In the summer of 2003 we began our search to find the oldest
transmitter in daily use. We received some submissions directly from
stations, while others came from people who suggested we contact
another station. After many phone calls and e-mails, we were able to
confirm that a Gates BC-1T was still in use at WNAH, Nashville. We
announced our finding in the Sign Off column in the December
Despite our diligent search, it seems that many readers chose not to
respond to the initial request. Since then we have received submissions
for transmitters that predate the 1960 unit. The letter concerning the
oldest one to date follows. If you have an older transmitter that is
used as a main transmitter, let us know at email@example.com.
— Kari Taylor, associate editor
I was reading the December issue and saw the article on the oldest
transmitter in Sign Off. I have an older one for you: WFLO-AM
870 went on the air August 1947 and we are still using the original
transmitter today. It is a Raytheon 1kW AM transmitter (model RA-1000).
Dan Churchill of Commercial Radio Company in Cavendish, VT, has
referred to this transmitter as the Rolls Royce of transmitters.
Churchill is an expert on Raytheon transmitters and helps us whenever
we have technical problems. Our Raytheon purrs like a kitten and it's
pushing 57 years of fulltime service as our main AM transmitter.
WFLO AM/FM, Farmville, VA, and and
WSVS AM, Crewe, VA
Debates on IBOC
What will IBOC do for FM? Only cost money (for the benefit of the
equipment manufacturers) and put digital hash on the adjacent channels.
In addition, the digital time delay, which might be somewhere between 5
and 10 seconds, will really mess up a call-in program.
All I can say is that I refuse to install it. I see no reason to
think that it will help either the stations or the listeners. It's just
the idea that digital is supposed to be better — more high-tech.
Radio Shack sells digital-ready headphones. But the salesmen don't know
what that means.
KBNL, Laredo, TX
There is an incredible drumbeat to push digital AM and FM with
sketchy-at-best articles in the trades explaining how it will benefit
anyone. Initially it looked like AM radio could get an FM-grade signal
— a pretty good deal — while FM would get pretty much
nothing and spend a whole lot getting it. It still looks like FM will
get nothing out of IBOC.
For AM, the notion of FM quality is a good idea, but the technology
seems to be flawed. For example, we can hear hash in South Carolina
from WSAI [Cincinnati] 1530 at sundown when WSAI is still on IBOC. Can
you imagine every station in the country generating that kind of
ruckus? The people looking to make financial gain from this proposal
tell us that it is not a problem. If we follow their lead, we will soon
learn that dial is filled with hash, which is not good. By then it will
be too late.
What's really wrong with radio? It has nothing to do with IBOC
— it's the content: consultant-driven, canned, boring playlists;
not a real person in the building.
WAGS/WJDJ, Bishopville, SC
I was reading the January 2004 issue and stopped to read your
Viewpoint The Data Dilemma. I got to the point in the article
where you identify Clear Channel as “the new champion”
after “installing RBDS encoders in its stations
nationwide.” No other radio operator was identified. Needless to
say, I was disapponted that Entercom and its dynamic RBDS initiative
was not mentioned. I believe it was Entercom (working with Allen Hartle
and the RadioExperience) turning on 60 of our stations' 57kHz
subcarriers and displaying artist and song title information that
caught CC's attention, and got them to follow suit. I wonder if CC
would be transmitting RBDS on more than 190 stations now if Entercom
hadn't started doing it first?
I recall what the Shortline railroad owner had to say about the much
bigger Great Northern Railroad: We may not be as big, but we're just as
Entercom Corporate Engineering