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WKAR’s Drew Henderson Moves on to Next Chapter in Professional Journey

Portrait: Drew Henderson
WKAR-MSU
Drew Henderson

Drew Henderson, WKAR senior director of broadcast operations, is leaving WKAR to embark on a new personal and career adventure. After more than a decade at WKAR, Drew is pursuing his lifelong passion of aviation.

“Last summer, I began taking flying lessons and got my private pilot certificate last fall,” said Henderson. “It’s something I have wanted to do since age 17 when I went for my first flight ever in a Cessna 182. I really enjoyed being a student and learning from my flight instructors, so I’m going to work towards becoming a flight instructor myself, and perhaps fly jets someday.”

Henderson joined WKAR in August 2013 as radio chief engineer, where he ensured that radio operations ran smoothly across the station. In 2019, he was promoted to the position of senior director of radio strategy and operations, and in 2021, he was promoted to senior director of broadcast operations. In that role, Henderson oversaw broadcast operations for WKAR Radio and WKAR News, leading the teams to deliver high-quality content to the mid-Michigan regions they serve.

Under Henderson’s leadership, WKAR won the Outstanding News Operation award from Michigan APME three years in a row. WKAR was also named Michigan Public Radio Station of the Year under Henderson.

“As part of the leadership team, Drew has contributed to the success of several high-impact organizational initiatives that are a large part of the reason our radio news, information, and entertainment operations continue to thrive,” said Shawn Turner, WKAR general manager. “I am grateful to Drew for all he has done to support and advise me during my time as GM.”

Drew Henderson came to WKAR after working for Midwest Communications, where he was the network administrator for Midwest Communication' 13 radio stations in Michigan.

We asked Drew Hendersonto share his thoughts on what WKAR has meant to him over the past 11 years.

Do you have any particular point of pride in your time at WKAR?
WKAR is a daily part of the lives of thousands of people in mid-Michigan. From classical to education, to public affairs and news, I’m proud to have been a part of this vital service. Another point of pride has been watching MSU students gain experience in broadcast journalism. Several of WKAR’s student employees have gone on to prominent roles in media.

Do you have a standout memory from WKAR that left a positive impact on you?
Meeting and interacting with our audience is always a pleasure. But, a particularly enjoyable occasion was when we held our Century of Service open house and were once again able to chat in person with listeners after emerging from the isolation of the pandemic.

What are some of your proudest accomplishments at WKAR?
I am very proud that WKAR won the Outstanding News Operation award from Michigan APME three years in a row, I'm proud of winning the Station of the Year award from the MAB, and I'm proud that we've had students win journalism awards for categories in which their entries compete with full-time journalists. Most of all, I'm proud to have been a part of a station that thousands of people turn to every day to stay informed and enjoy wonderful music.

Growing up in Michigan's thumb area, MSU had a visible presence with the MSU Extension office. I was a member of 4-H and I never imagined that someday, I'd have the opportunity to manage MSU's radio stations. I'm so proud to be a part of an institution that does so much good.

What can you share about the next steps in your professional journey?
Last summer, I began taking flying lessons and got my private pilot certificate last fall. It’s something I have wanted to do since age 17 when I went for my first flight ever in a Cessna 182. I really enjoyed being a student and learning from my flight instructors, so I’m going to work towards becoming a flight instructor myself, and perhaps fly jets someday. Just as WKAR has enriched the lives of many students on the path to a career in media, the idea of empowering the next generation of aviators to take flight is something that appeals to me. I’ll still be providing tech support services to a few broadcasters on a part-time basis.

To help strengthen our local reporting as WKAR's fiscal year ends, we need 75 new or upgraded sustainers by June 30th. Become a new monthly donor or increase your donation to support the trustworthy journalism you'll rely on before Election Day. Donate now.