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Wednesday, August 27, 2003
 
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In the beginning, there was radio
By Archie Greer

I started my association with Ohio University as a second semester sophomore student in the winter of 1947. I came to campus intending to major in theater and, indeed, my undergraduate major was in that area. But something exciting was taking place. My theater classes were in Ewing Hall (now demolished), but there was activity in the balcony of that building that was mysterious and exciting. Someone was building radio studios and wiring the campus so that the students in the dormitories could get radio.

Radio had been around for some 25 years, but nobody, except those with technical skills, knew very much about it and how it worked. Students were actually going to study about radio. But what was going on in that balcony was still a secret to most of us until the first honest-to-goodness studio and control room was built away from that mysterious balcony. The radio broadcasts were to be carried by wire to the various dormitories -- not too great a way to get the signal, but the only way at that time. You could do it without a license to broadcast. And it was RADIO!

Things really got rolling when radio got its own building. It was a metal Quonset hut (a half-round metal building) about where the entrance to Alden Library is now. It was about 40-feet long and 15-feet wide, and it was just off a brick access road used by maintenance trucks to traverse the campus. That use proved to be a big handicap later on.

As you entered the building, you first encountered the "office," where a student secretary greeted you. It also housed the "music library," a collection of a dozen or so 78 records, mostly classical selections. A hallway ran down the right side of the building and led into the "studio." Off the hallway was a small room called the control room. No one was too sure what it controlled, but it had a control board that allowed an engineer to fiddle with some knobs and control the volume of the microphones in the studio. Another magic machine in the control room was a tape recorder! It was a Brush magnetic tape recorder, and it allowed you to record three minutes on tape. After your three minutes, it erased what was previously recorded. But this was RADIO!

The programming was simple. As I recall…….


Archie Greer is an alumnus and professor emeritus of telecommunications.

This article was reprinted from “Ohio University Recollections for the Bicentennial Anniversary 1804-2004.” The book was compiled by the Ohio University Emeriti Association.

 
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