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WGPR-TV62’s Imprint Lives On

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Joe Spencer, Amyre Makupson and Ken Bryant Jr., join host Carol Cain to talk about  WGPR-TV 62 and an exhibit to commemorate the first African American owned TV station which began in Detroit in 1975. (credit: CBS 62)

Joe Spencer, Amyre Makupson and Ken Bryant Jr., join host Carol Cain to talk about WGPR-TV 62 and an exhibit to commemorate the first African American owned TV station which began in Detroit in 1975. (credit: CBS 62)

(credit: WWJ-TV) Carol Cain
An Emmy Award winning journalist, Carol Cain is also the se...
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By Carol Cain
CBS Detroit

WGPR-TV62 was the first black-owned TV station in the nation, started by the late attorney and minister William Banks in 1975, on East Jefferson in Detroit.

It’s impact is still felt today.

Which is why the WGPR-TV 62 Historical Society is partnering with the Detroit Historical Society to install an exhibit at the Detroit Historical Museum by 2016 to celebrate its role in broadcasting.

“This is something that matters to our community,” said Joe Spencer, former program director at WGPR during taping of “Michigan Matters.”

Spencer appeared along with Ken Bryant Jr. and Amyre Makupson who both credited the station as a place that helped propel their impressive broadcast careers.

The eventual goal is to have a museum at its old studio on East Jefferson sometime later.

“They hired me at WGPR to be a cameraman, but when the day came for them to go on the air they had not hired a director. Someone to direct their ‘Big City Newscast’. And I didn’t have any directing experience. I watched Joe Spencer direct the newscast and I said wow I think I can do that,” said Bryant, now CBS 62/CW50 Producer.

“I actually directed the very first broadcast they put on the air ,” Bryant said.

WGPR-TV 62 is also responsible for many broadcasting firsts — using news cameras with tape rather than film, foreign language programs and being on air for 24 hours. The station was sold to CBS in 1995.

WGPR offered signature programming like “The Scene” which was a local version of “Soul Train,” “Porter House” talk show which Amykre Makupson hosted, and “The Arab Voice.”

The WGPR-TV Historical Society is hosting an event to benefit the WGPR-TV exhibit on Friday, February 21 at the Detroit Historical Museum. Tickets are $60. For more information call 313-461-9652.

Watch “Michigan Matters” at 11:30 am on CBS 62.

Carol Cain is the Emmy winning senior producer/host of “Michigan Matters.” She writes about business and politics in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press. You can reach her at clcain@cbs.com.

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