Telecommunications alumnus and former instructor Larry Estlack, whose broadcasting career spanned more than 40 years, passed away Monday, Dec. 16, at the age of 64. He made a huge impact on many MSU broadcasting students and colleagues, and will be deeply missed.
Funeral services are planned for Saturday, Jan. 4, at Estes-Leadley Funeral Home in downtown Lansing. Visitation will be from 2 to 4 p.m. with the service following at 4 p.m.
To honor him, the Larry Estlack Memorial Scholarship has been established to benefit future College of Communication Arts & Sciences students. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to be made to the scholarship fund.
Colleague, former MSU instructor and alumnus Fred Jacob's recalls Estlack in his blog posting, "The Eslackian Way," (Dec. 17) as "one of those rare people who was a brilliant studio engineer, and he designed radio (and eventually TV) studios all over the state of Michigan. Talk to broadcasters here in 'The Mitten' and chances are that Larry had a hand in designing or building their studios at one time or another. But he was also an amazing air personality, DJ, writer and producer, gifted with a great voice, an amazing ear for music, and a love for doing radio the right way. He knew how to speak into a microphone, and he knew how it worked, too...His heart was in the Great Lakes State where he served the broadcasting and academic communities well."
Estlack taught introductory and advanced radio production classes at MSU in the early 1970s, teaching students how to edit, produce commercials, conduct interviews and what it takes to be a radio personality. He also designed and built the student radio studios.
While attending MSU, Estlack served as the executive producer of the Telecommunications department's weekly student TV production. He received the Outstanding Student Award from the Telecommunications department in 1974, and graduated with a B.A. in Telecommunications in 1975.
He went on to design and build radio and TV studios all over the state and was the Director of Technology for the Michigan Association of Broadcasters (MAB). He also was appointed by the Federal Communications Commission to serve as Chairman of the Michigan Emergency Alert System, a position he held for 21 years.
For four years, he worked on five federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) grants in partnership with the Michigan State Police and Department of Natural Resources to bring emergency alert sirens to five remote Northern Michigan state parks, an effort that is credited with saving 83 people during a severe storm at Muskallonge Lake State Park in 2010.
Estlack was appointed by the Governor of Michigan to the Michigan Citizen-Community Emergency Response Coordinating Council (MCCERC) and served on the Broadcast Warning Working Group (BWWG) nationally. He also was an on-air personality for Cumulus Broadcasting and Engineer/Chief Operator for MacDonald Broadcasting.
He previously worked as the Chief Engineer for WLAJ-TV, WSYM-TV and WILS/WILS-FM. In 2008, he was inducted into the Michigan Broadcasting Hall of Fame and was the recipient of the MAB's first Carl E. Lee Engineering Excellence Award.
For more information on the scholarship or to donate, visit Larry Estlack Memorial Scholarship or contact:
Meredith Jagutis, CAS Senior Director of Development
Cathy Zell, WKAR Senior Director of Development