Written by: Tom Rieland
Date: April 23, 2012

On April 24, 1922, Ohio State President William Oxley Thompson stepped to a microphone and said the first words heard on a radio station in Columbus: “We are starting tonight the first of a series of programs of entertainment and instruction for the citizens of Central Ohio. These programs will be of the highest type, including music, science, and other subjects of popular interest. Happily, Columbus’ first radio program is being broadcasted from Ohio State University.”

The station was then at 570 AM, operating at just 1.8 watts and had the call letters WEAO.  The tower and transmitter for the station were moved to the University Golf Courses in 1938. As the station’s reputation and growth continued, Youngstown’s WKBN paid for WOSU-AM to move its frequency from 570 to 820 kilocycles in March 1941.

What caused Ohio State to get interested in AM radio in the early 1920s?  You may be surprised to learn it was a local natural disaster- the 1913 Flood of Franklinton/Columbus.  During the weeks following the devastating flood that left 93 people dead and 5000 citizens of central Ohio homeless, it was the wireless telecommunications system at The Ohio State University that carried news of the flood to telegraphs across the state.  That public service led the Engineering department at OSU to look forward at this new technology 0n the horizon called AM radio. Thanks to our community, WOSU has grown tremendously over the past nine decades — adding WOSU FM broadcasting in 1949 and our Columbus  WOSU TV station in 1956, plus additional FM stations across the region in the late 1990s.


  • Terisilver

    I started out as an intern at WOSU 820. My last radio airdate was on 820 (December 20, 2008). Irony. But t’s a new dcay and I’m ready for 89.7 (again) … can you use an anchor? :)))) Really …

  • Terisilver

    Make that, a new day. LOL

  • donald138

    I would like to congratulate WOSU about its programming decisions regarding the switch to the FM dial for both classical programming and all news and interview programs.

    Also, I really appreciate having the BBC World News America. It is interesting to get a somewhat different perspective on the news. I found it entertaining that the BBC program spent an entire show reporting on the sentencing of Michael Jackson’s doctor.

  • Bob Batina

    B-o-o-o-o-o ! I am sad to see WOSU am go to 89.7 fm. I listened to Bluegrass Ramble on my 60 year old Crosley floor radio for a long time. Nothing sounds as good as old time radio on an old time radio. Sure, I can pick it up on my Japanese fm radio, but it will never be the same.

  • Debra

    What was the name of the classical piece used as a theme song for “In the Bookstall?