On Thursday, Feb 11, exactly one week before the 69th anniversary of the Andersonian, Dr. Kenneth Hall, the founding editor of the student newspaper, came to visit and talk with current staff writers and editors.
“It was neat to meet the guy who produced the first edition of the Andersonian,” said Ethan Utterback, current associate editor.
Hall began by explaining how the newspaper first began. He had been trying to start up a student newspaper for years, but Dr. Morrison, the university president at the time, thought that it wasn’t a good idea.
Morrison had previously had a bad experience with a past student publication so he was hesitant to allow another one to begin. When the Andersonian was started, there was yet to be a journalism major at AU.
However, Morrison got sick and went on leave so that he could recover. During that time, the interim president was much more willing to allow the Andersonian to begin. In order to convince the administration that the Andersonian was a worthwhile venture, Hall had to find a printer who would be willing to print issues for $15 each week. He also had to find 600 subscribers.
Hall found a printer in Fortville who agreed to such conditions. Each week, the editor would board a bus to Fortville to bring the finalized issue to be printed via typewriter and linotype. The staff also produced “Echoes,” the long-running AU yearbook.
The current staff had the privilege to view the Feb. 18, 1947 issue of the paper; the first ever published. Sarah Starshak, layout editor of the Andersonian, was a staff member in attendance at the visit on Thursday.
“I was surprised by how well-preserved that first issue was,” Starshak said. “It was riveting. It was quite the contrast from what we do today, and I can’t imagine how long it would take to do by hand.”
“It was so cool to see where the Andersonian began and where it is now,” said Beth Stark, one of the head editors. “It really put it into perspective just how much work has gone into production over the years.”
Dr. Hall worked at Warner Press after graduating and pursued a career in publishing. He developed a working relationship with Charles Schulz, the famed creator of “Peanuts.” The two also collaborated on a book.
Dr. Hall recalled a time where he and his wife visited Schulz’s home, and the company who was producing “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” stopped by. Hall noted that Schulz insisted on keeping the telling of the Gospel story in the movie, even though the producers requested to take it out. Schulz refused to let the movie be published if the Gospel was cut from it.
Hall eventually returned to AU as a faculty member later in life, after he enjoyed a successful career in publishing.
Connor Hall, the grandson of Dr. Hall, is a current sophomore majoring in music business. He plays the piano and the saxophone, and is involved in the worship ministry at East Side Church of God in Anderson.
The Andersonian will celebrate 70 years of existence next year, the same school year that the centennial celebration of AU will begin.