Dr. Peter B. Orlik, Director and founder of Central Michigan University's School of Broadcast and Cinematic Arts (BCA) is retiring August 15, 2017 after 51 years in university teaching, 48 of those years at CMU. Hired in March 1969 by Dr. Wilbur Moore (Moore Hall's namesake, the home of BCA), Orlik was tasked with creating what is today's award-winning School of BCA, serving over 300 undergraduate majors, 60 graduate students and known nationwide for its high academic standards and network of successful and supportive alums.
Brett Holey '82, Senior Director, NBC News is just one of the many extraordinary BCA graduates. Upon the news of Orlik's retirement, Holey observed, "Moore Hall may be the physical home of BCA, but Pete Orlik has provided its life's blood, its conscience and its heartbeat for nearly half a century. Pete is the ultimate embodiment of BCA; more than any person, program or building. Perhaps we should change the name from BCA to PBO (Pete's Broadcast Operation)?"
Program Development and Facilities
In the early years, it truly was 'Pete's Broadcast Operation' with many administrative and clerical tasks completed via the manual typewriter housed on the dining room table of the Orlik family home. Orlik and wife, Chris (a music educator and unpaid BCA assistant) spent countless hours formulating and refining equipment lists, preparing FCC correspondence, and fashioning curriculum and staffing proposals. That same table held the food for the first two BCA Awards Banquets, which, due to the small number of BCA majors, could fit into the modest Orlik living and dining rooms.
Moore Hall was completed in 1971 and BCA was able to move out of its cramped Warriner Hall offices and radio production facilities. In 1972, after Orlik helped grow what was then 10 watt WCMU to a full 100,000 watt operation, he built a new student training station, WMHW-FM (91.5 FM) after CMU's President transferred full-power WCMU-FM to the new Division of Public Broadcasting. The training station's call letters had to be determined quickly and Orlik thought it was only fitting to pick call letters that honored Academic Vice President Wilbur Moore who had the initial vision for adding broadcasting studies to the Department of Speech. Thus, Wilbur Moore Hall Wireless was born.
Currently, 9,100 watt WMHW is a two-service HD facility. Known as "The Mountain," HD-1 broadcasts an Adult Album Alternative format across multiple counties on its 91.5 frequency. HD-2 "The Beat" is a Hip/Hop R & B station that also radiates separately across Isabella County at 101.1 via a translator acquired through the donated services of top industry legal and acquisitions professionals who were longtime Orlik friends. Both outlets are also streamed worldwide at
www.wmhw.org. Today 91.5 FM provides live coverage of CMU Women's Basketball, Softball, Men's Baseball and Beal City High School Football to give students extensive live sportscasting experience.
With radio up and running, Orlik set his sights on television and in 1972 formed MHTV (Moore Hall Television). Initial production included four programs per week for airing over WCMU-TV. By 1978, live
News Central newscasts were carried over Cable 34, which had replaced WCMU-TV as a distribution for all student produced MHTV shows.
Today MHTV has been named College Television Station of the Year by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Foundation for a record setting 16th straight time. MHTV now cablecasts from Mount Pleasant to the entire Isabella County community on Cable Channel 189 and to the CMU campus on Cable Channel 34, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition to being carried on MHTV,
News Central 34 is also shown on MAC TV's Channel 187, which serves Clare, Gratiot and Isabella counties.
As electronic media have evolved, so has the School of Broadcast & Cinematic Arts. In addition to WMHW and MHTV, BCA offers students the opportunity to work in a modern audio recording studio (Moore Media Records) that signs its own artists and produces its own albums. Students also gain experience in multimedia design through cocurricular M2D2 and participate in the cinematic exhibitions and productions of The Film Society.
"Cocurriculars are an essential part of professional preparation," Orlik maintains. "Classes can teach individual skills and insights, but it is the cocurriculars that enable students to integrate these learnings into real world media situations."
In his 48 years at CMU as faculty member and administrator, Orlik has taught 19 different classes (9 of which he created.) He also functioned as prior learning assessment coordinator and consultant for CMU's Institute for Personal & Career Development (today's Global Campus) where he supervised the evaluation of hundreds of experiential learning portfolios submitted by nontraditional undergraduate and graduate students from around the country.
Both traditional and non-traditional students as well as many of today's media industry leaders are familiar with Orlik's famous 'red pen' edits. For more than 50 years, papers, scripts, storyboards and blue book exams have been returned bleeding with Orlik red ink. Those that experienced the crimson pen marauder have never forgotten the comments in the margins.
Tim Roberts, '82 BCA alum and CBS RADIO's Vice President of Country Programming, testifies to Orlik's commitment to excellence, "Dr. Orlik challenged every BCA student along the way to be the very best. We learned to use our talents and intellect to the max, to be better than we ever thought we could be and we were given opportunities not available to other college broadcast students." Roberts continued, "As far as Dr. Orlik was concerned, the sky was the limit. He is truly the essence of a great teacher, a true mentor and an inspirational leader."
Characteristic of a dedicated mentor and leader, Orlik continues to challenge students outside of the classroom and after graduation. Roberts attests, "As Vice President of the BCA Alumni Advisory Board I see Dr. Orlik's same commitment to the program's excellence extending beyond the status quo. The trail of awards presented to BCA, MHTV, WMHW and BCA alumni are a testament to his vision. I am so grateful he challenged me and my classmates to be the very best we could be. To me, CMU and Peter B. Orlik will always be tied together as the launching pad on the quest for excellence. I cannot thank him enough for setting the standard so high; it changed my life in a profound way."
For Orlik, teaching extends far beyond the CMU classroom. He has authored 18 textbook editions, distributed worldwide which cover the topics of electronic media copywriting, criticism, history, and career perspectives. His publications have garnered mentions in
Variety and other mainstream outlets.
Awards and Service
Although he is reluctant to mention them, Orlik has been the recipient of many prestigious awards. In 2001, he received the Broadcast Education Association's highest honor, the Distinguished Education Service Award and in 2003 was the first college professor to be inducted into the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Two years later, Central Michigan University recognized Orlik with the President's Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Activity. Writing In support of his nomination for that award, a respected colleague from another institution wrote, "His multiple textbooks are the standards against which other books are compared." Another commented, "His work is absolutely foundational in both media copywriting and media criticism. He has one of the most inventive and creative minds among his peers within the field of electronic communication."
Recently the Michigan Association of Broadcasters and Broadcast Education Association have created scholarships to honor Orlik and his dedication to electronic media education. He served two terms on the BEA Board of Directors, six years as an officer of its Courses & Curricular Division, and has directed the organization's scholarship program since 1992.
Heather Birks, Executive Director of the Broadcast Education Association commented on Orlik's dedication to media students: "Thanks to Pete Orlik's commitment and passion to broadcast and digital media students, BEA has been able to award hundreds of students close to $750,000 in scholarships over the past 25 years. It is not only an honor to work with him, but it is a sincere pleasure to see him beaming with pride on stage each year during BEA's awards ceremony as he reads off the names of that year's student recipients."
Community and Family
When not focused on media education, Orlik is also active in his community. He has served on the Mt. Pleasant Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals for a span of 44 years, frequently chairing these groups. Brian Kench, Building Official for the City of Mt. Pleasant observed, "Pete has a great leadership style and helps develop newer board members. He assists others in developing a case motion to align with governing rules. It is not uncommon to hear Pete state, as language is being substituted and minutes are being taken,
'we're simply perfecting it'." Brian continued, "After decades of dedicated service to CMU and the Mt. Pleasant community, it is safe to say…..he perfected it!"
Having earned his way through his first two degrees as a clarinetist, Orlik has greatly enjoyed 'chasing notes' in the Alma Symphony Orchestra, the Saginaw Eddy Concert Band, and the Central Michigan Community Band. He and his wife, Chris also frequented Bush Theater in the 1970s and 1980s to perform in pit orchestras for select CMU theatre productions.
Orlik makes clear that he would not have been able to immerse himself in this array of professional and personal endeavors without the deep understanding, assistance and inspirational support of wife Chris and children Darcy and Blaine.
Alums and colleagues have been heard to state that Pete and Chris Orlik have not two, but three children --- the eldest being BCA. From humble beginnings in two small Warriner Hall offices, to today's nationally known award-winning school, BCA has produced media industry leaders who are dominating the airwaves.
Throughout the decades and impressive growth, BCA has remained a close, extended family. From a strong alumni network dedicated to assisting the students their beloved program generates, to the continual support alumni receive from faculty, BCA roots run deep because of the commitment Orlik first made to the program in 1969. As Tim Hygh, '80 BCA alum and Executive Director of the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau shares, "It's hard to believe Pete is retiring. Maybe he is just going on hiatus. He is the
Gunsmoke, 60 Minutes and Simpson's of the School of Broadcast and Cinematic Arts. I truly do not know what they will do without him."
Brett Holey references the importance of continuing the Orlik tradition, "BCA will never be the same, yet it's our duty as faculty, staff and alumni, to see that all Pete has done continues to grow and prosper."