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December 1967
Added to website December 1, 2017


Oberlin College students had enjoyed five days off from classes for Thanksgiving (Wednesday through Sunday, November 22-26, 1967).

Now the basketball season had begun.  Once again, only the away games were broadcast over our student-operated radio station.  For home games, my services as a play-by-play announcer weren't required.  I showed up at Jones Field House anyway and worked those home games as a statistician.

I kept a shot chart (as I had in high school) while Jeff Hanna counted rebounds and turnovers.  We had our own table behind the official scorer.  From there on Saturday night, December 2, we watched senior Mike Clement score 24 points in the first half to give the Yeomen a six-point halftime lead.  However, after the break our defense allowed Otterbein to make a number of easy baskets, and we lost by six.

First Full Week of December

My Oberlin Digest sports report on WOBC normally aired on Fridays at 11:00 pm, but it was rescheduled to Wednesday, December 6, for a hockey preview.  I didn't know much about that sport.  When we scheduled a live hockey broadcast, I let Gideon Schein handle it with Dan Brent and Bruce Ross.

That's Gideon on the far left as Estragon, with bearded Barry Mallis playing Vladimir, in a promotional photo for Samuel Beckett's play-in-which-nothing-happens, Waiting for Godot.  They would perform it in Oberlin's Little Theater in the following April.

Then in May, Gideon and Steve Kravitz would return to the WOBC microphone to broadcast Oberlin's lacrosse game from Bowling Green State University.

During that week of December 4, the other Digest programs tackled more serious subjects:  war and racism.  Ted Gest hosted a two-part “Vietnam Think-In” with Chris la Fleur, Oliver Cass, and Steve Kelley on Monday and Tuesday.  Then on Thursday, Marc Knight and Randy Bongarten explored the racial history of the town of Oberlin.  The town's current racial situation was discussed in an open forum with civic and school officials on Friday.

Other than the Wednesday Digest, my only contribution to WOBC that week was a basketball broadcast with Larry Gellman as my analyst, live from Heidelberg College at 7:50 PM Saturday, December 9.

Right Hand on Red!


In the Sixties, advertisements influenced our conversations.

One day, Jo Ann Frech (left) was sitting at my table in the college dining hall.  We noticed she was sporting a small bruise.  “What happened to your face?” someone asked.

The violin major just smiled.  Then she said, “I was playing Twister, and I decided I'd rather fight than switch.”

Moving On Up

I had been WOBC's Sports Director since the start of my sophomore year.  I also liked to hang out at the radio station even when the programming wasn't sports.  “It's become a favorite diversion of mine,” I wrote, “just to stand around for an evening and watch, helping out when necessary and talking to whomever else is there.”   I sometimes would deliver a newscast.

I especially enjoyed observing our live shows from Studio A on Friday nights.  At 10:00, banjo players and such performed on Folk Fest, surrrounded by a live studio audience sitting on the floor.  (I suggested the musicians could move to one end of the room.  Also, if a new group needed to tune up, the dead time could be covered by playing a record.)  Then, after Oberlin Digest at 11:00, WOBC aired sketch comedy at 11:30, with Backgammon 101 alternating weeks with Nobody Here But Us Mice.  (My suggestion here was to pre-tape some of the more technically difficult bits.)

“By now,” I wrote, “I've gotten a pretty good ‘inside’ knowledge of the station.  My actual work has been in what could be considered the news department, but I'm not ignorant of classical music and I know a little about pop.”

Would I continue as Sports Director throughout the remainder of my junior year as well as my senior year?  “If I tried to stay on,” I wrote Station Director John Heckenlively, “I imagine that towards the end I'd be getting terribly tired of talking about Oberlin College athletics.”  Sports wasn't a big deal on campus.  We competed mostly against small schools, with little success.  Maybe I'd apply to be Station Director myself as a senior.

But in the meantime, another position had become available.  WOBC's Program Director, senior Ted Gest, preferred not to continue in that post for the second semester, although he did agree to oversee our coverage of the Mock Convention.  It was suggested that I might be the one to replace him.  I submitted an application, and on Tuesday, December 12, John gave me the job.  I would become Program Director in February!

Holiday Season

The following Sunday afternoon, December 17, instructor James Brown welcomed my math class to supper at his modern house in the southwest quadrant of town.  His wife mentioned their previous home in Wisconsin.  There, when they introduced themselves as Mr. and Mrs. Brown, they were invariably asked “How do you spell that?”  Seems odd, but many Wisconsinites are named Braun and use the German pronunciation with au pronounced “ow” as in sauerkraut.

Jan Olson was also in Mr. Brown's class.  We both attended the supper, and she helped out a little in the kitchen.  Afterwards, Jan and I walked back to campus for the evening Christmas carol service presented by the three choirs of The First Church in Oberlin.


The Blue and the Green

On Wednesday, December 20, Oberlin students would begin our 15-day break for the Christmas and New Year's holidays.  I returned to my parents' home in Richwood, Ohio.  There, for some reason, the hands of the modern clock on our kitchen stove were of two different colors.

New Year's Eve was a Sunday.  That morning at church, I was the guest organist.  I remember selecting a tie to wear.   I chose my favorite blue/green plaid, knowing that later that day my parents and I would be in front of our color TV as the Dallas Cowboys (in blue) played the Green Bay Packers (in green) for the championship of the National Football League.

Although it was 25° in Richwood, the forecast for Green Bay called for a high of 5°.  NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle had considered postponing the game by 24 hours, but Monday (New Year's Day) was predicted to be even colder.

Unfortunately, the front moved in sooner than expected, and Monday's inclemency arrived early.  At kickoff on Sunday, December 31, the thermometer stood at -15°.  The wind chill was -48°.  The officials couldn't use their whistles because they froze to their lips.  Yes, it was the famous “Ice Bowl” game.

But the year 1968 was only hours away!


COMING IN JANUARY:  Humphrey the hound, a wild winter weekend of sports on the radio, my Physics 35 term paper about waveguides, and historic recordings discovered in the Program Cabinet.

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