Afternoon to Remember

Afternoon to Remember

by Dr. Michael Anonymous

Preface.......And you know what DOCUMENT I would like to find? Our FCC Citation that was issued after they raided us in 1965. John Wright showed it to me once. It was about 4 pages long and we had oodles of violations. I've never found out if Temple got fined.

I think the statute of limitations have run out on this, so let me tell you all the story of the time that the FCC R*A*I*D*E*D WRTI-FM!!! Sometime in 1965 the transmitter started to give us all sorts of
problems. We had had two electronics students as the "Chief Engineers" and they up and quit. So the powers that be found an electronics student from the University of Pennsylvania, and he came up to take a look. There was a fabled warehouse somewhere on campus where there were supposedly loads of finished and unfinished equipment that was gathered up when ITA went out of business. The kid found a pile of brand new exciters for the ITA transmitter and decided to replace the old exciterwith a new one. The following afternoon we went on the air for the first time in two weeks. Only we didn't stay on the air for long. We had to sign off a couple of times that afternoon so he could changed some tubes. Finally about 4:30 we were able to get on and stay on for good.

Actually, it was not so good. That afternoon the FCC had its TV monitoring truck in town and at the end of their day they said "Lets look at the FM band on the broad-band oscilloscope. On that device, each station would show up as a vertical line. Except WRTI-FM, that is. As luck would have it, they were looking during the rare time when we were on the air that afternoon. We showed up as THREE blips: a regular center one and then two other ones at half power but fully modulated. Whoops. It seems that our friend from U.Pa. didn't know that the handbuilt prototype exciter on our handbuilt prototype ITA 500-A trnsmitter was ten watts but that the manufactured exciters for the production model 500-C transmitter put out 25 watts. The exciter was overdriving the Intermediate Power Amplifier.

The next afternoon I was engineering a drama in Studio A. I was Technical Director at that time. Someone stuck their head into the control room and whispered "There's two guys from the FCC here." "Yeah, right," I replied. "Very funny. Now get out of here because I have a drama to do." "No, really, there ARE two guys from the FCC here. Look for yourself." And there out on the long bench in the hall were two neatly dressed guys with briefcases and clipboards. "Oh my god, there's two guys from the FCC here." It was about 2:15 and we had been on the air for a half an hour. "Who's signed on the log? I asked. "Nobody," came the reply. "Who turned the transmitter on?" "Nobody will admit to it."

Fortunately there was a back door to Studio A that went around to near the ladies room and Harold's Famous Water Cooler. So I went thru there, around into Master Control, signed on the log, took a reading, fudged the 2 O'clock and the sign on readings, and went out to meet our doom. They were very nice guys. They asked all sorts of questions, looked at our logs, took down all our names and numbers from our posted FCC licenses, and asked that someone bring one of them up to the transmitter. I don't remember who that was, but I remained down there. We talked by phone, and then the guy up there asked me to cut the carrier for a second or two and put it back on. Mind you, this is from the remote control. "I can't do it," I said. "Why not?" "Because there's a time delay fail-safe." "Then how do you do your EBS tests?" You remember--5 seconds off, five seconds on, five seconds on, then 15 seconds of 1,000 cycle tone. "The engineer flips a switch at the transmitter," I said. It was then that I learned that the switch was only the "half-power" switch. We never fully cut carrier for our tests.

It was a long afternoon, but one which has supplied me with an interesting anecdote for my classes for almost 30 years. A month or two later we were "blessed" with the arrival of John Wright--an engineer whose love of kids and his work knew no bounds. (If he could have bound us up, he would have.) And somewhere around that time came a four page citation of our misdeeds. I remember the fail-safe as being a specifically named violation--but we never did get rid of that time delay, did we?? And a carrier-cut switch was never installed. And remember those high voltage transformers in back of the (open) transmitter sitting on wooden boxes? They were still zapping suicidal run-away psychology lab turtles for years to come.

Ah yes, WRTI-FM, the Bright Spot on Your Dial!

In an e-mail from Gerry Wilkinson to Mike Biel....Guess you didn't look at the URL address (on this page)...

From Mike Biel....No I didn't. Very funny. But Sgt. Friday was not a federal cop. Both Philadelphia and Kentucky are out of his jurisdiction. I'm free, FREE!!!!!!

From Joe Friday....Mike, I got you on a four-twelve.

From Mike Biel....A four-twelve?? WHAT'S A FOUR-TWELVE???

From Gerry Wilkinson....Crossing state lines with a folded or stapled e-mail???

This is the WRTI Old Gang Web Site