At this point, we have very little material on WOI radio but Dan Case was kind enough to send along some pictures that he took while working there as a student.
Here are some comments from Dan as to the setup and operation during the 90s: Check out his amateur radio callsign at the bottom of the piece!
I have attached two photos of the control rooms at WOI Radio when I worked there as a student control board operator and weekend announcer from 1998-2000. These photos would have been taken in 1999. When I worked there, both studios were on the second floor of the Communications Building on campus in Ames. WOI employed students to run the boards pretty much around the clock, seven days a week. Depending on the shift, you might run both sides (overnights) or just one side (AM or FM) if it was during the daytime. Other duties included taking transmitter readings, maintaining station logs, and doing some light production work. On the weekends, students lucky enough to be air cleared by Don Forsling were allowed to do some announcing as well.
During this period of time there was still no real computer automation at the station, so if you werent airing something directly from the satellite feeds or live from the studio operators would have been airing programs via digital audio tape; reel-to-reel or carts.
In addition, during this period of time WOI was one of just a handful of satellite uplink stations for the NPR network. Producers of programs would feed their programs to WOI via ISDN or by mailing tapes of their programs to the station, and then at certain scheduled times those programs would be transmitted to the NPR satellite network from the Ames studios. Other radio stations around the country would carry that programming live or record it for later broadcast. That part of the operation was also staffed largely by students during the evenings and weekends.
I had the privilege to work for and with a lot of very talented broadcasters when I was at WOI. Some of those folks include Don Forsling, Doug Brown, Hollis Monroe, Karen Bryan, Jake Graves, Charity Nebbe, Joyce Russell, Doug Cooper, Rick Frederickson, Curt Snook and many others. Its good to hear a handful of these great folks still on the radio today in Central Iowa!
I have many great memories of working at the station. One of my favorites was when I was working the afternoon shift, running the board for Curt Snook during All Things Considered, during a late spring tornado outbreak in Central Iowa. Being a ham radio operator, I had a VHF handheld radio with me in the studio that day and was able to monitor some of the spotters chasing the storms relaying their reports back to the National Weather Service on one of the local amateur radio repeaters. Between the information Curt was getting off the wire and the spotter reports via amateur radio I was collecting and summarizing for him, we were able to provide some pretty comprehensive severe weather coverage on AM640 that day.
The other artifact Ive attached is the schedule for market news on AM640 during that period of time signed by Doug Cooper and Elwynn Taylor. For decades (going clear back to its founding) AM640 WOI provided an important service broadcasting farm market and weather information and serving as the voice of the extension service of Iowa State University. The Midday program had quite a following including the weekly weather call-in-show on Fridays where folks could call and ask Elwynn questions about weather and climate topics.
Though I did not personally pursue a career in broadcasting, I look back at my time as a student employee at WOI radio as the most fun job Ive ever had!
Amateur Radio Station K0WOI
WOI AM control room
WOI-FM control room
Market news schedule, including two renowned personalities of the day
Courtesy of Dan Case
DesMoinesBroadcasting.com home page