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Shawn Turner Named WKAR Public Media Interim GM

Shawn Turner

Shawn Turner has been selected to serve as Interim General Manager and Director of Broadcasting at WKAR Public Media at Michigan State University. Turner is a professor of practice in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences at MSU and a national security communication analyst for CNN.

Susi Elkins, current General Manager and Director of Broadcasting at WKAR, announced recently that she is leaving the public broadcasting station at the end of May. Elkins has accepted a position at Michigan State University Federal Credit Union, headquartered in East Lansing, Michigan.

As Interim General Manager and Director of Broadcasting, Turner will work with WKAR senior leadership to move forward with the strategic plan, strategic priorities, and the upcoming, yearlong Century of Service celebration that Susi Elkins and the collective WKAR leadership team have set in place.

Turner is an expert in communication leadership, strategy and crisis management, having served in communication leadership roles with governmental, private sector and non-profit organizations.

“Shawn is a nationally recognized expert on national security who is regularly featured on CNN. With his experience in broadcasting, communication leadership and strategy, he is the ideal person to lead WKAR through this transition,” said Prabu David, dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. “Besides, Shawn is known to our mid-Michigan and Spartan communities for anchoring a television program and moderating conversations with MSU President Stanley during the early days of the pandemic.”

“It is an immense honor to be selected to serve as interim general manager,” Turner said. “Under Susi’s leadership, the team at WKAR has worked tirelessly to develop and deliver quality programming that really connects with viewers and listeners. I’m looking forward to supporting and advancing the great work that is already under way as we continue to serve the WKAR community.”

Turner’s appointment takes effect immediately. To assure a smooth transition, he will work alongside Elkins through her last day at WKAR on May 27. A national search will be conducted in the year ahead to fill the role of general manager and director of broadcasting for WKAR at Michigan State University.

Turner has been an on-air analyst at CNN since 2018. From March through May 2020, Turner served as host of the WKAR original television series, COVID-19: Answers and Insights. The public affairs special series provided Michiganders with critical and timely information through the early days of the COVID public health crisis.

Turner’s previous positions in government include deputy White House press secretary for national security, director of communication for U.S. national intelligence at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and deputy press secretary for foreign affairs for the National Security Council (NSC). As a senior intelligence officer, Shawn was responsible for coordinating all internal and external communication on behalf of the 17 agencies and components that make up the U.S. intelligence community. At the White House and the NSC, Shawn was a principal spokesperson for U.S. foreign policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan and helped develop the U.S. government’s approach to communicating intelligence reform in 2014.

Other recognitions throughout Turner’s career include being named one of Washington D.C.’s top decision makers by the National Journal in 2013 and being awarded the Intelligence Community Leadership Award in 2015. In 2016, he was awarded the Meritorious Presidential Rank Award for outstanding career accomplishments and exemplary service to the nation.

Turner has published articles in USA TODAY, Newsweek, Spectra and on He has also authored book chapters on risk communication for national defense and information-processing and cognitive theories.

Prior to his civilian career, Shawn served 21 years in the United States Marine Corps. He received his B.A. degree in communication studies from Texas State University and an M.A. degree in communication from George Mason University.

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