WGPR TV62 & 106.5FM

WGPR (WHERE GOD'S PRESENCE RADIATES) TV & RADIO

WGPR was purchased in 1964 by International Free and Accepted Modern Masons, Inc. led by William V. Banks, who would serve as President and General Manager of WGPR and its sister TV station, founded in 1975 until his death in 1985. This all started with a meeting Dr. William Venoid Banks was having at the White House with United States President Richard Nixon in 1972 when the conversation turned to African-Americans’ scant involvement in broadcast media. The result was Nixon’s promise of a Federal Communications Commission license.

Banks, an influential businessman, owned office buildings in downtown Detroit,  started a barber college and leveraged  the holdings of International Free and Accepted Modern Masons, Inc. and Order of the Eastern Star to purchase 107.5FM in 1964 and applied for FCC broadcast license 1973. On September 29, 1975 the first African American TV in the United States went on air in Detroit, Michigan under the leadership and direction of Dr. William Venoid Banks. Under the ownership of the Masons, WGPR would transition to chiefly African-American-oriented programming of urban contemporary, R&B, soul, and gospel music, with some ethnic programs in Spanish, Italian, Greek, and other languages, which would remain a part of the station's broadcast schedule into the 1990s. This station, which would adopt the CBS affiliation in 1994 following WJBK's switch from CBS to Fox, was sold to CBS in 1995 and re-called WWJ-TV.

WGPR-TV HISTORICaL SOCIETY

The WGPR-TV Historical Society is a 501(3)(c) non-profit, organized in 2011 by former station employees who came together with a mission: Establish a museum to preserve the history and tell the story of the first African American owned and operated TV station in the country. The concept  of a WGPR TV Museum is to create a dynamic gallery space, within the station’s studios at 3146 East Jefferson in Detroit.

With  interactive video exhibits  and displays of station artifacts, visitors will learn about WGPR-TV history, its diverse programming  the station’s founders and  its impact as a training ground.   Visitors will have the unique opportunity to  participate in short TV productions.

Historic Milestone:  On December 4, 2014, the Michigan Historical Commission approved the WGPR-TV Historical Society’s application to have a marker placed at station’s 3146 East Jefferson location. The marker will commemorate the WGPR-TV location as a landmark in broadcast history.

The WGPR-TV Historical Society is a volunteer organization looking for members interested in working to preserve the history of the station.  To join, e-mail us at: detroit@wgprtvhistory.org and let us know  your interest in joining and whether you have any station memorabilia. You don’t have to be a former employee of  WGPR-TV or 107.5 FM to become a member.

International Free & Accepted Modern Masons, Inc.
and Order of the Eastern Star