On December 7, 1922, Oregon Agricultural College was granted a license to begin broadcasting radio station KFDJ, which had been put together as a lab experiment by Physics Professor Jacob Jordan. The station's first broadcast was on January 23, 1923 from the third floor of Apperson Hall. In December 1925, the station's call letters were changed to KOAC, its power had been boosted from 50 to 500 watts, and the Extension Service utilized the station for broadcasting several programs, with Wallace Kadderly serving as program director. Early programming included lectures, music and student variety programs, reports of athletic events, and the annual commencement exercise. New studios were established in the new Physics Building (now Covell Hall) in 1928. Jordan oversaw the technical operations of the station until 1932, when Grant Feikert was named chief engineer. Kadderly served as program director until 1932 and served as station manager through 1933. When the new State System of Higher Education was established, KOAC became the System's radio station, under the purview of the General Extension Division. Additional studios were ultimately established in Eugene, Salem and Portland. Power was increased to 5000 watts in 1942. James Morris served as program director from 1945 to 1963.
KOAC-TV was established in 1957 and began broadcasting in November of that year from studios in Gill Coliseum. In its early years the TV station was used to broadcast courses from the State System campuses to its other campuses around the state. The Extension Service used the television station in the same manner that it had used KOAC radio. It produced programs such as "Extension 7," later called "Oregon at Work," which ran from 1959 to 1975.
In 1981, the State System of Higher Education divested its radio and television stations, including both KOAC-AM and KOAC-TV. These stations became the public corporation, Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB). Administrative, TV studio, and production functions were moved to Portland. A radio studio on the OSU campus remained in use until it was closed in 2009. Corvallis transmitters and frequencies for both KOAC radio and TV are still used.
The KOAC Photographs document programming, broadcast equipment, and staff of the KOAC radio and television stations based on the Oregon State University campus in Corvallis. The images depict live KOAC radio and television broadcasts; staff; equipment in the studios at Covell Hall and associated radio facilities, such as the transmitter tower; scenes from various School of the Air programs; technical information on charts and graphs; station identification imagery; and special events such as the radio station's 50th anniversary in 1972. The collection includes portrait photographs of James (Jimmie) Morris and images of Morris' wife and son at their home in Corvallis as well as snapshots from a trip outside the United States. Publicity stills (8x10 prints) of musicians, actors, and radio personalities from National Public Radio programming are included.
The collection includes 350 photographic prints, 301 negatives, 28 color slides, and 21 glass lantern slides. The photographs were taken by James Morris and other KOAC staff.