Media majors converging after century of ups and downs

Emily Andrews

Student protests in the early 1900s sparked a fire that has grown into the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. These are some key events from the school’s history that has made the School of Journalism and Mass Communication what is it today.

Just four years after Kent State was formed, which was originally founded as Kent Normal School, a weekly newspaper called The News rolled off the presses; it failed. Then came The Kentonian; it also failed. After the university president was removed from office in 1926 by political opponents, an underground newspaper started circulating called The Searchlight. The college administrators abolished The Searchlight. One day when The Searchlight was expected to come out, there was another paper in its place: The Kent Stater.

By 1927, a journalism program was introduced into the curriculum. The journalism program grew from there, according to a Web site created and written by journalism professor Fred Endres.

Bill Taylor, whom Taylor Hall is named after, was hired in 1936 to run the newly formed department of journalism, which was housed in Merrill Hall.

During its time at Kent State, The Kent Stater went from weekly to daily circulation. The Northern Ohio Scholastic Press Association, which is a program aimed at high school journalism students, was started in 1938, according to Endres’ Web site. Taylor also started having students get internships.

“Bill Taylor was a longstanding director who focused on quality, and that tradition has maintained,” said James Gaudino, dean of the College of Communication and Information. “You can’t survive in the program unless (you’re) excellent.”

In the 1920s, while the journalism program was in its early stages, the first radio station aired. Immediately, students were interested and wanted to be involved in this new medium.

In the spring of 1935, students petitioned to get a radio course, and by fall they had one: Radio Speaking. In the beginning, they would only broadcast for half an hour at an Akron station. By the 1940s, Kent State was doing regular broadcasts on area stations.

Walton D. Clarke was hired in 1946 to further the radio broadcasting program. He had the Akron station run a wire from Akron to Kent so the station could broadcast from the university. In 1949, Kent State got an AM station, and in 1950 WKSU-FM had its first broadcast.

By the 1960s, the journalism and radio programs were running out of room, so journalism moved to Taylor Hall and radio moved to the Music and Speech Center.

In 1960, Kent State started developing a television curriculum. By 1968, TV2 was on the air.

The 1980s brought the merging of telecommunications and journalism into the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

In the 1990s, the school expanded its emphasis in visual communication and electronic media.

Since the merge, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication has continued to be on the verge of technology. The move to Franklin Hall will be another chapter in the progression of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Contact College of Communication and Information reporter Emily Andrews at [email protected].