'And Now a Few Words from Our Speaker'

By Richard Conklin '59 M.A.

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Last November, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, I gave my 150th or so talk to Notre Dame alumni clubs. I was only 29 years late.

My tardiness that night is one of many stories that grew out of more than three decades of speaking at Universal Notre Dame Nights (later, Notre Dame Celebrations). These annual forays of University staff and faculty to alumni clubs nationwide were started almost 80 years ago as a way of providing some balance to the media-driven football image of the University. In fact, the first Universal Notre Dame Night was broadcast in the early days of radio, emanating on April 24, 1924, from the old Oliver Hotel in South Bend, where the Saint Joseph Valley Club had gathered. Intended for 40 cities in 20 states, the broadcast was marred by weather and by interference from more powerful stations. By 1938, however, the evening was being carried on NBC’s Red Network, introduced by Irish tenor John McCormack.…

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