Fred and Barbara Erb’s Deep Passion and Support for Detroit Public Media Carries On Through Foundation’s Leadership Gift

Fred and Barbara Erb’s Deep Passion and Support for Detroit Public Media Carries On Through Foundation’s Leadership Gift

By John M. Erb, Chair, and Leslie Erb Liedtke, Trustee 

The Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation is immensely proud to support Detroit Public Media’s relocation back “home” to Detroit with a special $7.5 million challenge gift that celebrates our parents’ love of public television.

The project will bring Detroit Public Media’s television and radio broadcast facilities to a new, state-of-the-art campus at 234 Piquette in the city’s Milwaukee Junction neighborhood.

Our mom and dad, Fred and Barbara Erb, were lifelong supporters and audience members of Detroit PBS (formerly Detroit Public Television) and 90.9 WRCJ’s classical, educational, and jazz programming. They would be excited to see the Foundation in a leadership role supporting the stations’ move back to Detroit.

renderings courtyard nightOur dad, Fred, led a fast-paced business and personal life and maintained a heavy travel schedule – which left limited free time to pursue his enjoyment of jazz and satisfy his natural curiosity and love of learning. Time was of the essence to our father. In fact, he was the only person we knew that could fit “26 Hours in a Day.”

He carefully considered where he allocated his time and committed to only two nonprofit boards during his life, one of which was Detroit Public Media. As a board member, Fred advocated for the station’s 1971 move to WJBK-TV’s former New Center studio. Barbara worked on the very first ‘Channel 56’ auction in 1969 and was quoted about her and our dad’s involvement in Crain’s Detroit Business in 2008 saying, “We do it for the love of Detroit Public Television.”

Their leadership and volunteerism were true testaments to their belief in the value of public television programming – and echo the investment we know they’d be proud to see the Foundation making today.

Barbara and Fred were both drawn to the unique educational programming that only public television could bring into their living room – and to families across the community. At the time, commercial-free, educational programs of exceptional quality had never been seen before public television.

Sitting in his bean bag chair while watching “Channel 56,” our father loved everything from jazz-related music specials to an African wildlife series to World War II documentaries. He would often call to our mom and other family members to pause their daily activities and share in the joy of what he was watching on public television. For our mother, viewing the late 1970s Roots miniseries ignited her passion for genealogy and started her on a decades-long path to researching her own family’s history.

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Fred and Barbara were recognized with Detroit Public Media’s Leadership Award in 2008 for their decades of dedication and support. Our parents also committed a $1million challenge donation to the organization during its previous transformative campaign for a new broadcast and community facility. This new grant builds upon their deep passion for public broadcast media.

We are incredibly proud that the Erb Family Foundation is recognizing Fred and Barbara’s legacy of support with a gift that will help bring Detroit Public Media back home to its own roots in the City of Detroit – where it can continue to evolve and inspire the next generation of viewers, listeners, and community members.