Radio program

First UK-produced radio show broadcast 90 years ago today


LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 1, 2019) The debut of the University of Kentucky public radio station WUKY took place on April 1, 1929, when the first UK-produced program aired on WHAS Radio in Louisville. It took 11 more years before WBKY (the old WUKY call letters) actually aired as the first university-owned non-commercial educational radio station. It was October 17, 1940.

Radio productions on campus were however plentiful in the 1930s. Several programs were produced at the university, and according to an April 1, 1960, Kentucky Kernel story, telephone lines between Louisville and Lexington were leased to transmit programming from the University. UK campus at WHAS. The article said that “WHAS broadcast UK Agricultural College programs to farmers and housewives throughout Kentucky.”

The man behind these early UK broadcasts was Elmer Sulzer, who created the UK Radio Arts Program, ran the UK Publicity Bureau and led a number of groups in the UK including the fanfare. He also started a system of educational radio listening centers throughout Kentucky.

Learn more about Sulzer in an interview WUKY News Director Alan Lytle conducted with Sulzer’s 92-year-old daughter Marjorie Collier in 2018. Lytle visited her home in Tullahoma, Tennessee, to conduct an oral history interview.

WUKY Managing Director Tom Godell’s research into the station’s history can be found on Radio World’s history website “WUKY Turns 75”.

In addition, station recordings and other radio-related oral history interviews are available both in the University Archives and at the British Libraries Louie B. Nunn Special Collections Research Center. Here are some examples:

Contact the University Archives and Nunn Center here: http://libraries.uky.edu/ContactSCRC or 859-257-8611.