My good friend and professional mentor, Martin Busch – died today in Kansas. He began his broadcasting career at KUSD-AM in Vermillion, S.D., and was executive director of South Dakota Public Broadcasting from 1960 to 1984. Along with his engineering colleague, Jim Prusha, he built a statewide network of public television stations and began a statewide public radio network as well before his retirement – which itself was a statement of principle with a former governor.
Martin and his friend, the late Jack McBride, from whom he took inspiration, were among the pioneers of regional broadcasting – efficient operating models for rural states that now increasingly look like efficient models for the rest of public broadcasting.
I saw Martin last in October when South Dakota Public Broadcasting dedicated its television studio to him. In spite of suffering from one of the insults of old age (I think he was 89 87 in March), he gave a nice speech and, as always, looked debonair. Here is the citation for this event on the SDPB web site:
On Friday, October 1, 2010, during the USD Dakota Days celebration, SDPB dedicated our TV Studio in honor of Martin Busch. Martin was the Executive Director of SDPB from 1960-1984, and hosted "The Bookshop" on SDPB Radio from 1960-2002. Speakers included Julie Andersen, Executive Director of SDPB; James Abbott, President of the University of South Dakota; Ted Muenster, former member of the ETV Board; Dr. Tom Kilian, an early supporter of SDPTV; Stephan Busch, Martin's son; and Martin Busch. View the ceremony here: MARTIN BUSCH STUDIO DEDICATION
Update 18 April 2011: Rapid City Journal article on Martin. Thanks to Ron Hull and Burnie Clark for updated picture and news article link. South Dakota Public Broadcasting's "Dakota Midday" 4/18/2011 program on Martin.