Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Marti RPU (Remote Pick-Up) Units

I've always been a seeker of the odd and unusual...and I made a comment in a post awhile back about studio-transmitter links (STLs). Well, I just reread an article I found in the January 2007 issue of Popular Communications, by Shannon Huniwell regarding Marti units (remote pick-up, or RPU). These were portable VHF-FM (140-180 MHz) transmitters that news personnel took to locations away from the studio. They would have either an antenna on their vehicle or a small directional antenna pointed at the studio location to transfer the signal. Next, they'd plug in a microphone, turn it on, then call the station on a landline to make sure they were getting a good clear signal before they went on the air.

Some were tube, others were tube and transistor; nowadays, all are transistorized. Many were in the 15-to-30 watt (+/-) power output range. The units were built by George Marti, former owner of KCLE-AM, 1120 and later, KCLE-FM, 94.3, who built and used them for his own purposes, then later built them for many other stations as they became popular. These units were much more economical than renting broadcast-quality telephone lines and caught on with many broadcasters. Later, George Marti sold his stations, to build these units; the company is still in business today. Here is a link for the story behind the man and the Marti Unit:


There are several other stories along this line on the web. Back to my opening comment, I always tried to scan the airwaves for unusual signals, finding pleasure in hearing the behind-the-scenes comments before they went on the air (wish I'd've recorded them!).

In a similarly-related rabbit trail, when I was doing some production work, we had a Ku satellite antenna and receiver at the facility; while I was recording, I'd flip around to several of the news feeds and enjoy the candid (thought to be off-air!) remarks and watch the news personnel busy primping and preening themselves for the camera...funny!

Ok, for the KAAY personnel: Did you use Marti Units, do you have pictures of them and what stories and anecdotes do you have regarding these units? Nothing embarrassing, please, this is a family blog!

Bud S. (staceys4@hotmail.com)

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