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.
In the summer, the Center for Student Media formed within the Office of Student Development as an umbrella organization to cover Spinnaker and Osprey Radio and TV, which were elevated from club status.
Spinnaker Radio coordinated with Computer Services to begin streaming over the Internet in January.
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.
The Spinnaker newspaper reaches financial independence from direct A&S-fee funding July 1; for the first time, the Spinnaker is funded only from ad sales and subscriptions. The deal was a result of cooperation among the Center for Student Media, SG Director Betty Garris, and Senate President Carlo Fassi.
In July, Osprey TV and Osprey Radio change their names to take on the Spinnaker brand. The move, suggested by board member David Luckin of WJCT, reflects the new joint Spinnaker Media auxiliary budget and promotions efforts. Spinnaker prints its last newspaper Aug. 28. Its first magazine comes out in September. Information includes reporting from the Spinnaker's Josh Stewart, Justin Chandler Porter, Jason Howard and adviser John Timpe.
With the convergence of Spinnaker’s five multi-media platforms, Spinnaker leaders reprioritized its efforts to Digital First. The Digital First mindset means producing relevant content “when” and “where” our followers, readers, listeners, and viewers want it. Spinnaker serves its clients on its news, sports and entertainment website, mobile app and social media platforms, plus its 24/7 news and entertainment TV and radio stations. Spinnaker still prints its award-winning magazine each semester filled with investigative reports, interesting profiles and creative writing, but its primary focus moving forward remains instant coverage of breaking news, investigative reports, live stream coverage of major events, plus the most comprehensive coverage of UNF sports, features and entertainment.