The Spartan Podcast

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Peter Whorf is radio station manager for WKAR AM and FM, the public broadcasting and NPR outlet at Michigan State University.

Whorf came to MSU from Chicago, where he worked at Chicago Public Radio WBEZ and at WFMT, “one of only two commercial classical radio stations remaining in the country.”

Whorf was attracted to MSU and WKAR partly because he spent time at KBIA, the University of Missouri’s public radio outlet, for nearly 10 years and always felt like he would return to that environment.

“It’s a dream come true to come home,” says Whorf, who is the son of revered WJR broadcaster Mike Whorf.

In today’s multimedia, on-demand world, WKAR “has to be everywhere all the time,” says Whorf. “People want to see what we’re doing on the air, too, through photos and videos.”

Whorf says that radio listening in this setting is “not a huge growth area” but says that “public radio remains strong and that WKAR’s web content has grown tremendously.”

To stay relevant, Whorf says WKAR “needs to sound and look like MSU, Greater Lansing, mid-Michigan and anything between the Great Lakes.” He adds that “we can’t just play CDs or turn on the NPR network.”

An example if this emphasis on hyper-local programming is the new Current State program.

“We think it’s the right program at the right time,” says Whorf. “And we hope it will become almost required listening for people who are curious and caring about where we live.”

And rest easy classical music fans. Whorf says classical music programming is “definitely” part of WKAR’s future. “We’ll be more local in our music programming, too, and feature MSU and other local music.

“We have to be about us,” says Whorf.

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