 100th anniversary of serving Michigan and our MSU community. We hosted stakeholder and public open houses in our studios in August 2022, had an award-winning appearance in the MSU Homecoming Parade (Best Campus Department Float!), hosted PBS KIDS Day in January, and put a capstone on the celebration with the opening of the WKAR Century of Innovation exhibition at the MSU Museum.

I’ve been inspired by that look back at our early history and the high standard of innovation and excellence set by my predecessor in this role. To build on the legacy and keep the momentum as WKAR looks to the future, we’ve launched a number of new initiatives.

We restructured and expanded our team for success. In this ever-changing media environment, it’s essential to adapt the way we work to ensure maximum collaboration, creativity, and innovation across the physical and virtual work environments. A new strategic plan serves as a roadmap for the future and is allowing our team to focus on key components of our mission: Content and Education; Development and Communications; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Broadcast and Digital Operations; Radio Operations; and Business and Administration teams.

To expand our capacity to deliver programming when, where, and how our viewers and listeners prefer, we created two new positions for WKAR. Our director of digital engagement is charged with helping us reach new audiences through our websites, social media channels, and other digital platforms. Our assistant news director and editor works with WKAR news and the digital content team to create meaningful and thought-provoking multimedia news content that is tailored to the interests of the community.

We’re conducting a comprehensive community survey to help drive our decisions around engagement and the creation of new programming. The early results are already helping us learn more about the type of news, information, and entertainment that matter most to mid-Michigan residents. The goal is to deliver a wider variety of programming that reflects the diverse interests and needs of the communities we serve.

Our leadership team has established a two-track student experiential learning program that affords MSU students the opportunity to join WKAR as paid part-time employees or as interns in our new WKAR Public Media Internship Program. Both opportunities allow our award-winning WKAR team members to have a hand in training, developing, and inspiring the next generation of public media professionals, supporters, and ambassadors.

These efforts have laid a foundation for our work in the new year as we move forward on our mission to inform, educate, and inspire.

I hope you’ll follow WKAR as we create new shows and content that reflect the interests and needs of Michiganders. From health and technology to the arts and the great outdoors, we’re listening, and we’re committed to delivering more WKAR.

Watch for new opportunities to visit our studios for a glimpse behind the scenes, where award-winning TV, radio, and digital content is created every day; and find us out in your community at special events where you can connect with us and share your story.

I’ll be sure to share updates as we form new partnerships for collaboration across our Michigan capitol region and Spartan communities.

When I think about what lies ahead, I’m so very honored to be a part of the legacy of WKAR and a steward of the future of WKAR Public Media at Michigan State.

Thank you for being a part of that future with us.


signature: Shawn Turner

Shawn Turner
WKAR General Manager
Michigan State University

P.S.: One of the first new shows we’ve been developing premiered as a special this week on WKAR television: “Beyond the Score with Al Martin.” This special is a pilot episode for a potential new series to launch in 2024. Check out Beyond the Score on YouTube, where you can leave a comment and let us know whether you’d be interested in seeing more like this from WKAR. It’s also available at video.wkar.org and in the free PBS App.

Shawn Turner is general manager at WKAR Public Media at Michigan State University.
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