September 24, 2012
Sounds of the past: Symposium explores early days of sports broadcasts on radio
The crack of the bat, the echo of an announcer, the ball into the catcher's mitt -- sounds from the ballpark? No, they are sounds of a recreated baseball game in the early days of radio. Just one of the many topics to be discussed at the seventh annual Great Plains Radio History Symposium on Friday, Oct. 12.
The symposium registration opens at 8 a.m. at the Holiday Inn at the Campus, across from Kansas State University, at 17th Street and Anderson Avenue. Attendance to the symposium is $15; the symposium is free to university students.
One of the few living sports announcers who produced baseball re-creations, Tom Hedrick, Lawrence, will present "Is it Live or is it Re-creation?" His presentation, at 9 a.m., will discuss the lost art of re-creating sporting events. Hedrick has been the voice of the Kansas City Chiefs, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, the Cincinnati Reds and the Baker Wildcats, and he has called play-by-play for three Super Bowls, the CBS Cotton Bowl, the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Cowboys.
"You want to talk about what made radio big, sports did it," said Steve Smethers, Kansas State University associate professor of journalism and mass communication and symposium co-organizer.
According to Smethers, sounds such as hitting a pencil on the edge a desk to mimic a bat hitting a ball, talking into a metal trashcan to sound like an announcer, or a hand hitting on a leather wallet to sound like the ball hitting the catcher's mitt were common techniques used by re-creators.
"Since traveling to every away game was both time-consuming and costly during the early days of radio, stations started to re-create baseball games using little more information than the batting sequences which were supplied by telephone or telegraph," Smethers said. "It was up to the person sitting in the studio, who was pretending to be at the ballpark, to do the dramatization."
While sports may have helped radio's popularity grow, the people behind the microphone helped make radio what it is today, Smethers said.
Also speaking at the symposium will be Bill Miller, Olathe, at 10:30 a.m. Miller, who has been on the air for more than 60 years and continues to host a syndicated radio show on more than 80 radio affiliates throughout the
country, will present "61 Years Later and it's Still Miller Time!" The lecture will recount his long career in the radio business. A member of the Kansas Association of Broadcasters Board of Directors, Miller was an inaugural member of the Kansas Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
"Bill Miller has more than 60 years of announcing and programing experience," Smethers said. "He is going to talk about his memories of radio, but his main perspective will be the subject that guides his radio program: preserving the memory of the recording artists who made radio."
Following Miller's presentation will be the Richard Ward Fatherley luncheon to honor the regional affiliates of Miller's weekly program and to honor Hutchinson broadcaster Cliff Shank, recipient of the Huck Boyd National Center for Rural Development's annual Community Service in Radio Award. Shank is a 1974 journalism alum of Kansas State University and president of the Ad Astra Per Astra broadcasting company. The Fatherley luncheon costs $15 and is not included in the symposium registration fee. Students who want to attend the luncheon must purchase a ticket. The luncheon registration deadline is Oct. 1.
The annual luncheon is presented in the memory of Dick Fatherley, a co-founder of the symposium and a former program director for WHB, Storz Broadcasting's legendary Top 40 radio station in Kansas City, Mo.
Additional events include:
* "Calling the Blues: Kansas City's Walt Lochman" by Ryan Ellett, University of Kansas, Lawrence, 2-2:30 p.m.
* "France Laux: From KVOO to CBS" by Frank Absher, St. Louis, Mo., 2:30-3 p.m.
* "It's a Bee-yoo-tee-ful Day! Fifty Years of Chiefs Football on the Radio in Mid-America" by John McGuire, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Okla., 3-3:30 p.m.
* "Radio Silence: WJAG and the Transmitter Fire of Easter Weekend, 1965" by Mark Smith, Truman State University, Kirksville, Mo., 3:45-4:15 p.m.
* "From the 'Happiest' Broadcasters: WHB 40 Star Survey" by Gregg D. Ottinger, Shawnee, from 4:15-4:45 p.m.
The symposium is sponsored by Kansas State University's A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications and the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media. For more information, including how to make luncheon reservations, and a complete schedule visit jmc.ksu.edu/news-events/20120725-greatplains.html.