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Media through the years

Named after Francis Marion Drake, Drake University was founded in 1881 when media only existed on paper.

Fast forward 96 years. In 1977, Professor John Lytle joined the Drake community as faculty in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC).

“My broadcasting background matched well with an opening Drake had posted. The first year, and each one since, was challenging, but offered tons of opportunities to develop curriculum, courses and placement opportunities for broadcast news students,” said Lytle.

Of course, during the time of disco and bell bottoms, SJMC classes were taught much differently than they are now.

The primary focus of SJMC classes were typography and print journalism.

Good, old fashioned type writers, not computers, were used. They were contained to one lab on the main floor of Meredith Hall.

The only television studio housed equipment that was purchased when Meredith was brand new or donated my broadcasters.

Before the time of CDs, the audio station boasted turntables that played 16-inch vinyl records. In fact, one of these turntables can still be found in Audio Lab A of the Meredith basement.

Technological advances are constantly changing the curriculum and the skills students need to be successful in the communication world. Today, new technology has made it possible for students to focus on what really counts.

“Students are able to produce far better quality of product without the need for engineering intervention. We’re able to better concentrate on content rather than technology,” Lytle said.

Enter the year 2011, 130 years after Drake first opened and 34 years since Professor Lytle began teaching. SJMC is almost a completely different school.

Every room is equipped with at least one computer, and many are designated as labs. Students have software such as Audacity and iMovie at their fingertips. Now that the world is going digital, production and editing have become half the task it used to be.

Many of the programs used by SJMC practically run themselves. Take, for example, the software in the studio that is used to broadcast 94.1 The Dog. When there is not a disc jockey on air, the board runs itself and automatically broadcasts a radio show.


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