The work of the Fetzer Institute is about helping build the spiritual foundation for a loving world.

Our goal is to help catalyze and support a broad-scale, spiritually grounded transformation from an ego-centered way of being grounded in separation and fear to an all-centered way of being grounded in oneness and love.

Our vision is a critical mass of people around the world embracing love as the guiding principle and animating force for living in sacred relationship with self, others, and the natural world.

Our efforts are grounded by a conviction that the connection between the inner life of spirit and outer life of service and action in the world holds the key to lasting change. All Institute activities—past, present, and future—are united by a desire to help improve the human condition by increasing conscious awareness of the relationship between this inner
and outer life.

John Fetzer 

1901 - Birth of John Fetzer In this same year, Marconi transmits the first transatlantic wireless message.

1911-14 A young John Fetzer learns Morse code from Fred Ribble, husband of his half-sister, Hattie. He and Fred build a wireless receiver/transmitter in 1913, and in 1914 they hear music over the air for the first time.

1918 - A US influenza pandemic results in 675,000 deaths. John Fetzer, stricken with the flu, spends 9 months in bed. “I made a commitment … that if I were permitted to live, I would devote my life to the spiritual work of the Creator.”

1919  - Fetzer receives a license for a general amateur radio station in 1919. In 1921 he attends wireless classes at Purdue University, studying the work of Edison and Tesla, which fuels his interest in the links between the physical, mental, and spiritual realms. The following year, Fetzer receives a license as a commercial radio operator, first class, enrolls in the Adventist Emmanuel Missionary College in Berrien Springs, Michigan, and establishes a radio station there.

1923 - Fetzer designs and builds the first radio station in Southwest Michigan, WEMC. In 1925 he travels to Europe for a month’s study of radio stations.

1926 - Fetzer graduates from the National Radio Institute and in 1927 from Emmanuel Missionary College (EMC). His yearbook describes him as “a silent thinker who combines modesty with brilliance.” Detroit Tigers baseball games are first broadcast over radio.

1928 Fetzer leaves the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and over the next few years broadens his spiritual search by exploring Freemasonry, visiting spiritualist mediums, and joining the First Presbyterian Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

1929  The stock market plunge marks the beginning of the Great Depression. Automobiles are equipped with radios. John Fetzer enrolls at the University of Michigan to study physics and mathematics.

1930 — 1931  The Golden Age of Radio begins in the US in 1930, and by 1934 half of all homes in the country have a radio. John Fetzer purchases WEMC from Emmanuel Missionary College for $5,000 and changes its name to WKZO. In 1931 he moves the station from Berrien Springs to Kalamazoo, Michigan.

1933 John Fetzer joins the Masonic Lodge and soon after receives Master Mason status. He maintains active Masonic affiliation through at least 1969. In 1934 he visits Camp Chesterfield, affiliated with the Indiana Association of Spiritualists. Fetzer continues his occasional attendance at the camp until at least 1974.

1938  Because of the Great Depression, Fetzer reduces his annual WKZO salary from $9,000 to $6,000. He is elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association of Broadcasters and serves through 1946. WKZO wins the landmark “590 Case” with a ruling from the Federal Communications Commission, granting nighttime broadcasts using a directional radio antenna. The ruling allows 3,000–5,000 additional radio stations to go on the air.  Fetzer’s WKZO Radio extends its coverage to 18 hours a day. Programs include Tigers baseball, “Helen Hayes Theater,” the “Kate Smith Hour,” “Lux Radio Theater,” and “Amos ‘n’ Andy.”
1944   President Roosevelt appoints John Fetzer Assistant Director of Censorship for Broadcasting.
1945  Germany surrenders. Japan signs the formal surrender aboard the battleship Missouri. General Eisenhower approves the appointment of John Fetzer and other distinguished journalists and broadcasting executives to conduct a National Association of Broadcasting inspection tour of radio stations in Europe.

1947   Detroit Tigers games are first broadcast on television in 1947. Two years later Fetzer Broadcasting obtains a license for a television station in Kalamazoo and assigned Channel 3. WKZO-TV Channel 3 goes on the air in 1950. There are 13.5 million television sets and 95 million radios in use in the US. By 1952 John Fetzer chairs the CBS Radio Business Standards Committee and is the first chair of the Television Code Review Board of the National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters.

1952  Fetzer joins journalists touring Europe and the Middle East to assess the postwar situation and meets with Marshall Tito, King Paul and Queen Fredericka of Greece, the Shah of Iran, Charles DeGaulle, and Pope Pius XII.

1953 Fetzer Broadcasting purchases KOLN-TV in Lincoln, Nebraska. The station is donated to the University of Nebraska in 1954. The John E. Fetzer Foundation is established to give grants for religious, charitable, scientific, library, and/or educational purposes

1956  Fetzer organizes an 11-member syndicate and purchases the Detroit Baseball Company, becoming one-third owner and chairman of the board of directors. He visits Radio Free Europe facilities in West Germany and Austria, and in 1957 is named to the American League Radio and Television Committee

1958  Fetzer forms the John Fetzer Music Corporation and acquires the Muzak franchise for outstate Michigan
1961  WJFM, Fetzer’s radio station in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is the world’s most powerful FM station at 50,000 watts. Briggs Stadium in Detroit is renamed Tiger Stadium. John Fetzer becomes sole owner of the Detroit Tigers.

1962  Fetzer tours South America to create programs of mutual interest to broadcasters in North and South America. John and Rhea Fetzer accompany the Detroit Tigers on a fall exhibition tour of Japan. Afterward the Fetzers continue west on a round-the-world journey, making stops in Bangkok, Calcutta, and Cairo. The John E. Fetzer Foundation is incorporated.

1963  Fetzer is elected chairman of the American League Baseball Television Committee.

1968  Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated. The Detroit Tigers win the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

1969  John Fetzer attains the status of Sovereign Grand Inspector General, 33rd Degree Mason, and is made an honorary member of the Supreme Council. The National Association of Broadcasters honors John Fetzer with a Distinguished Service Award, the highest award of the broadcasting industry. His personal guest at the award presentation is renowned clairvoyant Jeane Dixon.

1972  John Fetzer is made a delegate of the US State Department for negotiating the Japanese-US Television Treaty. Fetzer surveys institutions sponsoring scientific research in parapsychology. In

1974 He meets Apollo XIV astronaut Edgar Mitchell and pursues mutual interests in parapsychological phenomena. Fetzer is elected to the board of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, founded by Mitchell and dedicated to exploring consciousness and human potential. Fetzer Foundation trustees pass a resolution to support programs “relating to parapsychology.” John Fetzer tours Europe, visiting parapsychological centers in England, Spain, Germany, and France.

1975 John Fetzer practices transcendental meditation and introduces the practice, on a voluntary basis, to Detroit Tigers team members. In 1976 he discovers A Course in Miracles, a text he will study for the next decade, and one that greatly influences his spiritual philosophy.

1977  John Fetzer sells Tiger Stadium to the City of Detroit for $1 in exchange for a 30-year lease. In 1980 the Fetzer Foundation funds studies of biofeedback, Tibetan meditation, “chi” and traditional Chinese medicine, and healing mechanisms in Tibetan and Buddhist monks, among others.

1981  Fetzer pledges $1 million to Western Michigan University for its new business center. John Fetzer meets Jim Gordon, a spiritual teacher who encourages Fetzer to meditate daily and who serves as his advisor for the remainder of his life. They begin the Monday Night Group, a spiritual study and support group that focuses for the next four years on envisioning the mission and activities of the Fetzer Foundation.

1983  John Fetzer sells the Detroit Tigers Baseball Club to Tom Monaghan for $53 million; Fetzer remains with the organization as chairman of the board and stockholder until 1989. Fetzer establishes Pro Am Sports System (PASS), a cable sports network.

1984  John Fetzer receives the Baseball Commissioner’s Executive Award for Excellence in Baseball and is inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame. The Detroit Tigers defeat the San Diego Padres to become World Series Champions.

1985  Fetzer sells Fetzer Communications television properties and PASS sports network. Forbes Magazine lists him as one of the 400 wealthiest people in the US. John Fetzer begins the meditation practice “surat shabd yoga,” which he continues for the remainder of his life.

1987  Joan Yawkey of the Boston Red Sox and John Fetzer help fund a major expansion of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Fetzer sells Fetzer Cablevision.

1988  Rhea Maude Fetzer dies at age 86. The Fetzer Foundation sponsors Helping Heal the Whole Person and the Whole World, a conference with attendees from 38 countries. Speakers include Norman Cousins, Jehan Sadat, Bernie Siegal, Laurence Rockefeller, and John Fetzer. The Fetzer Foundation administration building is dedicated.

1989  Fetzer promulgates a position paper addressing the mission of the Fetzer Institute, which states in part, "Remember, whatever the final verdict turns out to be, its summary will be unconditional love. That is our avatar of the future, because love is the unifying energy field that mobilizes the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual resources in the caring and sharing with one another.” John Fetzer sells his remaining interest in Fetzer Broadcasting Services.

February 20, 1991 John E. Fetzer dies, at age 89.  An overview of John E. Fetzer's life as broadcast pioneer, longtime Detroit Tigers owner, and spiritual seeker.


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