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Connie McDonnell


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Connie McDonnell
Series Title:
USF 50th (2006) anniversary oral history project
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1 sound file (50 min.) : digital, MPEG4 file + ;
McDonnell, Connie
Greenberg, Yael V
University of South Florida Libraries -- Florida Studies Center. -- Oral History Program
University of South Florida -- Tampa Library
University of South Florida Tampa Library
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Tampa, Fla
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Oral history   ( local )
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Oral history.   ( local )
Online audio.   ( local )
interview   ( marcgt )


Connie McDonnell discusses working at WUSF in Public Relations for both the PBS television station and the NPR radio station.
Interview conducted August 5, 2003.
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Mode of access: World Wide Web.
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Streaming audio.
Statement of Responsibility:
interviewed by Yael V. Greenberg.

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University of South Florida Library
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University of South Florida
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aleph - 029160472
oclc - 263096043
usfldc doi - U23-00091
usfldc handle - u23.91
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COPYRIGHT NOTICE This Oral History is copyrighted by the University of South Florida Libraries Oral History Program on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of South Florida. Copyright, 2008, University of South Florida. All rights, reserved This oral history may be used for research, instruction, and private study under the provisions of the Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of the United States Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section 107), which allows limited use of copyrig hted materials under certain conditions. Fair Use limits the amount of material that may be used. For all other permissions and requests, contact the UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA LIBRARIES ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at the University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fo wler Avenue, LIB 122, Tampa, FL 33620.


1 USF 50 th History Anniversary Project Oral History Program USF Florida Studies Center University of South Florida, Tampa Library Interviewee: Connie McDonnell (CM) Interviewee: Yael V. Greenberg (YG) Interview date: May 8, 2008 Interview location: U SF Tampa Library Transcriber: Unknown Transcription date: Unknown Audit Editor: Mary Yeary Audit Edit date: August 7, 2003 Interview changes: Mary Beth Isaacson Interview changes Date: November 3, 2008 Final Edit by: Catherine Cottle Final Edit da te: November 10, 2008 Yael V. Greenberg: Today is Thursday, May 8, 2003. My name is Yael Greenberg, Oral History Program Assistant for the Florida Studies Center. We continue a series of interviews in our studio here in the Tampa campus library with USF [University of South Florida] faculty, students, and alumni in order to commemorate fifty years of university history. Today, we will be interviewing Connie McDonnell, who came to USF in 1976 as a community service coordinator for WUSF[radio and televisio n station]. Currently, she is the Promotions Director for WUSF. Good afternoon, Connie. Connie McDonnell: Good afternoon. How are you? YG: Good. Let's begin by you taking us to the year you arrived in Tampa and what circumstances brought you to the Univ ersity of South Florida. CM: What brought me to the University of South Florida was I was out of a job. I had been working in radio and commercial radio as an announcer. What they do in commercial radio is sell the station every two years or something li ke that, so you were out of a job again. A friend of mine, Sheila Stewart who brought the classical music to WUSF radio, said, "Connie, you must come to the university. They are looking for a PR [public relations] person, but it's only twenty hours a week a temporary, part time job." I said, "Okay, I can do that even though I have to drive in from St. Petersburg Beach, a long way, because I do need a job. So, that's what I'll do. I'll go out and do PR; I've worked in newspapers so I could do PR." So, ov er I came, except I was actually hired by the then general manager, Dr. Mitchell, for television. So, I started out my twenty hours a week in television, which was great fun and pretty tough because the station was very small. It was the number two PBS [pu blic broadcast] station in the area. They had a lot of programs on that had to do with the school; they were classes,


2 which they now do in another manner. Back then they would have these whole series on Channel 16. I did that for a while and they had someb ody else doing radio/TV, which was kind of confusing, so they said, "Why don't we take Connie, we'll put her in radio and let the other person handle forty hours of television?" So, that's when I went into the radio section. Besides that, I thought it woul d be wonderful. I listened to this station all the time because they played classical music, which I love, and I thought, "Oh, I'll listen to it all day." Then, I found out you're working all day. You don't have time to listen to the radio. There I was d oing my twenty hours a week in the basement of the Student Services Building, which before that had been the original library, so there were no windows. All of radio and television, the studios, both radio and TV, all the workers were jammed in the basemen t. It was really jammed. There was no room. When I first came I said, "Well, I need a telephone and I need a desk, I need a typewriter, and please can I have a window?" They said, "Oh, we're going to build a new building," which they then finished about el even years ago. So, there we were in a dungeon really jammed in there for years. You had to walk sideways down the hallway. They had TV directors lined up down the hallway. They would have a file cabinet, desk, little way for the director to get out; fil e cabinet, desk. Since I didn't have a typewriter, I would have to wait until five o'clock and find someone else's. It was noon and I had to get a story out. Harmon McBride, who did that wonderful TV series they're still running it on old movies he had a t ypewriter, an IBM with a ball end He went to lunch, so I said, "Oh, good, I'll use his typewriter." I started typing and then I looked at the paper and there was nothing there. He had taken the ball out and put it in the drawer because he didn't want peop le to use the one working typewriter. Yes, it was pretty basic back then. That's how I got here. YG: What was your job responsibility at the radio station in those first years? What were your main duties? CM: Main duties was to promote the station, fi rst the TV station then to promote the radio station. I do remember that I also did an on air program called Counterpoint which was a mixture of announcements on music, theater, the arts, that sort of thing with short pieces of music. When I came here I s aid, "Oh, three stations were sold out from under me, but you cannot sell a National Public Radio station." So that morning I came in with all my records to go on the air the first morning and they had a bomb scare. I said, "You can't sell it, but you can blow it up." It was of course one of those scares that they used to do back then. So, I did that, and I had big files of all the area music, artsy things going on. I sent out hordes of press releases here, there, and everywhere. Then one day, John Youn g our station block, says, "How can you live on forty eight thousand a year? I said, "I can't." He said, "Well now, you can do a thing called underwriting," which I didn't know. I said, "Well, what's that?" Well, you go out and sell the station for this p rogram is brought to you by such and so and so. So, I would work Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Tuesday and Thursday I would go off, and finally I brought in enough underwriting to pay for the forty hours a week that I was working. National Public Radio does not have humongous salaries. Well, this campus is public, there you are. So then, I did the underwriting for quite a


3 while and advertising for our program guide, which I'll show you later if you like. Then what did he do? Then he said we're going t o do an on air fund drive. I said, "How do you do that, John?" He said, "I don't know; go find out." So I thought, "Oh, my." I called National Public Radio and I said, "Is anybody doing on air fund drives?" They said, "There are three." Before that they d idn't have on air fund drives. You'd have a little spot now and then saying send us money and we'll send you our program guide, but we only had eight hundred or one thousand members back then. I called NPR and they said, "Well, these three stations." So, I called them and I said, "How do you do this?" [They said] "Well, we've just started So, I typed it all up and I said, "John, here's how you do an on air fund drive." He said, "Oh, that's nice; go out and do that." So, we went ahead and did that. Now, it's very, very well organized, but back then it was just sheets and we just totaled it with pen and paper on the wall as people called in. So, then we started the on air fund drives, which now we do three times a year. We have about fourteen thousand memb ers for radio, and then there's the television station too, which also has different membership drives. They have all of these volunteers who come in to answer the phones and they feed them while they're answering the phones and people call in from eight o r nine states. For a while we were on some cable system that was going around the world. Because we had people call from Mexico, one was from Ireland. They'd say, "Yes, I listen to you and I want to pledge. I listen to you on some satellite." So, we di d that and then one of our long time programs is Adventures in Good Music with Karl Haas. You know him; he has a very deep voice. [Impression] John said, "Oh, Connie, he's coming down here and we're going to have a concert, and we'll do it." So, I did that for quite a few years. One year we had four concerts within a week or two weeks. One was in Fort Meyers, one was in Sarasota, one was in Tampa, and then we had a special one on campus for the medical, the doctors and things. They were falling out the door So, he did that because somebody there really liked Karl Haas So, he went over there and did a lunchtime concert on campus. Then, we would have lovely receptions after his concerts, so it worked out quite well. He's way up north somewhere. People would call and say, "I want to talk to him." He was in New York. I think he's in Detroit or around there now. YG: Being on campus and being a campus radio and TV station, what was their [the university's] vision of a campus radio and TV station? Were they supp ortive of the campus radio and TV station, or were they not supportive? CM: I think they've always been supportive of the station. This September, the station will be forty years old. It started with five hours a week, it was just public broadcasting and lots of schools had a radio and TV station, very small. It was for teaching. It was a teaching unit. I remember Dave Dial was one of the early program directors, but Bill Brady was the first man; he had a very deep voice, and he was the one that started i t forty some years ago. Then, they had mainly some classical music and some pop music, and they had classes on the air. Television is not forty years old; it's a good thirty or thirty five years old. I'm not sure about the exact year of television. Radio s tarted September 13, 1963 [at USF].


4 So, they had students who were working to learn the business. I doubt if they even got paid. I think it was all volunteer for quite a few years. Then, they had the Underground Railroad which was very famous. It only l asted a couple of years but people still complained that [we] took it off the air. At that time commercial stations were still playing standard, standard, standard; they weren't playing rock n' roll. They weren't doing all the things, as usual, the studen ts wanted to hear. So, the students on the early WUSF had the Underground Railroad no commercials, and all these wonderful students playing the music of the students of rock 'n' roll. That lasted a couple of years, and then I think it was in 1972 they had a new president, President [Cecil] Mackey They did have classical music on in the day, plus the classes. He wanted more classical music. Sheila Stewart who was the first woman on the BBC [British Broadcasting Corporation] in the world, and she marrie d an American, lived in New York and ended up in Clearwater. She had worked on two classical radio stations; one in St. Petersburg and one, WTCX, which later became 98 ROCK. That's what happened to that classical station. So, she had this list of people who would send money in for a program guide for the classical music. She came and talked to Dr. Eicholz at the time. He said, "Well, we'll try it out. You send out the letters." So, with her own money she sent out letters to all these mailing lists she ha d kept. "Send money and we can hire a part time classical announcer for WUSF." In a couple of weeks they had money enough to hire George Butler and he was the first classical announcer, and then Sheila did a program called Words and Music She would inter view the artist and play music and the history of the thing. That was on three times a week. It just grew and grew. It used to be on until midnight. Well, I think it started out with something like one hundred watts or eighty five watts. It wasn't very much. It took a while to get up to ten thousand watts. Eventually, we got to one hundred thousand watts, which is now really toned down because of the system that radio, I think eighty five thousand watts. It's pretty strong; I think it covers about eight counties. That's how the classical music came in. There's a man named Vic Hall who has been a volunteer for thirty five years; The Sound of Jazz Vic, for thirty five years, comes in every week or now it's every second week with Bob Seymour rotating and br ings his own records and plays the music of the forties and the sound of jazz from that era. He's gotten no money whatsoever for thirty five years, bringing in his own records. They have quite a collection of jazz records. They now play nearly forty eight, forty nine hours of jazz a week besides the classical music, and besides all the in depth news from National Public Radio and PRI [Public Radio International]. I think the Corporation for Public Broadcasting started I'm trying to remember the exact yea r. Because the station was on the air before the Corporation for Public Broadcasting started funding radio on television. They said, "We'll give you so much money, but you have to match the money," so that's how they got more money to buy equipment and pay the electrical bill. Then, they started NPR in the 1970s with All Things Considered was the big, in depth news program. It completely changed news broadcast, because there were no commercials. They did not have, "Well, here are the highlights in a thirty second spot." If the story deserved two minutes it got two; if it was five they would run it for five, and it was a two hour news program. That's still on the hour, and now they have Morning Edition from 5:00 AM to 8:30 AM with Bob Edwards


5 which he's been doing for a year. He came here and was wonderful. We got him on air; he was here doing a fund drive. It's very hard for me to remember the year, but I'm sure that was in the 1970s. Specifically, I'm not sure. I love the classical music, and I'm a news n ut. They play some wonderful jazz. TP moved some of their business people up to the second floor, so we had a little bit more room in the dungeon, but not much. I was out in the hallway by the elevators, sort of with a barrier in front of me and everybody coming into the building and going to lunch upstairs. They would come up to me and I would be writing away. There was a receptionist over there, but they would come to me. Where is, why is, how come. I did that. YG: I want to go back a little bit to the U nderground Railroad If you could tell me a little bit more about what kind of programming the Underground Railroad did, who ran it, and why was Mackey so opposed to the Underground Railroad ? CM: This is all before my time. After a couple of years, of cou rse the commercial stations finally dawned on them that we were playing the wrong thing; we will now play what the students want to hear. So, the commercial station started playing the same stuff, but with commercials in them, that the Underground Railroad was doing. He said, "Well, they're all duplicating." This is what I heard. This is not written in stone because it's before my time, but I understand that was it. I remember when I was here they had a weekend program called Free Form on Friday and Saturda y or Saturday and Sunday nights from eleven to one, which the students ran. That ran for a while. There are different programs, they change. They had more jazz programs on special programs. YG: Did the radio station cover events that were happening on the USF campus? CM: Oh, my, yes. When I first came, the program director was named Norm Palumbo He was the program director. He also was very knowledgeable about jazz and did that. He was a super duper technician at recording because Sheila Stewart did abo ut twenty, special hour long programs for National Public Radio. In fact she won a Corporation for Public Broadcasting award for a program that she did for an hour long program. So, he did that. Your question was what? YG: My question was about the Underg round Railroad the programming, and why was Mackey so against the Underground Railroad ? CM: I don't know how much he was against it. From what I heard, they duplicated it on the commercial stations. YG: I think to be a little bit more specific, I think I was talking about did WUSF cover USF events? CM: I'm sorry to jump back; this Norm Palumbo also went on campus and would record the classical concerts they had. They had a weekly program in which they would go out, record, and


6 put them on the air. Then there's always been the news department, which went out and interviewed people on campus for various and sundry things. They now have a program that's on six times a week called University Beat which is a short program, but it zeros in on special progra ms the university has. The news department will also cover newsworthy activities on Tampa, people who visit here, because they are licenses with the university but they're independent in their news department. So, if there's something special that the TV s tations, other commercial stations, and newspapers will cover; they cover two [because] they don't have as big a staff, but they cover things in eight or nine counties when they do these interviews. If you go in the lobby and see the wall, it's just cove red with awards. They just wipe everybody else out. They had to take them all down; the boss said, "It's too cluttered with awards; take them down." So some more are back up there. They're always winning awards for their coverage of news, nationally and lo cally. People will come down here. It's also on Florida Public Radio out in Tallahassee. They send things up to Washington, which then will go nationwide. It's an excellent news department. YG: Did the radio station's music reflect the times? In other wor ds, during the 1970s was the radio station playing music that dealt with the Vietnam War or protests? Did the music often reflect what was going on around campus and around the world? CM: Well, I wasn't here then, so I don't know. Well, classical music is classical music. A lot of them, you know, are dead. There's nothing we can do about that. There are some modern pieces of music they use. On the jazz programs, which run all night, they have modern jazz on those programs. So, mainly because they did mor e jazz because nobody has jazz like we have jazz. They sort of say smooth jazz? That's not jazz. They play authentic jazz at night, which nobody else does. So, we cover and air what commercial stations don't air. There's no use being in competition with so mebody whose livelihood is having commercials on the commercial station, so there you are. YG: What did the USF campus look like in 1976? What do you remember about that? CM: Of course the building we are in now was not there. There was a lot less build ings. I understand that when the campus opened about fifty years ago it was called Sandspur U, because there was nothing much here. There was still no place to park. Can you imagine that? Since I have been here there is no place to park. You go around and around. To this day you have a hard time parking. They certainly have enough parking lots, but there are more people. Every time they build another lot they have a lot more people. This building of course was here when I came because Student Services Build ing had been a library. Actually, you got in that dungeon and didn't get out very much. I would get lost when I would drive around. I think Theater One was here, but some of the arts building weren't here; the course area for the medical community has grow n like mad. So, I didn't get around much because I would get lost. The roads go around in circles. There were a lot less buildings, a lot less dormitories, but that was twenty seven years ago. Of course the TV building just opened up last year. I noticed that yesterday they were shooting a commercial in there because everything is being cut, there's no money. So, the TV station rents out the TV studio for commercial recordings in order to make some money to stay


7 on the air. In radio our main funding all comes from the listeners. Over 50 percent of the operating [budget] comes in from the fund drives; people just sending in money saying stay on the air please. YG: Being that WUSF is on the USF campus, how is that unique from other places that you had pr eviously worked at? CM: You mean radio and TV stations? Well, when first I came here years ago there was, I believe it was, TCX and was on Haines Boulevard [Road] in St. Petersburg. It was a classical station with news, very small staff, no money, and we ll this office is the [size of the] main office. Then, we had a little studio, then a tiny, little library of records. We were on twenty four hours a day. Actually though it was, small as it was, it was the first station, I believe, to go on in stereo. Th ey wanted to present the classical music in stereo because that's how you really ought to listen to it. It was unbelievably small. The second station was WDAE that was owned by one family since the 1920s or 1930s. Anyway, I was an all night disk jockey t hen, and they sold it. I walked in the door practically, not too long after they sold it. Then, they had the other one out on Seminole. Was that WQXM ? That studio wasn't very large either. The commercial stations, all they want to do is play the music and keep it as cost accountable as possible. So, they didn't make enough money. So, as I said, that's 98 ROCK, and it's much bigger now. When I first came here it was very small. I think we had some pictures and things of the students with posters on the wall all squished into the small studios. Now, it's much, much better. You'll have to come by and visit some time. I'll take you on tours. YG: I'd like that. Why do you think that classical music was such an early part of WUSF radio, and why it still continue s to this day to be a significant feature of the radio station? CM: Well, as far I personally am concerned, I bought a car just so I could listen to this station, which I sold for thirty dollars to a student because the car wouldn't go, but it had a great radio in it. There are surprisingly loads and loads of people who love classical music. I love classical music, and this is the only place you can get it. In this whole are there's one station. Some of the commercial ones start up, but you have a Beethove n symphony it's a half hour or so forth; you can't stick commercials [in it]. You can't do that. So, it's hard to have commercials on a classical station because you can't put them in. There are loads and loads of people when you go to the symphony, the op era. I always think, I open the paper and there will be two, sometimes three, sections on sports. I can't find a paragraph on classical music. It's just not there. Having worked on papers, I figured it out. Your big editors have worked their way up. The good writers are in the sports department. They have to be very creative to write about the same thing everyday. So, they work their way up and they think everybody watches baseball every weekend and so forth, and they don't go to the symphony. Well, some of them do. I shouldn't say that, that's wrong, that's not true; but I mean there's a lot of people that think that everyone goes and loves sports, so that's what you read about and that's what you know about. There are loads of people out there listening to classical music and jazz, which you just don't hear about.


8 YG: We talked a little bit about President Mackey ; were there other university officials who sort of impinged their beliefs on WUSF? CM: I don't think they ever impinged their beliefs; howe ver, I have noticed since I've been here that most of the presidents back the things the station does. They do not dictate at all to the station, as far as I know. I remember the present president loves classical music. [USF President Frank Borkowski] Bork owski when he was here and we had our twenty fifth anniversary, he came over and we were having a little party. He said, "My wife and I have to leave soon." Anyway, he stayed and it was utterly jammed with all these people in the ballroom. He stayed and s tayed until the very end, and he came up and said, "Connie, this is the best party we've been to because everyone was having such a wonderful time." It was a wonderful party. No, they do not dictate to the station. It's connected but separate. YG: Does W USF receive funding from the university? CM: It has its location and the land it's on. To my knowledge I'm not a numbers person, but it doesn't get money, I mean cash money. I don't know whether they help to pay for an electricity bill or something. I'm not sure about that. I know I've read things in an article, which says that students' money for the funds that go in pay for the radio station. Not one cent has ever come out of the student funding, zero minus zero, nothing from the students. It's the peop le who listen and send in the money, it's the underwriters; it's the people who put us in their wills, like the Radio Reading Service for the Blind and Visually Handicapped. That's going on twenty five years now, and they have about one hundred and seventy volunteers who come in, read for the blind, tape it, and then they also broadcast live in the morning, the St. Pete Times and The Tribune At noon they do live USA Today Then, they go down to Sarasota there's a little room the opera house gave them and t he Sarasota volunteers read the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Bradenton Herald for two hours. That's hooked up on a telephone line and that goes on a piggy back signal. Our main signal is here and that's a sub channel. So, that's for the blind and hand icapped, if you can't turn a page or something like that. They give them a special receiver, which is free. If they want to donate something, yes, please, thank you. They have to get a note from their doctor saying yes [they have an impairment], and they a lways have a waiting list. It's quite a large area. They have grocery ads; blind people, how are they going to find out about grocery ads for sheets, beds, whatever. They read that, they read all kinds of magazines and then they have special call in progra ms. I remember one time they were trying to go digital, and they couldn't get anybody to donate the money. I finally got a story in the paper the same day that a lawyer had one of his clients had died and the lady had said, "I'm leaving so much money for b lind associated groups." [I thought] "Oh, my goodness, look at that. Hello, you want eighty thousand dollars." (laughing) It was wonderful. There are people who put us in their wills, so you get your money from that. Then, there's the state. There are aro und eleven, maybe twelve public radio stations in the state of Florida. So, they'll do a group buy on some programs like Karl Haas' Adventures in Good Music They'll get that; they'll get it at a better price. So, the state gives us a little, which is bein g cut down. We just lost loads of people about two months ago because the state has cut back on funds. Cut, cut, cut, cut, cut.


9 YG: You've brought an artifact with you, which is associated with reading for the blind. Could you show that please on camera? CM: Here it is. This is, as far as I can tell I'm not knowledgeable about such things but if you could think of this as one of the old crystal sets. This wholesale would be about one hundred and eighty dollars, so these cost the Radio Reading Service ninety dollars each. It has the Radio Reading Service and then it has our main channel. They can switch this little thing, and it has a nice aerial. You pull that up and you plug it in the wall. The listeners can do this quite easily. It's also now on the SCA the Secondary Audio Channel You can get it if you have that on your television set. You have stereo. You can go to the Secondary Audio Channel (SCA) and pick up the sound when Channel 16 is broadcasting in mono. So, you can get it, the sound, on TV. They all look different because as soon as they some money they go off and buy some more and send them out. That's what they've been doing and it's a noble, noble cause. There are some people who have been reading for twenty some years and they voluntee r. They come to get a cup of coffee. The ones who get here in the mornings, sometimes 6:00 or 6:30 to read from 7:00 to 9:00, they read for two hours live. When they started out it was on the main channel because they didn't have it set up, so that went fo r about two years on the main channel. Then, when Morning Edition started they set up the sub channel and the receivers so you could hear it. Before then, anybody driving to work could listen to the reading service. YG: I want to talk a little bit about you as community services coordinator in those early days. Can you tell me a little bit more specifically about what your responsibilities were? In general was the community during those early days, the Tampa community, supportive of WUSF and WUSF's missi on? CM: As far as I know they were because we tried to support them by supporting the area arts by letting people know what was going on that would not necessarily get in the daily press and recording and playing the music. Bob Seymour, who's our jazz di rector who also by the way is a triple threat. He's also a classical announcer, and he does the news. He started out as a newsman down in Sarasota, I think. He goes down and records the Sarasota music festival. They have six major concerts, which we then b roadcast on Mary Diana's Gulfcoast Showcase Every week they showcase, as they do now and as they did then under different names, the classical music concerts that are going on. She does interviews with some of the artists that are in, and I think that Jos eph Silverstein or somebody is coming into our studio because we have a piano. It's an old piano; it's not a grand piano. I think they'll be doing a live program from our studio at the radio station and broadcast it. I think they've done some live jazz sho ws. It's a forth and back thing. We support them, they support us, and we're happily going along that way; trying, trying, work like mad. YG: In terms of student education, you mentioned that in those years classes were on the radio. Can you talk a litt le bit about that? CM: I remember one very popular one with Jacques Abrams He taught piano on campus. He


10 had been a worldwide concert artist, Jacques did. He just died a couple years ago. What was the name of his program? Anyway, it was an educational, hour long [program]; play, talk, play, talk, play, talk. People loved that whether they took the class or not. They said, "Oh, Jacques is on." Sometimes they would recite along with him because they had memorized some of it. Then, I think there was a Fren ch class was it history? I can't remember what they were, but that eventually evolved because TV has that new setup where you just pop things in and it's on tape and so forth. Things just grew out of it so to speak and moved in to someplace else. YG: Yo u said that your first office was in the dungeon of the Student Services Building. CM: Yes. YG: When did you get the new building and where is the new building located on campus? CM: Right next to the old building, which is the Student Services Buil ding. We just had to move right next door, and then the TV station is right next door to us. So, we're within six feet of each other at some part of the Student Services Building. I was in this little office with three people with all the TV tapes lined up going over our heads on shelves. There was one phone and one of the people did a television interview program. So, she was always using the phone, but it was on her desk. I had a little table type thing next to it with the mailboxes on top, which sometime s used to tilt and then they'd all fall down on my lap. It was very close in there. We were very friendly. Then they had a student who was typing up logs and things. YG: When you came here in 1976, did you expect to be here twenty seven years? CM: I expe cted to be here six months and then I would get a real job and make money and be someplace else. I could not fathom I mean, the longest time I ever had a job with a radio station, they sell it every two years, so I was so used to [changing jobs]. I worked on the newspaper and they sold that. Then, I worked on the radio station and they sold that. Then, I went to an island in the Bahamas called Cab Cay; they sold that. The ad agency went bankrupt. Then, I worked for WM Zemp, which at the time was the largest ad agency in Florida, in the PR arm. That was for a couple years, because that lasted until the government did something and people lost money. So, I went full circle. Oh, then I acted. I did a lot of acting for Showboat and the Country Dinner It was fu n. YG: If there was something that you could leave for the record about your experiences working at USF, working for WUSF in your twenty seven years of experience, what would that be? CM: I can't comprehend that. YG: If you could leave something eith er to your colleagues in the past or your future colleagues, what would that be? CM: Send money so they stay on the air, so I can keep listening to it when I leave. I want it to be


11 here for years, and years, and years, and years. That sounds awfully crass doesn't it, not very noble. That's what's going to keep it on the air, because I love it. They work so hard over there. Mary Diana does all these interviews and setting up these things and programs all the music and has been doing it for quite a while. Y G: Connie, I want to thank you very much for your interview. CM: Are you leaving? Oh, thank you. YG: Okay. CM: This one is May 1977, and you'll probably remember this because it's downstairs in the lobby, the original. A lot of the works that she used, that she designated, were from the graphic studio right here on campus, beautiful works of paintings and sculpture that they did. Here's some more. I don't think this was from graphic studio though. YG: What is a program guide? CM: Oh, well a program gu ide is the guide to our programming: At two o'clock on Thursday we will play blah blah blah blah. The jazz programs for this month, these are monthly guides, will be on such a date. So that's what it is and all the special programs that they have. After th at we went to this guide, which Mary also did some of the artwork here. It was not quite as graphic studio as the other, but I think she had a student or something do this. Mary or somebody else did that one. We now have our program guide, well it's not a program guide anymore because if you're listening to a piece of music you can just go to your computer if you have one, go to 89.7, click on classical daily programming, and it starts in the morning and it says, "At 8:45 we will play Rachmaninoff's blah b lah and at nine o'clock we will give the artist and the piece of music and the number of the CD if you want to buy it. So, we don't need a mail program guide because you can look at it instantly. YG: How did technology change the way WUSF provides musi c and services to its listeners? How has technology changed since you started in 1976? CM: Well, way back then you had to put things on those big, humongous tape machines. I don't know if you've ever seen them, but an hour tape is like ten inches and the n you have a tape going click, click, click, and then these tapes would get a little old and then they would go "boing" and break. You'd have to get a razor blade and some sticky stuff and line them up and glue them back together again. Well, now it's all digital and you have the minidisks, and they still bring things down on the satellite. When I came there you didn't have satellite music. You weren't broadcasting from the satellite as we do now. It's instant. People would either have to send it to you o ver the telephone lines and you'd record it in a studio or they would mail you the tape. They would cycle tapes around the country. You'd get it, you'd play it, put it in an envelope, and mail it to the next guy. They get it and by that time it was gettin g old and splitting and they were gluing it back together. It's


12 gone from mailing things around, picking up things on telephone lines to getting things off the satellite and just recently we became the first public radio station in the country to go HD, hi gh definition. Michael O'Shea did that. Only a couple of commercial stations have done that. He worked very hard, so we're now set up for high definition, and that should be super duper. The sound should be wonderful, but you have to buy a radio. YG: Tha nk you, Connie. CM: You're welcome. End of i nterview

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McDonnell, Connie.
Connie McDonnell
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Yael V. Greenberg.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (50 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 expanded summary (digital, PDF file)
USF 50th (2006) anniversary oral history project
Interview conducted August 5, 2003.
Connie McDonnell discusses working at WUSF in Public Relations for both the PBS television station and the NPR radio station.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Streaming audio.
McDonnell, Connie.
2 610
University of South Florida.
WUSF (Television station : Tampa, Fla.)
WUSF (Radio station : Tampa, Fla.)
7 655
Oral history.
Online audio.
Greenberg, Yael V.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Florida Studies Center.
Oral History Program.
University of South Florida.
Tampa Library.
4 856