April 01, 2016

Radio Pioneer

Charles Culver, the college’s first physics professor in what was then an emerging academic field, transmitted the first long-distance radio signals in the state of Wisconsin from Beloit’s campus in 1908.

For this and for all Culver would achieve throughout his lifetime (1875 to 1969), he was inducted into the Wisconsin Broadcasters Hall of Fame in November.

Culver applied for and received “9XB”—the first radio license in Wisconsin—in 1913. He experimented with transmitting radio signals to moving trains, and was on the team that developed helmets that could receive audio signals, allowing air squadrons in World War I to communicate for the first time.

From the time he set up a radio lab in Pearsons Hall in 1908 and strung wires over to Middle College to make a first-of-its-kind long distance broadcast to Illinois, Culver was a radio pioneer whose experiments set the stage for Beloit’s long-running love affair with radio. Beloit’s first radio station, WEBW, went on the air in 1924.

“Charles Culver was the father of Beloit College radio,” says College Archivist Fred Burwell’86.

Representatives from the Wisconsin Broadcasters Foundation visited campus last year and made a video tribute to Culver, interviewing Burwell, two WBCR student radio hosts, and President Scott Bierman, who called Culver “a rock star.”


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