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WKAR’s Ilene ‘Beany’ Tomber Receives MAPB’s 2020 Public Media Impact Award

The Michigan Association of Public Broadcasters has announced that WKAR Public Media’s Beany Tomber will receive its 2020 Public Media Impact Award.

Ilene ‘Beany’ Tomber

Beany Tomber personifies the very best attributes of public media. Over her 55-year career, she has dedicated herself to children, education and the pursuit of knowledge. 

As director of Corporate Development at  WKAR beginning in 1982, Beany formed partnerships with businesses and agencies to help ensure mid-Michigan’s public broadcasting television and radio stations could provide trusted news, educational, and entertainment programming for the community.

Following her passion for children and education, Beany launched WKAR’s Ready to Learn service in 1996,  providing training and resources to educators and families across mid-Michigan. In the years that followed, she expanded WKAR’s education and outreach efforts to include PBS Teacherline, PBS LearningMedia and the Community Cinema and Indie Lens Pop-Up film series.

Beany’s underwriting experience and grant writing ability led to CPB, PNC and numerous other grants in support of Head Start, Impression Five Science Center, and other early education services for mid-Michigan.

In 2000, Beany founded the Early Childhood Literacy Coalition, made up of area libraries and the Great Start Readiness program.

Beany also had a key role in creating the WKAR original television series “Curious Crew,” hosted by award-winning science educator Dr. Rob Stephenson. In six seasons on the air, the science show for kids has won numerous regional and national awards, and is seen on PBS stations across the country.  

Beany retired from WKAR in 2017.  She continues to stay in touch with WKAR leadership, offering help and guidance drawn from her years of experience and passion for her community.

Beany is caring, dedicated and devoted to the value of education for our youth. Simply put, Beany Tomber makes the kind of impact that defines public media and that we can all be proud of.

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