You Tell Us

WRIU’s most famous alum, Jim Norman ‘57, was one of many to answer our call for stories celebrating the station’s 75th anniversary:

openQ-150x150“Sometime during the early ‘50s, the station had an unannounced visit from a U.S. Navy officer and two shore patrolmen, each with an axe in hand.

“In those days, the station was licensed as a closed-circuit AM station broadcasting only to campus buildings wired for reception. However, unbeknownst to all but a few, some enterprising station “engineers” had strung a wire around the entire Quad, using the trees as anchors. We were broadcasting to a wide area with an illegal signal.

“It seems that one day, when a plane was coming in for a landing at Quonset, the pilot was getting our music broadcast instead of official radio transmissions.

call-150x150“The officer informed the student station manager that the wire was to be taken down immediately, and as long as he had assurance it would stay down, he’d chalk it up to a student prank. Under close Navy supervision, the wire was removed posthaste. The axes, as it turned out, were not needed.

“A few years later, we made the transition to FM and were permitted to broadcast to a fairly wide audience.”

closedQ-150x150Jim, the legendary “Voice of the Rams” and member of the Rhode Island Journalism Hall of Fame and the Rhode Island Broadcasters Hall of Fame, spent three decades behind the microphone, covered 1,286 consecutive Rhody football and men’s basketball games, and anchored the sports information office at URI for decades. Thanks to him and everyone else who shared WRIU stories. Read the WRIU story in this issue of QuadAngles, and keep sending them for an online extra.

One comment to “You Tell Us”

  1. Joel Newman URI ’61 comments:

    Apparently, Jim Norman’s visit from the authorities had little lasting effect upon WRIU’s attempt to become a radio station. In 1958 I obtained a reel of Neoprene rubber telephone ‘drop’ wire which I connected to the output of the line amplifier in the old Western Electric audio console in WRIU’s second-floor studnet union ‘studios’. I then strung the wire through trees to dormitories, sororities, and fraternities where the phone wire was to be connected to another amplifier feeding WRIU’s signal through capacitors into power lines which, acting as antennas, radiated the station’s transmissions inside the buildings.

    The phone wire exited to the street from the attic of the student union building where I remember the smell of French fries venting on the roof from the snack bar three floors below. That sweet odor haunted me thirty years later when I was a newsman for an Atlanta talk radio station near a Frito-Lay factory. Years passed before I could link the Frito-Lay fragrance with that of the French fries wafting through the attic of URI’s Memorial Union, from which I was busy snaking telephone cable around the campus for a radio signal few would get and, to my dismay, even fewer would listen to!

    — Joel Newman ’61, first TBS announcer

    –Posted: September 16th, 2014 at 7:03 pm