Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dave Montgomery talks about the KAAY transmitter

Much has been said about the “sound” of KAAY. We worked very hard to get it right and keep it right. Felix McDonald, my boss, kept the transmitter in as good of shape as a new one, and every year at Proof of Performance time, the ol’ RCA-BTA50F gave us flat frequency response, low distortion, and a full measure of output at +100% modulation. What a sweetie she was!

Here’s a photo of the KOMO Seattle RCA BTA-50F transmitter – the same model used at KAAY. They just don’t make them like this any more – The Beaker Street show originated from the transmitter, about 10 feet and just out of the left side of the picture.

Here’s the power amplifier cabinet – the ceramic tube sockets are about the size of a toilet . . .

Back at the Cottondale Lane studio, 15 miles away, we used an off-the-air monitor to listen to the actual transmitter output. Since most AM receivers had miserable audio performance, we had to pull a trick or two. The signal was received on a McKay Dymek tunable amplified dipole antenna and a matching McKay Dymek full audio frequency response AM receiver. If you have never heard of these, you might be surprised to find out that these were some of the absolutely best am radio receivers ever designed. You can read about them here:

(Check out the prices, in 1980 dollars !!!)

If I remember correctly, KAAY used the AM-5 and DA-5 receiver and tunable antenna in combination. The receiver output fed the control room monitor amps and a JBL model 4311 studio monitor mounted in the ceiling right above the announcer’s head.

Sadly the McKay Dymek receivers are no longer manufactured, but if you EVER get a chance to listen to one, you will be absolutely amazed at how good AM radio can sound!

/Dave M./

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