Martin P. Busch

April 18, 2011 12:00 am

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Martin P. Busch, known fondly as "the father of South Dakota Public Broadcasting", formerly of Vermillion, passed away quietly on April 15, 2011, at his Grand Villas home in Atchison, Kan.

Services will be held 11 a.m. Wednesday at Trinity Lutheran Church in Vermillion. Burial will be in Bluff View Cemetery, with military honors conducted by V.F.W., Clay County Post 3061. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service Wednesday at the church. Arrangements are under the direction of Kober Funeral Home in Vermillion. Condolences may be sent online to

Busch was born on March 29, 1922, to Paul and Marie (Roemer) Busch in Wolsey, S.D. After graduating from Wolsey High School in 1940 he attended Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, S.D. He began his career in Wolsey as a music teacher and as principal after returning as a U.S. Naval Lt. Commander during World War II, attending the University of South Dakota, and earning his BFA Degree in 1948.

After moving to and teaching in Brookings, S.D., he became program director for KUSD-AM radio in 1954 at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. At that time he also began his MFA degree and also was a professor of the fledgling "communications" department. His love for, and deep knowledge of, the classics evolved into a popular show "The Classics". As his broadcasting career expanded he was appointed executive director of the South Dakota Public Broadcasting system in 1960 and served the people of South Dakota in the development of the statewide multimedia network.

KUSD-TV, channel 2, the flagship station, went on the air in 1961, the first educational television in the state and part of his vision that everyone in the state, especially children in schools, should have access to educational programming.

As the TV stations were constructed, each was designed to add the "new" FM band radio transmissions statewide. His vision culminated with SDPB TV operating nine transmitters and six translators and Public Radio operating 10 translators. During his tenure, he participated in the early development of similar state systems in the three-state area as well as nationally in the development of National Public Radio (NPR) and PBS (Public Broadcasting System).

Busch was honored in October of 2010 having the SDPB headquarters studios in the Al Neuharth Media Center at the University of South Dakota dedicated to his vision and service.

In addition to meeting and developing many professional and personal friendships throughout South Dakota and the nation, Busch was well-known for his radio show "The Bookshop", which spanned over six decades from 1956 to 2001.

Busch's community leadership involved countless years of involvement in local, regional and national civic, fraternal and business organizations in Vermillion and later, after his retirement, in Rapid City, S.D. He was also a member of the South Dakota Hall of Fame.

He enjoyed reading, music and choirs, classic cars, flying his airplane and most of all his Harley friends and bike trips he took into his early 80's. In his last 15 years he was an avid participant in Cardiac Rehabilitation in Rapid City and at Atchison Hospital.

Busch is survived by three sons, David and Stephan (Rae Ellen), all of Atchison, Kan., and Harlan (Frances) Busch of La Cieba, Honduras; one daughter, Annalisa of Hastings, Minn; and four grandchildren, Angela Moeckly of Tucson, Ariz., Patrick Busch of La Cieba, Honduras, and Stephanie and Christina Busch of Atchison.

Memorials can be made to SDPB Friends, P.O. Box 5000, Brookings, SD 57006-5000.