Category Archives: MAPB

WCMU Welcomed NPR’s Renee Montagne to Michigan

Renee Montagne

This week, WCMU Public Media hosted National Public Radio special correspondent Renee Montagne.  She made an appearance in Midland at the Midland Center for the Arts on March 13 and in Traverse City at the Kirkbride Hall/Grand Traverse Commons on March 14.  Both appearances were free and open to the public.

Montagne, who has earned many of journalism’s top honors, was host of NPR’s Morning Edition from 2004 to 2016. Today, her career with the network continues as a special correspondent.

Montagne’s most recent assignment has been a yearlong collaboration with ProPublica reporter Nina Martin, investigating the alarming rate of maternal mortality in the U.S., as compared to other developed countries. The series has won every major award in American journalism, including a Peabody award, a George Polk Award and Harvard’s Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Journalism. The series was also named a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize.

“Renee Montagne has set the standard in journalism through her penetrating tenacity and compassion for people,” said Ken Kolbe, general manager of WCMU Public Media. “As the spotlight on the journalism profession intensifies, Ms. Montagne’s comments are certain to be enlightening.”

“Montagne also will take time during her visit to meet with communication students in Mount Pleasant from Central Michigan University’s College of Arts and Media,” Kolbe said. “She cherishes opportunities to meet with future professionals in the communication field to share her insights and answer their questions.”


Michigan Radio’s “Believed” Wins Prestigious Scripps Howard Award

During the live broadcast of the 66th Annual Scripps Howard Award winners on Tuesday (3/5), it was announced that Michigan Radio’s Believed podcast series has won this year’s Jack R. Howard Award for Radio/Podcast In-Depth Coverage. The Scripps Howard Foundation announced its award winners in 15 categories, honoring the best in American journalism from 2018. Other finalists for the Radio/Podcast award were WNYC Studios in New York for the “Aftereffect” podcast and WBEZ Chicago and The Chicago Tribune’s podcast project, “16 Shots.”

Believed, which was produced by Michigan Radio and NPR, dealt with the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal. Beyond the criminal case, it shared the important stories of the young women, athletes and survivors who were affected.

“The lifelong costs and consequences of childhood sexual abuse were made vividly, urgently clear in the superb Michigan Radio series Believed,” said the Scripps Howard Award judges. “Using interrogation tapes, archival audio and in-depth interviews with the victims and their families, the Michigan Radio reporters skillfully led listeners through a staggering loss of innocence.”

The Scripps Howard Awards are one of the nation’s most prestigious American journalism competitions. The awards honor work from television stations, networks, radio and podcasts, visual media, online media outlets, independent producers, newspapers and print publications.

With a focus on high-impact reporting, the awards recognize journalism that spurs action, and news organizations that go the extra mile to expose previously undisclosed or misunderstood information. Other Scripps Howard Award winners this year include the BBC, Frontline-PBS, The Los Angeles Times, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times/ProPublica.

This is Michigan Radio’s second Scripps Howard Award. The station received a 2016 award for its ongoing coverage of the Flint water crisis.

Michigan Radio’s Believed team will receive its award at a live show hosted by Michelle Miller, co-host of “CBS This Morning: Saturday” on April 18, 2019.

MI History Magazine Recounts WKAR-TV’s Earliest Days

By: Scott Pohl, WKAR Public Media

Credit: MSU archives

It’s been 65 years since WKAR-TV (East Lansing) went on the air as Michigan’s first non-commercial, or as it was known at the time, educational, television station.  The January-February issue of Michigan History magazine includes a story about WKAR-TV’s earliest days.

Writer Larry Stone tells WKAR’s Scott Pohl via Skype that he worked at the station in the early 1960’s. The facilities were located in steel Quonset huts originally used to house student veterans. Listen to the interview here:

LARRY STONE: It was really a challenge for a number of reasons. They were round, they did not have a flat roof, and because of the roof we were very limited in what we could do as far as lighting was concerned. The floors were uneven as far as camera moves. That was before zoom lenses were prevalent and we had to dolly and truck cameras all over the place.

They were hot in the summer and cold in the winter, a really major problem when it was raining. They were tin roofs. If it was raining the rain would make a lot of noise, and thunderstorms of course was out of the question in order to record anything or produce anything because of the shape of the huts themselves.

Credit: MSU archives

SCOTT POHL: The station was initially called WMSB-TV. Some have said that stood for Watch Michigan State Broadcasting. Is that how you remember it?

STONE: That’s how I remember it. The announcer was Charlie Castle, and he did come on the air every day and did station breaks. All the station breaks were done live, and he’d say “watch Michigan State broadcasting, WMSB.”

POHL: In researching this story, did you learn anything you hadn’t known before about WKAR-TV?

STONE: A couple of things that I learned was WKAR was only the second ETV station on the air in the country, and the other thing that really stood out was the fine arts programming that we did with Dr. Don Pash. It received national attention, as did a special that we did for NET, National Educational Television, called “The Genetic Revolution.” It was a really early thing on genetics and how important they would be.

POHL: Today, WKAR-TV has a 24-7 kids channel, but your story reflects how important children’s programming has been for a long time on WKAR-TV.

STONE: We had in-school broadcasts for classes. I think there were over 60,000 students that participated in that all over central Michigan. There were a number of other shows that we produced locally that were very popular. One of them was “Land of Play” that was on and live every morning most mornings with Helen Shaw. Another popular thing was “Culver’s Club House,” which was a kids program where there was a peanut gallery, and kids would come in and they had quite a large membership of that too. I think there were over 6,000 kids that watched “Culver’s Club House” all the time. That was Jim Culver, another local person in the Lansing area.

Reprinted by permission

IPR News to Launch Weekly Show: ‘Points North’

Interlochen Public Radio’s IPR News has announced that it is launching a new weekly show called Points North.  The program is a 10-minute segment where listeners explore northern Michigan through the news, the people and places.

The show will blend traditional hard news stories about the issues that are important to you with segments about the region and its people.  News Director Morgan Springer said, “You’ll hear things that are important to you like the opioid epidemic and you’ll also meet interesting characters like someone who makes clothes out of fur, maybe you’ll hear a recipe or commentary on Northern Michigan.”

Points North will air twice on Friday Mornings beginning February 22 and will also be available on the web and as a podcast.

Peter Whorf Joins Staff of WRCJ-FM

Peter Whorf

DPTV/WRCJ-FM (Detroit) has announced that it has selected Peter Whorf to become its regular midday classical music host, beginning March 11.

For the last six years, Whorf has been radio station manager at WKAR Public Media, where he oversaw the expansion of the WKAR News team, launched a number of new classical music shows and created programming partnerships with stations across Michigan.

“It’s been a pleasure working with my colleagues at WKAR and being on the air in mid-Michigan over the past six and a half years,” said Whorf. “I’ll miss my co-workers and friends, but I’m thrilled at this new opportunity to return to my home town and engage in Detroit’s rich classical music community as a member of the DPTV/WRCJ-FM team.”

Peter Whorf’s last day with WKAR will be Friday, March 8.

“We’re pleased that Peter has chosen to join WRCJ-FM,” said Station Manager Dave Devereaux. “He brings not only an extensive knowledge of classical music to the Detroit airwaves, but also a special ability to connect with listeners and studio guests. We look forward to sharing his love of classical music with new audiences.”

Whorf holds a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, has a distinguished career in classical music broadcasting.  Prior to WKAR, he spent seven years as Program Director for WFMT-FM in Chicago, IL. He has also served as producer and on-air host for WBEZ-FM in Chicago and for radio stations in New York City and Colombia, MO.

Elkins Elected to America’s Public Television Stations Board

Susi Elkins

By: Julie Sochay, WKAR Public Media

Susi Elkins, director of broadcasting and general manager of WKAR Public Media at Michigan State University, has been elected to the board of directors of America’s Public Television Stations (APTS). The announcement was made on February 7. Her three-year term begins Monday, February 25, 2019.

APTS is a nonprofit membership organization that works to ensure a strong and financially sound public television system and help member stations provide essential public services in education, public safety and civic leadership to the American people.

“It is an honor to be elected by my public television peers as a new trustee of the APTS board,” said Elkins. “I’m thrilled to serve an organization dedicated to helping member stations provide essential public services in communities across the country.”

Under Elkins’ leadership, WKAR has solidified its reputation as a community institution through strategic partnerships and collaborations, and significantly increased its commitment to early childhood education. University partnerships at Michigan State have increased the station’s capacity for providing award-winning research-based content, as well as experiential learning opportunities for students.

In collaboration with MSU, Elkins led the effort to launch the first ATSC 3.0 experimental station licensed to a public media organization. Granted the FCC experimental license in June 2018, the test station is designed to explore the potential of NextGen TV to build stronger communities through education, news and information, arts, science and culture. Prior to her appointment in March 2017, Elkins served in a variety of roles at the station, including Interim Director, Television Station Manager, Content and Community Engagement Manager, public television Producer and instructional television multi-media Producer.

Elkins holds a bachelor’s degree in telecommunication and a master’s degree in educational technology, both from MSU.

Elkins joins other newly-elected trustees: Carolyn Edwards, Lay Trustee, Vegas PBS in Las Vegas, Nevada; Franz Joachim, General Manager & CEO of New Mexico PBS; Garrett T. King, III, Board Chair of Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA); Vickie Lawson, President & CEO of East Tennessee PBS in Knoxville, Tennessee; and David Steward II, Board Chair of Nine Network of Public Media in St. Louis, Missouri. Newly elected as an at-large trustee to the APTS board is Larry D. Unger, President & Chief Executive Officer of Maryland Public Television.

Visit for a full list of new board members and leaders.

WKAR’S Curious Crew Begins Season 5!

Photo credit: Amanda Pinckney / WKAR-MSU

WKAR Public Media (East Lansing) has announced that the 5th season of Curious Crew debuted this past Monday, February 4.  The Emmy Award-winning science show, produced by the station, is seen on public television stations nationwide.

Dr. Rob Stephenson and his crew of inquisitive kids continue to take a hands-on approach to scientific exploration. Join them as they investigate electromagnetism, bioplastics, soccer science and more!

The new season includes 10 new episodes, each featuring a Curious About Career with Curious Crew cast member Janellyn and Genesis. In these segments, fans can look forward to learning about careers with female professionals working in a wide variety of STEM-related fields.

Each Curious Crew episode in the series also includes a set of Curiosity Guides, a step-by-step guide that kids, parents and educators can use to do their own investigations at home or school.

Steven Karl Meuché: 1944-2019

Steven Meuché in 2003

The MAB has learned that former WKAR Director of Broadcasting Steven Meuché, passed away January 23 at age 74.

He received both a B.A. and M.A. in telecommunications from Michigan State University. He spent his career, beginning in 1965, at MSU, where he eventually became the general manager of WKAR radio stations and director of Broadcasting Services. He was a member of the board of directors of National Public Radio and the president of the Michigan Association of Public Broadcasters among other distinguished positions in radio and television communications.

He retired in 2004.

Undated file photo from the MAB archive

Susi Elkins, the station’s current director of broadcasting and GM, described Meuché as a “champion of WKAR’s education efforts,” specifically through his role in launching Ready to Learn on WKAR-TV in 1996. The federally funded initiative expanded public TV’s involvement in preschool education through programming and local outreach programs. Meuche remained “committed to that work” even after the U.S. Department of Education program reduced its funding to local station projects.

“WKAR is the community institution it is today because of Steve’s leadership, innovative spirit and business acumen,” Elkins said. “He was skilled at spotting and encouraging potential in employees, and many of us attribute his time and attention to the positive development of our careers.”

He is survived by his wife Susan Meuché, his two sons Matthew (Grace) and Patrick (Natalie) Meuché, his brother Robert (Kim) Meuché, his grandchildren Alexis (fiancé Nicholas Goodman), Peyton, Melanie and Abigail Meuché.

No formal service has been planned because Meuché “was a man who preferred to celebrate life,” according to an obituary. The family requests memorial donations to the Greater Lansing Food Bank’s Garden Project.

WKAR & WGVU Win 2018 NETA Awards

Group photo of all winners at the 2018 NETA Awards ceremony

Public media’s achievements in instructional media, community engagement, promotion and general audience content were honored this past Monday night, January 21 in Salt Lake City at the National Educational Telecommunications Assocation (NETA) Awards presentation.  Two Michigan public television stations were recipients of awards.

WKAR Public Media (East Lansing) was recognized in the category Community Engagement Based on a Local Initiative. The award was for the Playtime Pad Research Project.  The Playtime Pad Research Project investigates the effectiveness of tablet-based learning initiatives in early childhood math literacy, while providing access to the latest digital learning tools for students, teachers and parents.

WGVU Public Media (Grand Rapids) received honors in the Performance category for the program Hope College Christmas Vespers.  The program is a celebration of the true spirit of Christmas and features some of the most beautiful choral and instrumental music of the season.  The program is produced by WGVU and is seen on public television stations nationwide.

The gala evening was the opening event for the 2019 NETA
Conference and CPB Public Media Thought Leaders Forum.

“Every one of us working in public media today can be proud of the NETA Award winners,” said NETA president Eric Hyyppa. “When you look at the achievements that these projects represent, making our services relevant and valuable to our communities, you can’t help but be inspired for the future.”

The NETA Awards are an annual recognition of public broadcasting’s finest work, a tradition established in the 1960s by NETA’s precursor, the pioneering Southern Educational Communications Association.


WKAR to Host PBS Kids Day January 26

WKAR Public Media will be hosting “PBS Kids Day” on Saturday, January 26 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  The event is free for viewers and their families and will feature hands-on activities for kids, resources for parents and a visit from Super WHY!

The event will also celebrate the 5th birthday of Curious Crew, a program produced by WKAR where inquisitive kids take a hands-on approach to investigating principles of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) with Emmy award-winner Dr. Rob Stephenson.

Families will also get to experience a live Curious Crew demonstration with Dr. Rob, as well as opportunities to participate in investigations.

The event hosts over twenty community partners and activity tables.