There was a series of underground tunnels with this building. It was an eerie place to visit. It was still being used in the fifties for office space. Below, also used for athletic purposes for Flint Central's football training program. Don Reigle was my JV locker partner. He was a politician then too-- at age fifteen. If you know what I mean......
Underground tunnels and basements of Flint! Fascinating. We've all heard stories of extensive tunnels in Detroit, Ann Arbor, and East Lansing connecting physical plants of various buildings, but little about Flint. There were the sidewalk basements of the Milner Arcade, tunnels between GM plants, and the basements of newer one story Flint Schools. What do you remember about those, unclebuck and others?
I believe that the studios and I think the first transmitting antenna for WFBE were in and on this building. I think WFBE used to proclaim itself as coming from the "historic Oak Grove Campus". Although I talked about this once with the late Ed Rauch, Chief Engineer at WFBE, sadly, he's no longer around to ask. I remember asking family members about this and some of the same history came up.Where exactly was this building? Where the library is or where the administration building is? I seem to remember it was one or the other. Either way, I think it was on Kearsley Street.
Oak Grove, I believe, was located in what is now the parking lot behind the main library and Flint Institute of Arts, which is also the lot to the west of Central High.
Ed Rauch said that the transmitter was in a different location than Central on "the administration building", but he may have meant the Oak Grove Campus administration building, not the Flint Board of Education administration building a few blocks away, which may not have been built yet. I remember that the tower next to Central, which has just been removed, was probably installed when they moved the studios to the basement of Central High School, which as I recall was added when the cafeteria addition was built. Many of us remember taking stanadardized college tests in the cafeteria, even if we went to another school, and it seemed to be much newer.Was the small athletic building behind Central originally part of Central or part of the Oak Grove Campus?
I worked in maintenance on the Oak Grove Campus that stretched from Kearsley to Court St. The Administration Bldg. was kitty corner from the Library on the Northwest corner of Crapo and Kearsley. The WFBE station was in the north end of CHS's lower level. If you exited the school entrance on the north end of the building, you would walk through the parking lot of the library and in to that building. The baseball diamond was directly behind Whittier JH school. I believe that field was once called the Oak Grove diamond. Central's home field. Next to it, to the north was the track and field events facility. The building behind Central that was used for athletics was originally part of the Sanitarium. To my knowledge, it was all Oak Grove Campus at that time. There also could never have been any parking west of Central High School or it would have been in the middle Crapo St. The people who staffed WFBE and Ed Rauch were top drawer folks. It was the first time "All Things Considered" came to Flint. Dick Estell MSU's Radio Reader was just starting out and Susan Stanberg was a very young reporter with PBS in Washington.
Wow, I never knew that building was a sanitarium.I remember a visit to the WFBE studio when I was in Stevenson Elementary in the 50s.We were learning about sound effects. My job was to use two halves of a coconut to simulate the hoofbeats of a horse.I don't know when the old building was torn down, but when I attended Central in 1963-66 the studio and, presumably, transmitter were located in the basement of the cafeteria. Good friends Gary Ballard (RIP) and J. Hugh Lutton were studying broadcasting in a studio on the 5th floor of CHS. Both went on to careers in broadcasting and advertising.
I attended Flint Central in 1963-1966 too. WFBE studios and transmitter were in the basement of the (new) cafeteria. The transmitting tower was located just to the south of the cafeteria building. I remember Ed Rauch, Steve All, and Sue Kilmer very well. I graduated with Gary Ballard and J. Hugh Lutton. However, I don't remember anything about a 5th floor studio (not that it wasn't there, but just that I was never in that studio.Jim - you and I were at CHS together.George Wright
Jim:My family moved to Flint in 1960, but I don't remember a sanatarium building. The public library was brand new, as I recall, so the sanitarium might have come down shortly before 1960.I think that you and I were acquainted at CHS in 1963-1966. I spent a lot of time in the WFBE studio in the basement of the (new) cafeteria. The transmitter was located next to the main control room in the basement studios. I remember Ed Rauch, Steve All, and Susan Kilmer (WFBE staff) as well as Gary Ballard and J. Hugh Lutton.The studios were built with the new cafeteria building with the intent to be converted into the WFBE television studios. In about 1965 or 1966 the board of education voted down the proposal to add television to WFBE, which pretty much broke the back of the station. Steve All and Sue Kilmer left soon after, since they had hired on with the intent to be on the ground floor of educational television in Flint.George E. WrightEncinitas, California
But Susan Kilmer was the Station Manager when I worked at WFBE in the early eighties. Ed Rauch was the Chief Engineer at the time.I had no idea they were proposing to add a television studio.There was a trap door to a tunnel in one of the back rooms of the studio. Ed said it went over to the library. Where else it went I don't know.
Sue Kilmer might have stayed after the board of education rejected the television proposals - that rejection took place during my senior year. Steve All had been the station manager for several years, but he left within a few months after the TV proposal was rejected.The control room and large studio were really huge (by radio standards). Had WFBE-TV been funded, the basement corridor in the original CHS building would have been gutted and the classroom areas turned into technical control room. The TV proposals included the specific plans for every square foot. However, none of the students were ever shown the proposals, since they kept getting revised to try to convince the board of education to fund it.I remember the trap door and tunnel. During a tornado alert once the trap door was opened and I got a chance to climb down into the tunnel. Nothing to really look at, only about 42 inch clearance. I think it was planned to be a cableway to the basement corridor areas.George Wright
John Szucs implied to me that the idea for a TV station didn't really end until UM-Flint applied for Channel 28 in the late 1970s. UM had more money to get the application approved and on the air, so basically the dream ended at that point.Steve All resurfaced a few years ago on the cover of an investment magazine called "Your Money". At that point, he had a Video Production company in San Diego called "All Video Productions". I asked Les Root if it was the same person and he said that indeed it was. Don't know for sure what has happened since then.
George, many of the Flint Public School buildings were designed and built by the same people, and I seem to remember seeing similar tunnels and small door openings in other Flint School buildings. They would mysteriously appear from time to time from behind open doors that were almost always closed. There was rarely time to explore between classes.Often there were basement and second floor areas even in apparently one story buildings. Rooms on upper floor areas at Southwestern, Central, and Longfellow were serviced by two sets of stairways on either side of the classroom areas on those floors.
So where's Hugh Lutton these days?
Hugh Lutton (Huey) was my next door neighbor on Wolcott St. He was related to Bill Lamb (Factory Whistle Show on WFDF 910). Last I knew he was working for a radio station in Cincinatti. No kidding. That was in the late 60's or early 70's. Actually was my older brother's good friend..........will check to see if he has any other info.
I Found this link about Hugh Lutton..http://boards.radio-info.com/smf/index.php?action=printpage;topic=182760.0There was a person I knew who had also worked in Flint radio much later that worked at that same station near Cincinnati, WLWS, as Hugh Lutton and Pete Cavanaugh did. I'd contact this person and ask, but like many people on he internet, he is been having a trolling and flame war on various message boards with just about everyone from his past for the last few years. There was also a guy called Dusty Rhodes in Cincinnati, but he is not the same Dusty Rhodes who used to be at WAMM and WGMZ.
That studio on the 5th floor dates to the 1920s. An AM radio station was licensed then to the Flint Public Schools. It had the call letters WTHS, and was Flint's second licensed radio station. It wasn't around long. The newly formed agency that preceded the FCC decided there were too many stations. The studio was associated with the Flint Technical High School, which was located elsewhere. They had a bunch of studio equipment that ended up at Flint Southwestern, that may have been used as a "campus limited carrier current" station later. WTHS was an over the air station, but only had about 10 watts as I recall. WFDF was 100 watts in that era, typical of many early stations.
I have a vintage oil painting of this building by M. Hansen about 2'x3'. If anyone loves the place enough to want the painting, contact me and we'll work out a deal.
I love the place more than words can express, and therefore I would feel blessed to have the painting.
I was a student announcer from 1959 to 1961, along with Marty Rosenfeld ('59 &60), in both the Oak Grove facility and the move to the new studio under the CHS cafeteria.The Oak Grove studio was not in the large building shown, but a much smaller facility that was part of the Oak Grove complex. Upon the move, believe that building was used as an atheltic building for a short time then torn down shortly thereafter.Also, along with Mr. Rosenfeld, took Mr. White's radio class on the 5th floor of the school. It's floor space was split into 3 parts; the control room, a studio and small classroom.On the 4th floor, under the studio, was one classromm, mostly used by Mr. White and a locked door to the air recirculating system that I discoverd my garage door key would open. A few of us used to use this as a smoking room until Dale Kildee caught us coming out of it one day. He wanted my key and I plead that I needed it to access our garage. He let me keep it on a promise I would no longer access the room.....A promise I kept.Bob Boston was the station manager at the Oak Grove studio and the move to CHS. He left soon after the move and Steve All took his place as the Acting Station Manager.Steve All & I did a morning program together, "Musical Bullentin Board". We, mostly, gave weather reports, excerpts from the news teletype and factoids from the Almanac.Ed Rausch was our engineer and picked out music played between our ramblings.Upon the move to CHS I was given another slot, "Evening With The Classics".This was kind of a late afternoon/early evening drive-time show. At first Ed Rausch selected the music (most VERY heavy classics), soon after I was given the OK for the musical selections. I took to light classics and a splash of 20's to 40's standbys.This resulted in what, I beleive, was WFBE's first fan mail.....mostly from teachers, principals, nuns and REALLY old folks, probably 30 to 50 (to a 17 year old.Quite depressing to a young man trying to break in as a substitute announcer on WTAC, WTRX and WAMM.Recall one winter morning I was late to the morning broadcast with Steve All. Had to wait to enter the announcer's studio until the muscical selection began. Upon going back on the air, Steve announced I had joined him and asked how the weather was. Still a little flustered, I replied, "Cold as hell, Steve".Now this was in the early 60's when the FCC demanded a handwritten log of EVERY second on the air and ANY such language was taboo. I was not conscience of my reply until Bob Boston and Ed Rausch rushed into the control room window, staring into the announcer's booth, with strange, shocked expressions on their faces.Never heard a word about it from the audience nor FCC (sure did from Steve, Bob & Ed). Which, pretty much, shows you the depth of coverage we commanded.
Lamar Root and I were student announcers 1955-57 in the old building. We often walked a long hall to the Ad Building for "Spence Water," our name for a drink from the cooler outside Spencer Meyers's office. I'll always appreciate the patience that Bob, Ed's predecessor as engineer, had with me when I mispronounced Prokofiev in introducing what was playing next. Was it Lamar who referenced Irving Berlin and his lovely wife, Ira?Lamar (Les) and I used to visit radio stations around town after school - and one time when we skipped school and Mrs. Grotts got me to confess. We got to know Ted Johnson at WTAC: "This is your DJ, TJ, back on the TAC with a stack of shellac."With my brother Ed, we also visited WJR in the Golden Towers of the Fisher Building in Detroit. A live soap opera was being broadcast live from one of the studios. Ed took a voice test on mike. When he was done, the engineer responded, "You're hired!"Les and I recently had a long lunchtime reunion with our radio speech teacher, Dave Platts. We used to call him Mr. Platts, which Lamar occasionally still does. Dave has been living in London, England, a number of years. I've visited him there a couple of times, but Les hadn't seen him since maybe 1965. They had a great hug - not too close - at Schuler's in Marshall.Our other radio teacher and friend, Bob Boston and his wife, Mary, took a "farewell tour" of Michigan not too long ago. I had the pleasure of accompanying them on a tour of the WKAR radio studios, which are a far cry from what they were in Bob's days as a student staffer in the '50s. Steve All was best man at my wedding in 1963 in Detroit. I asked him because I didn't know any other Catholics at the time. Steve also "introduced" me to Mexico, providing lots of info on Acapulco, where he and his wife honeymooned. I spent many relaxing weekends in Acapulco during a 1960 semester at Mexico City College. Les and I drove down in 1961 in his brand new impala convertible. My most recent visit to Acapulco was a 1999 honeymoon. The place is overcrowded now.Lots of memories around the Oak Grove campus.
Vic, I met your brother Ed several times and talked to him on the phone many more times. Although I only took a couple Basic Electronics courses in HS and college, in addition to a lot of general Physics and Mathematics, Ed was always the educator. He would often quiz me on the phone. One question was, "what formula did you use for resonance", to which I responded "one over two pi times the square root of LC" without missing a beat. Ed was blown away! I was greatly saddened when Bill Sanderson told me that Ed had passed away. I always enjoyed talking to Ed Rauch, Bill Sanderson, and Don McComb, and now they have all passed away. They were great at old school electronics related to radio transmitters, which newer engineers are not. Another engineer told me that newer engineers are "board changers and IT guys" called to the job for lack of the older real transmitter experts.
I was trying to remember when Ed Rauch passed away and I looked at the Genesee County Clerk site and was stunned to find that it was 9/27/1993, exactly twenty years ago today. What a fitting tribute that we would remember Ed fondly today!
Wow! I've been reading all the comments. Its fascinating how 1 picture can drum up so many different memories. I went to Central also but it was many many years after most of you did. Some of you mentioned a studio on the 5th floor. When I was going there in the mid to late 80's. The 5th floor was pretty much a no fly zone. Access was limited but every now and then we would sneek up there and smoke. That's like the old pool, that was all locked up but there again, we'd sneek in and explore. Man I miss them days.
Reading all of these comments brings back a lot a good memories for me. When I was in high school [Northwestern '68-'70], I took the radio workshop quite a few times. I knew Ed Rauch, John Szucs, Paul Hoeksema quite well. When WJRT started broadcasting in color, they donated all of their black & white equipment to WFBE. Studio A was jammed with video equipment including 2 RCA TK11 cameras. Not to mention the control for studio A! The video switcher was jammed to the right of the control board. Is John Szucs still with us?--Rick Gray
Just stumbled on this blog through a Facebook link and to my surprise saw my dad (Paul Hoeksema) along with Ed Rauch and John Szucs mentioned...I've really enjoyed reading all of your memories. I spent a lot of time down at the WFBE studios as a kid during fund drives and random times when Ed and my dad were doing repair work on the transmitter or mixing desks. Since I'm no longer in Flint, I'm not entirely sure...what exactly has happened to the building now that Central is no longer in the building and Bee-95 has a different studio?
The building still stands there, unused. Not sure what they are going to do with. I heard the basketball floors in the field house have all buckled because of no climate controls. I worked with your dad and Ed in the late 70's and early 80's. Heck, I remember you running around the station as a toddler!
Long time Flint area newsman Les (Lester) Root passed away December 8th, 2014. He was an award winning Michigan Journalist Hall of Fame radio broadcaster and is mentioned here in various posts. When released in 2009, Les had 53 years in radio....working at WRSR, WDZZ, WWCK and WFDF. His old pals were Ed Berryman and "Sleepy Head" Ted Johnson. Like many here, I remember the WFBE-FM studios near the cafeteria in Central as I took two radio classes per week...on Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings (1964-65). The standard daily "sign on" mentioned the studio's were located "in the Oak Grove Campus of the Flint College & Cultural Center." Steve All was station manager and a very personable broadcasting mentor. Ed & Susan were also on staff. One time, the broadcasting class held a "live" program from the cafeteria...which meant that Ed had to string about 150 feet of mike cord down the stairwell. I, too, was told that the large studio adjacent to master control was to accomodate television at a later date. The massive steel self-supporting antenna tower behind the school was taken down after the station was sold to Bee-95. It also was designed to hold television antenna's in addition to the FM antenna. Many WFBE students went on to careers in broadcasting or electronic engineering. Some, like me, attended the old RETS - Radio-Electronic-Television-School on North Saginaw Street in conjunction with our classes at WFBE....the teacher there was Bob Grinnell.
RIP, Mr. Root. I'll always remember your voice.
Wow. Fascinating read. Anyone know how I could get a legal tour of CHS now? I'm extremely interested. Also, what is the name of the old school off Saginaw and I69? Any pics or memories of that?
My grandmother worked at the Oak Grove asylum as a young woman sometimes between 1900 and 1910. She said that the inmates were mostly ''inconvenient'' family members of well-to-do local families who were easily locked up in those days for things we'd ignore today, such as an unwed pregnancy, or simply because they were an heir to money that someone else wanted. Grandma said she didn't think most of them should have been locked up at all.
Thanks for commenting. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at www.teardownbook.com.