WGVU, the PBS station in Grand Rapids, is marking the 40th anniversary of its launch on December 17, 1972.
“Of the top 40 markets, we were the last market that did not have a PBS station at the time,” WGVU general manager Michael Walenta told the Cedar Rapids Business Journal. “A group of citizens got together, and — a PBS station has to be licensed to either a community group or an institute of higher education — talked to then (Grand Valley State University) President Don Lubbers. President Lubbers then talked to Congressman Jerry Ford and said, ‘We would like to do this.’ As the story goes, Congressman Ford said, ‘Well, if you come up with a half of a million dollars, then I’ll come up with the other half million.’”
WGVU now operates two television stations and two NPR radio stations, and serves more than 2.4 million viewers in 28 counties, according to the Cedar Rapids Business Journal.