Munson Health
Les and Anne Biederman

Note: This article first appeared in the Summer 2004 issue of Focus.

Les Biederman came to Traverse City in 1940, with plans for a radio station. Traverse City "looked like three main streets with false front stores crowded against each other, all built around 1890 and hardly updated since," according to Les.  However, he found the residents he met to be "sincerely friendly, decent, honest, and generous to each other and their town."

Ross Biederman arrived soon after, on a train wrapped in his mother Anne’s arms. Born at the same time as WTCM Radio, Ross has been involved in the communications business all his life. After gaining his degree in Communications Arts at Michigan State University, Ross returned to northern Michigan. For a time he lived in Petoskey where he immersed himself in city politics and continued to build the business. Later, returning to Traverse City, he earned the position of President of Midwestern Broadcasting Company and expanded the business to include nine radio stations of varied formats. Today those crowded false front stores have been replaced, most notably by Radio Center, an impressive new structure downtown on Front Street, headquarters of Midwestern Broadcasting. WTCM Radio is more popular today than ever.

In 1978, Les and Anne Biederman made a gift to Munson Medical Center for its new Emergency Room. Twenty-six years later, as a Munson Healthcare Regional Foundation board member, Ross knows how that same Emergency Room needs to grow again. "I’ve reviewed the Emergency Department proposal and there is no question we need to expand," Ross said. Designed to accommodate 20,000 patient visits annually, it now receives 40,000 visits. And, while patient satisfaction ratings remain high, improvements need to be made.

On the recommendation of the Medical Advisory Panel of staff physicians, Munson Medical Center is planning a major expansion of the Emergency Room. Announced to our community in May, the Munson Healthcare Regional Foundation is carrying out a capital campaign to raise $10 million to help fund the project.

A capital campaign of this magnitude requires leadership gifts if it is to be successful. Thanks to the Biederman family, this campaign will be successful. Determined to make a major gift, Ross has provided that critical leadership. Ross and his wife, Brenda, mother, Anne, brother, Paul, the Biederman Foundation, and the family at WTCM Radio have pledged $360,000 to the Emergency Room campaign.

This commitment to improving health care in our community has resulted in a rare achievement. When added with past gifts - especially for the Biederman Cancer Treatment Center, Hospice, and Hospice House - the Biederman family has now given $1 million to Munson.

This is truly a testament of devotion to the Grand Traverse region and is most certainly a reflection of Les’ high regard for the people who live here.  Thank you Anne, Brenda, Ross, Paul, and the WTCM family.