COLLECTION FINDING AID



ROY WETZEL PAPERS

Broadcast Journalist and NBC News Executive:
Papers, 1952-2011




SUMMARY DESCRIPTION

This collection contains the supporting materials collected by Roy Wetzel over the years while making audio and video recordings of presidential national conventions and elections and other political events.  The papers also document Wetzel’s activities as an NBC News executive and leader and innovator in the field of news media and political analysis.

QUANTITY
47.3 linear feet (approximately 94,600 pages)

DONOR
Roy Wetzel (accession numbers 2007-050, 2008-017, 2009-018, 2010-007, 2012-001, 2012-055)

ACCESS
Open in part. Researchers wishing to view this collection should consult with an archivist prior to their visit in order to request that specific folders be added to the Library’s review-for-access queue.  Some items may be temporarily restricted under terms of the donor's deed of gift, a copy of which is available on request, or under National Archives and Records Administration general restrictions (36 CFR 1256).

COPYRIGHT
Roy Wetzel donated to the United States of America his copyrights in the donated materials. Works prepared by U.S. Government employees as part of their official duties are in the public domain.  The copyright interest to materials produced by other individuals or organizations is presumed to remain with them.

Prepared by Jeff Senger, Stacy Davis, and Geir Gundersen, September 2017
[s:\bin\findaid\Reinhardt, John - Papers.docx]*


BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION


Roy Wetzel


1935 - Born, Detroit, Michigan

1952-1954 - Attended Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, Michigan

1954-1956 - Served in the US Army

1956-1959 - Attended University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

1959-1965 - News Director, WBBF Radio, Rochester, New York

1965-1967 - Investigative reporter, WTOP, Washington, DC

1967-1968 - Radio News Editor, WTOP, Washington, DC

1969 - Radio Manager, NBC News, Washington, DC

1969-1971 - Manager, WMAQ Radio News, Chicago, Illinois

1971-1973 - Director, NBC News, Cleveland, Ohio

1973 - Joined NBC Election Unit, New York

1974-1976 - Director, NBC News Information Service (NIS)

1976-1988 - General Manager, NBC Election Unit

1989 - Retired from NBC




INTRODUCTION

JRoy Wetzel grew up in southeastern Michigan and developed an interest in American politics at an early age.  He began making audio recordings related to presidential elections in 1952 as a hobby, starting with national party conventions and election night coverage.  Between elections he continued recording news conferences, speeches, and significant political news stories, as well as collecting transcripts and related news articles.

In these early years, Wetzel systematically recorded audio from radio or television, such as the televised CBS Evening News, saved edited portions that were of interest to him, and then collected transcripts of the recordings when possible.

After working in news radio for a number of years, Wetzel began working for NBC in the early 1970s.  His work gave him access to direct network feeds and press information, and he began systematically recording video broadcasts and other materials related to political affairs. Wetzel headed NBC’s Election Unit for four presidential elections from 1976 to 1988, and covered many local and off-year elections.  Wetzel and his staff reviewed the tapes the day after the broadcast, using them to analyze the reporting.  He would then use the data collected to create an in-depth study of the polling methods and systems utilized by different organizations.

Wetzel’s interest in politics extended to other countries as well.  After becoming the General Manger of the NBC Election Unit, he began recording and studying how major news organizations covered elections in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany.

Roy Wetzel retired from NBC in 1989, but continued to record videos and collect content related to American presidential elections and politics through 2011.  As he built his collection, Wetzel kept notes related to the recordings on each tape and collected other available related material.  He organized and categorized the tapes and papers, later creating and maintaining a database describing the tapes.

Scope and Content of the Wetzel Papers

The collection contains the textual materials Roy Wetzel collected while making his audio and video recordings over the years.  The materials are useful for understanding policy trends, public opinion, voter behavior, candidate effectiveness, media usage, and election history from the 1950s through the early 2000s, as well as communications and political polling techniques and procedures, and the ideas and theories behind them. 

There are also materials pertaining to Wetzel’s role as an NBC executive and leader and innovator in the field of news media and political analysis, including his work directing the NBC Election Unit and the NBC News Information Service (NIS), one of the first 24 hour news services during the mid-1970s.  In addition, the papers provide some information on NBC’s corporate history.

Related Materials
Related materials on the 1976 presidential campaign are located in the President Ford Committee Records, the Robert Teeter Papers, and other collections, which are listed in the Library’s Guide to Core Collections on the 1976 Presidential Campaign.




SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

Presidential Administrations File, 1963-1998. (Boxes 1-10, 4.3 linear feet)
This series contains press briefs, news clippings, news wire reports, opinion polls, polling data, transcripts, news clippings, and other materials related to the Dwight D. Eisenhower through Ronald Reagan Presidential administrations. Included are media coverage of remarks by various political figures, their responses to campaign issues, and news stories pertaining to the respective administrations and elections.  The materials address a wide range of domestic and foreign policy issues and events, including  civil rights, unemployment, and the Vietnam War.

Arranged in order of presidential administration, and thereunder chronologically, with subject specific folders located at the end of a particular administration.

 

Congressional and Local Elections File, 1954-1987. (Boxes 11-33, 10.1 linear feet)
This series contains survey data, opinion polls, summaries, supplementary analyses, graphic presentations, reports, and press materials regarding congressional and local elections.  Included are materials pertaining to media coverage of campaign events, candidate remarks on contemporary issues, House and Senate primary and general elections, and major mayoral races in such cities Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York.

Arranged chronologically by election year, and thereunder alphabetically.

 

Presidential Elections File, 1952-2004. (Boxes 34-81, 21.0 linear feet)

This series contains news clippings, survey data, opinion polls, summaries, supplementary analyses, reports, polling data, and press materials regarding candidates, their remarks, and responses to issues during presidential election years. The focus is primarily on presidential primaries and general elections, but includes congressional contests during these election cycles.

Arranged chronologically by election year and thereunder by type of election.

 

General Subject File, 1945-2007. (Boxes 82-95, 6.2 linear feet)
This series contains news clippings, memoranda, correspondence, notices, notes, reports, press briefs, news wire reports, opinion polls, polling data, and other materials covering various political scandals, events, trends, and Roy Wetzel’s role as an NBC News executive.  Topics include scandals surrounding President Bill Clinton and members of Congress, Watergate, Koreagate, Operation Desert Storm, presidential elections, and the political balance of Congress.   Also included are materials on operational issues handled by Wetzel while working at NBC, including his time directing the Election Unit.

Arranged alphabetically by subject.

 

Voting Analysis File, 1952-1988. (Boxes 96-97, 0.8 linear feet)
This series contains public opinion surveys, polling techniques, memoranda, correspondence, reports, analyses, notes, charts, and publications related to presidential, congressional, and gubernatorial elections from 1952 through 1988 that were compiled by Roy Wetzel in his work for the NBC Election Unit. It includes key precincts data, polling methods and theory, media exit polls, election results, historical data, and other material accumulated during an election that was then used to analyze the outcome of the election.

Arranged alphabetically by subject and thereunder chronologically.

 

News Information Service (NIS) File, 1971-1976. (Boxes 98-102, 2.2 linear feet)
This series contains memoranda, correspondence, press briefs, charts, polls, resumes, facilities information, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines, programming ideas and results, budget and administrative materials related to the planning, startup, and operation of the NBC News Information Service (NIS), one of the first attempts at creating a 24 hour news service.

Arranged alphabetically by subject.

 

Chronological File, 1967-1988. (Boxes 103-108, 2.7 linear feet)
This series contains memoranda sent to and from the office of Roy Wetzel in his various positions within the broadcast radio and television communities, including NBC News.

Arranged chronologically.