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May 5, 2023

Exhibition at MSU Museum highlights 'WKAR's Legacy of Innovation'

A new exhibition is now open at the MSU Museum on the campus of Michigan State University. "WKAR's Legacy of Innovation," explores the history of WKAR Public Media and its service to the mid-Michigan and Spartan communities for more than a century.

Antique film camera, microphone and radio used by WKAR displayed at the MSU Museum
Broadcast equipment used by WKAR throughout the decades displayed at the MSU Museum

WKAR went on the air in 1922 as an AM radio station broadcasting agricultural news and information. It has grown into a robust media organization that includes WKAR-TV, WKAR Radio,, Radio Reading Service, WKAR Digital Studios and WKAR Family.

"WKAR's Legacy of Innovation" was curated and designed by students in the Curatorial Practices in Museums and Cultural Organizations class at MSU, in partnership with WKAR as the station celebrates a Century of Service.

"For 100 years, students have played a key part in WKAR’s programming and technological innovation, so it’s only natural that MSU students would take the lead in bringing this exhibition to life," said Shawn Turner, WKAR general manager. “The exhibit is a testimony to the strong legacy that WKAR has established and serves as an exciting lens through which to view the bright future that is ahead for the stations.”

Visitors will find a period living room with a vintage TV set playing clips from WKAR's past and a showcase of broadcast equipment from across the decades. Featured programming from WKAR's history of innovation includes early sports coverage, music and culture, and programming created by and for Black and Latinx communities. There is also a special tribute to QuizBusters, the long-running high school quiz show from WKAR.

Visitors are encouraged to step into a classic telephone booth to leave a note with a favorite WKAR memory.

“The MSU Museum stands as a dynamic hub for collaborative creation, committed to fostering experiential learning and facilitating student success at MSU,” said Devon Akmon, MSU Museum director. “By embarking on this endeavor with the Arts, Cultural Management and Museum Studies program, we are able to actualize our mission of advancing teaching and learning, while also paying tribute to WKAR's Century of Service celebration.”

"I was delighted to bring this project to my class of emerging curators," said Suzanne Fischer, instructor for the class. "It was an amazing opportunity for us to explore how museums can tell stories that matter by working with and learning about a campus and community institution that's been making an impact for over a century. The collaborative process of working with WKAR and the MSU Museum, and the exceptional dedication and engagement of the students during a challenging semester, makes this exhibit really special."

"It was a privilege to see my classmates’ excitement grow as we learned about WKAR's creative innovation and commitment to the community," said Emily Nisch, a PhD student studying archaeology. "Above all, I think that the exhibit communicates our excitement about WKAR's history and the infectious passion and creative spirit that WKAR has consistently maintained throughout its 100 years of programming."

"WKAR's Legacy of Innovation" runs through July 27, 2023.

WKAR's Century of Service is generously underwritten by MSU Federal Credit Union and Consumers Energy whose support made the research and creation of many of the anniversary materials possible.

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