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University of Minnesota Radio and Television Broadcasting records

Identifier: ua01039

Scope and Content

The collection is arranged into 5 series:

Radio Station WLB/KUOM

Materials include the administrative records produced by station staff, station history, individual staff correspondence, policy and regulatory documentation, and reports and operational data. The materials also document WLB/KUOM’s relationship to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), National Public Radio (NPR), and considered collaboration with Minnesota Public Radio (MPR). Station programming is documented in the Programs sub-series that includes scripts, schedules, manuals, and advertising materials for individual program series. Individual programs as well as long-running series such as The Minnesota School of the Air are arranged as sub-groups within the sub-series.

Also documented in the Programs sub-series is audio that corresponds with individual programs. A large portion has been digitized, and is available to listen to online, though please note that digitized and undigitized audio are intermingled.

Department of Radio and Television/University Media Resources

This series contains administrative records of the department, documents the production of a closed-circuit television system at the University, and the production of television programming for local commercial stations.

Radio Station WMMR

In 1947, WMMR, a student-run station, began broadcasting from Coffman Memorial Union to campus dormitories. WMMR merged with KUOM in 1993 to form Radio K.


The sub-series Zeta Phi Eta and Alpha Epsilon Rho, both fraternal organizations in the communications field, documents chapter activities at the University. The administrative papers of the University of Minnesota Radio and Television Guild, a student group that provided the on-air talent in various programs includes original scripts written, produced, directed, and performed by Guild members. Papers and curriculum materials produced in conduction with various Radio Writing Courses offered by the University and given by members of KUOM staff are also contained within this series. The Audio Visual Library Service was responsible for disceminating recorded KUOM broadcasts.

Another major sub-series includes the Key Center of War Information. The collection contains official correspondence of center directors Curtis Avery and Bess Stein, with University administration, faculty, staff, potential guest speakers, and listeners to the Key Center's radio programs; Speaker's Bureau reports; publications, bulletins, and scripts produced by the Center; war-time records and files of University Radio Station WLB; War Department information booklets, Office of War Information, and the National Association of Broadcasters; radio spot announcements from outside agencies to be read on the air pertaining to rationing, salvaging of wartime goods, and military recruitment.

Photographs & Scrapbooks

Series contains portraits of staff of WLB/KUOM and the Department of Radio and Television, in addition to photographs of station facilities in Eddy Hall and the Rarig Center. Two large scrapbooks document the program series Minnesota Today and Yesterday (1948).


  • Creation: 1930s-1990s


Language of Materials

Collection material in English

Use of Materials

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives.

Historical Note

In 1912, Professor Franklin Springer began experimenting with wireless telegraphy – the sending and receiving of coded messages through electromagnetic waves – in the laboratory of the Department of Electrical Engineering. By 1914, the department offered coursework in “Radio Signaling Apparatus” and “Radio Transmission” and regularly conducted broadcasting experiments using the wireless equipment.

Cyril M. Jansky, Jr. joined the department as an instructor in 1920 and obtained an experimental license to operate a radio station on campus under the call letters of 9XI in March of that year. Engineering students – the station operators – broadcasted daily market and weather reports, musical programs, and play-by-plays of home football games.

On January 13, 1922, the University station was granted a full license to operate under the call letters WLB. In 1925, space was afforded for a radio studio in a newly constructed Electrical Engineering building which was outfitted with furniture and equipment in 1926.

In 1938, the University greatly expanded WLB programming. A new transmitter was purchased and a tower was erected on the University Recreation Field on the St. Paul campus. Broadcasting extended from under 10 hours per week to 30 hours per week. A full-time operator, Burton Paulu, was appointed to oversee the station. Paulu also developed “The Minnesota School of the Air,” a series of 15-minute programs broadcast for school children to listen-in from the classroom.

In 1945, to better identify the station with the University, the Federal Communications Commission approved a change in call letters from WLB to KUOM (K University of Minnesota). The station continued the popular School of the Air broadcasts, for which it relied on a cast of students, members of the University Radio Guild, a student organization, to play the parts in dramatizations. The station also relied heavily on members of the faculty to develop broadcasts based in the disciplines of their departments.

New studios were constructed for broadcasting in the basement of Eddy Hall and station operations moved to Eddy in the spring of 1939. The station operated out of Eddy from 1939 to 1974, when it moved to new facilities in the Rarig Center, the present operating location of Radio K.

In 1993, KUOM merged with student-operated station WMMR (which broadcasted from Coffman Union) to form Radio K. In 2012, Radio K celebrated 100 years of radio broadcasting at the University of Minnesota, linking the station origin to the 1912 wireless telegraphy experiments conducted in the Department of Electrical Engineering.


160 Cubic Feet (133 boxes (print materials))

508 trays (Audio recordings)


The collection contains the administrative and programmatic records of radio station WLB/KUOM (today known as Radio K), the 10th oldest continuously operating non-commercial radio station in the United States, along with materials created by affiliated persons and organizations.

Source of acquisition

The bulk of the material in this collection was deposited to the Archives by station KUOM (Radio K) in 1993.

Related Materials in University Archives

Audio Tape Collection

Department of Electrical Engineering records

Betty Girling papers

Elmer William Ziebarth papers

General Extension Division records

Processing Information

Collection was processed in 2016 with funding provided by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society.

University of Minnesota Radio and Television Broadcasting records
Rebecca Toov
June 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Revision Statements

  • 2018: Added accession of Indian News recordings, circa 1980s

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University Archives Collecting Area