On a sunny Monday morning in June, I visited the set of "Curious Crew" at Impression 5 Science Center in Lansing, where production was underway for the second season. On the monitor hooked to the camera crane was a live shot of Rob Stephenson, the host of the show, whose cheery disposition instills confidence that science is cool. His demeanor on camera is a natural extension of his persona off camera. He is a boundless source of curiosity and insight with an infectious enthusiasm for science. He also can cast a spell like Pied Piper on unsuspecting preadolescents who typically shrug off science as "whatever."
"Curious Crew" is one among many successful shows that WKAR-TV has launched in recent years, making us one of the best content producers in the region recognized with Emmys and other awards. And WKAR’s success and emphasis on content offers avenues for the academic mission of the college.
An obvious benefit to the college is experiential learning. The team on the set of “Curious Crew” had many students engaged in various aspects of production. As WKAR makes strides with more original programming, we will continue to explore opportunities for active engagement from ComArtSci students. For example, students in Amol Pavangadkar's broadcasting class produce 90-second interstitials that run regularly on WKAR-TV.
Gary Reid, Director of WKAR, and Susi Elkins, Station Manager of WKAR-TV, have championed integration between public media and the college. Recently, they offered "Curious Crew" as a platform for our faculty to test ideas on effective STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. Some of our faculty members, including Elizabeth Quilliam and Ken Levine, have received a small seed grant to evaluative effectiveness of “Curious Crew” and to test out new program features. Like me, Liz and Ken had come to see the recording and were optimistic about the potential for testing new ideas.
In addition to Curious Crew, WKAR has launched a number of other successful programs. With "Backstage Pass," "Curious Crew," "Current Sports," "Forte," "QuizBusters" and "Off the Record," you will find something that suits your interest. I encourage you to check out these programs and become a friend of our station if you are not a member.
Our strategic plan calls for strong integration between our academic and public media operations. I hope "Curious Crew" is just the first in a series of such collaborations in which our faculty and students work closely with WKAR. Having WKAR as part of our college is one of our unique strengths and we should make the best of it.