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Cylinder and vintage recordings at college radio station WKCR. Photo: J. Waits

College Radio Watch: Early Sports Coverage by Telegraph and More News

While I was in a research rabbit hole this week, I found an intriguing tale of an early “broadcast” of a college football game through the use of a telegraph in 1903. According to the University of Michigan Amateur Radio Club,

On October 31, 1903, the University of Michigan Football Team traveled to Minnesota to play the Gophers. Both teams were undefeated and competing for the ‘Champion of the West’ Trophy…Floyd ‘Jack’ Mattice, an University of Michigan Law student, recognized the importance of this game. Jack, who had experience as a telegraph operator, traveled to Minnesota to telegraph the play-by-play, of the game, to the telegraph operators on campus. Taking turns, these telegraph operators would decode…Jack’s messages and then announced the events of the game to the 5000 students seated in University Hall. This event marked the first time that Michigan students could hear a football game ‘live’ as opposed to reading the events of the game the following day in the Michigan Daily. This October 31, 1903 football game marked the beginnings of ‘sports broadcasting’ (Jack Mattice as the first football broadcaster)…

In response to my tweet about this nugget of radio history, Irish Broadcasting Hall of Fame responded: “The first sports broadcast was in Dublin 1897 with Marconi reporting on a Dublin yacht race.” Regarding this event, the Clifden and Connemara Heritage Society wrote in its article about Marconi that in 1898 a yachting regatta was reported by wireless to Dublin newspapers and “It became what many believe to have been the first ‘live’ transmission of a sporting event in the world: it was a spectacular success and established Marconi as the leading figure in this new field of commercial communications.” Although this event was a bit different from the football reporting in Michigan in 1903, in that the play-by-play was shared with an audience of fans simultaneously (vs. a newspaper report), it’s another fascinating glimpse at sports communications history.

It turns out that an even earlier sports “broadcast” happened in Canada during the 1896 Stanley Cup hockey tournament in Winnipeg. The NHL writes, “Back in Montreal, the Daily Star newspaper arranged a public gathering whereby fans received up-to-the-minute game reports via telegraph.” A scholarly article delves into this even more. According to the abstract for ‘Our Victorias Victorious’: Media, Rivalry, and the 1896 Winnipeg-Montreal Stanley Cup Hockey Challenges, “The 1896 Stanley Cup contests were likely the first two games in which the technology of telegraphy was applied to the sport of hockey in such a way that large crowds in distant cities could experience matches as they were being played.”

Early College Radio and More Radio History on This Week’s Podcast

Speaking of history, it’s the main focus of Radio Survivor Podcast #138, in which I share more tidbits (and interviews) from my tour of the “On the Radio” exhibit at SFO Museum. Within the exhibit are details about the work of Charles Herrold, a pioneering broadcaster in San Jose, California who operated a technical college and presented regular radio broadcasts between 1912 and 1917. Also on the podcast, I speak with California Historical Radio Society President Steve Kushman.

More College Radio News


25 Years Ago…KHDX Back on Air after Obscenity-Laden Prank (Log Cabin Democrats)

Inside the Career of Fox News Host Sean Hannity, Who Was Once Fired from a College Radio Station (Business Insider)

Sisters Remember when North Central Radio Station WONC was their Grandparents’ Home (Naperville Sun)

UAlbany’s WCDB Marking 40 Years on the FM Band (Albany Times Union)

WSOU Celebrates 70th Anniversary (WSOU)


WGSU Staff Cleans up Part of Interstate 390 (Livingston County News)

Fredstock Becomes Fiesta Event (The Ranger)

UW-Stevens Point Students Devote Their Time Planning for Trivia (WAOW)

WRDL’s Vinylthon to Feature 24 Hours of Vinyl (Ashland Source)

KSUA Goes Old School with Vinyl Tribute (Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)

15+ Stations Plan to Play Vinyl Only for 24 Hours during College Radio Day’s Vinylthon on April 21 (College Radio Day)

SPC Block Party Brings Possibilities, Funding to Grant Street Park (The Penn)

Marshall University’s Radio Station to Kick off Classroom Concerts Series (Huntington Herald-Dispatch)

WRPR Radio Club Hosts First Radio Awards Dinner (Ramapo News)


New Student Leader of WKNC Talks Future of Radio Station (Technician Online)


Michigan is a Metal Magnet (Spartan Newsroom)

Ownership Changes

Radio Adelaide Ushers in New Era of Democratic Governance (IN Daily)

College Radio Culture

Letter to the Editor: There are Options for Varied Radio Entertainment (Lethbridge Herald)

Editorial: Joining the Call to #SaveStudentNewsrooms (The Daily Wildcat)


Florida AP Broadcasters Contest College-Level Award Winners (US News)

Winners Announced in 2017 Kentucky AP Broadcasters Contest (Virginian-Pilot)

Winners in Kentucky AP Broadcasters’ Contest Includ MSU Students (The Independent)

2018 Liberty Radio Awards Winners (Marklives)

Student Leader Awards at Public Radio Station (Morehead State University)

MSPR Earns 16 Kentucky Association Press Awards (Morehead State University)

Student Media Outlets Win  15 ACMA Awards (Arkansas State University)

Alliance for Women in Media Foundation Releases 2018 Radio Gracie Awards Winners (All Access)

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