Dakota Datebook

Radio Gift

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


On this date in 1950, students at the North Dakota Agricultural College in Fargo, now NDSU, were enjoying a very special gift received from Fargo Radio Station WDAY…”twenty-five thousand dollars worth of outmoded radio broadcasting equipment.”


WDAY gave the equipment to the Department of Electrical Engineering to use for instruction. It came about with a bit of luck – Professor Robert Faiman, acting head of the department, solved a quiz question to win a 500-watt transmitter. The transmitter had been designed by WDAY technical director Julius Hetland in 1932, and had been in operation for around 100,000 hours.


A formal presentation of the transmitter took place during a broadcast campus. Jack Dunn, the station manager presented the gift to the current president of the agricultural college, Fred Hultz. In doing so, Dunn stated that the radio station was pasturing the transmitter out at the school “to continue its value in education.”


The transmitter was installed in the electronics laboratory of the engineering building. Faiman noted in a newspaper article in the Forum that the transmitter was “something very few larger institutions have among their laboratory facilities. Our new transmitter has one of the most impressive arrays of dials and meters I have ever seen in an electrical engineering laboratory in any school.”


Three years later, WDAY began transmitting news via TV as well as radio. They kept progressing, and today, WDAY is still a presence in the North Dakota radio and television business.


But the college’s luck came from Faiman, who had a fast answer that led to the windfall. The quiz question that won the Agricultural College the radio equipment asked, “What was the first patent invention of Thomas A. Edison?” The answer was an electoral vote recorder.


Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker



January 26, 1950, p1, Fargo Forum




This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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