You could say Spinnaker Media started on Jan. 9, 1974, with the birth of the campus' first newspaper, the Halyard. In its 2 1/2 years of existence, the Halyard earned national recognition from the Associated Collegiate Press in the form of a First Class award. Prof. William Roach, who helped establish UNF's Communications Department, also initiated the school's first newspaper. A veteran of U.S. Naval combat in World War II, Roach suggested the name Halyard, which is the line on a ship that carries signal flags. It fit the nautical theme of the university.
Prof. William J. Roach (center) helped establish student media and the Department of Communication at UNF. Besides working at daily newspapers as a reporter, columnist and editor, Roach had been a faculty member around the country. He embraced what technology could do for journalism and proposed that the Halyard and UNF become only the fourth college program to use a computer -- in 1974.
The Halyard stopped printing July 6, after a dispute with the Student Government Association. The paper operated with funds from Activity and Service fees and Educational and General funds. The SGA, unhappy with the newspaper, cut the Halyard's budget during work on the following year's A&S fee allocation. It also tried to control the paper by changing the composition of the Halyard's publications committee. University Pres. Thomas Carpenter said, "This campus will have a free newspaper or no newspaper."
With $10,500, Carpenter underwrote an interim laboratory newspaper ("The Phoenix") for educational purposes from Aug. 16 through the following March 7.
The student body demanded a free press, so with a new board for oversight, the newspaper restarted as the Spinnaker on Aug. 17. Prof. Gary Harmon said the newspaper staff, wary of continuing the Halyard name, liked Prof. Roach's suggestion of a racing sail, which was colorful, powerful and built for speed.
Spinnaker Radio and Television got their start when Todd Hardie, a Communication major, asked Prof. Joe Lesem to help him start a student media club. The club -- the UNF Broadcasting Association -- kicked off with music programs and talk shows such as Hardie's sports show, The Bullpen. The radio station quickly expanded when Continental Cablevision, the cable provider for Jacksonville at the time, donated equipment and allowed what was then called Osprey Radio to provide the background music for the programming guide on channel 4. This arrangement ended when MediaOne brought out Continental Cablevision. After that, the station broadcast its signal on two closed-circuit cable channels on campus: Ch. 12, the Housing channel, and Ch. 58, the Osprey TV channel.
As an early adopter of the idea to use computers to produce the newspaper with Prof. Roach's encouragement (pictured, 1991), Spinnaker launched its website just six years after the birth of the World Wide Web.
Spinnaker Digital and Spinnaker Business spin off from the newspaper to become their own departments. At the same time, the board and new leaders of the Center for Student Media departments agree to converge the news-gathering operations. In the past, the newspaper, TV station and web site each had their own reporters who sometimes covered the same event. After conducting research and making site visits to area media outlets, the board and leaders opted for a hub-and-spokes model in which a reporter gathers news in multimedia formats for all of the departments to use.
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