WGPR-TV Studio facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
|Location||3146 E. Jefferson Ave.
|MPS||The Civil Rights Movement and the African American Experience in 20th Century Detroit MPS|
|NRHP reference No.||100006101|
|Added to NRHP||January 27, 2021|
The WGPR-TV Studio, also known as the William V. Banks Broadcast Museum and Media Center, is a pair of commercial buildings located at 3146 East Jefferson Avenue in Detroit, Michigan. It is the former home of WGPR-TV (now WWJ-TV), and is significant as the home of the first Black-owned television station in the United States. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2021.
In 1964, William V. Banks and his organization, the International Free and Accepted Modern Masons (IFAMM), purchased the radio station WGPR. The radio station call letters originally stood for Grosse Pointe Radio, where it was originally located, but Banks altered it to Where God's Presence Radiates. By the early 1970s, the station was doing good business and Banks decided to expand into television in 1973. The new project was costly, and Banks and the IFAMM struggled to raise the necessary capital. The situation was helped by the support of FCC commissioner Benjamin Hooks and President Richard Nixon. However, it was not until 1975 that Banks secured the funds to follow through.
Banks and the IFAMM purchased two commercial buildings on East Jefferson Avenue to convert into a television studio. The buildings were likely constructed some time in the 1900s or 1910s, and had hosted a variety of businesses through the rest of the century. The studio opened and WGPR-TV went on the air on September 28, 1975 and the first African-American-owned television station in the country. The station featured many locally produced shows, giving African-Americans experience on both sides of the camera.
The station initially struggled, but by 1977 had become profitable. It continued to be a voice for the Black Detroit community for two decades. However, by the early 1990s, it became difficult to compete with cable stations, and BET specifically. In 1994, the IFAMM decided to sell the station to CBS; the sale was finalized in 1995.
The WGPR-TV Studio consists of two adjacent early 20th century Commercial Brick buildings faced with buff brick. One os a single=stroy structure and the other is a two-story building. A boxed canopy runs across the front of both buildings, unifying them. The original store front openings are infilled with glass block. A pair of entry doors are located in the center.
WGPR-TV Studio Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.