“A History of Radio at MSOE” is now available to the public through MSOE’s Walter Schroeder Library’s digital collections. Resources in the collection document the fascinating evolution of radio and how it affected the university, its students, and radio in the greater Milwaukee area. From photos and school publications to articles and promotional materials, there are more than 1,000 pieces in the digital collection available for online browsing.
MSOE was established in 1903 by Oscar Werwath, and in his classes he taught students how to make crystal radio sets. By the mid-1920s, students were so interested in radio they formed a radio club and the educational radio classes became a separate branch of study.
As radio technology advanced, so did the curriculum and students’ involvement. They had an amateur (ham) radio station, 9SO, and broadcast station WIAO (later WSOE) which was used for broadcasting music, lectures and school activities. In 1928, WSOE was purchased by the Wisconsin News Network and became WISN. In the 1930s the Radio Club made contact with an Antarctic exhibition and Russia.
By the 1940s, televisions became affordable for the masses and student interest shifted. MSOE’s radio education curriculum was expanded to include television repair classes. The radio club regained momentum in 1949 and changed its call sign to W9HHX.
The 1950s and 60s saw many partnerships between MSOE and WISN radio and WISN-TV to produce several shows, most notably “Education on Parade,” “Challenge” and “Sounds of Science.” In 1967, the student clubs began discussion about setting up an official campus radio station. And in 1968, what had begun strictly as radio curriculum became the Electronic Communications Engineering technology degree program at MSOE.
MSOE’s official radio station, WMSE-FM began broadcasting alternative and free-form music programming in 1981 thanks to a generous donation from alumnus Everett Cobb. More than 30 years of WMSE history are also included in the digital collection.
MSOE is an independent, non-profit university with about 2,600 students that was founded in 1903. MSOE offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering, business, mathematics and nursing. The university has a national academic reputation; longstanding ties to business and industry; dedicated professors with real-world experience; a 96% placement rate; and the highest ROI and average starting and mid-career salaries of any Wisconsin university according to PayScale Inc. MSOE graduates are well-rounded, technologically experienced and highly productive professionals and leaders.