Norm Olsen '67

Publication Date

Retired software developer

Norm Olsen '67

1920 - 2020

celebrates a century

As a freshman in 1963 … I caught the radio bug, eventually becoming technical director for the next three years.

In 1964, I assembled and installed 20 signal injection boxes in lower campus dorms and connected them to a brand new 100-watt transmitter designed and assembled by Herb Kohl (WGY engineer) and Dick Sweed.

Connecting all of this infrastructure saw me, Dick Ferguson, and others hanging a mile or two of RG-59 coaxial cable on telephone poles and snaked through the College’s steam tunnels. End result: WRUC was really "On The Air" playing the Dirty Thirty and hosting the Knowledge Bowl.

Fall of 1965 saw another mile of RG-59 strung along Lenox Road to include the upper campus residences and now all of Union could tune in to remote broadcasts from the Rathskeller.

In the fall of 1966, the Dutchmen Linemen were in Saratoga installing two 250 watt transmitters and hanging another mile or two of RG-59 for WSPN at Skidmore. What we accomplished with virtually no money, few tools, limited equipment, but lots of enterprise and determination was, and remains, a major achievement in my life.

My most vivid memory of WRUC was November 22, 1963. Upon learning of [the assassination of President John F. Kennedy], I immediately went to the Old Gym facility, strung a long microphone cable into the teletype room, and for three hours read the news as the teletype printed it.

Continuing in radio was not in the cards for a technical nerd with an incurable Brooklyn accent. Upon graduation, I started a 45-year career as (what we now call) a coder. The timing was great as I got in on the ground floor of the information explosion, and still get a gig every once in while to keep my brain from turning into guacamole.


Homepage | Special features