Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My Trip To Little Rock: Tuesday, Pickin' Around....

I had to almost run to catch up, especially when David B.'s thunderous voice beckoned!  I was almost breathless, nearly in tears, on the edge of laughter, as I continued to look around.  This was a very emotional day for all of us.

When I came around the corner, David B. had a console called, "The Yard" in his hands:

...and yes, it was a yard long!  I forgot to ask, but maybe this was a console for remote set-ups?  If you look on David B.'s right, you'll see more of the rectifier tubes in a rack, ready for service.  Also, if you look around him, you'll see the jumble; we had to be careful not to bark our legs against anything in storage.  We were pickin' through all kinds of stuff....

We went through the door behind David B. to find more stuff:

I remember David B. making the comment about something in this rack from WAKY (a sister LIN station in Louisville, KY).  I e-mailed him later and he mentioned Dave M. might comment on it...in the meanwhile, he said:

"The fourth box down in that picture was the Symmetra-peak I referred to a while back: the thing that decided whether the positive or negative peaks of incoming audio were hotter and "flipped things over" so the transmitter could act accordingly. I don't think it would have been very noticeable and/or important to anyone outside the station--and we didn't think about it very often."

Someone also mentioned that stuff got shipped around between the LIN stations as it was needed (or not?).  And Dave M.'s comments:

"From top to bottom here's what you have:

Top- An RCA calibrated line amplifier with "VU" meter panel and precision attenuator. The meter had a calibrated attenuator that allowed you to set the amplifier gain to suit its application. These were sometimes used to drive a telephone line to the transmitter from the studio, or to monitor the incoming audio. This is a pass through device.

Second from top- This is an RCA AM Modulation Meter. This was a required piece of FCC monitoring equipment, used to measure the percentage of modulation. It had to be calibrated yearly by a certified lab. It also had a "Peak" lamp that indicated 100% or higher. The FCC allowed peak modulation at 100% negative, and 125% positive modulation.

Third from top- A blank panel, probably used for for some type of project at one time.

Fourth from the top- A SymmetriPeak. This is an old audio processing device that helped insure the best possible peak versus average modulation (loudness). There are write-ups on this device on the web if you are interested in more info. It was a passive device, and had a really good set of input and output (audio) transformers in it.

Fifth from the top- A MARTI device. KAAY used MARTI microwave and MARTI STL (Studio-Transmitter link) radios, and this appears to be a MARTI changeover panel, when dual microwave receivers were used on a single receive dish. [NOT SURE OF THIS ONE!!]

Sixth from top- This looks like a cannibalized RCA audio amplifier of some sort.

Seventh from top- Another RCA audio amplifier with its front panel intact. Used as a utility line amplifier, controls were inside the drop down front panel.

Something you missed in the photo - the thing on the roll around cart behind the rack in the photo is one of the high power contactors for the BTA50F transmitter. This switch is the same type that Felix jimmied with a broom handle to keep it "latched" close in that great transmitter rescue story told several months ago on the blog.
(More of that particular story later!  bs)
There was a shout from downstairs, so we headed in that direction.  What a jumble.  Among the numerous things we found were several signifigant items:
A KTHS monitor speaker!  This picture was taken from across the room by me, while David B. held my high-output Fenix PD30 230-lumen LED flashlight on it.  It was so dark down there!  Only one light bulb for the whole downstairs, so I apologize for the grainy photo.  As many of you remember, KAAY came out of KTHS when LIN Broadcasting bought the station back in 1962, so this is a true relic of unknown year!
Now, David B. Treadway already has a voice that fills up all of Arkansas, but this manual reverb board made his, and others' voices, even more "boomy" over the air!  Some of you may remember us and A.J. Lindsey mentioning this reverb board and here is a link to A. J.'s blog about it:
David B. and I couldn't pick it up, so we slid it out of the alcove for this picture; it is in a steel frame and has a thin metal skin suspended in the frame.  There are two speakers behind it and the sampled audio made the board tremble.  I didn't see a mike pick-up on the other side, so I suppose someone suspended a mike somewhere around it.  That's Gordon Stephan in the background against the stairs.  Where he's pointing is a wall full of tapes we went through....
Just around the corner from where the reverb board was, was this console.  It is just like, or very, very similar to what Jerry mentioned he used in the studio back in '63-'67.  Again, sorry for the poor lighting by my LED flashlight, as there was NO lights back here.
More to come, don't touch that dial!
Bud S. (staceys4@hotmail.com)


  1. Bud, that Yard console was (I believe) from the second KAAY production room at 1425 W. 7th Street. In my time, the room contained only a pair of (great) mics and was used solely for feeding voice tracks to the production room.

    Some time after I left in '72, Wayne Moss decided that the production load required a second, fully-functional studio. Dave Montgomery will be the definitive resource on this, as he probably got to build it.


  2. Hollis W. DuncanJune 14, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    The Gates Yard console was commonly used as the main audio board at many smaller radio stations. It used cheaper switches than the standard Gates consoles but was a reliable piece of equipment.

    The Kahn Symmetra-Peak was a passive all-pass filter that removed the asymmetry that is inherent in many human voices. It was popular when the FCC limited modulation to 100% on both positive and negative peaks. Later the FCC allowed a maximum of 125% on positive peaks and the Symmetra-Peak went by the wayside. The Symmetra-Peak was invented by Leonard Kahn, who later created the first viable Stereo AM system.

    As I recall, KAAY later used a Gates audio processor with a relay to flip the audio to maintain positive peaks. Barry Wood had good ears and told me that he could hear the relay operate on the air. It was long gone by my time (1983) and I replaced the CRL audio processor with a Gregg Labs unit.

    KAAY only had one Marti STL from the Tower Building to Wrightsville. It was a potential single-point of failure, but Multimedia was uninterested in such trivialities. The STL path to Wrightsville was marginal to begin with and by the time that I came along, the trees on Gravel Mountain had grown to the point that we experienced microwave fading from time to time.

    The remains of the KTHS transmitter used to be in the KAAY basement, but it looked like little more than old metal racks.