A portrait of Gene Purcell overlaying a plain grey background with "Gene Purcell (1960-2021) in black text

Former Wisconsin Public Media director Gene Purcell receives honors

July 29, 2022 Ian Lewitz Leave a Comment

The late Gene Purcell, who passed away after a traffic crash in 2021, was posthumously honored this past June with an induction into the Wisconsin Broadcasters Hall of Fame by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association (WBA). Purcell, who was the Wisconsin Public Media (WPM) director at the time of his death, has also been memorialized with the naming of a new planned Wisconsin Public Radio station serving the Rice Lake area. In March 2022, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the call letters WEPP-FM. The call letters honor Purcell using his full name, Eugene Patrick Purcell.

Watch a video honoring Purcell’s induction into the Hall of Fame.

Established in 1989, the Wisconsin Broadcasters Hall of Fame honors broadcasters who have devoted their careers to broadcasting and its development in Wisconsin, and recognizes their outstanding service to broadcasting, their communities and their state.

A longtime broadcaster and innovative leader in public broadcasting, Purcell began leading WPM in 2018. In this role, Purcell steered WPM’s administrative transition to the University of Wisconsin-Madison from the University of Wisconsin-Extension and led the state’s public media organizations through the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring uninterrupted service of essential news and information services and expanded educational resources for students, educators and families across Wisconsin.

Prior to becoming WPM director, Purcell was executive director of the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board (ECB) for more than a decade. That state agency distributes public broadcasting across the state in partnership with the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents. Together, ECB and WPM manage and maintain WPR’s 37 stations and PBS Wisconsin’s six stations and six translators across the state that provide access to local and national content for a diverse audience of children and adults through the innovative use of television and radio production and broadcasting, digital services and community engagement.

Along with his earlier role as a broadcaster, reporter and manager of WPR’s La Crosse regional bureau, Purcell’s leadership shaped and informed nearly all aspects of Wisconsin’s public media landscape across his career.

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