Monday, October 25, 2021

Dedication of Edward R. Murrow Center at WSU, 1973. My senior year in Pullman High School.

Going through old photos and thinking about my senior year in high school. Long before anyone knew what social media was, I was thinking about a possible career in broadcast media. It ended up being more like an avocation in social media.
During my senior year in high school (1972-73), I used to wander freely in the halls of KWSU's radio and TV studios in Pullman. It was in campus buildings open to the public.

One could peer through windows into an interesting world.

In 2013, when I bicycled back to Pullman for my 40th high school reunion, I revisited those same halls.

My sister Judith lives in Pullman. Being a bit less shy than me, at the time, she ask someone passing in the hall if we could tour a studio. They opened some things up, beyond just the hallways and answered many questions.
Here's a view from one of the halls I wandered in high school. The hall is still there, but the view has changed in this 2013 image.

KWSU TV Master Control.

New equipment now, but back then, the office looking room on the right had big video tape decks in it. They were the kind that stood on the floor; the size of a big home furnace back then. Furnaces are smaller, these days, as well.

Through the windows more to the left was master control, itself, with many TV screens. Looked different then.

The door on the right led to an observation area that looked down into two big TV studios.

More facilities than a small town TV station would need, but this was also a college of communications.

To this day, one still hears NWPB say they are a "service of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University."
Here's another hallway I wandered. Probably more off limits, but they invited me in, during my high school years. Then again in 2013.

The radio studios.

On the right was the news booth. Farther down the hall was the main studios.

To the left was more space where they said, when I was in high school, "we will probably get FM."

KWSU Radio was all on AM back then, but now it's the heart of a large empire of regional transmitters, mostly on FM. The heart of Northwest Public Broadcasting which serves many parts of the Pacific Northwest, including Bellingham.

During my high school years, it was a bit more informal. One of the students, working there, told a story about how they used to try and get the newscaster to break up laughing during the news.

One of the antics was to walk past the news booth and start crouching at the knees. From inside the booth, it looked like the person was starting down a flight of stairs.

There were no stairs in that hallway.
I attended the dedication of what was those new studios, during my senior year. It's the Edward R. Murrow Communications Center.

A building dating back to 1899 was remodeled and a new wing was added behind. Radio and journalism was in the old section, TV in the new section.

There was some other stuff too; like the WSU Syndicated Tape Network. Educational shows were mailed out on reel-to-real tape for various other radio stations.

A practice now made obsolete by the internet.

Someone, who lived on my paper route when I was in 8th grade, had a show called "Science In The News." That was one of the shows sent out over the WSU Tape Network.
Another view of the old section of Murrow Center.
I kept a lot of papers from that dedication.

A famous CBS news commentator named Eric Sevareld came out from New York City to speak at the dedication.

My only memory of his address, which was held at Bohler Gymnasium that many years ago, was his description of trying to book a flight to Pullman, WA. from New York City.

A travel agent handed him the ticket with several stopovers to change planes. She said, "I think this will get you there, but it's the first time it's ever been tried." Most people in New York City have never heard of Pullman, WA.

This might be an urban legend that I heard from my mom. She had read an article, somewhere, that one of the plane stops was Spokane, just before Pullman.

Knowing that Sevareld would be in the area, they invited him to speak in Spokane also. He sent them a postcard with one word on it.


Like thinking of Spokane as just a whistle stop, it must have been seen as an insult.

For Pullman, it was a David and Goliath moment, as Spokane is the biggest city and trade center of that region.

My mom didn't think much of Spokane with it's more conservative politics than little Pullman. Pullman is a college town.

These days, that story would be thought of as "liberal elitism."

My mom noted that she traveled to Seattle, 300 miles away, more often than Spokane; a mere 80 miles away. She often took the Greyhound Bus (she was a non driver) to Seattle where she had volunteer activity, at the state level, in our liberal church denomination; the United Church of Christ (Congregationalist Churches).

Comparing Seattle to Spokane, my mom would say, "Spokane thinks its big, Seattle knows its big."

As I remember, there was some friction between the CBS news operation, in New York, and Spokane's CBS affiliate which was then KXLY TV Channel 4.

Several years later (if I remember correctly) CBS dropped KXLY and went to Spokane's KREM, Channel 2. KXLY then picked up the ABC network so the Spokane stations kind of did a network shuffle.

Picture of me on left in a high school TV production class.
I also kept copies of the high school newspaper that I was a reporter for.

The high school was also in a brand new building, my senior year. It featured some sophisticated communications equipment of its own.

Headline below is from another edition where I wrote an editorial. I still have that copy posted on Flickr.

KWSU TV was planning to move their transmitter to Kamiak Butte and I favored the idea. Increase the reach for educational media.

The editor, of the high school newspaper, was against the plans for putting a TV tower on Kamiak.

She printed my editorial and wrote one of her own in a "point counterpoint feature."
Before moving to Kamiak, KWSU's TV antenna was on the top of Bryan Hall Clock Tower. It only had about a 15 mile reach from there.
After that controversy cleared, they did build a tower on the left side of Kamiak Butte north of Pullman. Built sometime after I graduated from high school.

The tower is hardly visible (or not visible at all) in this picture that I took looking north from Terrell Library Plaza at WSU in 2001. There are dormatories in the foreground.

The range of the signal is much farther from Kamiak, but now it might not matter as much as just about everything goes worldwide on the internet.

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