Public radio from Western Michigan University 102.1 NPR News | 89.9 Classical WMUK
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

From Where I Sit


As General Manager at WMUK, one of the things I look forward to each summer is helping with our booth at fairs and festivals around Southwest Michigan. It’s not just the fresh air, the green trees, the smell of the hot dogs or even the offerings of each event where WMUK is present that appeal to me.

What I really look forward to is the opportunity to meet our listeners, to interact with them and answer questions about our station’s programs, service or its future.

As we drafted our Strategic Plan a couple of years ago, I was reminded of something I said to the search committee when I was hired as General Manager in 2011. I remember saying that there are more than 30,000 people who listen to WMUK each week. “Now it’s time we listened to some of them.” Listening is part of what we do when we are out in the Community.

To roughly paraphrase a WMUK news reporter who was also in our booth, you can begin to visualize your audience much more clearly once you begin to listen to the people who listen to you-because you are talking to real people with particular interests and opinions who live and work in your community. That’s something every reporter and every person behind a microphone at WMUK is reminded of and benefits from when they staff our booth-the visual image of a real person telling us what they might like or not like.

Speaking of listening, it has been a great learning process to listen to personal testimonies about WMUK that we have been collecting this summer. When people came to the WMUK booth, they would share a brief testimony about what our service means to them in exchange for a new WMUK tote bag.

Our Marketing and Underwriting Manager, Anders Dahlberg shared a memorable observation after one of his shifts at our booth in Bronson Park. He said “It was wonderful to see all those bright red WMUK tote bags waving like poppies as our listeners moved throughout the park.” That statement sums up my visual takeaway. In our community there is a field of listeners who are connected to us in a “bright red” way. They care about the stories we run and the music and programs we play. And that’s the main reason that we’ll be listening too.

Gordon Bolar was WMUK's General Manager from 2011 to 2016. He joined the station in 2006 as Development Director. After retiring as General Manager, Gordon has continued to review theater for WMUK.