The radio stations relocated to the Fawcett Center for Tomorrow on the campus of The Ohio State University in 1970.
WOSU-AM became a charter member of the new National Public Radio and began broadcasting All Things Considered in 1971. WOSU-FM aired five hours of educational programming, 19 hours of informational programming, 10 hours of instructional programming, and 92 hours of cultural programming each week. Karl Haas’ Adventures in Good Music became part of the FM broadcast in October 1971.
In 1972, WOSU-TV joined the radio stations by relocating to the Fawcett Center. The new facility was equipped for color transmission and featured two production studios.
In 1973, a new tower in Westerville and transmitter allowed WOSU to reach a radius of 60 miles, serving 24 counties and two million people.
Federal public-broadcasting funding cuts prompted the creation of The Friends of WOSU, which focused on support fundraising for the station. In conjunction with the first “Friends-a-Thon” on TV34, the Sesame Street characters came to WOSU to kick off the event. TV’s broadcast community grew in 1974 with the addition of WPBO-TV in Portsmouth.
WOSU-FM began broadcasting in stereo in 1973. In 1975, the station made its sub-carrier available to the Central Ohio Radio Reading Service (CORRS), a nonprofit service broadcast on a sub-carrier of WOSU-FM for blind, visually impaired, and otherwise physically handicapped persons. In 1977, Don Davis, after serving many years as the WOSU news director, became the WOSU-AM/FM station manager.
The Friends of WOSU was officially chartered on October 29, 1973 and its first fundraising effort netted over $5,000. The purpose of the Friends of WOSU is to further the mission of WOSU through activities that support, complement and enhance the efforts of management, staff and the university. In support of this, the Board of Directors of the Friends of WOSU:
- Serve as a link to and from the community-at-large, gathering and sharing information and opinions on area issues, needs and strengths with the community, staff, and management, and board.
- Cultivate sources of funding while promoting memberships, sponsorships and donations through special events and other activities.
- Support communication of WOSU goals among members of the Friends of WOSU, the larger community, The Ohio State University, and WOSU Public Media.
The late 1970s and early 1980s brought new programming and important developments to the WOSU Stations. WOSU-FM added expanded versions of the Morning Show and Sun-Up Symphony to its on-air repertoire. WOSU-TV was the first television station in Columbus to provide closed-captioning for its hearing-impaired viewers.
Technological advances allowed WOSU-AM/FM to receive national programming via satellite, instead of by telephone lines or audio tapes.
In 1980, WOSU-FM became “Classical 89.7,” with 19 hours of classical music each day, which separated the station in format programming from News 820 WOSU-AM. FM was now all music, and AM became a news and public-affairs station, and debuted NPR’s Morning Edition.
By the mid-1980s, WOSU-FM expanded its broadcast service to 24 hours a day. Open Line made its debut in March 1982 with Lynn Neary as host, to be replaced by Fred Andrle.
General manager Dale Ouzts began a professional exchange program with the Beijing Broadcasting Institute in the People’s Republic of China in 1980. Ouzts and other staff members taught classes as well as hosted Chinese broadcasters during visits to the United States.
In 1984, WOSU-TV held its first Auction34 and won the Best First Auction Award from PBS. Auction34 raised more than $200,000 to help fund station initiatives. But, perhaps most important, WOSU stopped simply covering events and started creating them.
Blacks and the Constitution was honored in 1987 when the Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution acquired the award-winning production for its permanent archives. According to Ed Clay, who had become television’s station manager in 1981, “It was the first time we put together a special that wasn’t just coverage of an event.”
A string of station-produced documentaries and specials soon followed, including The Front Porch President (1988), on Warren G. Harding; Son of Heaven (1990), about the Chinese art exhibition; House of Glass (1992), on Franklin Park Conservatory; the four-part Jazz Voices (1996), about Ohio musicians; the 11-part Voices from the Village (1995), with black leaders talking about minority issues; Echoes Across the Oval (1996), a history of Ohio State; The Man Who Had Everything (1998), a look at the life of Louis Bromfield; The Birth of Ohio Stadium (1999); andMany Happy Returns to Lazarus (2004).
In 1988, WOSU-AM’s 40-year-effort to secure permission from the FCC to expand its broadcast day into night finally succeeded. News 820 was able to broadcast an average of 16 hours a day.
The decade from 1990-2000 marked numerous changes for the AM and FM stations. Sam Eiler was named radio station manager for WOSU-AM/FM in April 1991. WOSU-AM’s broadcast schedule was increased to 24 hours a day, but eventually reduced from 24 hours to 18 hours a day in 1992 due to state and university budget cuts.
News 820’s popular program BodyTalk, a health-information call-in program, premiered and aired nationally. Also during the 1990s, readers of the Columbus Guardian twice selected Fred Andrle ofOpen Line as “Best Radio Talk Show Host.”
In the 1990s, WOSP-FM in Portsmouth, WOSE-FM in Coshocton, WOSB-FM in Marion, and WOSV-Mansfield all partnered with WOSU-FM to form The WOSU Classics Network.
In 1993, DVS (Descriptive Video Service) made select public-television programs on WOSU-TV accessible to people with visual impairments. At the time, WOSU-TV was the only local station to offer DVS service. The station also took steps toward digital technology in 1994 when it acquired five new digital-videotape machines. The station signed on for digital transmission January 22, 2004, and WOSU begin to broadcast all-digitally in 2009.