From the early days of Wisconsin radio and television to some of the industry’s key players, you can now explore its history in a virtual museum. The Wisconsin Museum of Broadcasting can be found on line.
John Laabs is the President and CEO of the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Foundation. He says they thought of a brick and mortar facility, but a virtual museum gives them time to raise funds and get more donations for a real museum.
“We were always torn between which way to go, then finally someone at a planning session said ‘Why don’t we just join the modern world and do it online. If that’s successful, perhaps we can then, with artifacts in hand, do it bricks and mortar.'”
Radio and television clips can be found in the museum’s “Broadcasters Attic.”
“We thought well, we’ll start collecting as soon as we go online people will, hopefully, offer us things, and we’ll come up with ideas about what we want to gather.”
Laabs says radio began in Wisconsin with an experimental station at Beloit College in 1908, soon to be followed by another at the U-W Madison campus, which became WHA radio.
Laabs notes many television stations in the state got going in the 1950s and have celebrated their 50th anniversaries this decade.
You can see some of the anniversary programs of those earlier TV stations and a whole lot more in the virtual museum. There’s no admission fee, but Laabs himself does a pitch for membership fees and donations in a video on the site called appropriately enough “We Interrupt This Program.”