Interview with Robert S Snyder, 05/28/2016

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Katie Warren, Interviewer | uwocs_RobertJ_Snyder_05282016.mp3
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |

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KW: This is Katie Warren and I will be interviewing Robert J. Snyder, and Robert could you please state the date and time of this interview, the degree you completed at Oshkosh, and the years you attended the university?

RS: Sure, it's 11:00am on Thursday April 28th, the year 2016. I attended UW Oshkosh beginning September 1978 and graduated spring in 1982, so I got out of there in 4 years.

KW: Great, thank you. First I would just like to start off with some background questions. Could you talk about where you grew up and what the town was like?

RS: Well, I was born in Manhattan, Kansas, but then in 1964, in August of '64, our family: mom, dad, older brother, older sister, younger brother, moved to 1:00Oshkosh because my dad had been hired by president Rodger [Gyle?] to start a program in Radio, TV, Film. At that time the university was known as Wisconsin State University at Oshkosh, WSUO.

KW: So Actually, I was wondering if that was your dad. I read a little bit on him and I was reading about the program he got started and everything. So, what was that like growing up with your dad so involved in radio?

RS: Well, I know, I remember when we got to Oshkosh, in '64, we lived on Amherst Avenue which is basically a block and a half away from the campus. So I literally grew up with the campus in my backyard. When we first got to Oshkosh, the campus was very different than it is today. It was much smaller...there was no Kolf Sports Center...there was no Gruenhagen...there was no Scott Hall... no Arts and Communications Building. Some of my earliest memories, um we were 2:00always, if we wanted to, we were always connected to the university as kids, and so I remember going up in December when the university held the Winter Carnival and they would have things like ice sculpture competitions and just looking at the ice sculptures was always really cool. The ice sculpture competition was held outside of Reeve Union. For the longest time my dad did the public address announcing, the PA announcing for Titan sports. And so we went to a lot of Titan football games, starting when the Titans were playing at Jackson, what was known as Jackson Drive Field, before Titan Stadium was built. The field is still there, it's like off of Jackson and New York Avenue. We'd go to basketball games at Albee Hall and saw a lot of really, really good Titan teams there. And then 3:00in 1966 is...was just 50 years ago last week, when WRST signed on in 1966. I remember my dad talking about using one of his classes to actually apply for the federal license, and then when WRST went on the air, it was first located in a former office building, of I think a lumber yard, which is located now by Kolf Center Parking lot, but some of the things I remember about that very first radio station, is that the record albums, the vinyl, was put in a bank vault, I mean it could have served as a credit union for this lumber yard but there is a big locking bank vault. And I remember my dad telling everybody to never close 4:00the door to the vault because no one knew the combination to the safe. So that could have been very funny if... I would have thought it was funny, I don't know if my dad would have thought it was funny. But when WRST first went on the air, um I was really interesting in radio and TV as a kid, I don't know why, but I was, and I actually had, during that first [unclear] of WRST, I had my own radio show when I was only like six years old.

KW: I was reading that in your bio, that's really interesting.

RS: It was inspired by the old Batman TV show and the name of my characters, I can still remember the name of my characters, it was Super Sonic and Energy Boy. Direct rip-off of the old Batman and Robin TV show. My dad had a reel to reel audio recorder and I would record my little program at home by myself and do all the sound effects and character voices and all that kind of stuff, and then get 5:00to listen to that at home when it would play back on WRST. So I can't say what it was like to have that in my background because it just was. I really didn't know any different, it just was.

KW: So, you had a radio show when you were six and everything, did you continue doing that throughout high school, and was that like a really common activity for you?

RS: Well, I don't remember how long I did the radio show but there's still lots I remember, just literally growing up with the university in my backyard. So I, I went to Lincoln Grade School, that building is still there, it's at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Algoma. I think the University owns it now but I think it was the spring of 1963, I might have been in third grade, but I was a student 6:00at Lincoln school and we were having gym class on this particular day, then during our gym class all of the sudden a bunch of kids from the other classroom were coming into our gym class and so we just started asking our friends, you know, what are you guys doing coming into our gym class (laughs) and eventually somebody had us all just sit down together in the gym at Lincoln school and we were told that we were going to be sent home for that day because there was something going on at the university. What we didn't know as little kids at that time, was... along the Algoma street side of the school there was a stone wall, big stones cemented together. It was maybe three feet tall and it ran along a 7:00significant part there of the school property on Algoma Blvd. Well, students at the university during the time of the, I don't know if you want to call it the riots or the unrest in the spring, had started taking that wall apart, and I don't remember if the intent was to use those stones just to barricade off Algoma Blvd...but I remember a couple of days later just looking at the wall and a lot of these, you know, significantly sized stones that had been cemented together, they were, they were gone. The other couple of little things I remember about that incident, you know having gone to grade school literally across the street from the university, we were waiting for things to happen. And so some of us thought we would try to ease the tension, because people were, you know, all the students were unhappy and there is stuff going on so we are just going to keep you safe in the gym for now. Well some of us got the genius idea 8:00to ease the tension and so we started doing a rocket launch count down, ten, nine, eight, all the way down to five, four, three, two, one, and then we went boom, like an explosion. You know, those kind of stories have been on the news, some of us thought it was funny until some of the girls in the class started crying and our teachers didn't find it very funny, but the other thing I remember was that eventually the entire school was dismissed and we were sent out the exit, which was on Wisconsin Street, and I remember walking between two lines of police officers who were wearing riot gear. [unclear] they just wanted to make certain that the kids got home safe while this stuff was going on, you know literally in the school's backyard on Algoma Blvd. And the other little thing I remember about that incident, one of the police officers from the 9:00Oshkosh police force, lt. Ed [Miche?], he was commended for helping to diffuse that situation and [unclear] it going too far out of hand. But I remember he was also a member of my church... so that incident from the spring of '68, you know I, I wasn't boots on the ground but it was literally in my grade school's backyard. The other couple things as a kid I remember, Katie, you know the campus was always there but when the TV studio opened in Clow, the TV studio was first in Clow, this was before the AC building was built. I remember my dad taking me and my younger brother Rich and a neighborhood buddy up there to play in the TV studio, because basically I think my dad wanted to see if all this new equipment worked. And my dad always had student help him out with things, when 10:00we would go on long trips students of his would look after our dogs, or when dad would go on trips with our mom, he would have students babysit us. And so he was always, you know, always really closely connected to our students. One of the top graduates of the program Larry [Clinde?] he's now an executive producer for Dick Clark productions and has been there for a long time. Larry supported himself in school by opening a sub shop on Main Street and dad would send us over there to order sub, sub sandwiches from the sub shop just to help out the students of his.

KW: Very cool.

RS: Yeah, we would go to plays. Through high school I would help my dad spot at the football games. Eventually, they did move to Titan Stadium and I'd be sitting up in the press box with binoculars helping spot members. You know, who carried the ball, who made the tackle. My younger brother would come along and 11:00listen to the radio for like the score of the Badger game... another little thing I remember was in fourth grade, we had to do some kind of a paper on somebody with a job and I interviewed Eric [Kitzman?] who at the time was the Athletic Director for the school. The one reason why I remember that, is because I wrote my paper in the form of a question-answer, you know here is my question and here is Mr. [Kitzman's?] answer. My teacher didn't like the way I wrote it, the Q and A, and she took points off and I was really mad. (Laughs) I worked hard on that. Some other little things that just growing up with the university in our back yard, when Scott Hall went up, we started getting on our TV antennas, everyone got on TV by antenna back then. We started getting what we call ghosts, or like a, a reflective image. So if there's a person on the TV 12:00talking, there would be a lighter image of that person on the TV screen and that was referred to as a ghost. But we started getting ghosts on our TV set and my dad figured that what was happening was the TV signals were hitting Scott Hall and bouncing off Scott Hall. And so in a sense, we were getting two TV signals in our home thinks to Scott Hall. So that, yeah, so that's some of the stuff you don't forget.

KW: Yeah, right. That's really cool.

RS: Yeah, so then in High school, I wrote for the high school newspaper, I remember doing an interview with Ralph [Sims?] who was probably one of the best basketball players in UW Oshkosh history. He might still hold all kinds of scoring records for the Titans. Especially during the summer months when there wouldn't be a lot of people around, we would always take our dog for walks through campus. And then it was in my senior year of high school when I decided 13:00to attend UW Oshkosh and major in Radio, TV and Film. I actually visited Drake University and Des Moines Iowa for the same thing, but they didn't have any production facilities, so I really wasn't impressed by that program, because I knew what Oshkosh had. The AC Building had been built by that time and so I knew the kind of facilities Oshkosh had. I think my mom might have been a little disappointed in my choice. Drake was kind of, kind of a national name and it was a private school down there in Des Moines, Iowa, because I know when I said I was going to Oshkosh instead of Drake, my mom said well there's going to be one rule if your gonna go to Oshkosh, you can't take any Radio, TV, Film classes your first year. I said no problem. Oh there is one other little incident I remember as a kid, it was when the AC building first opened, I don't remember the year, I think it was like '72 or something,

14:00

KW: Yeah that sounds about right...

RS: Yeah, well of course, you know always having been connected with that my dad decided to take myself, my younger brother Rich, and a couple neighborhood buddies up there just to walk around, [unclear] before classes started. And you did have that tunnel between the two buildings. Well we brought this toy with us, it was called a Super Ball. It was a round, really, really hard piece of rubber, molded in the shape of a ball, where if you bounced it on the ground you know it would shoot like one-hundred, two-hundred feet up in the air. Eventually those toys were banned for being a little dangerous, you know because you would throw it at a wall and it would come back at you at 50 mph or whatever and because it was hard rubber, if it hit you at all it would really hurt. Well we went down into the tunnel with a Super Ball, and we thought it would be really cool to watch the Super Ball ricochet off the walls. The only problem was the 15:00ceiling was a false ceiling.

KW: Oh no!

RS: Yeah! You know where this is going! We actually set out a couple of panels and the building hadn't officially opened yet. So before the AC building officially opened, I can lay claim to having broken it.

KW: That's awesome (laughs)

RS: I was just at the radio station last week and we were down in the tunnel and it's still a false ceiling. I thought that was awesome.

KW: (Laughs) Very cool. So can you expand on your experience of getting admitted into college and how was that like, since you already had so much familiarity with the college. What was the expectation... or maybe if you had to take any tests--?

RS: Well, I do remember signing up for classes and of course when you are beginning freshmen, you know, thousands of students have already registered ahead of you, um but somehow, and I don't know how, I never asked, I got into every class I wanted...which I always thought that was a little unusual but I 16:00did get into every class I wanted to sign up for but it was all gen ed classes. But I, I still remember, especially freshman year, I still remember all the teachers I had, um I had Bob [Heisey?] for speech and that was an 8am class. I had Tod [Bonstadt?] for physical geology, and even though I'm not into the natural sciences, never was, but [Bonstadt?] was one of my all-time favorite professors. I mean the class was in a lecture pit over in Halsey and of course it was freshman physical geology, I mean you have to take gen eds and the sciences, but Dr. [Bondstadt?] just brought such a passion to the classroom, it kind of rubbed off. I mean I can remember kids dozing off in his class and he would toss chalkboard erasers at them to wake up. And when they startled awake, 17:00wake up we are doing something important in here, he literally made you pay attention. I think what really sticks with me, even today a thousand years later, is that Dr. [Bonstadt?] made physical geology real. You know, we would talk about stuff like eskers, in the unglaciated area of Wisconsin. Aw man that's an esker, that's what they call it! And I still remember some of this stuff you know, a thousand years later, and it was hardly that science was one of my favorite subjects, but he was just such an awesome teacher. You now, he made the subject real. Ok we are going to talk about this stuff and now we are going to look at. Wow some of that stuff still sticks with me today. I had Martin [Groober?] who was an excellent professor in political science. I liked him so much I took him twice. And then I thought I was smart enough to have a 18:00Business-Accounting minor, but then I took Accounting 1 and they wouldn't let us use calculators. I thought that was just dumb so I changed my minor from Business- Accounting to Journalism. But I was a Radio, TV major the entire time. I think Winterim of my sophomore year when I first got involved with WRST, I would have been a sophomore. But then by the time I was a junior, at WRST I got involved with sports. And one of the things at WRST at the time, I'm pretty sure I did play by play at every school in the UW conference at the time is where [unclear] I've been up to Superior and River Falls and Eau Claire and Stout, Menomonee, Platteville, La Crosse, Stevens Point, um I'm pretty sure I did play by play at all those schools. I remember one time, when the titans were playing at Superior, UW Superior was in the Titans conference for basketball. And when 19:00myself and my...we would, we would drive with the team on the bus, I mean Bob White was the coach at the time and didn't mind us traveling with the team on the bus as long as we asked ahead of time and didn't just show up and say hey give us a ride. You know if we got permission, Coach White would let us travel on the bus. But there was a game at UW Superior, and when my partner and I got into the gym to start setting up, where we needed to start setting up our broadcast booth was at the top of the bleachers, the only problem was that the side of the gym, nobody had pulled the bleachers out because that night... UW Superior also had a hockey team, and everybody was at the hockey game. There was literally nobody in the gym for this bask... there were more players in the gym, yeah, there were more players in the gym then there were fans. And so myself and my partner, we eventually found a custodian who brought out a ladder, and we 20:00climbed up a ladder because the bleachers weren't pulled out. If the bleachers were pulled out we would just walk up the bleachers, but the bleachers weren't pulled out so we found a janitor who got the ladder, we climbed up the ladder, um all of our equipment, our broadcasting equipment, was in a case and so the janitor found us a rope. We tied a rope around the handle and pulled the... our broadcasting equipment up into our broadcast booth with a rope. Yeah that was one of those road experiences that you don't forget. You know there's more players than there are fans.

KW: So an average day for you... was that really filled with a lot of Radio TV Film activities or late night studying...or...

RS: Well, yeah, my first two years Katie, it was um... I was focused on the gen eds, in fact today when I... you know I am a professor at UW Platteville, even today when I advise students, I try to encourage them, you know you should get 21:00those gen eds out of the way so by the time you are a senior you still won't have that five credit lab class in your face. You should get some of that done and then your last two-and-a-half, two years, you can focus a lot of your time and energy for why you wanted to come to school here you know on your.... We call it media studies down here, and you can focus on that stuff and in your minor and whatever else you wanted to do. My first few years a lot of it was gen eds, but then by the time I was a junior, I was mostly taking Radio-TV classes but I did have a journalism minor and it was especially junior year when I really got involved in the radio station.

KW: Okay--

RS: Yeah it was my junior year when Rich [Towne?] was the new station manager at that time, like the faculty advisor...and I remember going to the segregated fees hearing that year, you know, we need money to travel for sports and all 22:00this other stuff, and for whatever reason the segregated fees committee decided to whack our budget, I don't know if they were whacking everybody's budget or what, but I remember they were just whacking our budget and some of the radio staff was really upset because they were wondering, you know, how are we going to do all of these sports and stuff. I know at that time, that Rich [Towne?] the advisor of WRST decided well you know what, if they don't want to give us the money, we will just get the money ourselves and it was Rich [Towne?] who really started under riding. You know, going to community businesses up and getting funds rather than being dependent on segregated fees.

KW: Wow, okay, yeah I was reading a lot-- I was looking at old newspapers and everything and it was talking a lot about the budget cuts you guys went through. And I also read an article. Did you run for Oshkosh... OSA (Oshkosh Student Association) Vice President with Neil Johnson?

RS: Yeah, Neil Johnson was a, a good buddy of mine and we were, we were so upset 23:00with what was going on with the budget, we decided, you know, we are going to run for Student Government and if we get elected we are going to fix all of this budget cut stuff. Now we knew we didn't have a spot, because we were really outsiders and we were running against students that had, if I recall, they had been on Student Government but we actually, Neil and I would actually spend time walking around campus talking to students one-on-one. I remember Chancellor Penson at the time.... Chancellor Penson...he said that if he were a student and actually had the chance to vote, he said that he would vote for us, except we weren't supposed to tell anybody that. So I don't know if the Chancellor would say that to everybody running for Student Government but I know he said it to us. And there was also a debate, and I recall some of the questions were 24:00specifically targeted at me because I wasn't real familiar with Student Government and the roll of like the State Student Government organizations. But that's ok, we at least tried to get our message out there and we had a lot of fun doing it.

KW: Right, right. Very cool. So as far as... did you live on campus all of your years? Did you live at home?

RS: Oh it was much nicer just to stay at home. We're only a block and a half from campus, why on earth would anybody live in a dorm?

KW: Right (laughs) did you have a lot of friends in the....

RS: Yeah, when, you know the nice thing was I could always, it was always reasonably quiet at the house. You didn't have students running up and down the halls of the dorm at two. Three in the morning. So I never even thought about living in the dorms. It just....to me it just didn't make any sense.

25:00

KW: Did you have a lot of friends that lived in the dorms, that you would go and maybe hang out with them?

RS: The first couple of years I did go in the dorms a couple of times, but I didn't use the dorms to hang out. I would use more like the radio station as a hangout. Those are the students I spent the most time with. In fact, I would say other than a couple of kids from my first semester speech class, there's someone on the basketball team, Dave [Star?] who, who was in that very semester speech class I took. But most of my friends during my time at school were either a couple of buddies from high school who had stayed at Oshkosh, but most of my friends were Radio-TV majors.

KW: Okay--

RS: So I pretty much stayed within the Radio-TV major. Now my son Alex is up there at Oshkosh where he is an Education major and he is involved in all kinds of campus groups and clubs. The gaming society and all this stuff. And I. I 26:00think in many ways that's an excellent college experience. Now I don't think I missed out on anything but I can see in many ways where my son is currently there, involved in many things outside of his circle of his major but he's really having a good experience. And so when I advise freshman, I tell them on of the best things they can do or you know friends here in town here in Platteville with kids who are going off to school, and I'll talk to those kids too, and I'll pass along those young adults, you know one of the best things you can do when you get to your new school is start finding some clubs and groups that you can join because some of those students, they're going to be your best friends your entire time in college

KW: Absolutely, so did you go to any events on campus or where you mostly 27:00reporting with the radio station--?

RS: Yeah not-- I was, I was so busy especially doing...once I started getting involved with the radio station doing, doing play by play. So if the Titans were in Platteville, that was three hours just to get to Platteville. And then you have to do the game and then you drive back that night and its three hours...so you know you're talking like eight, nine hours shot right there. Just to do an hour and a half, play-by-play. And then, keeping up with homework, always did okay in my classes, so just once I started really getting involved in radio and TV there wasn't necessarily a lot of extra time to get involved in some of that stuff. I also had jobs while I was in school, they were off campus jobs but I had jobs. First working at a liquor store near Menomonee Park, and then my junior year I got an internship at a radio station and I did the news casts on 28:00Saturday and Sunday morning, which meant Saturday morning I had to get up at 4am.

KW: Oh no!

RS: Yeah, to be ready for the 5:15am sports cast. So it's not like I can have a good time, you know, Friday night, you know because I had to be at my internship by 4am the next morning.

KW: Right, right...

RS: But I think some of that rubbed off because of my dad. At that time, WRST was on roughly twenty-some hours a day, seven days a week, three-hundred-sixty-five days of the year and it was all students at that time. Students did every air shift and I remember, I don't know if I was in college or in high school, but I remember one year later on Christmas Day, I remember my dad going over to the phone, picking up the phone, and calling the radio station. Hey this is Doc, you're doing a good job and I just wanted to thank you 29:00for coming in Christmas Day, and just that kind of role modeling really...really of rubbed off.

KW: Right, that's awesome.

RS: For me I know it did. The one think I did get involved in besides the Radio-TV, there was a student organization [Alpha Epsilon Rho?] AE Rho, it was for broadcasting students and I joined that my junior year. And I remember at the induction ceremony, because of graduation coming back that next fall, that would have been like fall of '80, there would have been only two of us left because graduation, but we started with only two members in that fall of 1980, and by 1983 UW Oshkosh was named the national chapter of the year.

KW: Wow, that's great!

RS: Yeah we worked really hard at making that thing work. There were two conventions, one in the spring of 1981 was in Nashville and to save money, I 30:00think there was about six or seven of us that went, and to save money, instead of staying at the camp ground, we found...I mean at the conference center which was the Grand Ole Opry Hotel, you know we're looking at it going you know, jeez that's kind of pricey and we are all broke college students, but we...we actually found a campground that charged like seven bucks a night so we brought tents with us and camped at a camp ground and as we were telling this story to all these other students from around the country, we kind of became the talk of the convention. "Hey! Those are the guys saving hundreds of dollars by staying at the camp ground!"

KW: That's Awesome

RS: Yeah, that next year was at New York City, we actually stayed at the convention site and MTV... that year at the National Convention in New York City, MTV was kind of new but MTV had been hired out to put on some entertainment and the thing I remember with that is they had these huge like concert arena sized speakers for the music and one of the speakers caught on 31:00fire. I thought that was awesome.

KW: Oh my gosh (laughs)

RS: It wasn't intentional so I thought that was awesome...

KW: Very cool.

RS: But yeah in a lot of ways, once junior, senior year rolled around, I was kind of one track. I was in the Radio-TV stuff and the Radio-TV organization but looking back that was kind of a commitment it took...that's a lot of class mates back then too. A lot of us were really committed to you know getting as much experience as we could. So I have classmates like Steve [Becher?] and Mike [Trancline?] who own their own... we were in the same graduating class. They own their own production company in Wisconsin and they are doing documentaries for PBS.

KW: Wow

RS: That's always pretty cool. Dennis [Krowsie?] who was a year behind me, I think Dennis at least three times, if not four, he was named Wisconsin's 32:00Sportscaster of the Year. And the Bill [Keifer?] who was a year ahead of me, for the last thirty or so years, he has been the, you know one of the top behind the scenes producers for WLUK Fox 11 news in Green Bay. So there were a whole bunch of us that were you know, maybe we were kind of one track but we knew the commitment it took to try to, you know, to try to work in this industry. So yeah I wanted to do play-by-play at Platteville. Well there you go, that's six hours of travel. You know, and then you have to make arrangements ahead of time and get the permission, and you have to get there early enough, and you have to set up to make sure your equipment works. And you have to tape the interviews for the pregame show and you have to be ready for the pre-game show and then you're actually doing... yeah-- and then you're actually doing the game and then after the game you're trying to get some interviews. So when you get back to WRST at 33:00midnight you can cut a couple pieces of tape from the interview you shot so that the sports guy coming in, or whoever was doing the sports, early the next morning they would have some tape, some interviews from the night before and that you know, that is the kind of commitment it took.

KW: Right, right... So did you do mostly TV or mostly Radio, or was it a healthy balance? What was that like?

RS: Junior year I did mostly radio, so I worked mostly at WRST, I thought it would be good to learn as much as I could about sound. And so I worked at WRST exclusively my junior year, and then it was also my junior year when I got my first internship at an Oshkosh radio station back then it was WOSH-WYTL, I don't know what the heck the call letters are today. And the station was located north of... I think Bowen, kind of east of the fair grounds. I think today the 34:00building is out on Highway 41. That's when I was like the weekend news person, you know, doing the 6am news casts. The way I got that, and it's something I share... you know I have been asked to go back to Oshkosh a number of times to talk to the students... the way I got that first internship that was paid, so that was extra awesome, not only getting credit I was getting paid, I had sent a tape of some of my work at WRST to a fella by the name of Tim [Morrisey?]. Tim was actually a graduate of the UW Oshkosh program, but when I sent the tape to him, I put a note in it and I asked him you know, "dear Tim, this is some of the stuff I am kind of interested in doing... here's some of the stuff I have done at WRST. I'm not asking for a job or anything but what I'd like you to do, if 35:00you could, would you just listen to this and then tell me if I suck or not". That's basically what I did. You know, I wasn't ask...I just... "could you just give me some feedback. That's all, I am kind of interested in doing this, you're doing this for a living... tell me what you think". And then I can't remember the time from when I sent him that tape, but eventually Tim contacted my dad and told my dad that there was an internship available at his radio station WOSH and he was interested in finding out if I wanted to do it. And so by asking, I didn't ask him for anything other than feedback but eventually that lead to my getting...my start at professional broadcasting. And I think the fact that I didn't really ask him for anything other than feedback... might have had 36:00something to do with it and so that's... that's something I have shared with students over the years.

KW: Yeah that's really cool...

RS: yeah whether your, you know... in journalism or art or photography or whatever, you have to start making work while you're in school. Find somebody who...ask somebody, you know, take a look at my stuff and tell me what you think. I'm not looking for a job, not looking for internships, not looking for hand... just give me some feedback and just tell me what you think. I always had really good instructors at Oshkosh but you know I just thought it was kind of important too, jeez just hear feedback from people.

KW: Right, yeah. So I read in one of the papers again-- that I think it was '81 and they started broadcasting WRST 24 hours a day, did that change kind of happen when you were there?

RS: Yeah, yeah but by the time that started to happen I was ready to move and try my hand at TV.

37:00

KW: Okay

RS: Although I do know, I think it was either my sophomore year or my junior year, I did do a late-- it was either Friday or Saturday night... I think it was Friday, I did a late night rock shift from 10pm until like 2 in the morning. And I would always be surprised, people calling up at random...this is like one in the morning... "oh we are having this awesome...we are having this house party and we're playing your radio station, it's just really awesome." And then I'm sitting there thinking "ahh this is horrible, I'm not at this house party I'm here at the radio station making sure these house parties are having a good time" (laughing) but that's okay. Yeah '81-'82 is when I really started to move. Okay I wanted to learn as much as I can about sound and now senior year I just want to focus on TV. That's when I hit TV really hard. At that time, we really 38:00only had one TV show, I know today they do so much more up there and that is so awesome, but we really only had one TV show. It was called this week and it was an hour long, kind of mismatch. We did some news and we did some sports. But we did some featuring material and some comedy material, interviews in the TV studio. Oh, one semester we did a music video with a band out of Milwaukee... did that out of a studio. But it was a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and the advisor was Al [Folker?] who was at UWO for a really long time. But some of the stuff I remember doing when... once at a titan football game I was there doing the play-by-play for the TV side and I'd have to look it up but the president of the UW System was at this game and I remember Chancellor Penson asking Al [Folker?] if somebody would like to interview the president of the UW 39:00System. I jumped right on that and we interviewed the president of the UW System at half time. I've got that interview somewhere in my stuff.

KW: Wow that's great.

RS: Yeah I thought that was kind of cool. And then during my senior year is when I landed in an internship with WBAY TV, they had a [Unclear] in Oshkosh. And so I was really busy... the spring of '82 I was the producer of This Week and the news Anchor, and I was also interning with WBAY but one of the things I kind of remember about my senior year... the last semester, because I had something like twelve or thirteen credits but I only had two classes because one...three of my credits were with the internship and then I had three credits for doing an independent study of some kind, it was a marathon TV show they used to do back 40:00then. So I just remember having twelve or fifteen credits with only two classes, and I just thought that was awesome.

KW: That is really cool. What kind of stories did you prefer to cover on TV? Was it mostly sports or...

RS: Well I did a lot of sports in the fall but in the spring I shifted more to news. And so we actually... I remember a story that I shot with another student, Oshkosh would look, at that time, was looking at building the Convention Center down by the Fox River. So we actually... we set up and interview with the city manager of Oshkosh, Bill [Freed?]and talked to him about the different proposals and went down there by the Main Street bridge and shot that block of Main Street that they were looking at knocking down and so we didn't just do stories about the campus. We tried to get out in Oshkosh too.

KW: Very cool

RS: Oh there's one other little thing I just have to share too. Freshman year, 41:00first semester, I remember my mom giving me the check of my tuition bill, you're not going to appreciate this Katie, but I remember my very first tuition bill at UW Oshkosh was for under one-hundred dollars.

KW: Oh my gosh

RS: Exactly, because I pay my sons tuition up there at Oshkosh now and I can tell you it's not under a hundred dollars.

KW: Nope! (laughs)

RS: But when I tell that to people that's the kind of reaction I get because maybe they have a son or daughter in the UW System and what I try to help them understand is...so-- the difference in cost from back when I was in school and when my son and daughter in school today... it's not due to inflation. There's that factor yeah, but the real main reason, and I don't think a lot of people understand this, but I certainly do, the main reason is that there are less and less state tax dollars that are going to the UW System. So if you want to know 42:00why our sons and daughters, and you know people like yourself maybe battled with debt, it's because we aren't giving them as much help when they are in school. And you know, that's just giving people something to think about in terms of just what are our larger priorities as a state. I mean I didn't have... I had zero debt when I was out of school. That's because my education didn't cost that much.

KW: Right, Right.

RS: But I don't even want to know, Katie, how much you have in student loans.

KW: Yep, it's definitely more than one-hundred dollars, so...

RS: Yeah, but having gone through the system, I am well aware of well, why is that. And here is the explanation. Not as much money going into the UW System from the State.

KW: So other than-- obviously money, did you see any other major changes in the university during you time there or even when you were a kid...like technology wise or...

RS: Well I think it was just... it was under the previous Chancellor, the one 43:00just before Chancellor Penson. When I was at Oshkosh I am pretty certain it was just Penson but I do remember the Chancellor just before Penson, I don't remember his name, but he was the one who put in the calendar. The 14-week and the 3-week interim. And so I remember when that change happened and when I was in school, I took advantage of the... like the winter three-week term, or whatever it was then, and taking advantage of the spring three -week term. And I remember that helping me keep...taking maybe 12 credits in the 14-week calendar but then picking up a class during the winterim or during the spring term so I would be, you know, taking 15 credits and staying on track to graduate. But other than that, I don't recall a lot of change going on when I was there.

44:00

KW: What about with the radio equipment, I know you guys got a few new systems. Do you remember any of that?

RS: Well, the only real thing... there wasn't anything digital, it was still all analogue but I think the changes I do remember was just getting new sound boards...new audio boards. Instead of having big twist knobs and throw switches, they had like fader bars on them. But that was a step up. But even when I was in school, we were still using reel to reel audio tape. And even with TV we were still using video tape. And then one of my last memories at Oshkosh, I remember graduation because my dad also announced the voices... I mean announced the names of everybody who graduated and of course we all had little cards with our name on it and I remember... there were stories, rumors circulating that people 45:00would actually make bets looking at the program and saying "I bet you Doc Snyder is going to butcher this name" and dad always claimed he never once mispronounced anybody's name. Even in Wisconsin, you have some of these polish names that are like fifteen to twenty letters long or you have students from Africa which you know, African names and pronunciations. But nope, dad always claimed he never butchered a name. But I actually threw him off a little bit because when I stepped up to have my name announced, I handed him the name card, I said "I think you know this one" and it caught him off guard a little bit because nobody ever talked to him. And so if he almost ever butchered a name it would have been mine because I threw him off his game.

46:00

KW: (Laughs) Very cool.

RS: Oh I got some St. Pat's stories for you too, St. Patrick's holiday. St. Patrick's used to be a big deal at UW Oshkosh and I don't... I was at school at the time, but I don't remember if it was '80,'81, or '82 but I was a student and you had Kelly's and all of those things over there on Wisconsin Avenue and I remember it was bar time and I was with one of my best buddies from high school, we used to hang out together and it was...do they still call it the strip over there?

KW: Yeah

RS: So it was bar time on the strip and we came out on Wisconsin Avenue, and there were just mobs of people there that year. And again, I don't remember if it was '80,'81, or '82 but I just remember there were mobs of people on Wisconsin Avenue and my friend Bob and I thought you know, this doesn't feel right so we are just going to start working our way back to Amherst. We were actually just up on Wisconsin Avenue, just on the other side of Algoma, near Lincoln Grade School, and we can see this huge mob of students just carrying on. The other thing we noticed was a line, two to three deep, of police officers in riot gear. My friend Bob and I thought, you know that's probably not a good idea 47:00right now to like go over there on Algoma, in front of Scott Hall and start goofing off because something is probably going to happen. And so we actually, my friend Bob and I, actually saw the police move in and start breaking up that crowd and we started inching our way further and further up Wisconsin Avenue. I remember some kid running up Wisconsin Avenue, two police officers tackled him 48:00and we're watching this, now we had just crossed Church Avenue, and we are watching all of this go down and then on of the police officers saw us standing there watching and just yelled at us "hey you guys better go home" and we did (Laughs) pretty fast.

KW: (Laughs) Wasn't going to take any chances!

RS: No, no but I have been back to the campus a couple of times to talk to classes and make presentations and I haven't...I don't medal...I certainly don't medal at the Radio TV Film program, that's not my role at all but I follow the Radio TV Film program on Facebook, my dad has a scholarship in his name that I was involved in setting up the terms and conditions of that. I was actually back for the dedication of the Alumni Center a couple of years ago, the new Alumni Center, I was back for that. I think I might have been off, down here at Platteville. I was just up there last Friday for WRST's 50th. So I do like to at least stay connected to the program. I still stay in touch with a few people I 49:00went to school with. I just emailed Steve [Becher?] the other day... you know the guy who produces documentaries for PBS and I just ran into Steve at Wisconsin Broadcasters Student Conference. The other cool thing, I met my wife at UW Oshkosh. She was a Radio TV major, I think we were two or three years apart so I didn't have her in classes or anything but I think I was a year out of school, Katie, and my mom worked in the admissions office for many years and my mom was having a Christmas party at the house for the students who worked in admissions and I was interning at that time for Channel 2 and I got back from channel 2 pretty late and my wife was... I still remember...she was sitting in 50:00the main family room and I remember just walking in the door and thinking to myself "oh there's a cute girl maybe I'll start talking to her" and it turns out " oh the radio TV majors, oh well yeah I guess, I was a Radio TV major too when I was at Oshkosh" so we just got to talking and I said to her "you know the program hasn't changed that much if you every have any questions about the program or classes [unclear] go ahead and call me" and sure enough she got the courage to call me and we met at Neutral Grounds, Reeve Union, and there you go. Yeah we got married in '85. Another cool thing is my son Alex, who grew up down here in Platteville, my son Alex is now an education major up at Oshkosh. He picked Oshkosh because he had gone to some summer science program on the campus 51:00when he was in high school and he just felt really comfortable with the campus. The only school he applied to his senior year down here in Platteville was UW Oshkosh. He was an education major and he is getting ready to do his student teaching this fall. And he is really smart, he's got a chemistry minor. I could never do that (laughs) that's too hard.

KW: I agree (laughs)

RS: In its own way, that's too hard. Radio and TV was a lot of hard work. I hope I kind of got that across but chemistry, that's a different kind of hard work.

KW: I guess to just wrap it up a little bit, is there anything you wish you would have experienced or done differently throughout your time here?

RS: Well, I can't say no. Maybe if anything, just to have been involved in some 52:00other student organizations, but I was so involved with Radio and TV that in a lot of ways I was involved, in a sense I was involved in athletics too. I knew every player on the basketball team, every year I was in school because I was either doing play by play or talking to them before the game to get a little interview or talking to them after the game to get an interview. Coach White, Bob White the basketball coach actually knew me by name. Doing Titan baseball play-by-play and those were some great teams back then with Coach Russ [Tiedemann?] those were some teams that competed for the national championship. So in a lot of ways just through my involvement in Radio TV I was really involved a lot in athletics too but because it was because I was covering athletics. And having part time jobs and internships that were basically part 53:00time jobs, I don't know that I would have had the time to get involved in a lot of stuff. The only reason why Neil Johnson and I ran for Student President and Student Vice President is that we were so mad at the student segregated fee budget getting cut but actually one of the things we wound up doing the next year, my senior year, a Radio TV Film student actually became the president of the Segregated Fee committee. So that was (laughs) probably a smarter strategy than when Neil and I did. I think the fellas name was Keith Edmond who was the president of the Segregated Fee Committee the next year.

KW: So my last question I guess, is in what ways has Oshkosh influenced your 54:00current career and life?

RS: Boy that's another hour! Um, not a lot of people when I... from Radio TV Film, not a lot of people stick with it for whatever reason. When they graduate they either... and I see this with my current students at Platteville they just decide to do something else, or they will do media for a couple of years but there aren't lots of them that make it a lifelong pursuit. Now I can still, on the other hand, I can still go back to Oshkosh and I can turn on WBAY and there's Bill Jartz the news anchor and bill was at WBAY when I was there and we are talking back 1983, '84, '85. So there are people that make it their life's 55:00work but it is awfully hard work but the thing of it is, I've been doing it since I was six years old and the reason why I was able to start doing...you know when I tell people "yeah I had my own radio show when I was six years old" that's on my biography at UW Platteville. I had my own radio show when I was six years old and people look at me like "really?" And then I just "yeah it's actually kind of easy when your dad runs the radio station but I had that interest as a kid and my dad let me pursue that interest. And so that interest for some reason it was always there and I've just always enjoyed it. You know, I'll be on campus late tonight because there are students doing the news cast and I pretty much stay out of the way but I just love hanging out in TV studios. 56:00I just took a group of students up like last Friday, to tour WBAY in Green Bay. I just really enjoy it. It's been there for about as long as I can remember so a lot of that I think it has to do with my dad. And he never discouraged it. My younger brother is an accountant in the Milwaukee area. He was a business accounting major at Oshkosh, my older brother is a freelance carpenter in Colorado. My sister is in radio sales but she didn't go to UW Oshkosh. In fact, she started working retail and then moved into Radio Film but all of that is her retail background. So I think in a lot of ways I am really, really lucky to have a parent who, whatever we wanted to do, encouraged us to do it. I was extra luck 57:00in that, you know this radio and TV stuff, that seems like a lot of fun. Yeah it's a lot of work, but when I was a kid it seemed like a lot of fun and my dad let me pursue that. In fact, I think in my junior year of high school, [unclear] there was a film professor by the name of Bob Jacobs and he decided he wanted to make a Hollywood style motion picture, he wanted to make it in Oshkosh and so he hired a Hollywood actor, I think he had some kind of connection by the name of Henry [Garrow?] He did a lot of TV, but there was one, he made a film called Exit Dying that was about a ghost in the Grand Theatre. It was about the Grand Theatre being haunted. But one night they were shooting a scene outside and they needed some extras and my dad said... and this was like late on a school night 58:00if I remember...but my dad said "BJ is working on his movie tonight, they are shooting a scene outside and I know he is going to need some extras so if you show up, you might actually get on camera." You know where I was, I was on camera! And Dr. Jacobs said "okay for the establishing shot I need a couple walking down the sidewalk" and here I am a high school kid and he sees me and says "okay Robbie you can be one" and then there was a coed there and I can't remember her name and he said "okay you can be Robs girlfriend." And I'm sitting there thinking "how cool is that, I'm in high school and got this college age girlfriend." Yeah the only problem was that it was pretend, right, it was pretend. I'm actually, I think I'm actually in Dr. Jacobs's movie for all of two seconds, walking down the sidewalk. But to me it's as fun as...my son finds 59:00teaching chemistry, two totally different things but to me it's been as fun as chemistry is for my son. And you are a music major right? I'm going to guess you really love music?

KW: I love it, yep! (laughs)

RS: There you go, that's, for literally most of my life, from being like a little kid at six years old to when I graduated from UW Oshkosh, the university was always there as a gateway to pursue something I really really liked. From when I was a kid in grade school to helping dad out at the sports events and doing the public announcing to interviewing Titan athletes for the high school 60:00newspaper. Then getting them involved with Radio TV, it's just been there an awfully long time.

KW: That's really great. Well are there any other things you would like to mention, that I didn't ask you, before we finish up?

RS: Well I bet you in a week there will be! Now you did ask, I don't necessarily have a lot of photographs, but I did find one I can scan. It was from the 1981 NBS convention in Nashville. There's a photo of myself with the actor Gordan Jump. Now his name might not ring a bell to you but Gordan Jump was on a 1988 TV Sitcom called WKRP in Cincinnati. He played the station manager of this radio station and then after that he was the Maytag repair man for a number of years. Well the reason why I had my photo taken with this kind of famous Hollywood 61:00actor...he was actually one of my dad's very first students when my dad started teaching and so I've got that photograph. And then the other recent accomplishment of mine that I'm really proud of, I was invited by the Library of Congress to write... the Library of Congress keeps this thing called a film archive...where every year they announce like eight to ten films, these are films that they always make sure they need to make a copy of because it just says something about American life and American culture. They come out with this list every year. There are two documentary films on that list by a documentary film maker by the name of [Unclear]. He made documentaries for President Roosevelt back during the '30's. My dad wrote literally the book on this film 62:00director and about a year ago, I got asked by the library of congress to write a couple of essays... they want to ...[unclear] this film archive that is maintained by the Smithsonian institution. So I was actually able to write a couple of essays on this film director that was you know besides... was a key part of my dad's work. So I can send you the links to that.

KW: Absolutely, that would be great!

RS: And then what I actually have more of than photographs, I actually have a lot of video from back then.

KW: That would actually be really cool too. I mean anything that...

RS: Yeah from like the Titan TV shows and I found a clip of myself interviewing Coach [Tiedemann?] the baseball coach. So I actually have a lot of video from 63:00back then, that whatever you guys want to do with it. I can try to put it on a DVD for you.

KW: Yeah that would be fantastic. Thank you!

RS: Yeah so I actually have lots of stuff.

*brief side conversation*

RS: So is there anything else then Katie?

KW: Nope I think that's about it.

RS: Yeah this is really cool.

KW: Thank you so much for doing this I really enjoyed talking to you!

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