WPSU Board Member Spotlight: Greg Petersen

The WPSU Board of Representatives is an advisory board of community members that gather on a regular basis to advise the station on programming and other activities. In this blog post series, WPSU Board Member Spotlight, we sit down with these individuals and discuss their love of public broadcasting and its impact in the communities throughout the viewing area.

Greg Petersen, WPSU board president, had a 45-year career in broadcasting and media concluding with a 28-year stint at WPSU TV-FM, retiring as director of broadcasting in 2017. Greg’s “legacy,” as it were, was to be part of the creation of the “Our Town” project for WPSU in 1996.

He graduated from New Mexico State University in journalism and mass communications and served on numerous national committees for public broadcasting in the areas of communication, promotion, and programming. 

How long have you been a board member with WPSU?

I have served on the WPSU board since 2018 and have been the chair since 2019. Throughout my career, I volunteered my time to host jazz programming and attended and served at numerous public events for stations.

What inspired you to begin volunteering at WPSU?

When I retired, I continued to host jazz programs and would fill in as needed for hosting duties for programs like “Morning Edition,” “Weekend Edition,” and “All Things Considered,” as well as other shows.

The programming that WPSU and public media provide continues to inspire me to give my time to support it. I know how valuable volunteers are to WPSU, and I feel my efforts are important and valued.

What WPSU programming do you connect with the most?

Very early in my career, while I was working as a TV master control operator in college at KRWG/Las Cruces, I found that shows like “The MacNeil/Lehrer Report” and “Washington Week in Review” were unlike any other news programs on TV. They were thoughtful and measured and took the time to not just report the news, but to explain it. That connection expanded my horizons, and shows like “NOVA” and National Geographic specials fed my curiosity.

Of course, news and information from NPR has become a daily listen for me as well.

How do you see WPSU positively impacting the communities throughout Central Pennsylvania?

For nearly 60 years, WPSU-TV has provided programming and services that educate, inform, enlighten, and empower. In the mid 1990s, radio was added that provided programming focusing on national and local news, public affairs, the arts, and more. Together, they have combined to form public service media that has been utilized by millions of viewers and listeners. It’s not possible to gauge the impact that WPSU has had in the area it serves, but it’s safe to say that the effect has been a very positive and a large one.

As an outreach service of Penn State, WPSU has been a key part of the land-grant mission of the University, and it continues to serve thousands each and every day.

As board chair, what would you like to share with the public about why they should support WPSU?

The choices of media, be they broadcast, internet-based, print, or others, are too numerous to count. Public media is purposely different, with the needs of the consumer always at the forefront.

Recently, the University announced a 20% budget cut to WPSU that will no doubt place a good deal of pressure on the organization. While the station has been very successful in converting members into sustaining members (those who make automatic gifts each month), a key metric that the station needs to focus on is gaining new members. Growing the member base — and converting them to sustaining members — is one of the many strategies that WPSU will employ to help mitigate those cuts.

If you’re a current member, my thanks. If you’ve never been a member, or once were and are no longer, I simply ask that you consider your use of WPSU’s services and consider making a donation.

What do you wish people knew about WPSU?

That the people who work, or have worked, at WPSU-TV or WPSU-FM, are dedicated to serving the public every day. That they embrace the mission and vision of public media and have a passion to spark discovery, enrich learning, and strengthen community through public media.