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Written by: Tom Rieland
Date: February 20, 2019

WOSU TV's first broadcast on February 20, 1956.

WOSU TV’s first broadcast on February 20, 1963.

No, the headline is not a personal statement, but it’s close!  WOSU TV is celebrating 63-years of broadcasting this week, going on the air February 20, 1956. 

There is much background to cover about that day, which you can read about in a new book coming out in April from Ohio State University Press, Trillium Books: “Sparks Flew: WOSU’s Century On The Air.”  As the author, I can attest to it being a grand history of not only WOSU, but the Ohio State involvement in new communications technology going back to wireless telegraph in 1900.

In the book I quote Freda Koch, a columnist for the Clintonville Booster newspaper, describing her first night watching the new WOSU TV station:

“I’ll tangle with anyone who says that educational television will have little to offer. Educational television has something new to offer. I spent five minutes with John Schmidt (WOSU Host) giving the headlines. Handsome man, this Schmidt. He lives on Brevoort Road. Then I went to the jungles, a logging mill, and heard a captivating history of the royalty of wood—mahogany.

My travels then changed to a trip to Honduras. No ordinary film this. It told me how Christopher Columbus set foot there first in his journey to the new world. I had been traveling all evening, right on my own davenport. And during all this time I had not had one program interrupted by a commercial. I had been (perish the phrase) glued to my seat and I had learned something

My reaction at the time the station signed off was that educational TV was bringing a kind of tranquility to television. I was grateful to my state of Ohio. I do thank it and I’ll keep watching.

Can’t resist.”

The photograph at the top of post from February 20, 1956 is from the first official broadcast of WOSU-TV.  Announcer John Schmidt is left of the podium as Ohio State Vice President Frederic Heimberger talks of “this day of great significance” in OSU history. A 60 voice symphonic student choir is ready to break into song after the speech. It was 44 degrees outside, but the heat from the giant lights were unbearable inside the studio.