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Grand Rapids Brown and Gold Bash honors Suzanne Geha

by John Greenhoe

Oct. 20, 2011 | WMU News

Photo of WMA alumna Suzanne Geha
Suzanne Geha
KALAMAZOO--With the bar set high following successful August and September events in Grand Rapids, Western Michigan University will stage a third gathering in the city with its inaugural Brown and Gold Bash Friday, Nov. 11, at 6:30 p.m. at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.

The event will feature a performance by WMU's award-winning vocal jazz ensemble Gold Company. The evening will include a special tribute to Suzanne Geha for her more than 30 dedicated years of news reporting and storytelling in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and the West Michigan region. Geha is a 1973 WMU alumna.

Other recent WMU events in Grand Rapids have included the Aug. 31 Stampede, a pep rally at the downtown B.O.B., and the Sept. 23 "Epic Broncos" ArtPrize After Party at the WMU-Grand Rapids Downtown facility. The latter event featured the unveiling of a four-story tall, 160-foot-wide piece of art honoring WMU's Bronco mascot.

"We have more than 17,000 WMU alumni in the Grand Rapids area, and we think that's a great excuse to throw a party," says Jim Small, WMU associate vice president for engagement. "We're also thrilled to honor Suzanne Geha, who has had--and continues to have--a great career as a West Michigan storyteller."

Tickets for the Brown and Gold Bash are $38 and can be ordered by calling (269) 387-8746. Dress for the event is casual with all attendees asked to wear something brown.

Suzanne Geha

Geha is a WMU School of Communication alumna who in the mid-1970s became Michigan's first female prime-time news anchor outside of Detroit. Her 34-year career at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV, included 32 years as news anchor. She is renowned for her fearless reporting of many of the region's top news stories.

"To say she's a local version of news pioneer Barbara Walters is not far off," Grand Rapid Press reporter Ruth Butler wrote earlier this year.

In 1971, Geha and another female student became the first women to report and deliver the news for WMU's campus radio station, WIDR. Geha also worked as news anchor/reporter at WKNR-AM/WKFR-FM, Battle Creek, and for three years (1978-81) she served as reporter and weekend anchor at Detroit's top-rated WXYZ-TV.

Geha's honors have included the Silver Circle Award from the Michigan Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, an Emmy from the Detroit Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and awards from the American Women in Radio and Television, Michigan Association of Broadcasters, Associated Press and United Press International. In 2006, Geha and her husband, Richard "Rick" Merpi were inducted into the WMU School of Communication Alumni Academy.

Gold Company

WMU's Gold Company, directed by Steven Zegree, is widely recognized as one of the most successful and prestigious collegiate vocal jazz programs in the world. It is known for its comprehensive and innovative approach to the art of jazz and contemporary singing, and its uncompromising dedication to the highest artistic standards. The Gold Company ensemble has a wide-ranging repertoire that covers all styles in the contemporary vocal idiom.

Gold Company has performed throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and South Africa. The group's performance venues have included Carnegie Hall and Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, and the WMU vocalists have appeared with such guest artists as Bobby McFerrin, Rosemary Clooney and the Manhattan Transfer.

Visit or call (269) 387-8746 for more information.