Busch featured in SD Magazine The Rapid City resident many consider the father of modern public broadcasting is featured in a May/June South Dakota Magazine story by managing editor Jerry Wilson, titled "Putting the Public in Broadcasting."
It takes him a bit longer at age 80 to mount his motorcycle, but otherwise, Martin Busch shows few signs of slowing down. He rides cross country on a red Harley-Davidson soft-tail custom, swathed in standard black leather. Unlike some fellow throttle jockies, he does wear a helmet, except at Sturgis.
Busch guides bus loads of tourists through the history, archeology and Native cultures of the Black Hills, sings in the Dakota Choral Union and volunteers at The Journey museum. He still sits on the board of America's National Music Museum in Vermillion, of which he was first president. He recently received the Rushmore Honors Award for volunteer work. But across South Dakota, he is best known for his role in bringing intelligent and educational radio and television to every corner of his home state.
Like all great institutions, South Dakota Public Broadcasting didn't happen by chance. It wasn't handed to us ready-made by somebody in Hollywood or Washington, DC. The programs that enrich our lives grew from long years of dedicated work by a handful of broadcasting pioneers, and nobody contributed more than the farm boy from Wolsey.
Busch was hired as program director at KUSD in Vermillion in 1954. Two years later he was promoted to station manager, and in 1967, to executive director of the newly formed Educational Television Board. From 1956 to 2002, he also read significant books live on the air on a much-loved program called The Book Shop.
"In an age when commercial broadcasting is more and more homogenized, it's especially important for public broadcasting to stay the course," Busch said, "to provide meaningful stuff instead of commercial fluff that entertains mainly younger people but doesn't educate them."
South Dakota Magazine is a statewide magazine, published bimonthly in Yankton. It is available on newsstands throughout the state and by subscription at 800-456-5117.