Honoring 50 years of WAMU public radio

Photo by Emma Beck
Recognizing the founders at WAMU 50th Anniversary Gala
Recognizing the founders at WAMU 50th Anniversary Gala

Public radio station WAMU 88.5 FM may be 50, but veteran Susan Stamberg, one of the station’s first stars, as usual had her own rhetorical spin. WAMU “doesn’t look a day over 49!” she quipped, kicking off a 50th Anniversary Gala Saturday evening at the National Building Museum.

(Photo by: Emma Beck)

Attracting over 500 supporters, the Gala provided long- time fans the opportunity to celebrate up close the faces behind the voices they love.

Carl Kasell, NPR’s Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me! and the evening’s master of ceremonies, introduced comedian, Paula Poundstone and WAMU radio personalities including Kojo Nnamdi, Diane Rehm and bluegrass stars, The Gibson Brothers.    

“It’s constantly changing, and I think it has to,” said Marie Travesky, a long-time WAMU supporter who has served time on the station’s board. “We will probably see more [change] in the future,” she added.

Although continuing the modernization of the station ranks high, the vitality of targeting the younger generation is another priority.  

Diane Rehm speaking to a guest (Photo by: Emma Beck) Diane Rehm speaking to a guest

Celeste Crenshaw told The Georgetown Dish at the gala that hiring younger hosts would help recruit younger listeners. “I’m not trying to put people out of work or anything,” Crenshaw said. “But you gotta have people [younger listeners] can identify with.”   

“I started listening to public broadcast when I was 16 years old,” said Karen Munson, WAMU’s manager of content operations and dedicated listener for the past 30 years. “It opened up the world of possibilities for both my brain and my creativity. That promise has never been let down,” she said.