Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bob Jones College (of radio)

At first I assumed that The above Bob Jones Collegehad nothing to do with the Bob Jones Christian College in Greenville, South Carolina. I was wrong. Their campus has moved twice, muddying the waters so to speak. Bob Jones College was founded in 1927 by evangelist Bob Jones, Sr. near Panama City, FL. The school relocated to Cleveland, Tennessee in 1933 where it remained until their move to their present 205 acre compound in 1947.The ad above dates to end of their tenure in Tennessee.

Jones founded the college in the wake of the Scopes money trial, terrified that secular thinking might break out.  So he founded the school in St. Andrews Bay, FL with a charter from a circuit court in Panama City. His first class had only 88 students. The purpose of this school was to get back to bible-basics... in other words it was anti-science and specifically anti-evolution. they were also thoroughly racist openly supporting the KKK, they still banned interracial dating on campus until 2000. Unsurprisingly the modern (yet oxymoronic) Bob Jones College science department still supports young-earth creationism... but back in the 1940s they cherry-picked enough real science to believe that radio waves were real. At least real enough to hand out diplomas. They offered graduate and undergraduate courses in technique, script writing, program building and more.

The school barely survived the great depression and was on the verge of bankruptcy when it moved to Tennessee. But Jones had already been broadcasting since the early 1920s. There are documented appearances in Pittsburgh, PA as early as 1925 on KQV-AM. In 1927 he began a radio ministry that consisted of two programs, a daily and weekly which he did personally until 1962. The show was purported to be heard coast to coast but I can't find a list of affiliates. I do know that it originated at a Chattanooga station, WDOD-AM.

In 1944, Jones became a founder of National Religious Broadcasters. After World War II, the GI Bill was introduced, which led the student body of the college to nearly double, hence the impetus to relocate again.But the move to Greenville also allowed space for a university radio station. WMUU-AM signed on with 1,000 watts at 1260 Khz on September 15, 1949. They added an FM station 94.5 WMUU-FM in 1960. The station airs easy listening today and it possibly one of the blandest stations in the nation. The university continues to be a strange crank even among religious institutions, they recently made the news for expelling a student for watching the TV show Glee. More here.