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WKAR’s New Interim GM Says Focus is on Increasing Access, Engagement

Shawn Turner

WKAR Public Media (East Lansing) is saying goodbye Friday (5/27) to longtime General Manager and Director of Broadcasting Susi Elkins as she leaves the organization to take a position with the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union.

Shawn Turner is stepping in to serve as the station’s Interim General Manager.  He is a professor in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences at MSU and a national security communication analyst for CNN.

As posted on the station’s website, WKAR reporter Sophia Saliby spoke to him about continuing Susi’s work and how he sees the future of the organization.

On his first reaction to being asked to lead WKAR

When I was approached about stepping into the leadership position, I initially said, you know, “Let me think about this for a little while.” And I wanted to do that because since I’ve been here at MSU, I’ve gotten to know Susi. I’ve gotten to know the team that she’s built, and my apprehension was based on the fact that she has been here at WKAR for more than 25 years. She worked her way up in the station to lead a team that has just been phenomenal in my experience working with them. And so, I needed to take a deep breath and think about what it means to step in and to try to hold the reins while Susi moves on.

On what’s in store in the immediate future of WKAR

It’s my objective to continue to help the station be a part of the fabric of the community and to give the team here the space that they need to continue to do the great work that they’re doing. We’ve got some great work coming up here, where as we come out of COVID, WKAR is getting back out into the community. I think, like everyone, there’s this sort of COVID fatigue, but we’re going to be out this summer, doing a number of events that I’m particularly excited about.
On looking forward to how WKAR can further serve its audience

I think about the future of WKAR, what I’m thinking about is how we continue to lead through a digital transformation. We know that the people who love WKAR, many of them are traditional people. They love turning on the television and getting their programming over the air. They love turning on the radio and listening to their programming there. But we also know that, as we look to grow our audience and continue to demonstrate our relevance in the community, we know that we need to provide more ways for people to get access to our content.