Monday, June 22, 2009

History tidbit

As I mentioned before, I've been reading up on the history of Kent, Ohio, my hometown. I've found for a relatively small town (2007 population just over 28,000), it has a very interesting and colorful history and that's WAY before probably the most visible time of Kent's history, the Kent State shootings in 1970. One thing I thought was not only interesting but a little cool was reading about someone I happen to know personally in the history of Kent. This comes from the book Kent, Ohio: The Dynamic Decades, which was written by the Kent Historical Society. It is basically a continuation of the History of Kent by Karl Grismer, which covers from the beginning of Kent up until 1931. This book picks up around that time and ends in 1999. From page 162 in the section "Television in Kent: Channels 45 & 49, WNEO and WEAO":

"Hiring qualified television personnel was central to their plans. In 1960, Barton Derby was hired as Kent State University's first full-time broadcast engineer, a position that was critically needed for equipment and studio design decisions."

"In the late 1960's [Dr. Phillip A.] Macomber, with the help of Barton Derby, prepared an application for an operating license for a television station."

For those who don't know, Barton Derby is my grandpa, whom I am currently living with. He's pretty into history as well, so we have had a few discussions about the history of Kent and shared some of our resources. I asked him about this whole episode the book describes about applying for a license and the ultimate result being a consortium with Kent State, the University of Akron, and Youngstown State. Akron filed their request for a license right after Kent did, and according to my grandpa, just to keep KSU from getting it. As a result, he continues to have a low opinion of Akron to this day. While the consortium still exists, both YSU and Akron dropped their production studios by the early 1990's and the main studios for the stations, now known as Western Reserve Public Media, are in Kent.

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