MSUToday
Published: Jan. 4, 2017

WKAR to launch free 24/7 multiplatform PBS KIDS services

Contact(s): Kristen Parker Media Communications office: (517) 353-8942 cell: (517) 980-0709 Kristen.Parker@cabs.msu.edu, Bill Richards WKAR office: (517) 432-0013 BillR@wkar.org

On Jan. 16, WKAR Public Media will launch new, free, localized 24/7 children’s services – WKAR’s latest initiative to support early learning in the community.

WKAR will broadcast PBS KIDS shows 24 hours a day on an additional television channel called WKAR PBS KIDS, making it easy for local children to watch their favorite series during primetime and after-school hours when viewing among families is high.

Viewers will also be able to watch the WKAR-branded live stream through pbskids.org and on the PBS KIDS Video App, which is available on a variety of mobile devices and tablets.

“WKAR has been an integral part of the community for years, delivering content and services that parents trust and that move the needle in early learning,” said Susi Elkins, WKAR general manager and interim director of broadcasting at Michigan State University. “We are excited to build on the work we do every day for local families by adding these new 24/7 services to our offerings, ensuring our proven educational content is accessible anytime and anywhere to all kids – especially those who need it the most.”

With the launch of the PBS KIDS 24/7 broadcast and live stream, WKAR will also introduce WKAR Family, a new initiative focused on offering and creating educational programming and media for Michigan families that is free, accessible and available across all platforms.

WKAR Family will bring together the new PBS KIDS 24/7 multiplatform services, long-running WKAR education services programs such as “Ready to Learn” and additional WKAR- and MSU-driven projects.

Currently in production as part of WKAR Family is a series of video shorts featuring tips and takeaways for parents and caregivers on topics such as literacy, social and emotional development and science, technology, engineering and mathematics concepts. The videos are produced in partnership with MSU colleges of Education and Social Sciences, MSU Extension and other researchers at MSU, with the goal of distributing in Michigan’s capital region, Detroit and across the nation.

More than 20 videos in the series will be available at launch and are being shared with Detroit Public Television for broadcast on the new Detroit PBS KIDS channel.

MSU, WKAR and DPTV have been working closely since a partnership was announced in January 2016, and DPTV will also launch PBS KIDS 24/7 in its market on Jan. 16. As part of the relationship, MSU Extension educators and staff members are creating user experiences that engage children and their caregivers, thereby extending the educational value of PBS programming.

“Our team has done a great job of creating activities and lessons that caregivers can do with children,” said Jeff Dwyer, director of MSU Extension. “That helps drive the programming messages home by helping them jump off the screen and right into real-life situations — whether that’s in childcare settings or in their own home.”

The public is invited to WKAR PBS Kids Day, which will be 12:30-3:30 p.m. Jan. 14 at WKAR TV studios on the MSU campus. During the open house, the Cat in the Hat and other PBS favorites will be available for photos. At 1:30 p.m., MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon, Sparty and other special guests will officially launch WKAR Family and present a special sneak peek at the new WKAR PBS KIDS 24/7 channel.

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