Distance-Learning with Television Center and WUOM
In 1950, a new Television Center (TVC) was created, headed by former NBC radio and television producer Garnet Garrison.
U-M professors had begun to offer radio lectures via WJR in Detroit ca. 1930, and in 1951 Garrison’s unit began offering an innovative adult distance-learning television program via WJR’s new television station in Detroit. Produced by a group of faculty and students who drove to Detroit with visual aids they had created during the week, the live broadcast ran on Sunday afternoons. The programs offered a free certificate-earning course, whose registrees came to number in the thousands.
The lectures were sometimes broadcast live from campus via a television truck, and in 1952 Garrison oversaw the installation of a television studio in the basement of Angell Hall. Several years before the perfection of videotape recording, it was largely used for student production training, though it was able to record 16mm kinescopes of programs for off-site delivery.
While the University had operated radio station WUOM since 1948, in the late 1950s it balked at the expense of launching a television station at a time when many other educational institutions were taking the plunge. Nonetheless, U-M television programming was distributed around the state and to stations around the country, also participating in the unique MPATI service in the early 1960s, in which DC-3 cargo planes outfitted with television broadcasting equipment flew over rural areas of Indiana for a few hours per week to broadcast taped educational programming to otherwise underserved areas.