Michigan State University and WKAR-TV have put the power of information in the hands of Flint residents through a new tool that navigates community resources in the wake of the ongoing water crisis.
The mobile app “Empower Flint” provides a checklist of important actions people can take to protect themselves, their families and pets as they battle elevated lead levels in the water supply. Released March 1, the app was developed by a team of researchers and specialists from MSU, the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, and WKAR-TV in collaboration with the people of Flint.
“Our goal was to build something that adapts to the needs identified by Flint residents, and that stands the test of time as community needs evolve,” said Kami Silk, MSU associate dean for research and professor of communication and agbio research. “Our hopes are that the app will fill an information gap and be embraced as coming from a trusted and familiar voice in Flint: MSU.”
The app’s “find” operation enables users to search for the closest water stations, free water filters, lead testing sites, community events, and sources of nutritious food. Users will also find directional maps, news feeds, and volunteer and community activities at their fingertips. Most important, “Empower Flint” pushes out critical alerts about water safety, lead levels, and immediate steps that residents can take for personal and public health.
“We saw a lot of experts and community partners providing a lot of important information,” said WKAR-TV Station Manager Susi Elkins. “Since we’re communicators, we saw it as a chance to put our expertise to use for the greater good and devise a way to make communicating that information as easy as possible.”
Associate Professor of Media and Information Brian Winn led the development of the app starting in mid-January with members of the College of ComArtSci’s GEL Lab. Silk and Elkins assembled ongoing focus groups of residents to test and provide feedback the app.
The app may be downloaded to both iOS and Android devices here.
On February 26, WGVU (Grand Rapids) held its 27th annual Wine and Food Symposium, presented by D&W Fresh Market. Station supporters were able to sample from over 300 wine and beer selections as well as gourmet food from around the world and were able to converse with experts on the menu.
Those attending were also treated to live music by Dutcher Snedeker on the piano.
The event was held at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. More photos here.
Longtime Traverse City broadcaster Phillip “Phill” Earl Orth passed away March 6 at age 66 in Traverse City.
In a March 8 article in the Traverse City Record-Eagle, it was noted that Phill was “a well-known Traverse City radio disc jockey who was awarded gold records for being an early supporter of songs like ‘Play That Funky Music’ and ‘You Sexy Thing.’ To this day, many people remember him fondly as “Orth of the North.” Later in his career as a sales manager for the MacDonald Broadcasting stations in Petoskey, he enjoyed mentoring his team to help them be successful.
Phill was also involved in Traverse City politics at a young age, serving as both mayor of Traverse City and a Traverse City Commissioner.
Phill is survived by his wife, Linda Weeks; his daughter, Mareesa (Jason Spykerman) Orth; brother, David Orth; and sister, Lois Orth, both of Traverse City; stepchildren, James (Julia) Kreft, of Madison, Wisconsin, and Katie (Ryan) Brang, M.D., of Marquette; two grandchildren, Sonja and Sylvia; and his beloved Samoyed dog, Macy.
Blarney Stone Broadcasting’s WGRY-AM 1230 (Grayling) has become WMQU-AM 1230, after a partnership with Baraga Radio.
Baraga Radio Network – The Catholic Light for Northern Michigan – will lease the station for seven years. At the conclusion of the contract on Feb. 28, 2023, BSB will donate the FCC license and transmitting equipment to Baraga.
“People may know us for our world-class rock station and our sports talk station, but we’re thrilled to join Baraga and help expand faith-based radio in Northern Michigan,” said Sheryl Coyne, President and CEO of Blarney Stone Broadcasting. “We’re extremely proud to show yet another aspect of our commitment to this community. “While we liked having our AM station as an alternative during conflicts in our live sports coverage, we feel this is a much better use for it, and we look forward to a tremendous partnership with the good people at Baraga.”
On January 15, the call letters were changed to WMQU (Mary Queen of the Universe); the format change went into effect on March 1.
Baraga Broadcasting, a listener-supported radio network in Northern Michigan, proclaims the Truth and beauty of the Roman Catholic Faith by offering educational and inspirational programming that aims to engage its listeners and encourage them to live out their Faith in Jesus Christ.
“We are so excited to be able to bring Catholic radio to the people of Grayling and the surrounding communities,” said Therese O’Brien, general manager of the Baraga Radio Network. “We have been overwhelmed by the positive interest received from all of the local Catholic churches. Baraga Radio Network will be a spiritual boost and a light in the darkness for these souls and for the many visitors to our area.”
On February 26, WXYZ-TV (Detroit) celebrated the one-year anniversary of its downtown street-side studio. The celebration included live coverage and special interviews throughout the day on the station’s newscasts.
The studio is located inside the Qube building on Woodward Avenue along Campus Martius Park. It provides 7 Action News viewers with a unique look at the heart of the city and the year-round activities in the park.
The downtown studio is home to 7 Action News at noon with JoAnne Purtan. It is also an integral part of 7 Action News newscasts and has become a central location for interviews with the region’s top newsmakers. It’s a premiere location for downtown events and special programming, including musical performances on the patio.
“The feedback from the community and our viewers has been tremendous,” said Mike Murri, vice president and general manager of WXYZ and WMYD. “We are thrilled to be part of the resurgence in Detroit and to provide viewers with this unique perspective on downtown development. The studio in the Qube showcases our goal to be part of the rebirth of the city we serve.”
The downtown broadcast studio takes WXYZ-TV back to its roots. The station first began broadcasting in 1948 from studios inside the Maccabees Building in Detroit’s Midtown. Sixty-six years later, Detroit’s legendary television station returned to broadcast from the heart of the city.
Jermont Terry has joined WDIV-TV (Detroit) as a news reporter, bringing 15 years of reporting experience to the station. He began working at WDIV on February 29.
Prior to moving to Detroit, Terry worked as an investigative reporter, where he led the I-Team unit at WTMJ, which is the Milwaukee NBC affiliate’s investigative team. He also spent time working at WXII, the NBC affiliate in Greensboro, North Carolina, and four years working as an investigative reporter at WKYT, the CBS affiliate in Lexington, Kentucky. Terry also worked as a producer and reporter at WLFI, the CBS affiliate in West Lafayette, Indiana. Terry started his journalism career on the AM/FM dials in his home state of Illinois, while attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The Chicago native graduated with a Bachelors of Science Degree in broadcast journalism from the College of Communications at the University of Illinois. In 2015, The Milwaukee Press Club honored Terry with a first place award for best investigative series. Throughout his career, he has been honored with numerous awards including an Associated Press award for Best Enterprise/Investigative Story. His work and contributions at WKYT and WXII led to the prestigious Edward R. Murrow award. Jermont is an active member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the Investigative Reporters and Editors.
A name many Michigan broadcasters have come to know over the years, James A. Bridgewater, District Director of the Federal Communications Commission’s Detroit office, retired on February 29, following a 37-year career.
Karole White, MAB President/CEO writes about Jim:
“One of the first people I met when I came to work for the MAB in 1985 was Jim Bridgewater, of the FCC Detroit Office. MAB EAS Chairman Larry Estlack wanted me to meet Jim. I was quite nervous; after all it was the FCC. We went to Detroit and I met a tall man with a kind, warm face and intense eyes. He spoke about helping broadcasters meet the rules of the FCC. He extolled the virtues of the broadcasting industry and what a great job our members did in serving their communities. Jim was a real cheerleader for our industry. He would point out when we were wrong and work with us to correct any errors that we may have inadvertently made. You could always call the Detroit District Office and ask Jim a question without fear. He always said he would rather answer a question than dole out a citation.
Over the next 31 years, Jim and I would speak many times and work together on several projects. He was always helpful, efficient, and a man of his word. He was kind but decisive, not just in Michigan but throughout his region, which included Michigan, Ohio, and Eastern Kentucky. Jim spoke at MAB conferences, helped us set up our Alternative Broadcast Inspection Program (ABIP), went on tour with us when we did our DTV Transition meetings and seminars, and assisted us in shutting down some very notorious pirate broadcasters.
Jim was a graduate of Purdue University and began his career with the Detroit Special Enforcement Facility in 1977 and transferred to the FCC Detroit Field Office in 1979.”
In 1994, he was promoted to the District Director’s position, having served in that capacity until retirement. With retirement, Jim and his wife will travel, visiting their son in the Los Angeles area and their daughter in the Orlando area, while also keeping busy with various hobbies that includes Bikram yoga and amateur radio.
In leaving, Jim said, “It has been an honor and privilege to work with the Michigan Association of Broadcasters and to serve the great state of Michigan”.
Karole White concludes:
“No Jim the honor was ours, to know such a kind honorable individual as you. You have helped to shape the Michigan broadcasting industry and the MAB into the strong organization it is today through the guidance you gave to our volunteer leaders and staff.
Thank you my friend and enjoy your well-deserved retirement.”
If you have ever had a chance to participate in NAB’s annual Call on Congress, the one thing that strikes you the most is the value that the Congressional delegates place in local Broadcasters. While there are many forces working against our industry, they still understand our role and respect what we do for our communities. But that highly valued position cannot ever be taken for granted. We must continually be doing our part in developing relationships to insure that our legistlative leaders comprehend the challenges we face in serving the public. If we don’t do it, who will? Our members have consistently stated that one of the most important facets of what the MAB must do is monitor legistlative activity and maintain strong congressional relationships. I’m proud to say that the MAB, with Karole and Elena leading the effort, is well represented in that effort.
That all being said, we can’t rely solely on their activity to have impact. WE NEED ALL MEMBERS TO HELP. The MAB provides a number of avenues to create those vital contact points between Michigan’s Broadcasters and our Legislative leaders. Whether it is through the Call on Congress or at the Legislative Reception, held at the upcoming GLBC in May, the MAB works tirelessly to provide the opportunities to make those personal connections with our leaders. One of the most effective ways however, is to take the time to invite your Congressmen or Congresswomen to your station or visit them at their offices when they are in district. To aid you in that effort, download this 2016 Congressional Calendar that provides you when they will be back in Michigan so you can take advantage of that opportunity. If you are uncertain what to discuss, I would encourage you to reach out to Karole and/or Elena, who can provide you with the up-to-the-minute talking points that will make a difference.
Your involvement is crucial for the continued success of not only your station but our industry as a whole. The recent news events across our great state demonstrate the need for a viable, strong, and evolving Broadcasting industry. Your participation in the communication process to our elected leaders is needed as well.
On February 12, CBS Radio’s WWJ-AM Detroit raised $1.5 million in the 13th annual “Winter Survival Radiothon” for The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW) . The money was raised over a 14-hour period. THAW provides emergency energy assistance to families in financial crisis due to job loss or serious illness.
THAW’s utility partners match every dollar raised.
Since 2004, WWJ’s Winter Survival Radiothon has raised more than $12 million in cash and utility match for THAW. Photo credit: Marisa Fusinski/WWJ
On March 11, 2016, Cumulus Media’s Flint radio stations (WDZZ-FM, WFBE-FM, WWCK-AM/FM and WTRX-AM) teamed up with their sister stations in Huntsville, Alabama to hold a community bottled water giveaway in Flint.
The stations made available a semi truck full of cases of water to all Flint residents, while supplies lasted.