When I arrived here as a freshman two months ago, I had in the back of my mind that I wanted to work on WOBC, since I do have an interest in broadcasting. Frank Drake even gave my roommate and me the tour of the studios, but I didn't sign up for anything then because I was still wary of getting involved in too many extracurriculars and wanted to go slowly at first. But now, having discovered that I can handle college work reasonably well, I've decided to become a little bolder and add another activity that maybe will help carry me through the depressions that the upperclassmen warn us about.
I'm addressing this to the sports department because sports is the area in which I'm most interested. My limited experience in broadcasting has been in basketball, both as a play-by-play announcer and as a statistician; if there is an opening for such a person, I would be eager to talk to you about it. Undoubtedly the basketball broadcast crew for the coming season is already set up, but here is another willing hand. There really are enough different ways of charting basketball to keep three statisticians scrambling.
So, depending on your staff situation, I guess you can consider this letter either as a request for a job or as an offer to help. I'd be glad to talk to you personally sometime, if you like; I'm free every evening during the week, and late afternoons except Wednesday.
Saturday, December 4, 1965
been sort of a hectic week. Monday afternoon Ed Kaplan called
me he's the sports director of WOBC, I discover and
wanted to know just how much broadcasting experience I'd had.
An away game was coming up on Wednesday, but the upperclassmen who
usually do the games were going to be too busy to go, so he was going
over the list of seven or eight lowerclassmen who had expressed
interest in this sort of thing to see if any of them would be able to
broadcast. Most of them didn't have any experience yet, but my
one quarter on WMRN spoke well enough for me, I guess. Anyhow
"Kap" chose me, along with sophomore Paul Lawn, to do the game.
Paul Lawn was better known as "CR." I don't remember why.
I had never seen Oberlin play basketball. I was a freshman, and our December 1 broadcast would be the opening game of the season.
These are my notes for our ten-minute pregame show:
Paul ... background of Oberlin vs Adrian College (the Bulldogs). Adrian leads the series 4-3. Last year Oberlin won 76-73.
Tom ... set up for this particular game. Opening night. Last year, Oberlin's record was 7-12, Adrian's was 10-10.
Just before cut, describe teams on floor. "The opening tipoff is just ___ away, and we'll have the starting lineups for you in just a moment. We'll be right back after this important message."
Paul was a manager last year and had broadcasted twice; this year he's the sports editor of the Oberlin Review. Our team also included an engineer, who happened to be a freshman.
My spare time Tuesday and Wednesday was spent getting to know the Oberlin team: I watched a practice with Paul and began memorizing numbers, and later Kap had a meeting with us.
We left Oberlin about a quarter till four Wednesday afternoon on a school-owned Greyhound-type bus to travel to Adrian, Michigan, 35 miles northwest of Toledo.
We didn't find out anything about the Adrian College team until we got there, but some fast memorizing of names and numbers had us ready to broadcast by game time, 8:00.
Paul being a sportswriter, he handled most of the commentary and called the first and fourth "quarters"; I did the play-by-play for the middle of the game and also some of the talking. Both of us had our problems and didn't do as good a job as we could have, but we got through the broadcast fairly well. Unfortunately, our team lost, 79-56.
We hadn't eaten before the game, so we were pretty hungry by 11:00 when we sat down to a cube-steak dinner in a restaurant with the team. Actually, I hadn't been hungry during the game because I was too busy. On the trip home I did get sleepy, though; we got back at 1:45 a.m. I've used most of my spare time since then for resting up again.
I enjoyed the whole experience, but I don't know whether I'd want to do such a thing regularly.
Friday, January 7, 1966, 3:30 PM
I broadcast another game Wednesday night, this one from Western Reserve with Ed Kaplan. (I thought of looking Terry [Rockhold] up I think his dorm is just a couple of blocks from the Western Reserve gym but I was a little bit too busy.)
We won this one, 71-68. It was close all the way, but not a good game; our shooting was especially bad, even from ten feet out.
I got through my part all right, but I'm glad I had Kaplan there to do the talking during timeouts. I'm afraid I'm going to have to get a lot more poise before I'm able to think that fast and express my thoughts that easily.
But, as Nancy Huysman said, one time isn't going to make or break me, since I still have plenty of chances to learn that is, if I like the play-by-play end of it well enough to want to work on bringing the rest up to standard.
One thing: this game wasn't so tiring, since I didn't have to prepare much beforehand and since the bus trip wasn't so long.
Sunday, October 2, 1966
We broadcast our second game of the season yesterday from Pittsburgh. We lost to Carnegie Tech 14-7.
The broadcast went about like the one of the week before, generally okay but with a few problems. This week it was the mud on the field. It wasn't raining during the game but had rained earlier, and the mud on the players' uniforms made them very hard to recognize. However, we had a good pressbox position and managed to keep the fans entertained by talking about Tech's mascot and about the baseball game between Pittsburgh and San Francisco which was going on three blocks to the west at Forbes Field (we were getting reports on a transistor radio). We needed something to talk about the game was quite boring.
Unlike basketball games, there isn't room enough in football for us to go on the team bus, so we have to rent a Plymouth station wagon from the college and drive it to the game ourselves.
Our engineer, Bill Hart, drove to the Hiram game since he'd been there several times before; this week our analyst, Jeff Hanna, was the driver since he comes from near Pittsburgh (Bethany, West Virginia) and knows the roads.
On our way back we stopped in Bethany for supper since Jeff had some things at home he wanted to pick up. Mrs. Hanna fixed us chili, tossed salad, and cake and ice cream (it was Mr. Hanna's birthday), and we ate in the living room and watched the UCLA-Missouri game in color. This made the trip take a little longer, but it was quite enjoyable. I even ate the chili.
So start planning supper for three boys for the evening of November 5, when we come back from our game at Ohio Wesleyan [18 miles from my hometown of Richwood].
Now that we've got the season started, I won't be spending so much time at the radio station; probably just two or three hours every couple of weeks, plus of course the time needed to boradcast the games. Or maybe to broadcast the games.
This Saturday's football game was not broadcast live, because it was a home game.
Monday, October 10, 1966
We had a special radio program Saturday afternoon at 5:00, right after the game. We spent half an hour talking about the football game (Jeff and Larry Gellman, a freshman, did that) and also about other football scores around the country, the World Series, our cross-country meet that morning, and our soccer game that afternoon in Akron. Paul Lawn made a telephone report to me on that one just before we went on the air, and I related the story to our listeners in Oberlin.
This was all Jeff's idea, and a good one, I think; the show was fun to do. But since it involved attending the football game and carrying around a little portable tape recorder for interviews, it took all afternoon. I went to bed right after dinner and spent Sunday listening to the fourth game of the World Series and doing physics problems, so I'm just now getting around to you.
That check to Powers and Dawley was for a $5.77 pair of swim trunks plus $5.00 cash, but I was down to about four dollars and practically out of dimes when I went to the bank this morning and wrote them a check for $25.00 (four $5 bills and a roll of 50 dimes). So now I've got some cash in my pocket again. Where did I spend what I had before? Well, the biggest single expense was $6.00 for a locker at Warner Gym which I'll never use but which I had to rent if I was going to be in phys-ed. Then there were things like refreshments at games, postage, newspapers, church collections, a few books, etc. Small things, but they add up.
broadcasters don't have to rent the car to go to the games, though;
I'm glad we don't, because at 10¢ a mile the Pittsburgh trip
must have cost about $35.00. WOBC pays for this and for our
meals on the road.
New Concord, Ohio, is the home of Muskingum College. It also was where astronaut John Glenn grew up. My father, working in nearby Cambridge, once sold Glenn's father a car for John.
My parents gave me a used accordion for Christmas 1966. I tried for a couple of months to play it, but eventually gave up.
Thursday, January 5, 1967
I won't be making the trip to New Concord the 17th. I've arranged for Larry Gellman to go.
Saturday, January 21, 1967
I've played the accordion exactly three times since I've been here: January 7, last night, and this afternoon, each time for about half an hour. I keep having the feeling that the other people in the section must not appreciate my fumbling around, since almost everyone around here knows music well and doesn't care for amateurish performances. I notice especially in this small room how loud that accordion sounds, even when I'm trying to play softly. My two-week layoff didn't seem to hurt my technique any, though; I didn't forget how to play it or get "out of practice," because I never was really in practice. Over semester break I'll have to just work on a couple of pieces over and over again until I get them sounding reasonably good, and then maybe I won't mind playing up here.
We're having quite a shake-up in the Executive Board of WOBC. Several people feel they don't have time to continue working at their present jobs second semester, so they're resigning and other people are having to be switched around to take their places. Let's see if I can get straight just who's replacing whom.
I think it's something like that, anyway. All the changes won't make much difference in the operation of the station, except that the first week after semester break we'll only be on for five hours a night rather than from 1:30 pm to 2 a.m. Everyone has to find out who's supposed to be doing whose job.
We really had an easy time of it against Allegheny in basketball tonight. They only scored 13 points in the first half and ended up losing to us 99 to 47. We out-rebounded them 81-46, outshot them 40%-25%, committed only ten turnovers to their 29 . . . .
Sunday, February 12, 1967
very busy week, and it'll probably stay this way for three or four
more: one basketball game next week, and then our tournament is
March 2 through 4 in Akron. And we may be broadcasting a hockey
tournament on March 11 and 12 in addition.
Paul Keller of Delaware, Ohio, near my hometown, was promoting the basketball statistic he'd invented, the Offensive Efficiency Rating. OER was merely points divided by possessions, usually working out to something like 1.00 or 1.50 or so.
I worked the OER into some of my basketball broadcasts, asking studio host Lee Beckett to give the numbers during his halftime report.
That article about Keller says the same things as everything else I've read about him, except it tells where he teaches (Willis Junior High in Delaware) and mentions the rather surprising fact that the OER's for smaller schools in the state [high school basketball] tournament are higher than for schools the size of Marion Harding or Columbus. That doesn't necessarily mean the little schools have better offenses, though; it could mean they have a few shooting standouts but not a very good defense, while the bigger schools are better organized defensively and can keep each other from scoring.
Sunday, February 26, 1967
The drawing for the tournament in Akron was held this afternoon. We'll be playing the winner of Thursday's Kenyon-Hiram game (both teams have beaten us within the past week) on Friday night, March 3, at 7:00 p.m. Should we win, we'd play again at 8:00 Saturday; should we win that one by some miracle, we'd go down to Granville to play for the conference championship on Tuesday, March 7. Larry Gellman and I will be broadcasting.
Monday, March 13, 1967
I spent nearly five hours Friday night on the Oberlin Digest show and over six hours Saturday on the hockey broadcast. [We had sent announcers Dan Brent and Gideon Schein to the tournament in Bowling Green, Ohio].
I had to watch the engineer taping the hockey game, of course keep him company and when we broadcast it 3½ hours later, I kept track of the timing and filled in between periods with sports news and weather. So that was an effective release from the big week of tests just completed. We lost the game Saturday, so I didn't have to spend another six hours Sunday [for a broadcast of the championship game].
And what else is new? Not much; things are still busy, but with the tests and the hockey broadcast out of the way, the pressure's off. I played the organ for a while this foggy evening, then wrote a letter to a man at Hiram about the possibility of our broadcasting a baseball game this May, and now am getting around to you.
Monday, March 20, 1967, 7:30 p.m.
It's currently 38º outside and blowing a cold, wet snow-rain as it has been all day. And tomorrow's the first day of spring, they say. Oh, well, I guess we've had our quota of nice weather for this March already.
Maybe you can start checking the family treasury: one thing I'd like to get over spring vacation, maybe we can say as an extra but belated birthday present, is a good portable battery-operated tape recorder. WOBC had one a few years old that broke down this fall and they don't seem willing to replace it, but such a recorder makes sports reporting a lot more convenient: you can interview the coaches on the practice field or in the locker room, rather than having to make an appointment with them to come up to the studios some evening and also having to make an appointment with an engineer to make sure he'll be there to run the studio equipment. It would also make possible at least one program, a baseball report for April 14 Oberlin Digest, that would be all but technically impossible otherwise. And I could probably find other uses for it, including loaning it out to the WOBC news department occasionally. I've even got a particular model in mind, but we might have to go to Columbus to find it.
Saturday, April 8, 1967
Norelco is working fine; we used it to put together last night's
Digest program, with two on-the-spot interviews of coaches plus the
sounds of an infield practice session with the baseball team, and
immediately after the show Paul Sturm called up and raved about how
good it all sounded.
Nowadays I would probably compare our production to NPR's All Things Considered.
To read the script for the studio portion of this April 7 show, plus some others, click here.
It should have; Rick Stump and I spent about two hours Friday afternoon re-recording and editing to fit the interviews together with other commentary as professionally as possible. We made the style come out sort of like one of those filmed reports from overseas on Walter Cronkite's news.
And the recorder's sound quality, as predicted, is very good. Handling the microphone is the trickiest part; if you're able to give it good sounds to record, it'll do its part and reproduce them accurately.
Monday, April 17, 1967
The baseball game that we were going to use the Norelco for was rained out, but it's been rescheduled for a week from today and we're going to try again.
May 2, 1967,
I would like to apply for re-appointment to the position of WOBC sports director for 1967-68.
My main qualifications are the experience I've gained in the past year of working at this job. Since I joined WOBC 17 months ago, I've done play-by-play for four football and eleven basketball broadcasts. By the end of this month, I will have produced 24 Oberlin Digest programs and nine hours of additional programming, including two hockey broadcasts and ten half-hour commentaries.
In terms of on-the-air hours, the sports department has turned out approximately 71% more programming in the year just concluding than in 1965-66 (43.2 hours as against 25.5). Two-thirds of this increase has been in Digest shows, while of the remainder, 4.7 hours has been at the expense of the pop music department and 1.5 hours has been broadcast at times when otherwise we would have been off the air. None of the increase has been at the expense of the classical music department. Both in 1965-66 and in 1966-67, 35 hours of classical programming was pre-empted for sports and for the Yeoman Bandwagon shows which follow our game broadcasts with popular music.
A 71% increase is a big jump, and I don't see us increasing sports programming much more in the future. For one thing, the poll taken last winter was not favorable to such an increase. There has been some interest expressed in putting baseball and soccer games on the air. Hockey games were added to our programming schedule last year, and there is a possibility, rather remote at present, that we might be able to add lacrosse next spring. College lacrosse is usually played on the college football field, which means a pressbox is available, and there is some interest in the sport here at Oberlin. However, each game would cost $30 or $40 in line rental (as does every game we broadcast). And, perhaps more importantly, no one around here has ever heard, much less done, a lacrosse play-by-play, so we would have to teach ourselves pretty fast.
As far as the relation of the sports department to the rest of the station is concerned, I think we'd have to admit that we're relatively unimportant. Pop music turns out more than 30 times as many hours of programming as we do. Overall, we make up only about 1½ % of WOBC's total on-air time. But we try harder.
A general comment now, one you've probably heard already from several people and will hear many times again. As I see it, the one area in which WOBC is least fulfilling its potential is in the department most closely related to the sports department: news.
Oberlin Digest consists of news and features. The features are good for the most part. (But more communication among the various hosts would be helpful. Last week the Wednesday and Thursday Digests had no feature, and as it turned out, if somebody had mentioned that fact to me we could easily have supplied a 20-minute show.) But the news on Digest is no different from any other news; it's simply read off the teletype, with maybe a couple of items from the College Calendar thrown in. No reporters are sent out to cover campus news stories, except for Senate meetings.
Now at various times this year Ted Gest has had access to some news story, such as the results of a General Faculty meeting or of a dining-hall poll, and has typed up a story to be read as part of "campus news" on that night's Digest. I've done this a couple of times myself. [Click here for an example.]
in general it's only when we feel like it and happen to think of
it. This is not our job and apparently it's not anyone's job.
The student newspaper, the Oberlin Review, was published only on Tuesdays and Fridays.
The only reliable way to find out what's happening on campus is to read the Review, because despite the claims that are made for it, Oberlin Digest does not keep one up-to-date on all the late-breaking news stories.
It should. The potential of radio journalism is too great to be thrown away this way. We can inform the campus of many important events within a couple of hours from the time they take place, and interviews with the campus newsmakers (made with the Norelco or the telephone-beeper recorder at practically no inconvenience to the interviewee) can add an important dimension to these reports. We have the facilities and the opportunity to do a good job covering campus news; all we need are the people to do it.
Two means of accomplishing this come to mind. The sports department already co-operates extensively with the Review sports editors: our broadcasts serve as the basis for many of their away-from-home football and basketball stories, whilc their reports serve as the basis for most of our Digest interviews. Perhaps this same co-operation could be extended to news: Review reporters, having observed a newsworthy event, would first write a brief two- or three-paragraph report on it for WOBC and then go ahead and write their regular story for the paper. Or, alternatively, an enthusiastic WOBC news director could actually start "sending out reporters" and seeing to it that our news programs are all they ought to be.
The day after this letter, a WOBC newsman borrowed my Norelco to cover a demonstration on campus. You'll find the full story here.
Sunday, May 7, 1967
I used the Norelco yesterday to do a [practice] play-by-play of the lacrosse game and surprised myself with how well it came off, considering this was only the second lacrosse game I'd ever seen. No plans now to put a game on the air, but we might want to make plans next year.