Bruce Turner was born and was raised in Sturgis, Michigan. His long career in broadcasting began in Sturgis where he served as a D.J. with WSTR following an initial interview. His career continued in Marinette, Wisconsin with WMAM as an announcer.
He relocated to Marquette in 1959 and joined the staff of the newly formed WDMJ-TV which signed in on April 28, 1956, the Upper Peninsula’s first television station, which later became WLUC-TV6. The new station had limited space, personnel, and everyone did whatever was needed. Bruce, for his part, was blessed with a rich, mellow voice which registered with his listeners.
As announcer at TV6, he performed news, weather, sports, and advertising assignments and became one of the most well-known voices in early local television. Intending to pursue a career in radio, he and TV6 friend, Carl Pellonpaa, were looking to purchase a radio station. Following an interview with Northern Michigan University president, Edgar L. Harden, Bruce Turner’s career took a dramatic and historical change. He accepted the position of station manager at Public TV 13, helping found the public broadcasting station in the 1960’s. Under his leadership, the station became the largest closed-circuit television system in the U.S. for a while. In 1972 it made the switch to over the air broadcast and became WNMU.
Bruce is responsible for helping to create a host of locally produced programs including WNMU’s student run Public Eye News where NMU students take over WNMU’s broadcast studio and production facilities Mon-Fri to produce a daily newscast. Media Meet a weekly 30-min news interview program well respected by journalists in the Upper Peninsula for bringing news media and news makers together for long-format, unedited news interviews. The program runs on both WNMU radio and television.
Ask The Professionals A live call-in program series featuring doctors, dentists, lawyers and Dept of Natural Resources reps answering viewer questions live on the air.
Bruce also created WNMU-TV’s long running series High School Bowl. The show enters its 42nd season this fall and provides the only competitive arena for academically talented students in the region. With 50 high schools across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula participating each year, High School Bowl is still WNMU-TV’s most popular series.
Bruce was the regional coordinator for Project Literacy US (Project PLUS) aimed at combating adult illiteracy. Over more than 10 years, WNMU-TV produced and aired multiple PSAs for the literacy campaign.
Bruce was Chair of Michigan Association of Public Broadcasters TV Programmers group for 30+ years.
56+ years as Station Manager, Program Director, and primary fundraiser for WNMU-TV
Under Bruce’s guidance, WNMU-TV 13 raised nearly $11 million dollars from its viewers over the years in support of the PBS programming it airs.
Throughout the years, growth continued with new innovations, but Bruce’s main philosophy was to maintain “the family relationship” between the station and its viewers. He was a devoted broadcaster and one of the most recognizable faces and voices in local television. When he retired in June of 2019, following 56 years with NMU, he, in his characteristically humble way, gave much of the credit to “the excellent people who managed me.” He never forgot where he came from and with his ever present smile and positive attitude, was always thankful for the career he thoroughly enjoyed. In retirement, he continued working at home on his yard and serving his local congregation. Bruce was a member of the Marquette Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses and faithfully served as an elder in the Kingdom Hall.
Bruce passed away in January 2021 at the age of 82. He is survived by by his wife, Mary F. Turner, 5 children, 9 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren, 2 brothers, and several nieces, nephews, and cousins.