Campus Closeup: Bruce Turner

Bruce Turner (Learning Resources Division) spends much of his workday in front of the TV … and he gets paid for it. He is the station and program manager at WNMU-TV. Add both announcer and promotion/development to that list and you’ve got one busy guy.

“The most time-consuming part is putting together a programming schedule to complement the PBS programs we air,” Turner said. “I have to decide what to air and when to air it. Being the station manager, I also have to deal with correspondence, viewer calls and federal agencies.”

He also finds programming the most interesting aspect of his job. “It’s rewarding to be able to find programs I feel our viewers would enjoy and to schedule them in a way so they have a chance to see them,” he said.

Turner has a substantial amount of knowledge and experience from nearly 53 years of working in television and radio (45 at NMU). “But if I were to quit tomorrow, I couldn’t get my job back because I’m not qualified,” he laughs, explaining that his position now requires a college degree, but he got in with a high school diploma.

It was at his high school in Sturgis, Mich., that Turner took a business class that allowed the students to work half days at local businesses. Turner took a job in a jewelry store. The manager of the store bought advertising on WSTR, the local radio station, and Turner ended up recording radio ads for the store. He started working at the radio station part-time as a DJ while he was in high school and also did commercials and news. When he graduated in 1956, he continued working in radio. 

After marrying his high school sweetheart in 1958, he accepted a position at WMAM radio in Marinette, Wis. The company that owned WMAM bought what is now WLUC-TV and Turner transferred to Marquette, where he did weather, news and special-events reporting until May 1963. A chance conversation with former NMU President Edgar L. Harden regarding NMU’s plans for television broadcasting led to his being offered a position as production manager. He was the third full-time staff member to be hired in what would become the Learning Resources Division, which is responsible for the development and operation of Public TV 13 and Public Radio 90.

The salary Turner receives as station manager “pays the bills” and supports his avocation of being a minister of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He spends more than 40 hours a month involved in Bible studies, home visits and working with the congregation, all on a voluntary basis. One of the reasons he took a job in Marinette and then here was to permit him to “serve where the need was greater” as a minister.

Turner also enjoys spending time outdoors snowshoeing, camping and hiking. That’s relaxation time he might need, considering the changes that WNMU-TV must make this year.

“Like all U.S. TV stations, we’re switching over to digital television, and it’s the most challenging year for me and my staff in all the years that I’ve been here,” he said. “It’s a whole different way of broadcasting television and it’s a change that will affect many of our viewers. Educating them to make the digital transition go smoothly is our goal. This change must be made by February 17, 2009,” Turner said.

This year may be busy and stressful for Turner and his staff, but he’ll have his faith and the great outdoors to fall back on when he needs a moment of peace. Although it’s going to be hard work, he has no plans to retire anytime soon.


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Updated: March 19, 2008

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