On July 1, WKAR celebrated its first anniversary as part of the College of Communication Arts & Sciences at MSU. During a staff meeting this week, Dean Pamela Whitten and Gary Reid, WKAR's general manager, congratulated the staff on an amazing year of hard work and major accomplishments. As they gave us a snapshot of how far we’ve come in just twelve months, it struck me that each point of pride was in direct relation to how much we have opened ourselves up to our community.
For instance, WKAR-TV has taken the production of "BackStage Pass" into the community, with tapings at East Lansing Hannah Community Center in June and more to come at upcoming music festivals. It’s a challenge to take productions on the road, but we feel it’s worth it to get outside of our studios and experience a different venue with room for a bigger audience. Likewise, we’ve made some changes in our pledge campaigns to feature local organizations, businesses and community leaders who share our goal of helping to build a stronger community.
You may have also noticed the addition of some short video spots between programs. The idea behind these video “Billboards” is to weave a local thread, or a friendly face, throughout the daily program, and to remind viewers that the station here for you. I have enjoyed getting out into the community to record these so much, and the good news is I think they’re working. I love having folks stop me to say hello or comment on a program, which is happening more and more these days.
In addition to spreading our wings, we’re doing some internal retooling as well. WKAR Radio is in the process of renovating a new studio space that will be fitted with cameras. This means WKAR-TV and WKAR.org can more easily take advantage of appearances on radio shows by local lawmakers and public figures. WKAR-TV's Studio F has also been upgraded, and we have added a beautiful volunteer lounge to make those nights answering phones during pledge more comfortable for our volunteers.
We've always had a strong community presence, but it been re-energized in the past year. We've been at several festivals and will be at more this summer, and you may have seen our street team out there, taking photos and handing out WKAR buttons. We're also doing monthly "Evening at WKAR" events, which often include a program preview and related speaker.
It has been a terribly busy year, but one of fun and one of growth. Thanks for all your support during the past year. We do it for you and couldn't do it without you.