Kenneth H. MacDonald Papers: 1932-1989
Summary Information
Title: Kenneth H. MacDonald Papers
Creator: MacDonald, Kenneth H. (Kenneth Hugh), 1921-1989
Inclusive dates: 1932-1989
Extent: 2 linear feet (in 3 boxes)
Extent: 2 oversize volumes
Extent: 1 oversize folder
Abstract:
Owner and operator of a network of Michigan radio stations, including WSAM in Saginaw, Michigan. Biographical files relating in part to his Ann Arbor and Saginaw, Michigan, civic activities; scrapbooks, advertisements and other materials relating to WSAM radio station; files detailing his involvement with the National Association of Broadcasters; scrapbooks documenting career activities, and photographs.
Call number: 90135 Aa 2; Ac
Language: The material is in English
Repository: Bentley Historical Library
1150 Beal Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113
Phone: 734-764-3482
Fax: 734-936-1333
e-mail: bentley.ref@umich.edu
Home Page: http://www.bentley.umich.edu/
Finding aid created by Eleanor Fye, 1990

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

The collection was received in October 1989 from Mrs. Kenneth H. MacDonald (Donor No. 7733).

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open to research.

To protect fragile audiovisual recordings (such as audio cassettes, film reels, and VHS tapes), the Bentley Historical Library has a policy of converting them to digital formats by a professional vendor whenever a researcher requests access. For more information, please see: http://bentley.umich.edu/research/duplication/.

Copyright:

Donor(s) have transferred any applicable copyright to the Regents of the University of Michigan but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright was not transferred. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.

Preferred Citation:

[item], folder, box, Kenneth H. MacDonald Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


Biography

Kenneth Hugh MacDonald (1921-1989) was a dominant personality in broadcasting in Michigan from his arrival in 1947 to his death in May 1989. Born in Newton, Massachusetts, MacDonald graduated from the Leland Powers School of Theater in Boston in 1942. He enlisted shortly after his graduation and served five years as a U.S. Navy pilot in World War II. In 1947, after brief employ as a magazine advertising manager in Alabama, MacDonald settled in Ann Arbor, where he worked as a sales representative for station WPAG-AM. While in Ann Arbor, he was active in the Ann Arbor Civic Theater, the Republican City Committee, Junior Chamber of Commerce, and Catholic Family Services. He also extended his activities at WPAG to include his own radio show, "FM-Club," beginning in 1948.

In 1962, MacDonald purchased the Saginaw radio station WSAM, formerly owned by Mr. Milton Greenebaum, and eventually built this investment into a family network that is now the largest broadcasting firm based in Michigan. The holdings of the MacDonald Broadcasting Company include: WSAM-AM and WKCQ-FM (Saginaw); WATT-AM and WLZ-FM (Cadillac); WILS-AM and WKKP-FM (Lansing); and WWPZ-AM and WMBN-FM (Petoskey). In addition to his involvement in radio at the local level, MacDonald was also involved at the state and national levels. Long a member of the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, he was elected its president in 1974. He also brought his leadership capabilities to the National Association of Broadcasters, serving on its board of directors beginning in 1981, and playing an active part in two of its committees--the Radio Audience Measurement Task Force (RAMTF), and the Committee on Local Radio Audience Measurement (COLRAM)--both of which were formed in 1985.

In addition to his activities in radio, MacDonald was deeply devoted to his family and to his community. He and his wife, Ann, daughter of a Detroit lumber executive, had seven children, three of whom still are managing the company's stations in Saginaw, Cadillac, and Petoskey. MacDonald was a member of St. Stephen's Catholic Church, and he worked with many other service organizations in the Saginaw area, such as the United Way, American Red Cross, Chamber of Commerce, Voluntary Action Center, and Junior Achievement. He organized the first Saginaw River Raft Race (1974), and in 1979, became part owner of the Saginaw Gears hockey team (now Saginaw Hawks). In each of his activities, MacDonald left a distinct and significant mark. His contributions to Michigan broadcasting history are representative of the scope and depth of his dedication to community life.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The Kenneth Hugh MacDonald Papers consist of 2 linear feet of material in three boxes, two oversize volumes, and one oversize folder. The papers date from 1939 to 1989, but the bulk of the material falls between 1941-1961 and 1985-1989. The papers consist of five series: Biographical (1939-1989); WSAM Radio, Saginaw (1941-1961); National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and Committees (1985-1989); Photographs (1941-1983); and Personal Scrapbooks (1939-1951).

Subject Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the finding aid database and catalog of The Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan. Researchers desiring additional information about related topics should search the catalog using these headings.


  • Advertising.
  • Ann Arbor (Mich.)
  • Radio broadcasting -- Michigan.
  • Saginaw (Mich.)
  • Ann Arbor (Mich.)
  • Bad Axe (Mich.)
  • Broadcasting.
  • Fairs -- Michigan -- Saginaw County.
  • Radio industry -- Michigan -- Saginaw.
  • Saginaw (Mich.)
  • Photographs.
  • Scrapbooks.
  • MacDonald Broadcasting Company.
  • National Association of Broadcasters.
  • WSAM (Radio station : Saginaw, Mich.)
  • Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994.
  • Saginaw County Fair (Mich.)
  • WLEW (Radio station : Bad Axe, Mich.)
  • WSAM (Radio station : Saginaw, Mich.)
Contents List
Request materials for use in the Bentley Library
Container / Location Title
 
Biographical [series]

The Biographical series (0.3 linear feet) includes materials which give an excellent overview of MacDonald's family, career, and civic activities. Particularly helpful are the "Obituaries/Posthumous Accolades," as they provide a context for the other materials, which represent family and civic interests. The "Clippings--Career" file offers a comprehensive selection of information on MacDonald's career status and objectives over a broad period of time, including his bid for WSAM in 1962.

Box   1  
Ann Arbor Civic Theater 1951-1967
Box   1  
Ann (Webb) MacDonald and Webb Family 1932-1944
Box   1  
Catholic Charities and United Fund 1957-1960
 
Clippings
Box   1  
Ann Arbor (Miscellaneous) 1949-1961
Box   1  
Kenneth Hugh MacDonald Career 1951-1987
Box   1  
Saginaw (Miscellaneous) 1966-1980
Box   1  
Saginaw River Raft Race 1974-1985 (2 folders)
Box   1  
MacDonald Broadcasting Company, correspondence 1981-1989
Box   1  
MacDonald Family in Radio (clippings) 1974-1986
Box   1  
Michigan Association of Broadcasters 1986-1987
Box   1  
Obituaries/Posthumous Accolades 1989
Box   1  
President Ford Presentation May 1976
Box   1  
Republican City Committee (Ann Arbor) 1956-1957
Box   1  
Saginaw Gears (hockey team) 1979-1981
Box   1  
Speeches/Talks, ? to 1989
 
WSAM Radio, Saginaw [series]

The WSAM Radio, Saginaw series (0.6 linear feet, 2 oversize volumes, and 1 oversize folder) consists of materials that were inherited by MacDonald when he purchased the station. Included are "Program Schedules" dating from 1944 to 1947, and "Scrapbooks" dating from 1941 to 1961. The "Program Schedules" are an interesting sample of what was being offered on radio at that time. The "Scrapbooks," however, are the principal focus of the series, and they are rich with bits of information on broadcasting history in the state of Michigan. Presumably compiled by Mr. Greenebaum, all the scrapbooks follow roughly the same format. They include newspaper clippings regarding administrative events, local advertisements for radio shows, and other stations (radio and television) in the area; letters of thanks and praise; and photographs of station events, such as the WSAM booth at the Saginaw Fair. Only two of the scrapbooks (oversize volumes) are still intact. The rest of the scrapbooks have been separated into files of clippings and correspondence. Although somewhat cumbersome, the oversize scrapbooks are well-organized and should be helpful models when viewing the other, separated materials. The "Advertisements" in the oversize folder were compiled from the scrapbooks which were taken apart. Large and colorful, they complement the smaller newspaper ads for various radio shows. The photographs relating to WSAM under Greenebaum can be found in three locations: in this series, in the Photographs series, and in the oversize volumes.

Oversize Folder   Ac  
Advertisements
Box   1  
Program Schedules March 1944-January 1947
 
Scrapbooks and loose materials from scrapbooks
Box   1  
1941-1944 (2 folders)
Oversize Volume   1  
1944-1947
Box   1  
1947-1948 (1 folder)
Oversize Volume   2  
1947-1948
Box   1  
1949-1953 (10 folders)
Box   1  
1954-1956 (2 folders)
Box   1  
1958-1961 (1 folder)
 
National Association of Broadcasters [series]

The National Association of Broadcasters series (0.4 linear feet) consists of the records produced and/or collected by MacDonald during his tenure on the NAB Board of Directors and two of its committees, the Committee on Local Radio Audience Measurement (COLRAM) and the Radio Audience Measurement Task Force (RAMTF). Not only do these records give a good perspective on MacDonald's contributions to broadcasting at the national level, but they also provide insight into the goals and priorities of the NAB, and particularly its effects on local broadcasting. MacDonald's position is most clearly evident in the correspondence. On the sending or receiving end, his influence is considerable.

 
NAB Board of Directors
Box   1  
Clippings 1985-1986
Box   1  
Correspondence 1985-1989
Box   1  
Memoranda 1985-1988
Box   1  
State Leadership Conference (Washington, D.C.) February 1988
 
Committee on Local Radio Audience Measurement (COLRAM)
Box   2  
Agendas and Minutes 1985-1988
Box   2  
Correspondence 1985-1989
Box   2  
Memoranda 1986-1988
Box   2  
News Releases 1985-1987
 
Radio Audience Measurement Task Force (RAMTF)
Box   2  
Agendas and Minutes 1985-1986
Box   2  
Correspondence 1985-1987
Box   2  
Final Report 1987
Box   2  
Memoranda 1985-1986
Box   2  
News Releases 1986-1987
Box   2  
Request for Proposals and List of Respondents 1985
 
Photographs [series]

The Photographs series (0.2 linear feet) includes materials which relate directly to the first two series. The bulk of the photographs correspond to the WSAM scrapbooks (see description above). In addition, though, are images of the construction of buildings and towers for stations WSAM and WLEW (Bad Axe), 1948-1949. The remaining images relate to the Biographical series, and include pictures of MacDonald, his wife, and of various civic activities and events, including Ann Arbor Civic Theater productions and Vice President Nixon's visit to Ann Arbor in 1960.

Box   2  
Ann Arbor Civic Theater circa 1958
Box   2  
Ann MacDonald Story (Saginaw News) August 1974
Box   2  
Kenneth MacDonald (miscellaneous) undated
Box   2  
Saginaw Gears Award Presentation March 1983
Box   2  
Scrapbooks (loose or removed) 1941-1961 (11 folders)
Box   2  
Vice President and Mrs. Richard Nixon in Ann Arbor October 1960
Box   2  
WSAM (Saginaw) and WLEW (Bad Axe) 1948-1949 (2 folders)
 
Personal Scrapbooks [series]

The Personal Scrapbooks series (0.5 linear feet) also relates directly to the Biographical series. Included here are materials which cover MacDonald's activities from 1939 to 1951, including his involvement in Leland Powers School theatrical productions, his role in the Broadway play "Junior Miss," his continuing involvement in theater during his service in the navy, and his first years in Ann Arbor.

Box   3  
1939-1942 (1 volume, 1 folder)
Box   3  
1941-1944 (1 volume)
Box   3  
1946-1951 (1 volume)