St. Louis’ educational television station, KETC Channel 9, made its first broadcast on September 20th, 1954 — fifty-nine years ago today. It operated from a small, temporary studio in the women’s gymnasium at McMillan Hall. The beginning of regular broadcasts marked the completion of a project in which WU was a leading player.
[picture below]: McMillan Hall, site of KETC’s first studioThe idea for a regional educational channel took off in 1951 when St. Louis mayor Joseph Darst appointed the committee that later became the St. Louis Regional Educational Television Commission. Arthur Holly Compton, just ending his time as Chancellor of WU, served as chairman of the commission. Community fundraisers aided in financing the station and educational institutions helped make educational TV a reality—WU provided studio space while SLU allowed Channel 9 use of its television tower. KETC made apprenticeships available to students interested in educational TV, giving them the opportunity to assist with research and filming. Other WU students joined the wealth of volunteers working at the station.
The initial educational programming was well-received, despite the difficulty of broadcasting from a small, makeshift studio. A year later, KETC got its own building on Washington University’s campus — Julius and Freda Baer Memorial Hall, donated by Arthur Baer (President of the St. Louis department store chain Stix, Baer, and Fuller) in honor of his parents. The $215,000 construction provided Channel 9 with a large studio, scenery shop and storage room, offices, a control room, a kinescope recording room and film rooms. KETC continued to occupy the building for the next 43 years, and enjoyed a very reasonable rent—WU leased the building to KETC for the price of $1 per year.
For more information:
http://libguides.wustl.edu/stl-mayors (St. Louis mayors)