A bold, new collaboration between Michigan State University and Detroit Public Television will unite one of the world’s top research universities and a national leader in public broadcasting and community engagement.
The Detroit-based partnership will greatly expand the relationship between MSU and DPTV, beginning with an initiative to provide 24/7 programming for children and families in Detroit, Lansing and statewide.
“This collaboration gives us the opportunity to become a national model in providing quality educational content in public television,” MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said. “It will provide opportunities consistent with our land-grant mission for unique partnerships that will lead to much broader outreach and engagement, both in Detroit and statewide, and a significant platform for faculty work and innovation across several MSU colleges.”
With the new partnership, MSU will not be joining the FCC Broadcast Incentive Auction and will retain WKAR-TV’s broadcast spectrum.
The collaboration will focus on several key areas:
- Producing and distributing high-quality programming on multiple platforms;
- Expanding opportunities for community engagement and outreach;
- Establishing initiatives focused on issues of public importance;
- Exploring technological innovations and new means of content distribution;
- Creating experiential learning opportunities for students; and
- Pursuing resources to support public broadcasting initiatives.
WKAR will be a key component of the new collaboration, as the station is revamped to provide greater research opportunities with the MSU colleges of Communication Arts and Sciences, Education and Social Science. While the station will remain a full PBS partner, original programming options will be revised and expanded.
Simon said recent discussions around the FCC spectrum auction helped MSU leaders see public media’s role at the university and for the state in a new way, and the collaboration with DPTV will allow the university to better align WKAR with the university’s mission of outreach, research and academics.
“WKAR will continue to deliver PBS and locally produced programming,” Simon said. “The locally produced programming will evolve over time, and our DPTV partnership will play a critical role in that evolution, particularly in the offerings for the children of mid-Michigan.”
MSU and DPTV will build on their longstanding relationship developed through past work at the Detroit Center, faculty outreach efforts and ongoing projects centered around topics such as veterans and the environment.
“We are committed to exploring how we can work together across many different projects and take another look at our approaches to media while adopting innovative technology,” Simon said. “By leveraging our joint resources, MSU and DPTV can build a unique partnership that creates a multi-faceted platform with national and international reach.”
A key focus will be on providing quality educational content to children and families. More than 500,000 children, parents and caregivers already connect to the DPTV’s family programming.
"This partnership provides Detroit Public Television with new opportunities to expand our work in the preschool space and provide parents and educators with more resources in learning," said Rich Homberg, president and CEO of DPTV.
One of the first initiatives will be a 24/7 children’s broadcast and online channel serving not only Detroit and Lansing but also the entire state. That initiative will build off DPTV’s Ready To Learn program, supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It focuses on engaging and strengthening early learning experiences for children ages 2-8 at home, in preschool and in other out-of-school settings.
Other plans include expanding DPTV’s Pre-school U initiative, which offers video-based classes to parents and caregivers to promote early learning and literacy in children under 5. Leaders and researchers at MSU’s College of Education, a global leader in early childhood education, will work to not only expand content but also search for innovative research opportunities.
“PBS KIDS is committed to using the power of media to help all children succeed in school and in life,” said Lesli Rotenberg, general manager, Children’s Media, PBS. "We are excited about Detroit Public Television’s new partnership with Michigan State University, which will help further our mission, ensuring that children across Michigan – especially those in underserved communities – have access to high quality media that is proven to build key skills."
The collaboration also builds upon MSU’s extensive work in the Detroit area. For decades, the university has been working with partners in Detroit to support economic development, advance the arts, transform schools, improve health and sustain the environment. MSU’s presence in Detroit has been enhanced recently through its addition of the College of Osteopathic Medicine’s campuses in Detroit and Macomb County; the Partnerships Office and the Skillman Good Schools Resource Center at YouthVille; and the MSU Detroit Center.
Retaining WKAR-TV’s broadcast spectrum also presents technological opportunities valuable to the university’s research mission, opportunities not fully capitalized on in the past, including the possibility of research ventures that may yield technology transfer. Research on the spectrum from multiple diverse perspectives, including MSU’s colleges of Communication Arts and Sciences, Education, Social Science and Engineering, has considerable innovation potential.