Friday, April 27, 2012

The Move! Pt. 3, By Dave Montgomery, Engineer

Getting Music to the Transmitter

The Cottondale Lane location was relatively low level compared to surrounding terrain, so there was no easy way to get a line of site from there to the transmitter. So at the beginning, we used a high quality telephone line to connect the studio to the transmitter. It was expensive, and we were at the mercy of the telephone company to fix things when something went wrong. It was reliable for the most part, but certainly not ideal.

After the acquisition of KEZQ-FM, we had access to The Tower Building in downtown. The Tower Building was the first “tall” building in the business district, and it was also the location of the KEZQ transmitter (which we now owned). We were able to secure some equipment rack space, and we installed a microwave transmitter link to go from the Tower Building to the Wrightsville transmitter in one hop. There were a couple of engineering challenges, but the link was successful. Once the microwave link was operational, our telephone link from Cottondale Lane to the Tower Building was relatively short, better quality, and easier to maintain.

Opening Day

The "on-air" date for the Cottondale Lane studio was determined long in advance. Part of the sign-on in the new building was to have an early morning motorcade from the West 7th Street studio to the Cottondale studio, headed by Sonny Martin (Matt White). It was heavily promoted on-air for months in advance.

The motorcade went off without a major hitch, and Sonny's show was broadcast from the new studios right on time. There were no major problems - his was the first show to broadcast from a brand new studio, with all new equipment, and he had never seen the equipment (!) - much less have any rehearsal time prior to the actual event. He was a pro in all respects.

The KAAY studio was on the 2nd floor, and it overlooked the back parking lot at Cottondale. There was a large picture window that allowed Sonny to see the crowd that gathered that morning - and vice-versa. The throng could watch Sonny do his program through the control room window - - it was a great time!

We signed on in the Cottondale studios with basic capability - a control room studio for KAAY, a news booth, and one production studio. Over the next few weeks, we built two more production studios, several news editing stations, a farm programming studio for Marvin Vines. The eventual addition of the FM channel (KEZQ, now KKPT-FM), would come several months later.

The technical cutover was handled by having people at both studios as well as the transmitter. When the last word was spoken from the 7th Street studio, a changeover was made to feed audio to the transmitter from the new studio. It happened so quickly and smoothly on the air that no one knew we had made a little radio magic happen right before their ears!

(Thank you, Dave!  This story had been eagerly awaited by many of us, myself included!  When I was in Little Rock a year ago this month, with Jerry Sims and Charlie Scarbrough, all I had in my mind of the 7th Street Studio was the picture I had found awhile back and posted on this blog.  In fact, here it is again:

I'd never known it had been a doctor's office...and here is 2400 Cottondale, taken while Jerry was driving me around:

I can only imagine the procession!  I wish I could have been there,  Thanks to Dave Montgomery for this great bit of history- and to David B. Treadway, for his story, which led into this three-part series.  You guys are truly Greats! Bud S.)

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