Written by: Tom Rieland
Date: July 31, 2017
Stereo broadcasting is a big deal when you can’t provide it. That was the case for decades at WOSU radio, even after the FM station went on the air in 1949.
In 1957, some creative soul came up with a solution of sorts. On February 8, 1957, WOSU carried the first local “stereophonic broadcast” of music in the region with the Ohio State University Concert Band.
Then they started a new 13-week series of “three-dimensional stereo sound.” How did they do it when there was no stereo transmitter even sold at the time?
They asked the listeners in Columbus to setup their AM set on the right side of the living room and the FM set on the left. For optimum listening they were to be 12 feet apart and listeners should sit 10 feet from the radios in the middle. You could imagine folks getting their tape measures out. WOSU sent one channel of audio on each of the stations to add the depth and dimension of stereo. People loved it.
A year later, WOSU experimented more by asking the audience to put their TV tuned to Channel 34 in the middle of the radios and they could watch a local concert on TV in living stereo.
In 1959, WOSU radio started broadcasting local opera performances using this system. It wouldn’t be until the early 1970s before WOSU FM broadcast in true stereo from a new transmitter.
Now, this is fun.
See WOSU’s former radio classical director Fred Calland on WOSU TV in 1957 promoting stereophonic broadcasting with the help of John and Mary Schmidt. This is from a kinescope found in former WOSU announcer John Schmidt’s basement! Special thanks to Chuck Pennington of the SRO Theatre Company for his great assistance.