WKAR is welcoming a key new member to its management staff. Peter Whorf joined our organization last week as manager of WKAR Radio--a total of six programming streams spread across FM, AM and the web.
Whorf is a 51-year old Michigan native who’s returning to the state after many years away. Since 1985, he’s worked at stations in New York City, Missouri and most recently, Chicago. He tells WKAR's Mark Bashore he’s experienced in programming both classical music, and news and information.
PETER WHORF: Both of those are a big part of my life--classical music and news and information-- by training and by professional and personal experience. As a kid, I started playing the violin when I was in fourth grade and developed a great interest in music, and classical music specifically. I was fortunate enough to have parents who were able to nurture that for me and then send me on to a musical education at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. So there was the classical music.
And radio was always a big part of my background growing up the Detroit area. I’ve always felt like southeastern Michigan and Detroit were great music and news markets. And you know, I was a news and music radio junkie as a kid-- classic 'transistor-radio-under-the-pillow every night' listening to the Tigers and the Red Wings and that sort of thing. So both news and classical music are near and dear to my heart.
MARK BASHORE: You were raised in the Detroit suburbs. How familiar are you with Lansing and mid-Michigan?
WHORF: Well you know as a kid on field trips, we visited the Detroit Institute of Art and the Historical Museum. And then of course we came up to the Capitol a few times to view the building and the chambers. And naturally as a kid growing up, I went to football games at both of the state schools and I also come from a mixed family of both the blue and the green. So I’ve been to both East Lansing and Ann Arbor many, many times over the years and I’ve gotten to know our mid-Michigan community quite well. But I attended neither. So I’m neutral up until now, but now I’m an MSU guy (laughs).
BASHORE: Talk to me about your “to do” list here at WKAR. What do you want to get done that WKAR listeners and members and underwriters might want to know about?
WHORF: The most important thing to me as a broadcaster is to think of what we do from the listener’s point of view--to create music and news programming that will serve our community number one. And that people will be engaged with, will help us to grow. I’d also like us to be more involved with our growing electronic media through those channels as well.
BASHORE:You’ve worked in Chicago for the past 12 years. Are you looking forward to a much smaller city?
WHORF: I love the university environment. It’s a great place to raise a family. I have a family and a whole bunch of kids at home myself. It’s also a great place to create public media. And I’m due for that university experience again. I worked in New York City and then I worked at the University of Missouri. Then it was Chicago for me most recently, and now here I am at Michigan State University. So I’m sort of alternating those large market and university experiences (laughs).
BASHORE: You come by your trade honestly. Radio listeners all over the Great Lakes have come to know you dad—Mike Whorf--host of WJR’s Kaleidoscope for so many years. Do you feel you were destined for a career in radio, or did you ever pursue another career path?
WHORF: Mark, I think I was destined though I didn’t know it at the time. (laughs) As a kid, I grew up with a radio studio in the basement of my house because that’s where my Dad did a lot of his work. So I’ve always been around microphones, turntables and tape but, you know, now it’s computer screens and cd’s and portable digital recording. But it’s really all the same stuff, isn’t it?
So from the basement of my house, I played around in my Dad’s basement studio and then he took me down to the Fisher Building on a regular basis, where I hung out in studio ‘D’ with my Dad. And when I needed to, I went to his office and threw paper airplanes out the window on the 21st floor of the Fisher (Building). I’m sure those windows don’t open any more. Can you imagine an 8 year old kid opening the 21st floor windows and throwing stuff out? (laughs)
BASHORE: Sounds like fun.
WHORF: It was. (laughs) I also used to like to take the elevators up and down and up and down and go down to the lobby by the Fisher Theater and buy hot dogs and popcorn, but I don’t think people let their kids do that any more. It was a different time. (laughs)