Thad Holt (1898-1984) was a radio and television executive in Alabama and a figure in the New Deal's emergency agencies in the 1930s. Holt headed the Works Project Administration in Alabama under the Roosevelt administration from 1932 to 1936 and served in Washington as assistant administrator of the WPA in 1936 and 1937. In 1956 he served as a special consultant on overseas television projects for the United States Information Agency's Voice of America.
A pioneer Alabama broadcaster, Holt and his business partner Edward L. Norton leased Birmingham's WAPI-AM from a local group of businessmen (incorporated as "The Voice of Alabama") from 1937 to 1953. During that time, Holt and Norton established FM radio and television for the first time in the state; they launched WAFM (later called WAPI-FM and now WJOX-FM) in 1947 and the first television station in Alabama, WAFM-TV (now WVTM-TV) in 1949.
The Alabama Educational Television Commission was created in 1953, and Holt and Norton were employed to supervise the planning and construction of the first and any subsequent non-commercial TV stations. When the first two stations began broadcasting in 1955, Alabama became the nation's first state with an educational television network. Holt was an early proponent of using satellites for transmission of educational programs.
The collection documents Holt's career in Alabama broadcasting from 1930 to 1980 in educational television, cable television, and satellite broadcasting. It includes business records, business, and personal correspondence, financial records, and other documents.
The collection is open for research use.
Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials page for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.
10.50 Linear Feet
The Thad Holt papers span from 1930 to 1980, and includes business records, business and personal correspondence, financial records and other documents relating to Mr. Holt's involvement with WAPI, WAPI-FM, the TeleVision Corporation, educational television, Alabama Educational Television, community antenna television, and materials concerning satellite and video communications that span the years from approximately 1936 to 1982.
Thad Holt spent a lifetime in the field of broadcasting. Early in his career Holt started WAPI, the first radio station in Alabama. With the advent of FM radio, he expanded his operations to include FM broadcasts -- the first in Alabama to do so. The arrival of television in the late forties led Holt to develop his broadcasting activities.
He became a leader in educational television, and later fought for the rights of cable companies to establish operations in the area. Holt quickly perceived the application of satellites for long distance communication -- non-military as well as military -- and became an early proponent of using satellites for transmission of educational programs.
Holt's lifetime accomplishments, his connections with important figures of the early 20th century--such as Harry Hopkins--and others in the field of broadcasting--particularly Edward R. Murrow--forms an important chapter in American broadcasting.
The collection is organized into four series.
Samuel C.O. Holt, son of Thad Holt, donated the Thad Holt papers to the Library of American Broadcasting in April and June of 1996.
Books, Pamphlets, Brochures, and Reports separated from Series 4: Holt Biographical Materials
Documents were placed in acid-free folders which were then put into acid-free boxes. Some newsclippings in bad shape were copied onto acid-free paper.