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Wisconsin / Radio / History

9XM Talking
WHA Radio and the Wisconsin Idea
Randall Davidson


"9-X-M talking . . . department of physics . . . University of Wisconsin . . . stand by one minute . . ."

These words crackled in the headphones of crystal sets around the country in 1921 as the University of Wisconsin radio station 9XM began its regular schedule of voice broadcasts. Randall Davidson provides the first comprehensive history of the University of Wisconsin radio station, WHA; affiliated state-owned station, WLBL; and the post­World War II FM stations that were the backbone of the network now known as Wisconsin Public Radio. 9XM Talking describes how, with homemade equipment and ideas developed from scratch, 9XM endured many struggles and became a tangible example of "the Wisconsin Idea," bringing the educational riches of the university to all the state's residents. From the beginning, those involved with the radio station felt it should provide a service for the practical use of Wisconsin citizens.

The book's informative chapters cover the programs that allowed the medium of radio to benefit farmers and homemakers, to bring world-class educators into isolated rural schoolrooms, and to teach people all over Wisconsin everything from literature to history to touch-typing, long before anyone came up with the term "distance learning."

Davidson concludes by discussing the claim that WHA has to the title "Oldest Station in the Nation." This groundbreaking book is based on archival materials dating back to the early twentieth century and includes dozens of historic photos and illustrations, many of which have never been published before.

"Given the historical significance of WHA and the added insights about the station's early struggles for survival, this is an important work of broadcast history."–Alan G. Stavitsky, University of Oregon

this is a photo of Randall Davidson, the author. He has glasses, and is wearing a tie and a suit and tie.Randall Davidson worked for Wisconsin Public Radio as a news producer and news anchor from 1990 to 2008. During that time, he also served as the network’s chief announcer and unofficial historian. He is now Director of Radio Services and lecturer in Radio TV Film at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. He lives in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin."

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Of Related Interest
Something I Said?: Innuendo and Out the Other
Michael Feldman

cover of 9XM features a black and white photo of a boy in old style clothes, listening to a big old radio.

January 2007

LC: 2006008875 HE
512 pp.   6 x 9    73 b/w illus.

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