Friday, July 22, 2011

WOSU Radio Lectures from OEJRC

The OEJRC (Ohio Junior Emergency Radio College) is obscure beyond obscure. Ohio University was way in the lead for pushing radio as a teaching medium. In 1935 George W. Rightmere, University President was already mourning its misuse. He thought the FCC (then only 1 year old) could mandate some high-brow educational use. To quote him exactly:
"Most of the public are articulate, and must be so concerning their objections to programs and somehow it seems to me to be within the province of the commission [FCC] to give voice to these people thru  prescriptions and regulations of a sensible and constructive kind."
He wasn't alone. John C. Futrall the president of U. Arkansas in Fayetteville and George Norlin, president of the University of Colorado were both as vocal, perhaps more so. In that environment their campus stations were encouraged to innovate in this arena. This was critically important in the great depression, when affording education was an impossibility, a distant priority behind food, water and clothing. That's the "E" in OEJRC . It stands for Emergency, because from their point of view, it was. Thus came into being the Ohio Junior Emergency Radio College (OEJRC ).  It was set up set up in January 1934 at the Ohio State University as a part of the Ohio emergency schools program.

They broadcast college level classes on WOSU-AM with university staff such as the above Prof. Arthur H. Noyes (who also wrote a couple history books). I can affirm the 1934 date as those calls were introduced on Sept.1, 1933 prior to that their callsign was WEAO, on 570. [They moved to 820 in 1941] Their mimeographed lessons were distributed free by request. Over 1,700 students enrolled. One source claimed that only 55 passed the course requirements. Ohio kept up the program anyway. the were home to The Institute for Education by Radio which held it's Annual Conference at Ohio State University from 1930 to 1953.

According to the book Growth Of An American Invention by Thomas Diener, Classes were taught in psychology, Home-making, French, English, Philosophy, Education, Engineering and Art appreciation. But I just got a hold of two of those mimeographed lessons and those are for History and Spanish lectures dating to 1934. Clearly Mr. Diener does not have a complete list. I have begun scanning them and the first is below. It runs 32 pages and comes in at a tidy 3 MB 60 MB. 

I re-uploaded the doc at a much higher resolution to improve readability. 

by Prof. Arthur H. Noyes