WKAR is top dog

By Justin Anderson
WKAR staff members accept MAB Awards: (from left) Jon Whiting, Mike Mihalus, Gary Reid, Luke Schwarzneller, Susi Elkins, Tim Elkin. Courtesy photo.

Local PBS affiliate wins seven awards, including Public Television Station of the Year

Friday, March 15 — For the second year in a row, local PBS affiliate WKAR-TV (Channel 23 in East Lansing) was named Public Television Station of the Year by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. WKAR was honored at the 2012 Broadcast Excellence Awards on Wednesday. This is the fifth time it has been honored with the award, which is more than any other station in Michigan. WKAR broadcasts from the College of Communication Arts and Sciences building on the campus of Michigan State University.

“WKAR TV is an important part of the MSU family and a key broadcaster for mid-Michigan,” said Pamela Whitten, Dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences via email. “We have ramped up both the quality of programming for our viewing audience and the opportunity for MSU students to gain invaluable experience in the wide array of broadcasting activities.”

In addition to being named public station of the year, WKAR received the highest honor, the Award of Excellence, in two other categories: Marketing Materials Promotion and News and Public Affairs. It also received second place honors, Awards of Merit, in the Cultural and Performing Arts category and the Sports-Outdoor or Recreation category.

Its sister radio station, WKAR-FM, was also honored at the event with two awards. ”Current State” host Mark Bashore won an Award of Merit for his story “reWorking Michigan,” which focused on Baker Drive Train, a Haslett business that manufactures world-renowned motorcycle transmissions. Bashore also won an Award of Merit for investigating the loss of 130,000 Ingham County Records with his story, “County Records Glitch.”

To win the award, a station is evaluated based on its community outreach and engagement, community programs, educational programs and the overall programs schedule. The station must also submit a narrative explaining why it believes it should win the award. All the awards that WKAR won were for programs it produces, including “Backstage Pass” (which won an Award of Merit), seen in 82 other markets throughout the United States. WKAR also shows flagship programs such as the critically acclaimed “Downton Abbey,” “Antiques Roadshow” and “Frontline” in addition to their own TV and radio shows.

WKAR reaches about 250,000 people throughout mid-Michigan and is the area’s only public station.