The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.
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The University of Michigan broadcasting activities are handled by the Broadcasting Service. The purpose is to utilize the media of radio and television to extend the resources of the University beyond the campus for the educational and informational benefit of the citizens of Michigan and nation. Broadcasting Service — Radio operates WUOM in Ann Arbor and WVGR in Grand Rapids. Broadcasting Service — Television operates a production center at 310 Maynard, the Television Center.

The Broadcasting Service is administratively a unit of University Relations, which is a part of University Relations and Development. A University Committee on Broadcasting supplies policy guidance. The President of the University recommends to the Regents the membership of the committee, utilizing recommendations submitted by the faculty Senate Assembly, and appoints the chairman of the committee. The Director of Broadcasting is the chief administrative officer of the Broadcasting Service.


Kinescope and Videotape Network. — Installation of television film recording equipment in 1954 paved the way for the development of a University of Michigan television "network," a syndication system in which programs recorded in Ann Arbor would be distributed to a number of stations. The University's "live" noncredit telecourses from Detroit's WWJ-TV would be replaced by half-hour recorded programs.

The kinescope network began modestly in 1954 with nine Michigan stations carrying thirteen programs a month. Expansion was rapid as more commercial stations sought quality programs to fulfill or supplement their public service commitments. By May of 1955, thirteen stations were televising 169 programs a month and by the next year The University of Michigan network was the most extensive of its kind in the nation. Program acceptance increased even further in 1961 when the purchase of an Ampex VR-1000B videotape recorder allowed the Television Page  314Center to offer programs on both videotape and film. By 1970, 63 stations presented some 9,200 programs in the year by direct distribution. Public TV stations as well as commercial stations were now on the network; the Central Educational Network, New York State Network, Eastern Educational Network, and Canadian ETV stations distribution services boosting the 1971 station total to an all-time high — 109.

By 1971 the TV Center library contained 1,495 programs on tape and/or film. For a modest fee, stations outside of Michigan (no charge to in-state stations) received programs from the library, with content running the gamut from civil rights to archaeology, from estate planning to music appreciation, from economics to mental illness. A sample listing of some of the series reflects the wide diversity:

Year Produced No. of Programs Title and Description
1954 15 Teenager (psychology)
1956 8 From Haydn to Hi-Fi (Chamber music with Stanley Quartet)
1958 10 Your Child's First Years (practical pediatric advice)
1960 15 Plays of Shakespeare (performance and analysis)
1962 10 Freedom in a Threatened Society (civil liberties)
1963 15 Images of America (U.S. history and culture)
1964 10 The American Negro (in-depth historical-sociological study)
1965 10 Everybody's Business: Challenge of Change (business)
1966 10 The Canterbury Tales (dramatization and explanation)
1967 10 Painting with Guy Palazzola (painting techniques)
1970 15 Take as Directed (scope of America's drug culture)
1970 15 Ecology: Man and the Environment (natural resources)
1971 10 Girls and Women (status of women in 20th century)

Page  315Staff. — The TV Center staff has grown from one full-time and three part-time employees in 1950 to 40 full-time and dozens of part-time personnel today. The production staff consists of producer-writers, production directors, graphic designers, staging specialists, and a film unit. Technical standards are maintained by six full-time and three part-time engineers, while a dozen other staff members handle business, syndication, and other activities of the TV Center. Speech Department students are the main source of part-time production crew members.

Film Distribution. — In 1956 the TV Center began making its programs available in film form for rental or purchase. Following initial broadcasting schedules, film prints are available for audio-visual use by schools, banks, bar associations, service clubs, and so forth. This service has grown steadily over the years. In 1970-71, 800 rentals and 200 sales were handled directly by the TV Center.

Awards. — The TV Center has been honored with many television and film awards. The first came in 1955 from Variety magazine, which gave the TV Center the only Show-management Plaque ever awarded an educational institution. Listed below are some other awards:

Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge for Challenge of Capitalism

Eight awards from OSU's Institute for Education by Radio-TV

American Bar Association Silver Gavel Awards for Blessings of Liberty and Quest for Certainty

American Psychological Association's Science Writer's Award for Of Men and Motives

National Conference of Christians and Jews' Brotherhood Award for Race, Religion, and Responsibility

Golden Eagle Certificate, CINE, for Lisa's World

U.S. Industrial Film Festival Gold Camera Award for Trigger Films for Young Drivers

Motion Picture Film Production. — Since 1955 the Center has produced film segments for inclusion in television productions. These segments grew into motion picture films such as 1957's Football Weekend in Ann Arbor; the award-winning University Relations film The Idea of Michigan in 1962; the milieu therapy research study at Ypsilanti State Hospital Therapeutic Community, in 1969, which received a red ribbon award from the 1970 American Film Page  316Festival; the Highway Safety Research Institute's building-dedication film A Safer World on Wheels, in 1969; and films on students and faculty in 1970 called A Concerned Generation and They Teach at Michigan.

The TV Center has been nationally recognized as the creator of the new concept of "trigger film" — short open-ended films used to begin discussions. Such films have been made in the areas of highway safety, drugs, and gerontology for both The University of Michigan units and federal agencies. A Silver Osella was awarded the Trigger Films at the Venice International Film Festival in 1969.

Equipment. — The original black-and-white television equipment purchased in 1954 is still the basic equipment for use in the TV Center. Videotape recorders of both the broadcast and closed-circuit variety are now available with the original cameras as well as a custom-built mobile unit acquired in 1970 for use in remote locations. All TV Center videotape programs are black and white except for one series produced in the Medical Center TV Studio and a few color films.

TV on Campus. — The University of Michigan academic units have turned to the Television Center staff and facilities over the years for assistance and consultation on the value of the new medium in the instructional process. When a department, school, or faculty member desires to investigate the possible uses of television, the TV Center and, since 1963, the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching personnel are available to assist in such experimentation. The assistance ranges from the purely technical, such as engineering services for maintenance or recording, up to the design of a new building or facilities for the color television installations at the Medical and Dental Schools, or the structuring of subject matter for the most effective visual presentation. A sampling of the instructional projects completed over the years includes:

  • Architecture: color motion-picture films to instruct architecture students in the use of color concepts in their building designs.
  • Mechanical Engineering: television films were designed as part of a complete restructuring of a pivotal sophomore course.
  • School of Education: videotapes of student teachers for critique by School of Education faculty.
  • Page  317Institute for Continuing Legal Education: fourteen hours of an institute for practicing lawyers were videotaped; significant portions were transferred to film; three one-hour films were made and the tapes erased.
  • Computing Center: two videotapes on the operation of the card punch, an essential tool in the student's use of the computer, were prepared.
  • Children's Psychiatric Hospital: presentations on interviewing techniques and the interdisciplinary approach to therapy were recorded, then transferred to film for viewing by medical students and practicing physicians.
  • Fresh Air Camp: disadvantaged children's creative activities were taped and played back, to improve the children's self-image.
  • Speech Clinic: the speech of stammerers was taped and played back in an effort to speed their improvement.
  • Mathematics: television films on differential geometry allowed the University's branch in Flint to have a permanent guest lecturer from Ann Arbor.

Special Projects. — Each year the TV Center has provided specialized services to varied groups for televising or filming campus activities. Representative projects include:

  • 1955 Salk Polio Vaccine Evaluation Announcement. TV Center covered this historic event and also originated a special one-hour closed circuit telecast from its studio to some 52,000 physicians in 75 United States and Canadian cities.
  • 1961 Videotape of a University of Michigan Symphony Band performance was produced and distributed for the United States Information Agency.
  • 1965 A T & T, Bell Telephone, and Western Electric companies purchased 45 copies of "Seatbelts for Survival," an individual program.
  • 1966-67 Many television stations requested videotape or film segments of Sesquicentennial events, which the TV Center covered.
  • Page  3181968 A half-hour program, "The Arts: A Way of Life" was produced for the Michigan State Council of the Arts, documenting the efforts of the Council to make the arts a meaningful and available contribution to the Citizens of Michigan.
  • 1969 Media workshop at the studios for Detroit area biology teachers from Community Colleges, in cooperation with The University of Michigan Dearborn Campus.
  • 1969 Sale of Psychology series Of Men and Motives to University of Ghana, Africa.
  • 1970 Videotape appearance by Professor E. Lowell Kelly for the University of Illinois.
  • 1970 Social Security Administration training seminar on media use.
  • 1970 United States Department of Defense purchase of 50 prints of TV programs for use in Army Schools for dependents in Europe.


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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