Written by: Tom Rieland
Date: October 19, 2017
In the 1930s and 40s, the WOSU radio facility, located in a World War I hangar, included a reception area, three offices, a control room and two broadcast studios.
Telephone lines strung to several locations connecting remote sites directly to the radio control room. One line meandered to the home of Frew Mohr on Summit Street where the community organ teacher played for the station as many as eight times a week.
In a similar fashion, the chimes in the Orton Hall tower were captured “live” daily as part of regular programming. For over two decades, Dr. Allen McManigal of the Department of Engineering Drawing took a break from his real job every day to walk across the oval and climb the 80 steps to the Orton Hall tower.
McManigal rang the 12 bells by jerking a series of cranks connected to the giant bells two floors above. A Lantern feature story told of his climbing the tower always accompanied by Timmy, a Toy Manchester Terrier.
He would compose over 300 musical selections to play for the campus and on OSU’s radio station, which set up a microphone and lines to the WOSU control room.
When he couldn’t make the trek, McManigal had some trained music school students do the job.
McManigal, whose wealthy father was the president of several coal companies, started his career as a mining engineer before joining the faculty at Ohio State.
In 1950, according to newspaper accounts, McManigal committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning. He was 53 years old and left a wife and three children.
Back in 2014, on WOSU TV’s Broad & High I took a look behind the scenes for the 100th anniversary of the Orton Hall chimes.