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Student Media

Spinnaker History



You could say Spinnaker Media started on Jan. 9, 1974, with the birth of the campus' first newspaper, The Halyard. Professor 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. 

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.

Besides working at daily newspapers as a reporter, columnist and editor, Roach (center) 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 President 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. Professor Gary Harmon said the newspaper staff, wary of continuing the Halyard name, liked 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 Professor 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 Professor 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 UNF 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 agreed to converge the news-gathering operations.

In the past, the newspaper, TV station and website 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 reached financial independence from direct A&S-fee funding on 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 changed 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. The Spinnaker prints its last newspaper Aug. 28. Its first magazine came out in September.


With the convergence of Spinnaker Media’s five multi-media platforms, Spinnaker leaders reprioritized its efforts to a digital-first mindset. Spinnaker still printed its award-winning magazine each semester filled with investigative reports, interesting profiles and creative writing, but its primary focus shifted to instant coverage of news, sports, and entertainment on its website. 


As part of President David Szymanski's merging of Student Affairs and Academic Affairs, Spinnaker Media was moved under the UNF Department of English. Spinnaker's funding source transitioned from Activity and Service fees to Student Life and Services. This move also spurred Spinnaker to increase collaboration with other UNF Academic Departments. 


Many digital editions of The Halyard, The Phoenix, and The Spinnaker can be found in the Thomas G. Carpenter Library's Special Collections and University Archives.