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


The University Broadcasting Service — Radio transmits educational, informational, cultural, and public service programs to Michigan citizens through two University-owned and -operated radio stations. University programs also reach the public through commercial and educational radio stations in the state, which rebroadcast certain programs by tape recording or transmission of broadcast signal. Programs are designed to stimulate a deeper appreciation of the humanities, a fuller understanding of the arts and sciences, and academic interpretations of the stream of world events.

WUOM (on 91.7 MHz, with an effective radiated power of 230,000 watts), with studios on the fifth floor of the Literature, Science, and Arts Building and transmitter at Peach Mountain, is the originating station for most of the Broadcasting Service's programs. On December 6, 1961, the University began operating WVGR (Grand Rapids) on 104.1 MHz, with an effective radiated power of 108,000 watts. Construction, purchase of equipment, and operating budget for the first two years were made possible by gifts Page  319from friends and alumni of the University, especially in the Grand Rapids area, under the leadership of Fred Vogt. The use of "V" in WVGR's call letters commemorates this service to the University. Addition of WVGR extended the University radio coverage area to all potential FM listeners in Southern Michigan, south of a line through Midland, as well as to listeners in Northern Ohio and Indiana. WVGR, in general, repeats the WUOM program schedule by means of the air relay, with the exception of broadcasts which are of particular interest to the Grand Rapids area.

At WUOM's tenth anniversary commemoration in 1958, University President Harlan Hatcher summed up the role of the Broadcasting service when he stated:

WUOM has become a vital link between the University and the people of the state. It has helped to extend the important educational resources of the University to an ever-increasing audience, ranging from preschool youngsters to senior adult citizens.

Programming. — Listenership surveys have indicated the audience's interest in serious music programming. To meet this demand, WUOM attempts to program the best live and recorded classical music throughout its broadcast day. In its efforts to provide a unique broadcasting service, WUOM has increasingly concentrated on programming numerous live concerts. The annual Choral Union performance of Handel's Messiah has received wide acclaim. Faculty members and students of the School of Music participate most extensively. During the 1969-70 broadcast year there were 42 live broadcasts of concerts from Hill and Rackham Auditoriums. WUOM also provides its listeners with the best of music secured from foreign sources. WUOM's series, "Ancient European Organs," 24 half-hour programs produced in 1967-68, illustrates this phase. Tapes were obtained from 11 different countries for the series, which was accepted by National Educational Radio for national distribution and carried by 65 stations.

Specialized and alternate musical interests are served by programming on the University stations. A most popular series, inaugurated in the fall of 1967, was "Jazz Revisited" which utilized the collection of early jazz recordings donated to WUOM by Philip Diamond and Carl Conlon. In 1971, distribution through National Public Radio extended the series to more than 70 stations. Additional gifts of records have continued to be received. Page  320"New Music" has received regular weekly airing since 1967. "The Record Collector," with early classical selections, "Opera Night," and "Music of the Masters" are long-time series with loyal audiences.

A musical "special" was the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven in 1770. A total of 115 hours of special programming was presented in the first six months of 1970. A series of 13 hour-long original productions was titled "Beethoven — The Man Who Freed Music." University faculty members hosted the series: each program dealt with a different aspect of Beethoven the composer and utilized musical examples. The National Educational Network accepted this series for national distribution and was broadcast by 55 stations.

In the course of a year's music broadcasting schedule, the statistics of participation are impressive. An "average" in recent years indicates more than 500 faculty and 600 student appearances, supplemented by over 10,000 student appearances in more than 100 broadcasts of student musical groups. Another series of special note, beginning in 1967, was "The Eleventh Hour," three one-hour programs each week with a focus on the arts world. A wide spectrum of established and innovative leaders in varied fields of the arts participated.

Throughout the sixties WUOM increased its attention to world affairs and news analysis. Attention also was given to important events occurring on the campus of the University of Michigan. Public lectures and panel discussions were often broadcast to increase the audience's knowledge and understanding of current events. The University's history was highlighted during the sesquicentennial year by the series, "To the Cornflower and the Maize." In 1969, extensive coverage was given to campus issues such as anti-Vietnam and anti-ROTC activities, the student bookstore crisis, the Environmental Teach-In, and the Black Action Movement. Starting in 1957, the Broadcasting Service provided community service with its "Ann Arbor Report," dealing with city council meetings, and the "Ann Arbor Public School Report," which began in 1960. Two five-minute weekly series, "Business Review" and "Law in the News," featuring faculty and dealing with contemporary topics, have been distributed nationally since 1961, with more than 100 stations broadcasting these series on a regular basis. A most unique service provided by WUOM over the years has been the broadcasting of numerous University courses and lecture series in Page  321their entirety on a noncredit basis, direct from the classroom. Some representative courses: Exploring Astronomy, Introduction to Natural Resources, Philosophical Bases of Communism, Fascism and Democracy, Zoology in Human Affairs, Politics of the Middle East, Asia Civilizations, Psychology of Influence, and Afro-Americans — A Survey History.

WUOM continuously has provided the state with the most detailed coverage available of University of Michigan athletic events, covering all Michigan basketball and football games, numerous play-by-play baseball and hockey broadcasts, and special sporting events. WUOM also carries two daily reports on sports.

Service to Broadcasters and Michigan Schools. — Many programs produced at WUOM are distributed throughout the state, the nation and, through cooperation with the Voice of America and American Forces Radio Television Service, to the world. For instance, during the 1962-63 broadcast year, over 15,000 individual programs were distributed to other radio stations. WUOM has cooperated in exchange programs with many foreign radio networks and through the National Association of Educational Broadcasters and National Educational Radio. WUOM offers to state radio stations programs dealing with the state during the annual Michigan Week. In addition, many of the WUOM play-by-play sports broadcasts are picked up by state radio stations. The football network has reached a peak of 28 stations. Of particular note was the live feed by WUOM to two Alaskan stations of the 1969 Michigan-Ohio State football game.

WUOM has provided educational service to state primary and elementary-grade school students. Examples of series broadcasts over the years include those on history, aviation, nature, exploration, science, safety, social behavior, vocations, foreign languages, and storytelling. The most successful of these series was "Festival of Song," providing vocal music instruction to countless thousands of Michigan youngsters. Originally programmed for rural school districts, the series spread to such urban areas as Holland, Bay City, Saginaw, Sault Ste Marie, Grand Rapids, and Marquette. The sale of student songbooks financed a live Festival tour throughout the state.

"Down Storybook Lane," produced by students of the University of Michigan Speech Department, was another favorite with school-age children.

Page  322Staff and Facilities. — The professional staff of the University stations in 1971 included 21 full-time staff members, plus several hourly part-time personnel.

An extremely important role in WUOM's broadcast day is played by the faculty and students of The University of Michigan. In addition to the student and faculty recitals, the lectures and broadcasts of University courses, faculty members participate in "Background" discussions and news analysis, including subjects on medical advances, "Law In the News," "Business Review," "Press and World Affairs," "Commentary," "Engineering Review," and regularly scheduled educational broadcasts. Students in 1969 began producing two weekly shows, "Focus on Students" and "Michigan Journalist." In addition, WUOM has given employment to students who have become professional broadcasters and engineers.

WUOM's technical staff has attempted to give the listening audience the best in high-fidelity sound. A most important project for the engineers was the construction of the WVGR facilities. In Ann Arbor, new equipment was installed in the studios to supply a more efficient tape distribution service. A new WUOM antenna was installed in April 1955, which allowed for an increased signal area, while filling in holes in the older service area. This improvement in transmitted signal replaced the specialized coverage of Flint by WFUM and allowed its discontinuance in 1958. WUOM increased its broadcast power from 44,000 to 230,000 watts in 1961. In 1962 the engineering staff began a major equipment renovation project covering all studio and control room systems.

Awards and Recognitions. — WUOM has received many awards and citations in recognition of their important contributions to educational radio. Illustrative examples are:

Broadcasting Services Director Waldo Abbot received a personal citation for distinguished contributions to radio broadcasting from the National Association of Educational Broadcasters in 1956. Professor Abbot became Director of Broadcasting in 1925 and served the University until his retirement in 1957.

First Award (1954) from the Institute for Education by Radio (IERT), for the series on academic freedom entitled, "They Fought Alone."

Page  323A "national category" award from the Institute for Education by Radio for the series, "Tales of the Valiant," produced under a $6,500 grant from NAEB.

First Award (1957) from IERT Exhibition for a series on Michigan in the Civil War.

First Award (1959) for the series "One Nation Indivisible."

First Award (1960) by the Michigan Associated Press for its coverage of local affairs and special events.

Certificate of Appreciation from the Voice of America.

Five Special Awards of Merit (1963-70) from the National Federation of Music Clubs, for outstanding programs by American composers.

School Bell Award (1967 and 1969) from the Michigan Education Association.

In addition to awards, WUOM has received recognition through the grants it has received. Examples are: a 1960 grant for production of five classical dramas; and 1969 Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) production grant for an original Christmas program, "The Gift of the Magi," eventually broadcast by 78 other stations. WUOM was included among educational-public radio stations to qualify for CPB station grants, receiving $7,500 in 1970 and $8,000 in 1971.

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