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Wisconsin School of the Air

Fannie Steve with children

Thanks to the vision of Harold McCarty, drawing on the theories of John Dewey and the outreach philosophy of the Wisconsin Idea, WHA established its influential and still-extant School of the Air in 1931. Debuting the week of October 5, the school drew on resources in the School of Education along with the State Department of Public Instruction and teachers in the Madison Public Schools to craft a comprehensive schedule of programs aimed at use in primary and secondary school classrooms around the state. 

Covering subjects ranging from government and history to music, art, literature, nature, health and safety, the School of the Air counted over 70,000 students by 1938, and continued in various forms until the 1960s.  Randall Davidson has written about some of the most popular programs, including Journey in Musicland hosted by Edgar Gordon. Other pioneering shows included Let's Draw, Afield With Ranger Mac, and Rhythm and Games with Mrs. Fannie Steve.

In 1931, WHA initiated the Wisconsin College of the Air, intended to extend adult education across the state. Its first radio course attempted to teach touch typing to listeners, but it soon expanded into many different areas. One of its early implementers was Harold Engel, who worked with Harold McCarty to extend courses across the FM network. A popular contributor to the College of the Air's offerings was Aline Hazard, host of the Homemaker Program for more than 32 years.


School of the Air Audience

Digital Documents

Bianchi, "America's Schools of the Air"

Related Links

Johnson, "The Wisconsin School of the Air"