1954 : MSU Launches WKAR Public Television Station

January 15, 2018 all-day

Photo of WKAr antenna, courtesy of Wikipedia

On this day in 1954, Michigan State University launched a public television station, the third in the country. One of the first two has since folded, making WKAR the second oldest continually operating public television station.

Originally, channel 60, when few tv sets went beyond 13, WKAR is now channel 23.

In January 2016, MSU pondered selling the station. The initial price the FCC put on WKAR-TV’s spot on the spectrum was $206 million, although the reverse auction format was designed to produce prices lower than the starting point. Simon had said in an interview at WKAR radio that a $200 million payment could have created an endowment that would have produced $10 million in income per year. However, on January 12, 2016 Simon announced that MSU would not participate in the auction and instead pursue a partnership with Detroit Public Television, creating new, original programming, with most aimed at children.

For more information, see Mike Hughes, “WKAR 50 Years on the Air”, Lansing State Journal, January 15, 2004.

RJ Wolcott, “WKAR decision relieves viewers”, Lansing State Journal, January 12, 2016.