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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
INTERVIEWEE: Rae O. Weimer
INTERVIEWER: Bill Breeze
DATE: March 30, 1987
W: Actually, it started back in 1953, when I first got interested in
educational television, ETV. Miller [J. Hillis Miller, President,
University of Florida, 1948-1954] had died, and Allen [Dr. John S. Allen,
Acting President, University of Florida, 1954-1955] was the acting
president. Before that I had branched over into broadcasting and got
radio transferred from speech over to journalism, which the speech
department did not like very well. Norm Davis from Jacksonville became
manager of a station in Miami. Davis had come over to see me and said, "I
am in speech, but I am interested in news, radio news, and we are not
getting anything out of radio over there," I was in the process in those
days of rewriting the curriculum, anyway. I put in a course on radio
news, and Norm transferred over to journalism, and I began to work on
getting the broadcasting sequence for sending them out. So Dan
transferred from the speech department to journalism. Of course, they did
not approve of it, especially Prof. Gossage. I would have fought to keep
it if I had been in his position, but the best way to fight would have
been to make it essential, and worthwhile; make it something that the
university is not going to kick around.
B: Were you aware that in 1952 President Miller suggested to John Allen, who
wrote in a letter to Garland Powell, that WRUF ought to apply for channel
5 on a commercial basis to protect its interests in case the channel would
be released for commercial use?
W: If I knew that, I do not recall it. Although, if he did write it, he did
so without knowing what the facts were, because you could not get a
license under those 154 stations that congress had reserved for ETV. They
had to be noncommercial. If I did know that, it may have been one of the
things that spurred me to take over the responsibility myself, because I
knew nothing about television. I did not know anything about radio either
when I took it over, but the speech department had two faculty members in
broadcasting, Clark Weaver and Tom Batten. Allen was a strong ally of
mine, and Miller was sympathetic. One day I went over and talked to
Miller. I found out early that I could not work very well through the
College of Arts and Sciences. They were not particularly interested in
me, and they did not know what I was trying to do, but I was supposed to
report back through the dean of arts and sciences, Ralph Page. Ralph, I
must say, was very nice to me, and helped me, but the college did not know
what it wanted when it hired me, and they did not know what to ask me when
they were interviewing me. I am more than satisfied with the help I got
from Ralph, but he did not understand what we were trying to do. Well
anyway, I found if I went to Ralph, he would refer it to a committee, and
they would talk a proposal to death. So I went over to see Miller and
said, "How much do you want me to report to you about what I do?" and he
said, "Ray, I will give you enough rope to hang yourself." I thanked him,
and from that day on the school grew. It did not labor under the academic
aegis of all the gobbledygook and red tape that universities are sometimes
encumbered with. We went at it in pretty much a professional journalism
way. Generally, I went over to him with most of my problems, and he
helped me solve them. Still, I did not know anything about television. I
began reading on the subject of broadcasting after I had taken Norm Davis
over. When I did that they gave me control over all broadcasting,
finally, and at the same time they gave Tom Batten a year's leave of
absence. He went down to Houston, and so I took Clark Weaver over. He
taught radio news, and we did not have anything else in his field to
teach, but we gradually developed some radio and broadcasting courses. I
was pretty upset about Tom Batten leaving, it was just a lucky break for
me. He had been gone a year, and I could not hire anybody in his place
because he was on leave. So I had to hire somebody on a temporary basis,
and then at the end of the year, he would not give me a definite answer
whether he was coming back or not. But I heard that he had come back into
town and was having his furniture moved, and so then I just told Allen not
to give him a leave of absence. I put it up to him, "You tell me right
now. Are you coming back on such and such a date? If not, you are
through." So he was through. I do not know about that letter, but then I
began to get interested in television and decided that there was one
university in the United States that had a station, and they were running
it as a commercial station, but they did not get the license through that
154. Out in Ames, Iowa they applied for a television station before Des
Moines ever had one and were running a commercial station, making a lot
of money out of it, carrying all the advertising up there on their station
that normally would go to a station in Des Moines. When Des Moines got
one station, then two, and then eventually three, it killed the revenue of
the Ames station. But I got interested and thought this was something we
ought to be doing. I did not know anything about it, but just like I came
down here and did not know what a school of journalism was supposed to be
either. I had never been to one before. Why, I began going to John
Allen, and he was a very helpful ally in bringing educational television
to the University of Florida. John was willing to listen and he gave me
all the help he could. Glen Marshall, the manager of Channel Four in
Jacksonville, was helpful to me and gave me much needed advice. Then I
went out to Ames, Iowa and spent a week observing what they were doing at
their station. At Syracuse, New York they were teaching broadcasting, but
had no application for a license nor no station, but they had a
broadcasting program. They were broadcasting once a week from downtown,
over at WYSR, and I spent two weeks up there as a graduate student. They
accepted me as a graduate student, never checked my credits, though I did
not have a bachelors degree, but I got six hours of graduate credit up
there. Then I went up to Michigan State in Lansing, Michigan. They were
teaching television, even though did not have a station, but they were
doing a pretty good job. They were kind of the pioneers in this business
of teaching television, but they did not have stations. I had a station
before either of them did. I barged ahead much faster than they did,
knowing much less about it. I came back with that knowledge and told
Allen about it and told him I believed we ought to apply for one of those
licenses. And we did, and hired a lawyer in Washington. That was hard to
get money for, but Allen helped me get it. And we got a license.
B: There were two licenses applied for. The first one was in 1953. Then you
withdrew it when you found out that you had additional time.
W: The thing we applied for in 1957 was when we were getting ready to go on
W: But we had to go through more red tape to build a television station. We
had to have a construction permit, and the license must have been renewed,
because to get your construction permit, you have to have some kind of a
license. But to finally go on the air you had to file papers to show that
you are ready to go on the air and had your stuff in line.
B: That would be normal procedure.
W: It was like a three ring circus around here. I was getting into
television and then the school was growing faster than any other unit in
the university. Then I decided we outgrew Building K. So I went to Allen
and told him that we had to have more space, and he looked around, and up
at the west end of the engineering building is a white house. It was once
turned into a photo lab, and he offered me that building.
B: That is smaller than Building K.
W: Well, I mean in addition to Building K. I said, "No, I do not want to
separate the school." The first summer I came I went to Ohio State and
enrolled. I thought I would finish my degree work. I gave it up
afterwards, because instead of learning up there, they put me on the
faculty that summer to teach in journalism. But I remember looking over
at Ohio State, where they built the athletic dormitories into the stadium,
and that is where I got the idea. So after I turned down this house, and
I still needed that space awfully badly, I went to George Bowmann, the
business manager, and talked to him about it. George was a great guy. He
got himself in trouble, but I will say this for him: by God, if you needed
something the university needed that was worth doing, he would say, "Let's
go ahead and do it, and do not ask questions about it." So I took George
over, and we looked under the stadium, and there were line bags and track
stuff laying down under there, and you could look up four or five stories
high, and there was not a darn thing in there. We decided we would
develop that, and to finance it, he scraped up money from somewhere. We
got WRUF to move up on the north end of the fourth floor and put in
$100,000. We got the athletic people to put in some money to put in an
athletic dormitory on the south end of the fourth floor. For the south
end of the third floor we got the University Press to put in some money,
that is the place where books are printed. I took the rest, the ground
floor, the second floor, and then the next floor from the north end to the
middle. I took more than half of that third floor, because I had my radio
studios on the third floor, and they happened to come under part of that
football dormitory. George scraped up some money. It was not allocated,
and he got nobody's approval for it. It is really where he got in trouble
with the university, but as I say, George was a guy who was loyal to this
university and built a lot of things at this university that never would
have gotten done if he had given into the red tape that was required. So
we built it, and we got the floors in in our part. I did not have any
money, see? Those other people finished theirs, but on the part for
journalism I got the floors in. I cannot remember whether we got the
walls in or not. I believe we got the walls in, no doors or anything, and
ran out of money. So they closed down. The construction people moved
away, and we waited seven months until finally we went to the legislature
and said, "Look, here we have got all this established and built, and you
will have to find space for this school somewhere anyway, and it is
growing faster than anything else on this campus." The press association
was behind us. What few broadcasters there were were behind us. We got a
bill through the legislature to finish it. That is the first time the
legislature voted for it. We began to buy equipment, and we did our first
broadcasting in September of 1956. I was in Europe that summer. I had
come back and found my 118 class so big that I had a lot of sections, and
I did not have enough faculty to teach it. So I put a television set in
every room on closed circuit, and that is how we taught 118, our beginning
B: When I took that course, you had the two instructors who hated each other.
W: Well, for the beginning, we would teach broadcasting, part of that was
118. Lee Franks taught television, Buddy taught journalism, and Manning
Seale taught advertising. I do not think we taught any public relations.
I tried to take the expert in each field, and they were sort of jealous of
each other. They spent more time running down one of the other sequences
than they did in explaining how their own worked. So finally I decided to
have Buddy teach all of it, and it was more successful than the previous
method. He did a good job of it, I must say. He did not know anything
about advertising. He did not know anything about broadcasting any more
than I did, but he learned, and he taught it for some time. It got up to
where he had eighteen sections of that class. I found out early in my
days here that what determines how much money your college receives is how
many students you have in your classes. See, you could not register in
journalism unless you were a junior, but if you had a lot of freshmen and
sophomores taking classes you got credit for teaching them. I could not
stand the English courses that the arts and sciences were giving. They
were not doing our kids any good, so I put in this course numbered 118,
and later put in the 201 that Cunningham taught for my beginning classes.
But that 118 at one time had eighteen or twenty sections.
B: I think it had two the year I took it.
W: Gosh almighty it grew, and it generated money. So, we got a station back
at WUFT. We moved to the stadium. I got a little money from the state to
buy two Orcon cameras. I believe I got two for $25,000, from some guy who
was a real nice guy. Then Glen Marshall offered to give me Channel 4's
old tower, and then for some reason, I never quite figured out why, he
changed his mind at the last minute, and we had to pay for it. We got
that 300 foot tower for $3,750.
B: He did give you the transmitter, did he not? I remember seeing something
in the archives about the transmitter being a gift from someplace.
W: We bought our first transmitter from General Electric. We would have had
to have some kind of a transmitter when we were using closed circuit,
would we not? Well, and we did not have anything at the stadium. I
believe the first transmitter we put in up there was a new one. Glen
would have given me one, all right. He gave me a couple Image Orphicon
cameras, IOs. It sounds little bit familiar that he gave me a
transmitter, but I tried to put a tower out in back of the stadium at the
beginning and found out that the back of the stadium is in the insturment
landing pattern for the airport. They still do not have any instruments
for landing here, I do not think. They do not have any radar.
B: No, they have got a full instrument approach system, but it is on the
W: Well anyway, but when it was laid out, that would be in the landing
pattern, and we could not put up a tower. So we put up a small tower back
there that I believe has been taken down now. It was up about thirty-five
feet or so.
B: Well, it was on the fourth or fifth floor of the stadium. When you would
go up to the photo deck and the press deck, you looked straight out at it.
W: Are you sure you were not looking at that hurricane tower? Ours was two
standards like this, not one standard, and it had a crosspiece, and it was
not even as long as this room, in red.
B: Yes, that was it.
W: Well anyway, we put that up, put the dish on that, and sent our signal up
to the Milhopper. So then I had to look around where I could get a place
to put my tower, and I found out for the first time that the university
then owned the Milhopper. It was the only land they owned out there that
seemed to be available, so I got them to give me sixteen acres, and we put
up that 300 foot tower. We took boorings up there then to see about
putting up a tower, and it was all dry. I think that was along in the
winter, probably the winter of 1956-1957. We decided where we were going
to build the building and got around to putting up the tower about June or
July. We got down two or three feet and we were in water, and I did not
know anything having to do with boorings, but it said it was dry and
everything was wonderful, but there we were in water. So I had to build
some coffer dams, three of them, one for each anchor, and played about ten
yards of concrete. We had already poured concrete before, and it got down
in this water, and the cement separated from the rest and floated to the
top. So then we put in the coffer dam and put about ten yards of concrete
down for each one of those anchors, like going down to China. Never had I
run into so much trouble in my life. I damn near wore out that road
driving back and forth to that Milhopper. I almost wore an automobile out
at my own expense, running up there at least twice a day. We finally got
it up, and I think it was in 1958 we got on the air.
B: November 17, I believe.
W: We had a big table down there in the studio for the ceremony. A lot of
the broadcasters were here. Someone wanted to know who the knucklehead
was that planned the television studio with a pillar in the middle of it.
B: You should have heard what the students called that pillar.
W: And I said, "Well, I was it." As a matter of fact, it has
a sewer pipe right down one side, and we had to pack that thing and pack
it around and around. A normal pillar is about like so,
and I will bet it is four times or three times that big, so that when they
were up on the fourth floor and they flushed the john, it did not roar
coming down that pipe. You would pick up the sound, and you could not
take it out, because that pillar went clear to the top of the stadium. We
had to work around it all the time. When we went on the air, I believe we
went on with our Orchon cameras. We may have had one IO.
B: They were Vidicons, were they not?
W: They were Vidicons, yes. Vidicon, Rothstadt, Roaricon?
B: Yes, Roaricon was a film camera.
W: Okay, Vidicon, yes. In those days you had no tapes, and to get a copy of
what you broadcast, you called a kinescope, and to get the light for that
process, you used the old movie arc lamps. God, they were hot, and as a
high school kid I used to run a movie projector out of my home in Nebraska
where you used those arc lamps, so I was familiar with those. Glen gave
me two of those arc lamps for making a kinescope. I wish they had one of
those kinescopes around there, I do not suppose they do. But anyway, we
had that up on the second floor, right above the first floor, right above
the studio. In those days you built a studio, and you built it with a big
glass front. You could watch the actors and control the buttons, and that
has all gone by the boards now. They do not do that anymore, but I
remember we did. We had to haul in a lot of dirt to build this control
room up higher, so you looked into the studio. We built a dressing room
in there downstairs, a scene room. You never have enough room for storage
in a television station. We found that out, and we built another studio.
We had two studios, the big one and the little one, and the engineer shop
was up above the second studio. That was a great lesson to me. But we
were one of the first colleges in the United States to go on the air with
a television station. I do not know how many there were, but we were one
of the early ones.
B: Who was the driving force behind the state going into educational
television? Was it the Florida Educational Television Commission?
W: No, I think it was me, because I was on that commission. LeRoy Collins
[LeRoy Collins, Governor of Florida, 1955-1961] put me on that state
commission. We were into it and going before it was named that. We got a
choice channel, 5, and caught hell with it. All the people in Northwest
Gainesville in those days were getting their television from either
Channel 4 in Jacksonville or Channel 2 in Orlando, and when Channel 5 went
on the air those people in the Northwest section screamed bloody murder
because they could not get 4. Five drowned them out. Good God, did they
raise hell. They had to get TV repair people to come out, and they put in
a trap. We were not very popular. Television in those days was called
ETV, Educational Television, it was intended to be educational, but now it
has got a lot of entertainment, too.
B: How do you feel about the change from Educational Television to Public
W: Well, I do not think television has ever found its rightful place in
education, and I think the reason they have not is that professors, by and
large, resented it. I had a lot of courses taught by television here. We
taught American history, French, humanities, there was any number of them.
Take, for example, American history, the greatest vehicle in the world to
teach American history would be television, but you cannot do it all with
television. It has got to be supplemental, and what we found when we were
teaching American history by television is the professor came in and stood
in front of the camera and gave his normal lecture. They did not get any
visuals, and the way to bring American history alive for kids would be to
use visuals. It could be just a fantastic course.
B: You had the French course on when I was working there, and I had to go
over to the university library and shoot slides of all of these books in
the library, or magazines actually, to use as visuals for that French
W: But the French department did not like it. They squeezed the guy out. He
had to leave. He went to Detroit, to Wayne University. I sent him to
Paris one summer so he could get some slides himself over there that he
could use, and he taught it on same the basis that I taught my kids at
home when they were more than six months old to say, "Cat," and they
pointed their finger at a cat. That is the way you start teaching French,
not the way they normally teach it in schools, and it could have been
highly successful. We put it on the air one year. We taught quite a few
courses for the community college in Ocala: Buddy Davis' 118 and the
French class and maybe a couple others. We also at one time put a
television receiving set in every school in the county and began teaching
music and art. Those kids had neither an art teacher, or a music teacher,
and somehow it broadened their educational horizons. Television has not
accomplished what it ought to have education, mostly because the
professors themselves have always taught it the other way, and they
thought this was a threat to their future, and they did not want any part
of it. Humanities was fairly successful.
B: Compare the original programming concept on WUFT with the present
W: The original concept of television, from the time the 154 stations were
reserved, was to provide formal education. Congress thought about it in
terms of formal education, similar to classroom education, but using
television as a vehicle. At that time no one thought that educational
television would become so entertainment oriented. I am not sure it would
have survived. I do not mean to criticize. Educational Television just
did not catch on. Maybe we were to blame. I think we were neophytes in
the business. There was no pattern to follow in Educational Television,
anywhere. Commercial television was not so advanced then as it is now.
Television did not become a public enterprise until after the war, around
1946 or 1947. So when non-commercial channels were allocated and
reserved, a wise move, indeed, educational television was born.
B: There seems to have been much confusion in and between the university
administration about Channel 5. Did you find this a problem? Were there
too many administrators or too many outsiders involved, such as
Jacksonville television, and the Florida Educational Television
W: No, there was no conflict at all. As I said a while ago, the University
of Florida was the leader, and the Educational Television Commission was
not established until after we had taken the giant step in educational
television and had our own channel. There was no rivalry between Channel
3 and Channel 5, although we were working at about the same time. Channel
3 was going to be a noneducational institution affiliated, so they did not
have the optimistic possibility of succeeding like we did. They began as
a community station, and the only two in the state are Jacksonville and
Tampa. The Ford Foundation had made the strongest commitment, and they
went into it with millions of dollars and founded a big operation in
Atlanta. Ken Christianson could have or should have told you about it,
because I hired him from there when the Ford Foundation decided they were
going to close that office in Atlanta and move it to New York. Ken did
not want to move his family to New York, which was one of the reasons I
was able to get him to come here. The state was then getting into it,
too, in Tallahassee, but they were just getting started. I did not have a
budget that would handle hiring Ken, so I arranged for the state to pay
half his salary, and he headed up the Educational Television Commission
activity, and the other half was for me. In the early days, I was general
manager of Channel 5, and then when Ken became full time WUFT employee, I
named him as the general manager of the station. The Ford Foundation was
still interested in this, and they were looking to help struggling
stations get going in Educational Television. That was their business. I
ran into Ken at the Regional Education Board, which represented all the
southern universities, and he was called on to talk about regional
educational television. But it was not through Ken that I went to the
Ford Foundation. There was a woman that worked for him that was in that
branch. I forgot her name now, but I know she came down to look over what
we were doing, hear our story and see our plans. She went to Jacksonville
and worked with them, and she offered to give Jacksonville something
around $100,000. She gave them $100,000 or $120,000 and gave me about
$20,000 or $40,000 less than she gave them. But the only way she would
give Jacksonville any money was for me to put in a microwave from here to
Jacksonville to support Channel 3's programming. She was confident, and
rightfully so, that with the university's resources there was little
danger that Five would fail for lack of program material, but she had no
confidence in Jacksonville's ability to come up with a significant enough
amount of program material to stay on the air.
B: It was suggested by the university administration that the university
apply for the license for Jacksonville and run a two station network.
W: I did not take part in that.
B: Well, it was just suggested that they might.
W: We did not give it too much serious thought, because for there was a
dentist in Jacksonville, who was gung-ho for this, and began working like
crazy, and soon he had people in Jacksonville all steamed up about it. He
really went out to beat the bushes, and he had a lot of organizations
behind him, without any money, and he got a big chunk of money. I forget
how much it was. I believe it was $140,000, and maybe I got $100,000, on
the condition, though, that I put in a microwave from here to
Jacksonville, and assured them of program support. And they took some
programming from us.
B: Of course that was about $10,000, was it not?
W: I believe it was $35,000. That $10,000 sounds familiar.
B: That may have been for a one way system, and then you ended up putting in
a two way system between Jacksonville and here.
W: Yes, that may be. I do not think we took much from them. The $10,000
figure sounds awfully familiar to me, but I thought it was a little more
than that. But anyway, there was not a rivalry between us, they had no
choice but to go along with us, and we were glad to help them. As a
matter of fact, when she made the offer, she said she would give the money
to us if we would do such and such, and she would give the money to them
if we agreed to support their programming. We got the money, and it
helped them a great deal.
B: Tell me about your favorite person in radio in Gainesville, Dolph
Chamberlain and his application for WUFT.
W: I remember he made that application, and it kind of bothered me at the
time. What did he apply for? Did he apply for Five? I have forgotten.
B: A commercial station. He made two offers, one where originally he would
apply for it as a commercial station, and he gave you X number of hours
per day, one hour out of every four.
W: Oh, I remember now a great deal about it. Yes, I fought that and
convinced Allen that it was no good, and Allen was, as I said before, was
a big help. I remember going over that carefully, and going down and
saying, "Look, this will not do for us, for he would control it, not us.
We would be better off not to have anything than to have that." It would
have been a great thing for Dolph. It would have been a great money maker
for him, and when we would go along with it, why he had no chance of
beating us. Without our cooperation, he had no chance of getting Five.
We had to agree to that kind of program.
B: He made the first offer in 1953 and followed up in 1956.
W: Yes, I remember. He was very clever. It was quite an elaborate proposal.
I remember that now. I do not think really that anybody gave it very
B: You should see the file on this, it's this thick over there.
W: Yes, well the university did not know much about television, and I did not
either. But on that issue, John Allen and I were certain we did not want
any part of it.
B: Did you experience any problems from the state underfunding staff
positions or salaries or the number of positions for proper operation of
W: Deans generally think they need more people than they can get, they ask
for more money than they get for salaries. I would say no, I did not have
any trouble from that state. Remember, nobody around here knew much about
this business, and we were all moving pretty fast. We needed more people,
but I am not sure we knew enough about it to make a good case with the
state, and, by gosh, our people worked like dogs. When I look at the
college now, which I know more about, and know about others running out of
their ears with people, I feel ashamed. Lee Franks, for example. Do you
remember in that studio of ours, we had a lot of grids up there for
lights. Lee put all of that in himself. He had gained some experience
from his high school or college years working with a plumber. Those were
all pipes, and Lee and students got up and did all that. We did not hire
it done. The things we did are just unimaginable today when you think of
the production we got into. We were producing a lot of stuff, and
producing a lot more than they produce now. The faculty members were the
producers. Now you have got people who specialize in producing. Mae Burt
was one of the first that I hired, and then Mickey, and we took over FM
radio operation for a program every night for two or three years.
B: I think it was longer than that.
W: I do not know how long it was, but gosh I am ashamed to think of how hard
I demanded the work from those people. But you did not have to demand it,
they were so excited about it that they just did it. All of them worked
hard. So no, I cannot say that I had any quarrel with them. I did not
know enough about it or how many people it was going to take. I was
pretty ignorant about it, for I did not know television would eat up its
programming as fast as it did. The work you put in on a thirty minute
program is immense, and you can work your tail off for days and in thiry
minutes it is gone. I did not know it could eat up talent and resources
so fast, but I really got about everything I asked for for many years.
But if you went back and compared salaries, I think journalism was kind of
a stepchild for a long, long time, for our professors were on lower
salaries than those of other colleges. But that is just typical of
universities. All the other departments had more PhD's, and they paid
off. If you have got a PhD, you are worth more than if you have just got
a masters, and there were few PhDs in journalism. It had just started.
There are getting to be more now, but think about this: that was forty
B: In 1962 it lists one PhD, ten masters, fourteen bachelors and one person
without a degree.
W: They just were not available in our field, but in English you could buy
PhDs a dime a dozen. So we were on a low part of the scale, and it was a
struggle to get money for salaries. We started off low, and if you start
low you can gain only a small percentage each year, and the school grew so
much faster than any other school on the campus. I knew we had to have
students. It did not take me long to figure out how you generated money,
and journalism only had nineteen students. So I stepped in and
reorganized the high school press association. When I came, it was called
some long, fancy name. I said the heck with that, and quickly got them to
abandon that and organize the Florida Press Association. Then for years
John Webb and I went out of here on every Friday afternoon to organize and
conduct a workshop extending to every corner of this state on Saturday--
yearbook and journalism workshops. When those kids got ready to go to the
university, where did they come?
B: Hugh Cunningham taught that as a summer course, too, did he not?
W: Well, he may have gone out. The course he taught was 201.
B: Was there not a workshop taught in the summer?
W: Oh yes, Buddy worked on it, John Webb worked on it, Hugh worked on it. We
brought those kids in here in the summer workshops as part of the Florida
Scholastic Press Association. They would come in one week for journalism
and one week for yearbooks. My gosh, we were pretty good. We would have
a from two to three hundred kids.
B: It seemed like there were more of them. They were underfoot all the time.
W: I know it. Oh, I tell you, that was a job, and I worried about what would
happen to those kids. I sent two girls home once to Orlando. They stayed
out late and some college kids took them for an automobile ride. I do not
think anything more than that happened, but boy, we policed that hard, and
I hired people to stay in the dorms with them. And these two girls did
not get in one night, and I called up their parents and put them on a bus
the next day for home. Yes, that is right. They would come in here every
B: I think you have answered most of the questions I had.
W: We used to have those meetings up in the Hub. Do you remember the Hub?
B: Yes, the second floor. We also put them down on the second floor of the
stadium, on the far end.
W: That could be. I remember the Hub. We had a lot of them up there. It
was before the union was built, I believe, was it not?
B: Right before.
W: Yes, that is what I thought. Well, there is one of the reasons the school
grew. We worked at it. We went out and recruited, and it paid off. I am
not ashamed of it, I think it was good business.
B: Well, you have answered all the questions I was going to ask.
W: I do not know anything else about our early days. I remember I had one
engineer who, when we were putting the tower up and working like crazy up
there at the transmitter and trying to get things organized down at the
stadium, was always coming to me, and I know he was working awfully hard
and long hours. He was always quitting, and I got so sick and tired of it
that one time I said, "Okay, if you want to quit, go ahead." I think it
surprised him to death.
B: Was that Bill Beau?
W: No, it was before him. He was kind of a tall guy, awful nice guy, but he
was always quitting, and I just got so that I could not take it anymore.
He has come back to see me. He came back a couple of times to see me. We
were friends, but I just thought, "Okay, sorry to have you go, but since
you quit, well, you quit. I will have your pay for you."
B: Looking back, is there anything that you did that you would have done
W: Oh, if I had been wiser about it and known more about it, I think we could
have done things better. I went anywhere that had any television. I
stayed out in Ames where they were on the air with a commercial station,
and Syracuse and Michigan State were about the leaders in starting to
teach television techniques with mock cameras. What surprised me then was
their slowness in applying for a channel. I went the other way. I was
going to get a channel before I ever developed the staff and the people
inside. It just seemed there was no point in hiring staff and developing
a program if you could not use it. If I had to do it over again knowing
what I know now I think I could have maybe been more effective in the
teaching process. I did not know any different. I hired a history
professor or a sociology professor to use television to teach his course,
and they were already touchy about television, for they were afraid it was
going to take their jobs away from them. So we in television were not
about to start dictating to them how you teach. They knew how to teach
better than we, supposedly, but they did not know how to use television,
and we did not either. I think in doing it over again we might have made
a much greater impact. We did an awful lot of things that are kind of
just amazing. For example, we made a tape of an open heart operation at
Shands, so that they could circulate that to other hospitals. It ought to
be done. Maybe they are doing a lot of it, but these were the early days.
Do not forget, this was back in the late fifties and early sixties. They
put a valve in a woman's heart, and they stuffed congealed water, like
slushy ice, in that cavity while they were working on it, and then they
pumped it all out and put in a valve. I watched them do another operation
on a little girl, and they scraped her spine. They had a surgeon come out
from Houston, I think, to do the operation and put a rod down the side of
her spine. And we taped it, and we did a lot of things like that that
were very unique. We were real pioneers in that stuff in those days.
Good gosh, I have got cables all over that campus for doing classroom
lectures in various places, clear over to the college of education
building, and probably nobody ever thinks to use it anymore. Over in
agriculture we did some stuff right from the college, right from their
laboratories clear over to Shands. With what money we were able to scrape
together we did an awful lot, I think. When I look back at it, well, I
did not know what I was doing. But you know, if it sounded like a good
idea, we would say, let's do it. And I never forgot what Miller told me.
He said, "Rae, I will give you enough rope you need to hang yourself." So
I figured, "Let's go ahead and do it. Do not ask. If they do not like
it, they will tell you."