FM Broadcasting History - Various Articles
John Shepard's FM Stations -- America's First FM networkThis article was written by Donna L. Halper (email@example.com), a radio consultant and a broadcast historian. She is on the faculty at Emerson College, where she teaches the History of Broadcasting.
Some aspects of radio history are open to debate, and may always be---was KDKA really the first station, or was it WWJ, or perhaps even my favourite, 1XE/WGI? But in the matter of early FM, this much is generally agreed upon: we owe its development in New England to two men---the inventor Edwin Howard Armstrong, and the business executive who believed in and supported his work---John Shepard 3rd. When Armstrong's former friend and colleague David Sarnoff turned away from a commitment to FM, it was Shepard who offered encouragement. Always quick to spot a trend, Shepard believed that FM could be beneficial and profitable; many station owners were threatened by FM, fearing it would hurt their AM operations, but Shepard had no hesitation in befriending Armstrong and investing in FM. Shepard put the power and prestige of the Yankee Network at Armstrong's disposal and planned to bring FM broadcasting to greater Boston.
In the spring of 1937, Shepard applied for a permit for a 50-kW FM station in Paxton. In an article he wrote for FM Magazine in March of 1941, Yankee Engineering Vice President Paul DeMars recalled that the plan was initially beset with problems: "Delays in obtaining a suitable site... held up construction for over a year, but in October of 1938, work was begun... When this project was planned, no 50-kW equipment had been built for the frequencies assigned to FM experimentation. Furthermore, no antenna system had been designed or constructed with radiating efficiency high enough to insure the desired performance." Undaunted, the construction team built a road through what had been woods and pastures, to the top of Asnebumskit Hill, and embarked on erecting what would become W1XOJ, the first FM station in Massachusetts. As DeMars mentioned in his article, since 50-kW transmitters for FM were still being perfected, the new station did not go on with full power---its first broadcasts were at about 2 kW. (The Paxton site is still used for FM broadcasts, by an indirect descendant of that station, now WAAF. When the Worcester Telegram & Gazette decided to build their own FM station, W1XTG, they chose adjacent Little Asnebumskit Hill; that station is now WSRS and is still in the original location.)
The Boston media tried to explain what was going on, since the average person might be confused by so many new developments. The Boston Post noted in a May, 1939 article that within weeks, New England would hear "a radically new and different broadcasting service that may prove to be revolutionary... the new system not only requires a new type of transmitter but it also requires a new type of radio receiver. Transmission will not be in the regular broadcast band but on ultra high-frequency, 43 megacycles or seven metres approximately." The Post informed its readers that W1XOJ would have its transmitter "on top of a hill whose summit is 1375 feet above sea level. The antenna mast is 400 feet high and supports a special array called a 'turnstile'. The purpose of this array is to direct the radiation toward the horizon and to suppress skyward radiation". Unfortunately, buried in the glowing reports of the near completion of the Paxton site was the news that the Yankee Network programming Shepard wanted to broadcast from Boston was not able to reach Paxton; thus, a relay station (called at first W1XOK, then WEOD) was built; it had 250 Watts, and was located at the Yankee Network studios on Brookline Avenue.
What the Boston media did not mention was that WBZ was not amused. Westinghouse and Shepard had long been in competition for advertising dollars. Now, the Westinghouse engineers felt they were being upstaged by Shepard's ability to get his name (and the names of all his engineers) in print as innovators in FM. I have copies of several letters sent back and forth between WBZ's chief engineer and Shepard's, with claims and counter-claims. WBZ wanted to enter into the FM area too, but clearly, Shepard was scoring a major publicity coup, and the Boston newspapers were giving him lots of ink. (In fairness, it should be pointed out that for a time during the early 1930's, during the 'Press-Radio War', the print media had been Shepard's bitter enemies; but the sudden arrival of a new and exciting technology plus the fact that Shepard was instant copy, always ready with an event or a quote, made even former rivals follow him around to see what FM could really do.)
Prior to W1XOJ's first broadcast, Shepard---in conjunction with the Institute of Radio Engineers---scheduled a demonstration of FM, to which he invited his competitors from other stations. The demonstration, which took place on May 26, 1939 at Northeastern University, was also attended by several hundred college professors, engineers, scientists, and technicians, as well as one very annoyed chief engineer from WBZ. In a letter to the home office several days after, WBZ Plant Manager Dwight Myer called the event basically a waste of time and claimed to be totally unimpressed. He closed his letter with these comments: "It is not frequency modulation itself that I am belittling but the meeting. The talks were non-technical, and in my opinion, it was engineered as a mutual publicity stunt for John Shepard and Major Armstrong."
Publicity stunt or not, the Boston media expressed great enthusiasm. The Post that Sunday headlined "Engineers Hail Noiseless Radio" and went on to describe how the audience listened with amazement to a variety of source material, all of which came through with incredible clarity. In the talk which Armstrong gave before the demonstration, he did in fact thank Shepard for his support, but he also explained that it had been Paul DeMars who had first come to believe in FM and who then persuaded Shepard to become involved.
On July 24, 1939, W1XOJ began a schedule of 16 hours a day on the air (8 AM to midnight). The power was soon boosted to 30 kW, but then in mid-January of 1940, a violent ice storm did serious damage to the transmitting antenna, and a temporary antenna was called into service. It would take another year before Shepard's dream of a 50-kW FM became a reality, on January 15, 1941. But Shepard had another dream too---an FM network for New England. There was a 500-Watt Weather Service station (W1XOY) atop Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, and he hoped to convert it into his second FM. Broadcasting the Yankee Network programs just as W1XOJ did, this new station would be capable of reaching a very underserved area of Northern New England, an audience he estimated at nearly a million people.
And so it was, on December 18, 1940, that the next link in Shepard's plan went on the air---it was now known as W1XER, and while it was supposed to eventually be 5 kW, it went on the air with 1 kW. The engineering staff had been challenged by the severity of Mt. Washington weather, and Paul DeMars stated in another article for FM Magazine that at times he wondered if the team would be able to overcome the inhospitable atmosphere on the mountain: gale-force winds and monumental snow drifts made working especially difficult. He worried most about the new antenna---if one more antenna were to blow down, it would be a financial disaster for the Yankee Network. The new equipment for Paxton had cost $35,000, and converting the Mt. Washington station to FM cost more than $50,000; in 1939-40, these were not small sums.
The brutally cold temperatures and frequent high winds the engineers encountered while building W1XER delayed the project, such that it took three years to complete. At times, the engineers were stranded at the site, with only the provisions they had brought with them, until the bad weather diminished. One wonders if Shepard had realised that the new station would be so difficult for his engineers to build. They persevered, and their efforts finally paid off---but it was not exactly a camping trip. DeMars recalled, "During the last two months of the construction and testing period at W1XER, it was necessary for the Yankee engineers... to either ski or walk the eight miles of mountain road to the Summit, because snow made the road impassible even to a tractor. Some of the equipment was taken half way up the mountain by ski-mobile... It was back-packed by men the remainder of the way..."
As for John Shepard, he was busy selling---selling potential advertisers on the possibilities of FM. (On May 26, 1941, the first commercials exclusively for FM were broadcast over both stations---by now, these stations were known as W43B and W39B. The commercials that ran were bought by the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company, today's Mobil.) He was also selling the FCC on permitting commercial FM broadcasts, and doing what he could to persuade them to allocate more and better FM frequencies. He was a tireless advocate for the new technology, and was quoted often in publications such as the New York Times, Broadcasting, and Variety, as well as the Boston newspapers. He mobilised other station owners to see FM's potential, and without neglecting his AM operation---he simply expanded it, using FM to get the Yankee Network out to an even larger audience. When in March of 1942 he opened a new studio complex in Boston, he proudly showed the media an impressive display of state of the art equipment in the six new studios, several of which were exclusively for FM broadcasts.
It is difficult to say whether FM would have blossomed had not World War II intervened. Armstrong was preoccupied with the war effort, and many of the people involved in research were drafted. But Shepard continued to broadcast FM and continued to persuade other owners to give it a try. While today we take FM for granted, it is interesting to recall that not so long ago, the jury was still out: people agreed that the sound quality was wonderful, but few realised that one day FM would become dominant and AM would recede in importance. We who live in New England are fortunate that we were on the cutting edge as FM grew; and no discussion of those formative years is complete without giving credit to John Shepard 3rd for his vision (and to his dedicated staff of engineers for their persistence in the face of overwhelming odds). While his detractors called him a publicity hound and criticised how aggressively he pursued what he wanted, it cannot be denied that in FM as in many other aspects of broadcasting, John Shepard was truly a man ahead of his time.
History of W1XPW/W65H/WDRC-FM/WFMQ/WHCNThis is the Broadcast Pro-File of WHCN, Hartford, Connecticut, which as W1XPW was one of the first FM stations in the United States.
As one of twelve AM "Apex" high frequency stations, W1XSL was licensed in 1936 by the Federal Communications Commission to Franklin M. Doolittle, licensee of Hartford, Connecticut's WDRC. W1XSL was constructed in that year atop a site in the Meriden Mountains near Hartford, and was to use 1,000 watts of power on "the apex band." (Those stations were licensed for frequencies above 25,000 kilocycles for transmission of aural programs for the public's reception on an experimental basis). In late 1938, the station changed call letters to W1XPW and was concurrently re-licensed to WDRC Inc. (F. M. Doolittle, President and majority owner). This permit allowed 1 KW experimental operation on 40,300 kilocycles (equal to 40.3 megacycles).
On May 13, 1939, W1XPW began over-the-air testing from its antenna site atop Meriden Mountain, where its 1 KW transmitter and 90 foot tall mast were located. W1XPW began on a regular schedule, changing from AM "apex" operation to Frequency Modulation (FM) operation effective October 2, 1939. At the time, it was claimed that W1XPW was the fourth licensed FM station in the United States (the others being two Yankee Network stations in the Northeast and the Milwaukee FM affiliate of WTMJ). Also in 1939, the station was reassigned to operate on 43,400 kilocycles (43.4 megacycles).
In September 1940, W1XPW began a regular program schedule, from the WDRC studios in Hartford. WDRC Inc. was granted a construction permit for a new FM station, to operate on 46.5 megacycles in early December 1940, and a license was forthcoming to cover that permit by the end of December. W1XPW instituted commercial FM broadcasting on January 1, 1941. In the summer of 1941, W1XPW changed call letters to W65H, its new commercial call letters. The FCC in August 1941 granted W65H an extension of its S. T. A. (Special Temporary Authorization) for use of 46.5 megacycles with FM emission at 1 KW. Station Director for licensee WDRC Inc. was F. M. Doolittle.
W65H received its new license covering commercial FM broadcasting in mid-March of 1943. At this time, the station was serving a 6,100 square mile coverage area. Call letters were changed from W65H to WDRC-FM effective November 1, 1943. Walter B. Haase was named Station Manager of WDRC-FM in 1945. In late 1945, the FCC assigned the station high band FM operation on channel 232 (94.3 megacycles) while still authorized low band 46.5 megacycles too. By 1946, WDRC-FM was in operation nine hours on weekdays and eleven hours on Sunday on 46.5 megacycles from studios located at 750 Main Street, mostly duplicating the WDRC CBS network program schedule. The Station was operating on both low band 46.5 and high band 94.3 megacycles by March of 1946. In late 1946 however, WDRC-FM was granted a permit to change its high band frequency to 106.3 megacycles. By January 1947, the station was licensed for both 106.3 and for 46.5 megacycles. in March 1947, the station changed frequency from 106.3 to 94.3 megacycles (at this time, it was operating from 3:00 p. m. to 9:00 p. m. daily).
WDRC-FM's licensee name was changed to The Connecticut Broadcasting Company (F. M. Doolittle, President and Treasurer) effective May 22, 1947. Station Manager continued to be Walter B. Haase. In 1947, low band transmissions were dropped and WDRC-FM increased power to 7 KW on "Class B" 94.3 megacycles. In 1948, the FCC re-assigned the station to a new dial position -- that of 93.7 megacycles. Mr. Haase was promoted to WDRC-FM (and WDRC) General Manager in 1952. Studios of the FM station were moved in 1954 to the AM transmitting site at 869 Blue Hills Avenue, Bloomfield, Connecticut.
Call letters were changed from WDRC-FM to WFMQ (FM) in early 1956. The station was still using 7 KW on 93.7 megacycles at this time. In June 1956, WFMQ (FM) was acquired from F. M. Doolittle's Connecticut Broadcasting Company by The General Broadcasting Corporation (T. Mitchell Hastings Jr., President and 53.7 percent owner). Assignee was the licensee and owner of WTMH (FM) at Providence, Rhode Island. The sales application was filed with the FCC April 4th and was granted FCC sanction April 25th. Paid was $10,000 by The General Broadcasting Corporation to Mr. Doolittle and his associates, along with one thousand shares of General Broadcasting stock. In 1956, after this sale took place, William Meola became Station Manager and independent broadcasting began. Also in 1956, WFMQ (FM) raised power from 7 KW to 20 KW.
By 1957, General Broadcasting was operating the "Concert Network," which included WFMQ (FM) Hartford, WTMH (FM) Providence, the new WGHF (FM) Brookfield, Connecticut, and WFMX (FM) at New York City, all broadcasting classical and fine arts programming. The stations were linked by an FM radio circuit providing high fidelity transmissions. Roger H. Strawbridge was named Assistant to the President of WFMQ (FM) in 1957. The FCC on April 22, 1957 granted WFMQ (FM) a construction permit to change frequency to 105.9 megacycles. WFMQ (FM)'s licensee name was changed May 8, 1957 to Concert Network Inc. Later in 1957, the station changed dial position from 93.7 megacycles to 105.9 megacycles and concurrently reduced power to 7 KW Effective Radiated Power. (The old 93.7 assignment was turned over to a new Hartford FM station, which, on November 26, 1958 was granted a new station permit) (See WLVH (FM) Profile).
In early 1958, WFMQ (FM) changed call letters to WHCN (FM) (for "Hartford Concert Network"). T. Mitchell Hastings, President, held 41.72 percent of Concert Network Inc. stock by 1959. 12.01 percent belonged to Clement M. Burnhome. Former Station Manager William Meola by 1961 was Chief Engineer of WHCN (FM). Licensee of the classical-formatted music station was reorganized on October 11, 1962, with stock being transferred from T. Mitchell Hastings Jr. (now 49.6 percent owner) and twenty-five others, doing business as Concert Network Inc., to WHCN Inc. (same principals). FCC approval took place October 11th. In early 1964, Coleman J. Nee was named General Manager. At this time, WHCN (FM) was broadcasting from studios located at West Peak, Meriden, Connecticut, site of the station's 750 foot antenna tower (offices were in Hartford), and was on the air daily from 6:55 a. m. to 1:00 a. m. (Sunday sign-on at 7:55 a. m.) with a "Concert Hall" music format.
Marlin R. Taylor became General Manager in 1966, the year Bryant Michaud became WHCN (FM) Station Manager. Replacing them both in 1967 was Leonard A. Cohen, who then became Vice President and General Manager. R. R. Riepen was named as WHCN (FM)'s new General Manager in 1968. A format shift took place with the station ending its long-time "Beautiful Music" format on May 12, 1969 -- a new "Underground Rock" music format was then inaugurated. The FCC on December 4, 1969 granted WHCN (FM) a modification of its license to change studio location to 100 High Street, Hartford, and to operate its transmitter from there by remote control. The move to 100 High Street was carried out in 1970. Also in 1970, R. R. Riepen became WHCN Inc. President and Randall Mayer was named General Manager. On November 11, 1970, the station was granted FCC permission to change studio and remote control site to 60 Washington Street, Hartford, and to increase power from 7 KW to 7.3 KW (and reduce tower height by ten feet -- to 740 feet above ground). Studios of the "progressive rock" music-formatted station were moved in 1971 to 60 Washington Street and power rose to 7.3 KW (at 740 feet). In 1972, Mr. Mayer succeeded Mr. Riepen as President of the station's licensee, retaining his post of General Manager until 1973 when Dick Paisley was appointed WHCN (FM) Vice President and General Manager.
WHCN (FM) was acquired from WHCN Inc. (the former Concert Network principals) by Beck-Ross Communications Inc. (Martin F. Beck, President) for $560,000 in August of 1974. On October 9, 1974, WHCN (FM) was granted FCC permission to increase power from 7.3 KW to 19 KW (horizontal polarization) and to 15.5 KW (vertical polarization). Power changed to the new levels in 1975 from an antenna height of 740 feet. Studios of the station continued to be located in a suite offices at 60 Washington Street, downtown Hartford. Jay I. Mitchell succeeded Mr. Paisley as Vice President and General Manager of WHCN (FM) in 1976. Martin F. Beck continued as President and co-owner.
In 1977, WHCN (FM) affiliated with the ABC FM Radio Network. A. William Lee succeeded Jay Mitchell, reassigned, as Vice President and General Manager of the Hartford station in July 1977. Studios were relocated from 60 Washington Street to new quarters at 1039 Asylum Avenue, Hartford, in 1979. The station was operating 24 hours a day with an "Album-Oriented Rock" music format by 1980. On October 14, 1981, the station received FCC permission to change power level to 16 KW (horizontal and vertical polarization) from a new antenna height of 867 feet. WHCN (FM) joined the new ABC Rock Radio Network in the spring of 1982. In that year, power was changed to 16 KW (horiz. & vert.). Boyd E. Arnold was appointed WHCN (FM)'s new Vice President and General Manager in early September 1984.
Today, WHCN (FM), Connecticut's oldest continuously licensed FM station, operates on 105.9 megaHertz with 16 KW (horiz. & vert.) from a 867 foot antenna height, from studios at 1039 Asylum Avenue, Hartford, Connecticut, and airs a "Young Adult AOR" music format 24 hours a day in stereo, and remains affiliated with the ABC Rock Radio Network. Beck-Ross Communications Inc. is licensee of the station, whose President is Martin F. Beck. Boyd E. Arnold is Vice President and General Manager.
WILL-FM 1941-1991The following is an excerpt of a brochure published by the station.
In the fall of 1941, the University of Illinois received the first educational FM license in the nation. And sometime that fall. . .no one remembers exactly when. . .a switch was flipped and a remarkable experiment in broadcasting began.
In those early years, WIUC, as WILL-FM was first known, simulcast with WILL-AM from 4 p. m. until AM's sign-off at sunset, then continued broadcasting classical music, news, sports and feature programs until 10 p. m.
It played, however, to a very small audience. Its signal did not reach beyond Champaign-Urbana and its audience numbered only 15 to 20 people. . .the total number of FM receivers in the area. "The station used to have about six small FM receivers we would loan out upon request," recalls Jean West, transmitter engineer in the early days. "Sometimes we would go to people's homes and convince them to take a receiver. We wanted people to try us. I think it did a lot of good, because people did go out and buy their own receivers."
At the start of World War II, both WILL stations moved to "temporary" quarters in Gregory Hall on the University of Illinois campus (they've occupied them every since) and dubbed themselves "The University of the Air." Remote microphone lines ran to every building on campus allowing live broadcast of any classroom lecture. Russell Walsh, a former program director, described its impact. "Radio could bring the University's riches of talent and information directly to the people of the state. Broadcasting literally began in institutions like the University of Illinois where its pioneers envisioned radio as a great public service."
Today, WILL-FM's 105,000-watt signal is the most powerful FM signal in the state. It reaches, depending on the weather, up to 100 miles, serving an area with a population of more than two million people. It wasn't always that way.
The station first signed on with a 250-watt transmitter designed by Chief Engineer Jim Ebel and built by him and Ed Hamilton. But the University was, according to John Brugger, chief engineer from 1946-56, "anxious to install a larger station to provide programs to west central Illinois via FM."
The U of I bought a transmitter and tower from WTMJ in Milwaukee, had it disassembled, shipped to Allerton, and reassembled. In 1955, FM went on the air from the Allerton Park site with more than 300,000 watts of power, one of the strongest in the nation. When the station later increased its antenna height, FCC regulations required it to reduce power to today's 105,000 watts.
Before stereo recording or broadcasting were invented, WILL engineers understood that a stereo effect was simply a matter of recording the left half of an orchestra on one audio channel and the right half on another. Squeezing the two channels into one FM signal wasn't yet possible but, after all, WILL had two stations.
John Brugger explains. "In conjunction with the University of Illinois School of Music, special musical events were recorded on a two-track audio recorder. The stereo tape was played back - one channel on FM and the other on AM. Listeners were informed when stereo concerts would be broadcast and how to position the FM-AM receivers to benefit from the stereo effect." True stereo did not arrive at WILL-FM until 1970.
Explaining exactly when WILL-FM became the station it is today is difficult. Some landmark dates are well known: ending daytime simulcast with WILL-AM and expanding the broadcast day to 18 hours in 1974, adding Classics by Request to FM in 1985, and beginning 24-hour operation in 1987.
But other program elements have evolved in more gradual ways. Local performance broadcasts have grown to become The Prairie Performance Series, weekly featuring the depth of talent residing in the area. The series includes monthly live broadcasts from Krannert Art Museum. And the WILL music library has grown since 1973 from less than 2,000 LPs, some of them pop music, many of them worn and scratched, to 20,000 LPs and more than 4,800 compact discs.
The changes, dramatic or gradual, have been guided by the people who have shaped WILL-FM. Nancy Stagg, FM program director, has been with the station since 1973. She remembers "staff members, their ideas, and their work. I remember Kathryn Bumpass and her thoughtfully produced Soundings and Saturday Night at the Radio; Justin Kelly's program on Broadway musicals; Grace Babakhanian's wonderful Critic's Choice. There are so many, so fondly remembered by staff and listeners alike, that have made WILL-FM the station it is today."
WNJR-FM (Kendall)Date: Sun, 16 Feb 2003 00:33:12 -0500
From: Elson P. Kendall
Subject: NYC Area FM Call Letter History (02/17/2002)
I don't recall any history of WNJR on 100.3.
However, WNJR did operate on 102.7 (ch 274) for a couple of years until the station was sold to Rollins in 1953.
The FM was never regularly licensed for the following reason:
The FM was installed at the remote transmitter site located at 1600 Union Avenue, in Union, adjacent to the newly-opened stretch of the Garden State Parkway which included the Union Toll Plaza. WNJR had a large site extending down the right hand side of Union Avenue from Oakland Avenue from the back of the Oakland Avenue homes to the Elizabeth River. The Parkway actually took land from the reservation. The installation went up in 1947, and the houses on the opposite side of Union Ave. didn't go in until 1952.
It was a 2-tower (non-directional day, bi-directional nite); 327 foot (guy-wire top-loaded) towers.
The main transmitter was an RCA BTA-5F 5kw, 2 827-R's; emergency was an RCA BTA-1L (833 final). Emergency power was supplied by two inputs, one up Union Avenue from Hillside (under the Parkway); the other down from Oakland Avenue, and a transfer switch.
Programming came from the studios on Halsey Street, in Newark, opposite the back of Hahne's Dep't. Store until the station was sold to Rollins in 1953 for about $134,000, which was the bargain of the Century. Rollins moved the operation into the Union transmitter and operated combo until the FCC stripped it of its license for payola violations in about 1966 (local hearings were held in the old Essex House hotel, in Newark). Programming moved from the traditional lush, easy listening under North Jersey Radio Corp. (Newark News) to straight ethnic under Rollins. The bridge probably was Danny Stiles (still swinging), the original "Cat Man." The chief announcer was Hugh Chambers.
The FM was installed, for lack of a better word, at the Union transmitter site and simulcasted, but signed off by transcription at the transmitter at 2300 local. The regular transmitter engineering staff was headed by Peter C. Testan (the late W2HA) who lived in Florham Park. It included Pete's brother-in-law, James C. Callaway, the late Charles J. Gspann (W2ZEE) and Clyde G. Wendt, who served as maintenance engineer 5 days a week after studio sign-off. A private guard watched the place the other two weekend days. Pete's family had owned WBYN, in Brooklyn, which was camped on 1430, and the 1L RCA had been their main transmitter. Ed Land, from the studios, sometimes filled in for sickness, as this was an IBEW shop.
The FM used a Westinghouse FM-3 transmitter which was installed in the emergency studio on the southeast side. Tucked in the corner behind the studio was a 90 foot phone pole topped by an Andrew antenna. That rig never had a chance of a permanent license because it could not cover the area. And it never went anywhere at 1600 because moving higher would interfere with the 1430 nite pattern. (Parenthetically, Pete faced the same problem at WVNJ, which the Newark News bought from Mrs. Griffith, at the Route Ten circle in Livingston, when they first put on FM. Pete called me in on that one, and we ended up with the FM at the top of the main center tower. Yes, it was possible to squeeze FM atop a 5-tower array, so the real problem at WNJR obviously was not technical; it had to do with managerial will). WVNJ-FM ultimately moved to West Orange, where the original Channel 13 tower was located prior to moving to the Empire State. As I recall, this came about the time the FCC got rid of simulcasting. The FM-3 had a drive problem which I ultimately traced to a bad connection. Otherwise it was a fine rig. One rather pleasing coincidence was that I got to help the late Max Weiner install WNEW-FM on 102.7 (ch 274) in an automated configuration, and also worked on the automation of the AM, on Belleville Turnpike.
The bottom line is that 1600 Union Avenue has been a real estate development for about 20 years. The rig was moved down the hill, under the Parkway, to an industrial site in Hillside. Still two towers, but a shadow of its great days presiding over Route 22. The station's greatest and most magnificent year was 1952 for a variety of reasons, including programming.
Despite being called in during the 60's to fix the 5F and put in tape cartridge production, 1952 was the vintage year. Rollins, combo operation, and payola dimmed the grand station; loss of license, change to municipal owner- ship, and the transmitter move reduced it from the magnificent to the pedestrian.
But it had great days, the FM was part and parcel of the superb listening, a great heart and great people. =
Elson Kendall, W2INL