John C. Schwarzwalder, a pioneer in the field of educational television, was born in Columbus, Ohio, on June 21, 1917, to S. J. and Alice Schwarzwalder. He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Ohio State University in 1937; a Master's Degree from the University of Michigan in 1940; and a Doctor of Education Degree from the University of Houston in 1953. His master's thesis was entitled "The Scenic, Dramatic and Musical Ramifications of the Court Masque in Stuart England," and his doctoral dissertation was "An Historical Study of the Technical, Legal and Financial Development of Television." On July 10, 1945, Schwarzwalder married Ruth Dierker. They subsequently had two children, Joan Dierdre and Raymond John.
Schwarzwalder began his military career in 1941 as a private in the United States Army. During his years of military service, he rose to the rank of major. He spent thirty-five months in overseas service in North Africa, Italy, France, Belgium, and Germany. Also involved in combat intelligence and counterintelligence work, Schwarzwalder earned eight campaign stars and was awarded the Medal of Order of Ouissam Alaouite (Morocco). He was a member of the Military Reserve from 1945-1956 with the rank of Major, Military Intelligence. He later wrote about his war experience in We Caught Spies (Duell, Sloan & Pearce, 1946).
From 1945 to 1948, Schwarzwalder served as Associate Director of the Wall School of Music, a private school of nearly 300 students, in Los Angeles. Concurrently, he directed the American GI Chorus in motion picture work for Republic Studios and in concert.
In 1948 Schwarzwalder moved to Houston, Texas, to become Assistant Professor at the University of Houston. In the course of time he was named Associate Professor and then Professor and Chairman of the Radio-Television Department. It was here in 1950 that Schwarzwalder established KUHF-FM and in 1953, KUHT-TV, the first of the nation's 258 non-commercial, educational television stations. He administered the Department of Radio and Television with a faculty and staff of 43 and 470 students. At KUHT-TV, he developed and produced most of the programs during its first year. Concurrently, he served as news analyst and newscaster for KTRH-AM-FM (CBS).
In 1956 he left the University of Houston and moved north to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he became Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Twin City Area Educational Television Corporation which owned and operated three non-commercial educational television stations in Minnesota: KTCA-TV and KTCI-TV in Saint Paul/Minneapolis and KWOM-TV in Appleton. None of these stations existed in 1956 when Schwarzwalder arrived. His job included obtaining capital financing, applying for the necessary FCC licenses, supervising construction, arranging for operating funds, finding and hiring adequate operating personnel, setting up programming policies and putting the stations on the air. He later was responsible for arranging for the operation of Midwestern Educational Television, a regional network of 17 stations.
Leaving Minneapolis to move south again in 1976, Schwarzwalder became the Station Manager of KOKH-TV in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Retaining many of his contacts with the Twin City area, he worked as a researcher for Twin City Area PTV Corporation. As a researcher, he completed and submitted bench-mark studies of the implications for PTV of the videodisc and the increasing use and popularity of credit courses.
In 1978 he was both Executive Consultant to the Twin City Area PTV Corporation and Manager of the Denton, Texas, Channel Two Foundation, Inc. He prepared financial, programming and fund-raising plans for activation of a new station on Channel Two in North Texas, as well as acquiring land for transmitter sites, negotiating with FAA and Department of Defense (Corps of Engineers) and preparing FCC applications.
From 1977 to 1985 Schwarzwalder was President of DBLS, Inc., a non-profit corporation formed to establish, operate, and maintain non-profit educational television and radio stations in Austin, Texas. At DBLS, Schwarzwalder made applications for television and radio channels to Federal agencies including the Federal Communications Commission and to federal, state, and local government agencies as well as to private individuals, corporations, and foundations for funds and facilities.
Over the years, Schwarzwalder served as an independent consultant for the states of Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Northern Iowa, the National Association of Educational Broadcasters, and the cities of Cleveland, Ohio; Duluth, Minnesota; Fargo, North Dakota; and Little Rock, Arkansas. He also served as a consultant to the University of Maine, the South Carolina ETV Commission, the Alabama ETV Commission, Auburn University, the Louisiana ETV Commission, the Texas ETV Commission, KETC-TV in St. Louis, Missouri, the University of Florida, the Kentucky ETV Commission, the University of Louisville, Milwaukee Technical College, Superior State University (Wisconsin), the State of North Dakota and Lakehead University (Ontario, Canada).
Always active in whatever community of which he was a part, Schwarzwalder chaired the Committee on Racial Imbalance in St. Paul Public Schools (CRISP) in 1965. He was also a member of the Afro-American Music Opportunities Association from 1968 to 1976. Other organizations which benefited from his time and talents were: American Heart Association; Minnesota Heart Association; Minnesota Metropolitan Planning Commission; Minnesota Planning Association; Minneapolis Citizens League; Minnesota Orchestral Association; School for Societal Development; Minnesota Humanities Commission; and Advisory Committee on Mass Media, Texas Humanities Commission.
John C. Schwarzwalder died in 1992.