College trustee steamed over student press

The witty — if a bit prone to puns and quotations — college president on “Halls of Ivy” had more than one anxious moment over campus news media, but supported the freedom of the press in good spirits, which must have been acceptable to the program’s Schlitz Beer sponsor.

The second episode of the series, starring Ronald Colman and Benita Hume Colman as President & Mrs. Hall of Ivy College, featured a student newspaper editorial that offended his nemesis, the chairman of the board of governors, so much that he wanted the editor expelled.

Student Editorial, Jan. 13, 1950.

“A millenium is at hand, someone has finally read an editorial in an American newspaper!” — the student editor.

A year later, the same trustee went after the anthropology department as well as a student anthropologist author. President Hall disagreed with the article… a critique of campus life… but supported it on free speech principles, quoting Sinclair Lewis. The trustee was more concerned with the article’s impact on a football star who had taken the article to heart and was questioning his dedication to the sport.

Student Editorial in the Ivy Bull, Oct. 10, 1951.

“We can discuss the article in The Bull and the possible bull in the article…” — President Hall, inviting student author to dinner.

From the intellectual ramparts of anthropology, the Halls moved on in 1952 to investigate a campus gossip column of the air. It’s not a spoiler to reveal that the trustee chairman is in the middle again, but the Halls survive nicely. And, as Hall points out, the young woman reporter does stick to her facts. He quotes Sheridan about that, but also manages to mention one of my favorite oldtime newspaper columnists.

Voice of the Ivy Vine, Feb. 20, 1952.

“What the late Don Marquis called ‘stroking a cliche until it purrs like an epigram.'” — Hall quoting the creator of “Archie & Mehitabel.”

For an overview of the series, Radio Spirits has a charming photo-illustrated essay promoting its CD-quality collection of Halls of Ivy episodes. Some time ago the Digital Deli oldtime radio blog posted a detailed “Definitive Halls of Ivy Radio Log” including an episode list, early reviews of the series, Schlitz ads, and more.

The Old Time Radio Researchers Group, whose MP3s I link to above, has a substantial Halls of Ivy collection at the Internet Archive, both as single audio files and zipped files with photographs and other background information.

In addition to the Peabody Award winning 1950-52 radio series, more than 100 episodes, the Colmans also brought the series to television in 1954-55, which provided the college gate image at the top of this page as well as this brief clip at YouTube.

While he never went to college himself, Don Quinn, creator of the campus-based radio program, gave a revealing interview about it while on vacation in Hawaii, which has been archived at YouTube. Listen for a tip-of-the-hat to his wife, a Northwestern University journalism school grad. Here it is:

About Bob Stepno

mild-mannered reporter who fell deeper into computers and the Web during three trips through graduate school in the 1980s and 1990s, then began teaching journalism, media studies and Web production, most recently as a faculty member at Radford University.
This entry was posted in 1950s, columnists, comics, Drama, newspapers, reporters. Bookmark the permalink.

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