A Short Version of the Long History of WOI Radio

The history of broadcasting at Iowa State University stretches back over more than 80 years. In 1911, Iowa State College physics professor "Dad" Hoffman rigged a transmission line from the campus water tower to Engineering Hall and asked for money to establish a wireless telegraph station. Most likely the first transmission from Iowa State took place in 1912. Newspaper reports from 1913 indicate station 9YI was regularly sending and receiving weather reports by morse code. In 1915, the engineers packed up their equipment and went to the Iowa State Fair to demonstrate the amazing new technology. The first non-code broadcast took place on November 21, 1921--an hour of concert music. The following April, the Commerce Department issued a license for station WOI and the first regular broadcast took place on April 28, 1922.

One of the station's first regular features was market news. Announcers read commodity prices gathered by ticker tape and morse code. But there were other programs, too. In the fall of 1922, the station broadcast its first Iowa State football game. And in 1925, Andy Woolfries began The Music Shop--one of the longest running programs in radio history, still on the air today on WOI-FM. Another long-time favorite, The Book Club began in 1927.

Broadcasting was exclusively on the AM band until the late 1940's. On December 1, 1949, WOI-FM became one of the first stations in Iowa to transmit with Frequency Modulation. Always pioneering new technologies, WOI-TV began broadcasting on channel 4 in 1954. (That station is no longer licensed to Iowa State University.) WOI-FM began stereo broadcasts in 1955.

By the late 1960's, the federal government had begun to take a greater role in non-commercial, educational radio and TV, creating the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 1968 to provide funds for what were now known as "public" radio and television stations around the country--including WOI AM/FM. National Public Radio came into existence in 1970 (their original logo is shown here) and WOI was one of 90 stations around the country to broadcast NPR's first program, "All Things Considered," on May 3, 1971.

Since then, NPR has grown to a membership organization of more than 500 stations around the country. WOI is now a 24-hour broadcasting service with two separate streams of programs available throughout much of Iowa.

WOI Radio - woi@iastate.edu