Celebrating 100 years, community leaders gather at WKAR
On Aug. 18, 1922, WKAR first took to the air waves as an AM radio station, broadcasting agricultural news and information from what was then Michigan Agricultural College. One hundred years later, on Aug. 18, 2022, WKAR Public Media hosted a gathering of community leaders and special guests to help launch a yearlong celebration of a Century of Service.
“The station’s first college-sponsored broadcast was a 15-minute speech from the college president, David Friday, on May 13, 1922,” said Shawn Turner, interim general manager of WKAR. “Six days later, authorization was granted for a radio station. When final licensing was completed, the station officially went on the air August 18, 1922.”
Speakers and honored guests for the evening included Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., MSU president; Teresa K. Woodruff, MSU provost and executive vice president for academic affairs; Prabu David, dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences; Patrick Butler, APTS president and CEO; Meghan Martin, Arts Council of Greater Lansing executive director; John F. Lansing, NPR president and CEO; and April Clobes, MSUFCU president and CEO. Paula Kerger, PBS president, and CEO and Patricia de Stacy Harrison, Corporation for Public Broadcasting president and CEO, provided remarks via video.
“In my 16 years as CEO, this is the first time I've had the opportunity to celebrate a station marking a centenary milestone,” said Kerger via video message. “From fine arts to public affairs, WKAR embodies the best of the spirit of public media to use its platforms to educate, engage and inspire your community.”
WKAR began as an AM radio station broadcasting agricultural news and information. It has grown into a robust media organization that includes WKAR TV, WKAR Radio, wkar.org, Radio Reading Service, WKAR Digital Studios and WKAR Family.
“WKAR’s mission to connect people to powerful ideas that inspire personal growth, exploration of our world, and positive change is evergreen,” said Patricia de Stacey Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), in video message. “As a station, it has led by example.”
With the founding of PBS in 1969 and NPR in 1970, WKAR became part of a growing network of TV and radio stations dedicated to informing, educating and inspiring viewers and listeners with an ever-broadening scope of content.
“WKAR was one of the original founders of NPR,” said John Lansing, president and CEO of NPR. “On behalf of our 1,200 employees, 700 journalists, 17 foreign bureaus, 17 national bureaus, and 265 awesome member stations, we all say to you, congratulations on 100 years and a century of service.”
The station was honored with a Certificate of Congressional Recognition from U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow. Also showcased at the event was a Special Tribute to WKAR, signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist.
“It is with genuine pleasure and deep gratitude that we recognize WKAR Public Media for their 100 years of extraordinary service to the state of Michigan,” the governor and lieutenant governor wrote in their tribute. “Over the course of their history, WKAR has provided thousands of Michiganders with vital resources for information, education, and inspiration.”
The evening was the first of two special events in the anniversary week to kick off the commemorative year. The second, a community celebration, was held on Aug. 20 and drew nearly 400 visitors from the community to tour the station.
The Century of Service celebration continues through June 2023 and will include historical highlights shared on WKAR television, radio, and online; and additional community events, both in-person and virtual.
MSUFCU is the lead underwriter of WKAR’s Century of Service. Additional support is provided by Consumers Energy.