KUOI History | Uncondensed | Page Four

Photo By Kathi Wagner

Chris Foster In The Production Room | Photo By Kathi Wagner

Under the leadership of “smooth looking” Harry Howard, KUOI would become a department of the ASUI system. The students had good reason to become a funded organization. The University of Idaho has, in its usual truculent manner, neglected communications as an academic field, and the students could see a need for training in this vocation.

Since its inception in 1945, 10 people had entered the professional radio world from KUOI. This was not bad, even for a fully accredited university department. Holding dances and fundraisers is all good fun but the truth of the matter was that they could not keep up with advances — they were, in fact, $300 in the red. Howard claimed improvement in the station would be an asset to the whole university. A more professional staff and the chance of pay at the station would draw students interested in communications instead of keeping them away. Howard wasn’t alone in his support for an ASUI radio station. The Argonaut backed the idea but not exactly for the same reasons.

KUOI had covered the “Spur-IK” boxing tournaments, an important sport in the 1940s. Howard Reinhart, one of the Argonaut editors of the coverage stated, “That coverage alone was worth whatever it might cost us for KUOI . . . ASUI membership for KUOI would allow KUOI the progress it deserves. With this democracy at work, the Executive Board of the ASUI, in true bureaucratic style, named a committee to study Howard’s proposal. Seven days later, ASUI brought KUOI under its tutelage on a probationary standing. This meant Ted Cady and Glenn Southworth would get the money back that they spent out of their own pockets to get the station off the ground. KUOI would be under the guidance of the Publications Board and the station would now be an auxiliary to the university. Now, they would have access to war surplus equipment.

KUOI started to expand its operations, slowly but surely. It was already operating 13 hours a day but felt a need to improve its equipment. They had been moved out of the Engineering Annex and into a temporary building in the arboretum, which in those days was considered light years off campus, and Washington Water Power had installed some large transformers that interfered with the transmission. To handle the technical difficulties, KUOI relied solely on student volunteers. By February, the engineering staff had installed a new console, transmitter, new turntable and a new tone arm to play long-playing records. In an effort to solve the problems created by the WWP transformers, the technical staff was conducting experiments to see if it was possible to use the university water pipes as antenna. After leaving the air for a month while improvements were made, reception was reported to be much clearer. As an extra bonus to the students that supported the station through ASUI funding, the staff offered to record anyone’s voice who came to the station’s open house.

KUOI had reason to be optimistic in its plans for a larger, better station. On the East Coast three colleges had pooled their resources to start the Pioneer Broadcasting System. Smith, Amherst and the University of Massachusetts were producing 69 hours of programming a week that they were able to put out to more than 11,000 people using a 40-watt transmitter. KUOI backers also cited the station at WSU as an example of what could come from a university station. At the beginning of KUOI history, the students were not particularly obsessed with its autonomy, only with the chance to have hands-on experience with radio equipment and practices.

 

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