The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.
Page  1561

TELEVISION AT THE UNIVERSITY

ALTHOUGH television is growing rapidly, its potentials are still being explored. The University of Michigan, following the theory that this new medium of mass communication could be utilized for public enlightenment as well as for public entertainment pioneered in an effort to serve the TV audience by means of "Telecourses." The project began as an experiment, but the public response and encouragement turned the experiment into a success.

WWJ-TV, The Detroit News, and the University embarked on this venture in the fall of 1950. The station offered the University time on the air and the use of the station's production facilities for public service. The proposal was considered by administrative officials, the broadcasting committe, and by a special study committee of which Dean Hayward Keniston was chairman, and, in a matter of weeks, the offer was accepted.

Sunday afternoon at one o'clock was chosen as the most auspicious time for the broadcasts. WWJ-TV donated to the University the services of a studio production crew for three and one-half hours' camera rehearsal time, as well as a weekly sum of $100 to help meet expenses.

The first program was broadcast on November 5, 1950. U-M Television received more than 12,000 registrations from interested students in the first four years. Commercial ratings indicate that the program had an average weekly viewing audience of between 250,000 and 400,000 persons in this period.

The purpose of the program was to bring television college-type courses into the homes of adults who wished to continue their education. The newly established Television Office coined the word "Telecourse" to describe these courses. It was decided to divide the hour on the air into three twenty-minute segments. The first two were devoted to the courses, and the third "Teletour" served as the University's showcase by giving the people of the state behind-the-scenes glimpses of various aspects of the University.

Because of popular demand the format has since been changed and expanded. With the fall of 1952 the courses were extended to half an hour each; the "Teletour" part was retitled "Michigan Report" and was telecast at a different time.

Because of the limitations of broadcast time, it was recognized that much important and interesting material on the various subjects could not be included. Therefore, each of the professors was asked to prepare special supplementary material. Every week, before the program, registered students received supplements which gave the history and background information about the topic for a nominal fee of two dollars for fifteen-week courses and one dollar for the seven-week courses. The money was used by the University Extension Service to defray part of the administrative expense and the printing of the telecourse syllabi.

The following telecourses were offered in the first four years: Man in His World: Human Biology; Living in the Later Years: Hobbies Put to Work; Photography; Lands and Peoples of the Far East; Interior Design: The Home and Contemporary Living; Retailing and the Customer; Man in His World: Human Behavior; Democracy in Action: Parliamentary Procedures; Understanding the Child; Political Parties; Understanding Numbers: Their History and Page  1562Use; Exploring the Universe: The Solar System; Modern Physics; Understanding Our Natural Resources: Forests, Rocks, and Waters; Understanding Music: The Vocal Arts; Progress of Mankind: Prehistoric to Present; Creative Artists at Work; Food and Nutrition; Engineering: Building the Modern World; The Growing Baby; Lands and Peoples of Latin America; Theater Arts; American Business; Your Health and Modern Medicine; Fish and Fishing.

The telecourses at first were broadcast only over Station WWJ-TV, Detroit. State coverage was expanded in the spring of 1952 when Station WJIM-TV, Lansing, and WKZO-TV, Kalamazoo, began to carry the program by means of microwave relays. An additional adult education program was added to the schedule at about the same time. Specialists from the University's teaching staff traveled to Grand Rapids every Saturday for a half-hour show on WOOD-TV, called "Understanding Our World." This series, designed as a general information program, encompasses many areas of study, such as current events, child care, and psychology, applied to everyday life.

Programs had been presented earlier on WWJ-TV occasionally by Speech Department students of television production and acting. Since the spring of 1948, "On Camera" has included nine telecasts of dramas written and produced by students and one, "Down Storybook Lane," program for children. In the fall of 1953, the Speech Department and the Television Office introduced a series of noncommercial programs originating from University studios, which were telecast over the Ann Arbor station, WPAG-TV. The approximately two and one-half hours of weekly programs include adult education, stories for children, music, drama, sports, news, interviews with local personalities, and documentary features. The series is for purposes of student training, public service, and experimentation in TV techniques.

The first Television Office in 1950-51 was in Room 4200, Angell Hall. During the first year of operation, the Television Office was combined with the Speech Department-Radio Office. A room in the basement of the Administration Building was assigned to television for the staff artist. In 1951-52 the Television Office was given five rooms in the east wing of the South Quadrangle. A classroom at 229 Angell Hall was remodeled as a temporary Television Studio for closed-circuit operations in February, 1952. In the fall of that year the University leased the Dolph Funeral Home at 310-312 Maynard Street, and the offices were moved to that location. Remodeling of the building in the spring of 1953 necessitated moving the office to Room 225, Angell Hall for the summer of 1953, but upon completion of the Television Studio on Maynard Street in September, the offices and equipment were moved back to that address.

When television was first established at the University in 1950, personnel consisted of the Director of Television, Garnet R. Garrison, Production Assistant, Hazen J. Schumacher, Jr., Script Assistant, Robert Newman, and Secretary, Josephine B. Wenk. Three student assistants were used on production and graphics.

Full-time personnel as well as student production assistants was added over the four-year period until 1954, when personnel included ten full-time people and twenty-one student assistants. The full-time staff consists of the director, the production supervisor, the script editor, the studio technical supervisor, a studio engineer, a film technician, a principal clerk, a secretary, a stenographer-clerk, and an artist. The students act as film, production, studio, staging, engineering, Page  1563lighting, art, program, and office assistants.

Television facilities were secured through an initial appropriation of $75,000 for electronic equipment in 1951. In 1953, the Regents voted $69,150 for kinescope and associated equipment and $112,650 for building rehabilitation.

An application was filed with the FCC by the Regents for a noncommercial UHF television station operating on Channel 26 in May, 1953. The FCC in November, 1953, approved this application with the provision that no construction should be begun on an antenna site and structure until approved by the FCC with respect to safety to air navigation.

The first floor of the TV building consists of a studio measuring 42 by 44 feet, a scenery workshop, the control room, the master control room, film projection and kinescope room, dressing rooms, announcer's booth, and reception and public observation areas. The second floor includes space for offices, film editing and storage, graphic arts, and a conference room which also serves for public observation.

Air conditioning was a necessity in the studio and technical areas. The Television Studio itself is a "room-within-a-room," with walls constructed of one-foot cement blocks to enclose the actual studio area and make it soundproof.

The studio is equipped with three RCA image orthicon cameras, two microphone booms, several stand and portable microphones, a large dimmer switchboard for lighting control, and an elaborate system of supports for the lighting units. The studio control room houses the control and switching equipment for the three studio cameras, for a G.E. iconoscope film camera, and also accommodates a Gates audio console for controlling program sound. The master control room houses a master power supply, racks containing synchronizing generators, and the signal distribution and monitoring equipment.

The film and kinescope recording room houses the projection equipment which permits the televising of 16 mm. motion picture film, 2 by 2 slides, and 3 by 4 opaques and transparencies. In addition, there is the G.P.L. kinescope or video recorder. This machine produces 16 mm. sound motion picture films of television programs. Also in the control room area is an electronic workshop.