In 65 years, Michigan Radio has established itself as the state’s most listened-to public radio service, as it helped pioneer a news and information format that draws more than 500,000 listeners each week across southern Michigan.
The station will mark that milestone with a 65th Anniversary Party from 7-11 p.m. Saturday, June 29. The event is open to the public with advance registration and will take place adjacent to the Ann Arbor Summer Festival’s Top of the Park celebration on Ingalls Mall.
“While many media outlets have cut back on their reporting, Michigan Radio has expanded its service and coverage of issues affecting the state,” says Steve Schram, who oversees Michigan Radio as director of Michigan Public Media. Schram says the station is dedicated to helping listeners better understand their state, nation and world with an awarding-winning team of reporters, and news bureaus in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Jackson and Grand Rapids.
WUOM began broadcasting in 1948 from its original site on Peach Mountain in Dexter. It is one of the three station transmitters that now comprise Michigan Radio. The others are WFUM in Flint, added as a satellite station in 1952, and WVGR in West Michigan, in 1961. The stations simulcast identical programming from WUOM’s Ann Arbor studios in the Argus Building. The programming also is available to a global audience as more than 100,000 people monthly listen via Internet stream and smartphone apps, Schram says.
In station’s 65-year history, some on-air personalities rose to regional and national prominence. Bill Flemming, who broadcast U-M football on WUOM and served as sports director, became a prominent national network television sportscaster in the 1960s, on ABC’s Wide World of Sports.
Hazen Schumacher became known for “Jazz Revisited.” The half-hour program produced at WUOM was a celebration of jazz recordings from 1917-47, and at was carried by more than 100 stations. Schumacher, 86, resides in Ann Arbor.
The station on Oct. 14, 1960, recorded presidential candidate John F. Kennedy’s three-minute impromptu speech before thousands of U-M students, who waited in the cold to hear him speak. “Fortunately, WUOM had committed to covering the Kennedy speech no matter the numerous delays that caused his very late arrival to the Union. This recording has been accessed many times over the past 50 years and is a foundation of documentation to the inspiration for the Peace Corps,” Schram says.
The station counts as a key accomplishment the creation in 1996 of The Great Lakes Radio Consortium, the first successful regional environmental news feed for public radio stations. Now named The Environment Report, Schram says it has since come to be recognized as a national leader in environmental broadcast journalism, earning more than 100 awards for journalistic excellence. “The mission is to reveal the relationships between the natural world and the everyday lives of people,” Schram says.
In keeping with the station’s mission to inform, educate and entertain people about Michigan and the world around them, the station last fall established its newest offering, “Stateside with Cynthia Canty” at 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The one-hour program covers Michigan news and policy issues, and culture and lifestyle stories. Guests have included Gov. Rick Snyder, writer Mitch Albom, blues singer Bettye LaVette, Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and Congressman Gary Peters.
Reservations are required for the 65th Anniversary Party. Go to www.michiganradio.org and click on the Celebrate our 65th display tile on the right side of the homepage.
Pat Greeley, facilities manager, College of Pharmacy, on his job: “I really enjoy working with the students and I like being a part of their education.”
“Isamu Noguchi and Qi Baishi: Beijing 1930,” presented through Sept. 1 at the U-M Museum of Art.