Stephenson Tales

My NBC Chimes

On the west side of State Street on which Angell Hall faces, across the street from the "salmon loaf" (the semi-affectionate name for the administration building, next to the Michigan Union) used to stand Morris Hall - right on the street side next to the old Laboratory where Mr. Windt had his offices.

(I must add an aside: his office was above and at the end of our classroom, and from the office of Prof. Gale Densmore, the chairman of the Department of Speech, one could look directly across State Street and into Mr. Windt's office. Poor Mr. Windt was always suspicious that Densmore was spying on him, trying to catch him in some immoral act.)

Morris Hall was our radio classroom and was used also as a broadcasting studio. Every Saturday morning Preston would be driven to the studio to do his completely impromptu, unscripted, "Slosson Interprets the News" over the Detroit station WJR - an NBC affiliate.

When the studio was used for network broadcasts, as it often was - Joe Maddy's Sunday morning hymn-sing for example - the NBC chimes were seen hanging on the wall at the end of the broadcast.

When the Administration building was built, and the studios moved to the third floor of Angell Hall, this structure was torn down. I happened to be there when the demolition team began their work. There was no one there from NBC, of course, and in the process of razing the building, no one thought about the NBC chimes.

I went to look around at the classroom and studio where I had inhaled hours of Prof. Waldo Abbotts' foul second-hand cigarette smoke. There was nothing left but the empty rooms. All the radio equipment (cables, patch boards, microphones, recordings, sound effect items - such as an automobile door in a frame, for example - all gone: transferred to Angell Hall; but the chimes were on the wall. "Well, if nobody wants them (and they are going to end up in the rubble), I DO."

They now hang in our living room in Harper House. The grandchildren never tire of pounding on them.

Composed 24 November 2008; Transcribed by Lucky

© Jim Bob Stephenson 2008

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