Pictures Worth a
It was great seeing
John Schneider’s photo of WJJD(AM) (“50 Kilowatts at WJJD,” Feb. 1). I worked
there from 1961–63 as summer boardman replacement and it was one of the most
fun jobs I had.
The attached pictures show:
1) First Phone license in 1958, with Walt Myer’s signature
(later, Herman Gunther).
2) The Michigan Avenue studios, abandoned in 1961, and an
announcement booth built right in front of the BTA-50F.
3) “Patch” Swanson — W9DRM, if I remember
correctly — in front of the disabled transmitter control console, now stashed
in front of the phasor for the three-antenna array, and Reese Rickards at the
Ampex 350, recording a news insert right in front of the transmitter.
Sometime after 1963, the station moved a mile down Ballard
Road and got a BTA-50H.
John Staples, W6BM
Lawrence Livermore Laboratories
WJJD and Skywave
I enjoyed John
Schneider’s piece concerning WJJD.
I do believe that their license was “L” for limited,
rather than “D” for daytime-only, in 1947.
WJJD would operate into the evening, signing off
at sundown in Salt Lake City, rather than sundown at Chicago. This gave them
extensive sporadic skywave service into the eastern part of the nation. At
times, they would also sign on at a pre-dawn hour, perhaps paralleling a
late-night signoff at Salt Lake City by KSL.
In those days, only
a few stations maintained a 24-hour schedule.
WJJD used the skywave hours, especially, to “direct
sell” to listeners with such products as “Motor-Cure” and music lessons on the
guitar from “Jim Major” or the piano from “Dave Minor.”
The history of a few of the old timey clear
channel and clear channel time-limited stations is interesting as they made
their living “per inquiry” (essentially commission on the number of mail-in
response-orders) during nighttime hours, while the affiliates of the “Big Four”
networks made their way with daytime 15-minute, five-per-week soap operas and
2-1/2 hours of half-hour and hour big production programs in the evening hours.
E. Harold Munn Jr.
Retired Engineering Consultant
John Schneider replies: Thank you for your comments
about WJJD and what they programmed. You are correct that the WJJD
license was limited by KSL, and so they enjoyed some extra operating
Folks Are Still Non-Computerized!
When the notion of streaming was first
circulated, the thought of taking the best programming in the country and
reaching beyond where 1,000 Watts during the day can take you made us just
giddy with anticipation.
But like Porter Wagoner sang, we soon saw the cold
hard facts of life.
In the backside of nowhere, it is almost impossible to
monetize the stream (“Reese: ‘Unreasonable’ Royalties Need to Go,” Jan. 2). So
it’s all about proving that what we do is better than the plastic stations in
the big markets that we’re not in yet but could be by streaming.
The dirty little secret is that there is
more to this than just how much money we can throw at it to prove an idea.
We could accept the streaming companies’ prices. The
royalties are a bit iffy. The killer is the bureaucratic nightmare of
reporting. As I understand, Sound Exchange is requiring that I log every song
over a two-week period, every quarter, and do it electronically. If you
are not a computer-run station with all music uploaded along with appropriate
info, this is a nightmare. We are live radio and still play music from CDs,
LPs, 45s and, yes, even some 78s. It is quite free-form, deciding what to
Simply put, radio being done like it was in the ’60s does
not fit the computer, and streaming requires you to be computerized. And
as Mr. Reese says, there is no way this can pay for itself.
Owner and General Manager
Memories of Earl Bullock
Earl Bullock passed away in
January. Here, an old colleague recalls his feisty spirit and unmatched work
It was 1979 when the Schafer automation system was delivered on five
pallets to the local station in Pittsfield, Mass.
The next day, this fellow with a serious Texas accent showed up and we
got to work. Earl liked to work and didn’t track his hours.
After spending the entire day and most of the night hauling and
schlepping the racks, factory filled with reel to reels and Carousels, bolting
them together and running cables, making carts with cue tones and loading
tapes, adjusting 25 Hz detectors and playing with record levels, I was beat.
And I was a young man in 1979.
“Earl are you hungry?” I said. “There’s this
place up the street called the Rainbow Room with outstanding lasagna, but it
closes at 9 ...”
He replied, “No, thanks. I ate
yesterday and I’m still good.”
“Well then, I’m heading to Dunkin’ Donuts for a
coffee and bagel. Can I bring you back something?”
“No, thanks. Don’t take too long! I want to show you some things …”
“OK, see you in a few!”
In less than 10 minutes, I had returned.
“Where the devil have you been?”
he demanded. “What in tarnation took forever?”
“Uh, well I, uh …”
“Didn’t they learn you? Didn’t
they teach you? Time is money!”
“Uh, well …”
“Well nothing, mister! We got
lots to do here. No time for dogging it!”
“Sorry. I just had to eat
“Okay, but time is money and
don’t ever forget that!”
“Okay, Earl. Are the tape dead
rolls set right?”
“The dead rolls are set but we
need to do a real test.”
“A REAL test?”
“Yessir! We program it and let
’er rip for several hours to make sure everything functions.”
“OK, but it’s getting a little
late and … ”
“You think it’s late? It’s early!
It’s not even midnight!”
“When do you think we’ll get
“I think we can wrap up this
first phase by 3 a.m. Easy.”
“If this works, what do we have
left to do?”
“Two more days
of work. I’m being paid for three days and I’m only on day one.”
(Now, I don’t mind work, and this
was interesting stuff; but after 16 hours I just had to ask … )
“Earl, how long is a day?”
“One thousand, four hundred and
forty minutes,” he replied.
“Geez, I never heard it stated
“Well there’s a slot available
for each minute of the day in the Schafer, a total of 1,440.”
“How do we program two things in
the same minute if there’s only a slot for each minute?”
“We link them together and they
play in sequence.”
“What happens when I push the
“It advances to the next event.
You should never have to push the
step button unless it’s an emergency.”
“What happens when the tape runs
“It C loops and advances to the
“What happens if that tape runs
“It C loops and advances to the
“What happens when all the reels
“It C loops and advances to the
next event and will do that until a valid event is encountered. You can monitor
C loop activity right here on TP4 with a scope …”
“What happens if there are no
valid events for a while?”
“Well then. I’d say your station
has people problems! And as far as I know, there are no technical solutions to
That phrase has stuck with me
ever since: “There are no technical solutions to political problems.”
Thanks, Earl Bullock, for all you gave to the industry and to many of us
Chief Engineer/IT Director
Oldies-But-Goodies for Your Bathroom Breaks
In response to Joe E. Lasmane’s humor piece,
“How About a Little Bathroom Humor” (Jan. 2): Here are a few more of those
GTBRs, as I call them (“Go To Bathroom Records”) from before the automation
“Lyin’ Eyes” by The Eagles, at about 6:20.
“Those Were the Days” by Mary Hopkin, at just
over 5:00 (though why anyone would want to play that, except to go to the
bathroom, I don’t know).
And “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” by Gordon Lightfoot,
at just over 6:00.
The problem with longer songs is that they give
people who don’t like them a longer time to switch stations. (Just a side
At one country station in Savannah, Ga., where I
did overnights, music was all on discs and we made a special bathroom tape.
I would go into the production room and put
together a reel (we all remember those, right?) of about 15 minutes of songs
and commercial jingles.
I would update it about every two to three weeks to reflect
current musical taste.
As I hit my 60th birthday (and more than 40
years in the business), some other tidbits got passed along.
Looking back, it amazes me how some Class IVs lasted as long
as they did.
It was a phenomenal job by programmers, same for
those that went directional and missed half the city at night, and let’s not
forget there were some daytimers that did very well in the AM heyday.
If you remember half-hour meter readings, six-hour live
weekend air shifts and “cue burns,” you have been around for a while.
Burt Fisher Counters
I was not surprised by the
response Radio World received to my comments on ham radio (Reader’s Forum, Jan. 2 issue). They were well written and I am
unable to equal their prose; however, that does not make me wrong.
When you challenge hams, they will defend their
privilege until their dying CQ. To borrow a phrase, “I’ll give you my ham rig
when you pry (or take) it from my cold, dead hands.”
Some pointed out that many of the technological
innovations over the past 80 years have been developed by hams. Marconi is long
dead and vacuum tubes are somewhat out of style. Hams have done little for
technology in the past 40 years.
Many in broadcast station operations did get a
start in ham radio (me for one, in 1959). But young people are not getting into
ham radio like they were 40 or 50 years ago. It is 1959 no longer. The average
ham in 1960 was 28 years old. Today, the average ham is over 60.
Instead of high school ham radio clubs, we will be setting them up in
Hams do volunteer for emergency/public service communications, but
probably by less than 1 percent. Most have no generator and few are physically
fit enough to not be in the way of first responders.
G. Daniel Thomas,
KB1WFF, paraphrased the Bob Dylan song in his letter to
Radio World, “The Times They Are A-Changin’”: “If you can’t lend a hand, then
get out of the way.”
Most hams today are in the way.
The hams now entering the broadcast profession do not have the same
background required years ago. Even if they did, they will not get the same
kind of radio experience novices had 50 years ago.
I did get several emails in response to the
response I received, which was published in Radio World.
These (more supportive) hams did not want to be identified, fearing
retribution from the other hams that just have to be right.
•“I felt the need to convey support to you personally,
because your message was so resonant. I sense we are similar in that we love
certain aspects of the hobby (not necessarily a ‘service,’ except in some rare
circumstances by a few), but it’s not the way it used to be. I’m appalled at
some of the operating practices and procedures I hear on the air these days —
there has been a severe slipping of standards, training, ethics, manners,
knowledge, sense of history — you name it.”
•“I was cracking
up reading these dissertations of ‘The Value of Ham Radio’ by all these CEOs!”
•“Frankly speaking, I have met several hams in the last
two years who are total jerks and, of course, plug-and-play operators.”
•“I totally agree with you that ham radio has gone
through a lot of changes in the last 10 years!”
•“Unboxing a rig,
running coax to a manufactured antenna and plugging in a mic.
“So what happens next? Pretty much the same
thing, but with a bigger box for HF, maybe a bigger manufactured antenna. The
rest is about the same. This is not preparing anyone for a job where you go out
to the transmitter site and fix a bad contactor in the dog house.”
My point is not that hams are bad. They are not.
They are generally of good character and intelligent.
The instances of doing good are not balanced by what little redeeming
qualities hams provide. If you doubt, merely listen.
Hams have contests in which they
lie about signal reports (these reports would be helpful, if true); they talk
about minutia; there are frequencies with profanity and vulgarity; and, rather
than learn the culture of other countries where the ham does speak English,
they give those hams short shrift.
This started with Dan Thomas’ enthusiastic
letter to the editor, singing the praises of ham radio. I responded, the
multitudes responded and now I must simply QSB (fade) away.