The WGPR Historical Society will celebrate the legacy of the nation’s first Black-owned and operated television station, Detroit’s WGPR-TV62, and look ahead to preserving the role of minorities in the media at a fundraising gala on Saturday, Sept. 10. The dinner and program will take place from 7–10 p.m. at the ICON, 200 Walker Street, on Detroit’s riverfront.
Notable ESPN Commentator Stephen A. Smith is the evening’s special guest and will speak about the importance and impact of diversity, equity and inclusion in the media, as well as his own professional journey as an African American sports journalist.
In addition, the WGPR Historical Society will present its first annual Enduring Legacy Awards to four Detroiters who have promoted diversity, equity and inclusion in their careers:
- Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan;
- Detroit Pistons Vice Chairman Arn Tellem;
- former NBA player and current Detroit Pistons TV Color Commentator Greg Kelser; and
- former WGPR, WKBD and WWJ TV Anchor Amyre Makupson.
A posthumous award will be presented to the family of WGPR’s founder, Dr. William V. Banks.
Funds raised from the event will go toward the expansion of the William V. Banks Broadcast Museum & Media Center, which was founded by the WGPR Historical Society on the site of the former TV 62 studios at 3146 East Jefferson in Detroit. The location is on the National Register of Historic Places and a Michigan Historical Marker was placed at the site in 2016.
“We are excited about further developing the role of the William V. Banks Broadcast Museum in training and providing inspiration to the next generation of African-American media professionals,” said Joe Spencer, president of the WGPR Historical Society and former WGPR-TV62 program director. “When WGPR-TV62 began broadcasting in 1975, we launched the careers of many minority journalists, including Stephen A. Smith’s current boss at ESPN, David Roberts. David began as a reporter at TV62, and now he is a senior vice president at a major network. That shows you the impact of WGPR.”
As part of WGPR’s “Enduring Legacy” weekend of events, an invitation-only Youth Sports Media Summit will take place at the museum on Friday, Sept. 9. A select group of Detroit-area students will participate in a discussion and mock interviews with Stephen A. Smith, Jalen Rose, Bart Scott and David Roberts from ESPN, and Detroit Pistons TV Announcer Greg Kelser.