Radio Adventures and Stories Page
of Shadow Traffic
I am the morning drive traffic reporter for 1010 WINS (13 years) and Z100. I began as a disc jockey and later became a program director, music director..now program director for Shadow Traffic/New York (actually Rutherford, NJ.) I was never happy just to be behind the microphone and while my expertise is in radio programming, I also have a great love for the tech side of the profession. I am happy to say that back in my high school days I made it a point to visit many of the wonderful transmitter sites you featured in your vintage New York Transmitter page. I knew Bill Reid, the transmitter supervisor at WMCA, which was the first site I ever visited. It was Reid who taught me about audio processing, basic transmitter operation and directional antenna systems. I remember the 3 RCA transmitters that were there back then...A big beautiful 5DX, a BTA 5H and a BTA 5U....Today, only the 5 U is still there, but never used. They use a Nautel main and a Collins/Rockwell as a back up. They now diplex with WNYC, using the same three 315 foot towers.
I also work weekends for WEVD..and I am quite familiar with the WEVD/WHN/WMGM site in East Rutherford. Today at WEVD we use a Continental 317-c-2 50 KW, which feeds three 500' towers. We use one of the old Continental 50 KW rigs from the WHN days as a backup and I think the 10 KW rig is shot. Shortly before WEVD took over 1050, WFAN had our site using an RCA Ampliphase transmitter inhereted from WHN. Sadly, an engineer was electrocuted one night working alone at the transmitter after having defeated a safety interlock.
I also remember the big Western Electric unit at WWRL which just went to 25Kw using a new Harris DX-25 with a 5KW Continental backup. A real treat was the old WOR Transmitter site in Carteret, NJ, which was one of the last sites to use the Big Western Electric 50 KW transmitters that the late Jack Poppele installed in 1935. When I was there, the Western was retired and the cooling pond out front was filled in, but it was lovingly maintained. My last visit to Carteret was to bid farewell to the site, the day before the wrecking ball claimed the site....INCLUDING the Western Electric Transmitter. That day I made my last visit, Mr. Poppele showed up and pulled a set of huge power triodes from the old Western Electric and took them home. It was a sad moment.
I loved your tour of WABC. I knew that it had the old GE rig, I always wanted to see it, but never did. Now, thanks to your page, I have.
By the way...When the WCBS/WNBC 500' tower on High Island was knocked down (it's still there laying in the weeds!) WABC let WNBC, not WCBS use its 10KW backup transmitter. WCBS used a loaner from WLIB which could hardly be heard, and flipped their programming to the FM side...as luck would have it..on the debut day of their new all news format. I also toured the old WNEW site...Monochrome photos do not do justice to those beautiful, Westinghouse Transmitters. They had blue glass as I recall and audio to die for. I also visited WJRZ (Country 97) and accidentally took the station off the air when I went through the wrong door going to the bathroom. Thank God, the engineer had a sense of humour.
Jim, thanks for a great trip down memory lane and such a great web site. I hope to see more in the future.
Best Wishes, Pete Tauriello
Just found your most informative web page. Was a treat to look at the old
transmitters. It is interesting that WABC is located just off I-80 and further down the road off I-80 is WLS [about
750 Miles]. WNEW had two top hat towers at the old site.
A friend of mine and I have the hobby of going to AM radio transmitter sites. We happened to go to the new WNEW site and as we were walking back from the transmitter site to the car were approached by a fellow riding a bicycle. He worked for the company which has the big natural gas storage tanks close to the new site. He had seen the night pattern book issued by The National Radio Club in the back seat of the car. On finding out who we were he invited us into the facility for a tour. He said the wnew bought land from his company in the late 60'S ('68).
We have been to every transmitter site in the New York area. We now are older (a lot older) and are realizing our childhood ambition to visit transmitter sites and have seen them all over the country. Of course the neatest antennae are the oldest ones. The true diamond shapes are awesome. Unfortunately there are only three left and one of them is located in the state where I live (NH).
One other item. Back in the early 90's we met the chief engineer of KMOX in St Louis. He said that the KMOX tower is the old WBBM tower. Apparently there was austerity there in recycling.
In speaking with these engineers of the big stations one can sense the loss at the demise of the 1A's. The chief engineer of WLW let me see the pattern map of the station when it was 500 KW in the 30's. They had to have 'SUPPRESSOR' towers to make sure they did not exceed the international agreements when the signal hit the Canadian border.
You live in a major metropolitan area. Up here in NH the radio at bedside is tuned to WCBS all the time. It is not readily audible during the day. But at night the signal is as strong as ever. The loss of the 1A's has made it much more difficult for those on the road at night to listen to a stable signal. That is progress I guess.
Thanks for sharing your efforts with those of us on the net.
This is an uphill battle. First we assume that you have $$$ available.
The lowest power you can get today is 250 watts, and that is only on certain frequencies. You'll need a minimum of 500 or 1000 on certain others.
You will need a consulting engineer to do a study to determine what frequencies (if any) are available in your area. You might have to build a multi-tower directional antenna, and then you have to question whether this is worth the expense (in real small markets it probably isn't).
If you are successful in finding a frequency that will fit, you then need an FCC attorney and between you, the attorney and the engineer, a many page FCC form 301 license application is submitted to the FCC (along with a hefty filing fee). Then it goes out on public notice, and everybody and his brother (including me) can file "on top of you" such that now the FCC has to determine who will be the best licensee.
Problem is, the FCC shut off comparative hearings several years ago and there are about a zillion applications on hold because of it. Maybe they will auction them off, maybe they will have a lottery, or maybe they will invent a new method to dole them out. And maybe you will just grow old waiting to find out.
AMs can be bought in many places, fairly cheap. Why don't you go looking for one?
I'm not jaded. I'm realistic. I spent over $150,000 trying to build my first radio station between 1984-1986 (when we finally got it on). This was in a small Florida unrated market, and it happened to be an AM. In retrospect, although I did well, $150,000 is a great downpayment on a radio station, maybe even a nice small market FM. Look at options. Going from scratch is not the best way and it sometimes takes many years.
Where did that money go? Engineers, LAWYERS, paying off somebody who filed against me, and a myriad of expenses that had nothing to do with bricks and mortar.
Anyone interested in reminicing about New York City morning drive-time
radio in the 1950s?
I was just a young kid then, and I only have vague memories, but from what I recall, there were a remarkable number of great talents on the New York airwaves at that time.
From what I recall the following were on the air then:
WNEW - Gene Klavan and Dee Finch (In my opinion, the greatest radio morning team ever)
WINS - Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding (a close runner-up)
WMGM - Ted Brown and "The Redhead"
WNBC - (I'm not certain about this one, but I believe I recall Bill Cullen doing a show called "Pulse")
WCBS - Jack Sterling
WOR - John Gambling (first the original one, and then his son.)
WMCA - Joe O'Brien
WABC - Herb Oscar Anderson
WQXR - George Edwards (who, I believe, started with the station in 1936, and lasted until the late 70s or early 80s)
Some of these shows included live music (I specifcally remember a live dixieland band on Jack Sterling; I think others had musicians as well)
Anyone else want to reminisce, comment, correct, add, etc.
I remember Klavin and Finch (later just Klavin and prior, it was Rayburn
and Finch) my favorites, Bob and Ray, Ted Brown and the "Redhead", Jack Sterling, John Gambling (with
his live little orchestra), Joe O'Brien (JOB Show), Herb Oscar Anderson (HOA) "Hello Again", and George
Edwards. I remember tuning in to a "carrierless" 1560 when suddently WQXR would come on with a 50KW POP
and George Edwards would immediately start with "Well, Good Morning.. this is George Edwards...". [Bob
Weinstein recalled that George Edwards used Leroy Anderson's "Sleigh Ride" as a theme song shortly after
some brief announcements. I do remember that, also.] I do not remember Bill Cullen on radio, just on TV. I also
remember Jack Sterling as the ring-master on a circus show on TV and the sponsor was Sealtest Ice cream, jingle:
"Get the best with Sealtest". I remember John Gambling Jr. best for his readings of school closings when
it snowed. I used to just sit there and wait for him to announce my school when I lived in River Edge, NJ. I remember
John Gambling Sr. with the small live orchestra with some voilins, an accordian, a piano and I don't know what
I remember Klavin best when he did his own show with all the characters he did the voices to like Dr. Isodor Isobar (doing the weather in an imitation voice of W.C. Fields) and Trevor Traffic, ("hi sir") with a fake helicopter background noise. Often the copter would develop some "engine trouble noises" and that would end the report. I always tried to see if Klavin would ever try talking at the same time as the characters, but don't remember him doing it, but the timing was so close, especially when he would interrupt himself with the character voice. It gave the illusion of simultanious talk.
I often listened to whatever my father would tune to in the car which seemed to vary alot.
On the airplane collision into the WCBS/WNBC tower.
My name is Paul Ducroiset, an Engineering Superviser at WCBS and WCBS-FM. I was employed by WCBS on August 14, 1967 in anticipation of the start of Newsradio 88 on August 28, 1967. The plane accident occured in the afternoon of Sunday August 27, 1967, the day before the start of Newsradio 88. ABC offered WCBS the use of the Aux tower at Lodi, NJ but for some reason the management of WCBS decided not to take them up on this offer but instead chose to use the old abandoned site of WLIB located on the East River in Astoria, Queens. We were only able to get about 800 watts out of the old kilowatt transmitter. WNBC was then offered the use of the WABC aux tower. The two stations operating at 660 Khz and 770 Khz from the main and aux tower in Lodi caused the beat at 880 Khz and this created a problem for WCBS on the west side of Manhattan. Fortunately this condition only lasted about a week and at that time both WCBS and WNBC went back to operating at High Island in the Bronx on a new emergency tower. WNBC was operating at 5 Kw and WCBS at 10 Kw into this emergency tower. When the new permanent tower was erected both stations went back to full 50 Kw operation. A 200 ft aux tower was constructed for both stations to operate into in an emergency. By the way, Newsradio 88 started operating on Monday morning August 28, 1967 as planned on WCBS-FM transmitting from the Empire State Bldg. I guess you could say, we were the first FM station to transmit an all news format.
These stories are true. Only my name has been mentioned.
OK, have you ever really seen the color "electric blue"? I have, and it is something not to be forgotten. Late one afternoon, it came time to kick the tires and light the fires on one of the Collins 821-A1 250 kW transmitters.
As soon as I pressed the plate on button, the transmitter immediately shut down. There were a couple overload indicators lit up, but nothing to worry about. They were SWR indicators, and they were a usual occurrence at Bethany, running open 300 ohm transmission line. Local flying wildlife would make a stop on the lines, and become a part of the transmission line for a few milliseconds, when the rig first came up. Then they would kinda fall in bits, to the ground. More like an explosion, really.
This afternoon, when the transmitter restarted, I heard a loud hissing inside the transmitter hall. Being on the short side, I could not see over the top of the transmitter, so I stepped up on the raised floor. There before my eyes, was a blue flame, shooting out of the side panel of the RF output tuning network.
When the transmitter had originally overloaded, it caused a small amount of smoke inside the output stack, and when it came to life, it ignited the aluminum side panel. In a matter of maybe 10 seconds, I had managed to burn a 18 inch long, 2 inch wide strip out of the side. After getting things shut down, we had to send the panel out to an automotive body shop the get the hole filled and ground flat.
As you may have seen from the pictures Jim has of Bethany, our antenna switching was all manual. A technician had to go outside and throw at least 2 of the antenna switches, sometimes more.
During the Crosley days, it was not uncommon that the operating crew tried to out do each other on frequency changes. It would take 3 people at least 7 minutes to remove the loading caps and coils, along with antenna change switching.
My crew had been getting good at these changes, we could do it in under 6 minutes, IF we really hustled. We got the bright idea to automate the antenna switching. On the way in this one day, I stopped at the hardware store and bought about 200 feet of 1/8" nylon cord. This was going to be our automation system.
Before the A.F.R.T.S. frequency change to 6.030 MHz, I and another guy ran this line out to the antenna switch, and pre-set all the other switches, so we had only one to worry about. The line ran up the pole, to the switch handle, and was secured at the bottom, so that it came off at about 90 degrees, and run back into the building.
At the prescribed time, the transmitter left the air. The crew went to work, changing the coils in the RF driver stage, and removing the 15 MHz shorting bar from the output tank circuit. After about 6 minutes, we were ready for the antenna change. One of the guys grabbed the line and pulled. And pulled some more. No one had remembered that nylon stretches, and it surely did that day.
After on off air time of about 8 minutes, the switch finally dropped, but didn't have enough energy to close. So, someone had to run outside after all, and close the switch. I think we set a record that day….about 10 minutes for a frequency change.
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Richard Loken, Presently, Systems Programmer, VMS - VE6BSV
Expensive Mousetrap, another "Blowup Story"
This tale would be circa 1975 I figure. At that time I was a maintenace technician at CJOC Television in Lethbridge Alberta - a pleasant small town TV station who no longer exist as a separate entity. We also babysat CFCN Calgary's 5KW Lethbridge transmitter. I was at CJOC from 1973 to 1977.
Well if we are going to talk about frying bacon.
I once worked in a station with a LOT of mice. I used to come in at 6:00AM to turn on the rig and after I had hit the filaments I would wander around and tip over the garbage cans to let the mice out.
One day I was working in the hall beside the transmitter and as I glanced down the hall I heard the bang of the overload relay and a flash shot out across the hall from the glass window of our RCA TT2BH (a 2KW channel 7 rig that drove a 10KW amplifier) followed by two other flashes and bangs as the overload retried for three times and out. Most impressive!!...
Once I got the door open I found half a mouse on output of the HV transformer. I cleaned the mouse out and got the rig back up and half an hour it happened again and I had to clean another mouse out of the secondary insulators. I figure that when hubby didn't get home for his lunch that the wife went looking for him.
I worked for WLS in the summer of 1973. The WLS transmitter is in Tinley
and there were a few houses close to the transmitter. Somebody called up the
station once and said, "I'm picking up WLS on my TOASTER!" I guess the little
nichrome wires were vibrating with the modulation.
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Dave Hershberger, Principal
Continental Electronics, Inc. Nevada City, California
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