Some History of
The following is the FCC microfiche file on WNSI, transcribed by
Xen Scott on November 16, 1995.
WTSP/WLCY/WNSI/WRBQ/WWMI St. Petersburg
- 4/3/39 Granted auth. for a new station on 1370kc with 100 watts,
250 watts LS, unlim., at St. Petersburg, FL., eff. 4/10/39.
The first listed call letters were WBOX.
- 5/1/39 The call letters changed to WTSP.
- 10/2/39 Granted a C.P. for 1370kc, 100 watts, 250 watts LS, unlim.
- 12/11/39 Date first licensed. The licensee was Pinellas
Broadcasting Co., St. Petersburg, FL. They were granted
1370kc, 100 watts, 250 watts LS, unlim.
- 12/18/39 Granted mod. of lic. for 1370kc, 250 watts, unlim.
- 6/4/40 Vol. transfer of cont. of lic. corp. from Sam H. Mann,
McKinney Barton and Dorothy Line to Nelson P. Poynter,
- 11/19/40 Granted a C.P. for 1350kc, 500 watts, 1kw LS, unlimited.
There were extensions of completion date.
- 3/24/41 Under NARBA, they were granted 1380kc, 250 watts, unlim.
- 6/26/41 Granted a lic. to cover the C.P., as modified, for 1380kc,
500 watts, 1kw LS, unlimited.
- 11/14/46 Granted a C.P. for 1380kc, 5kw, DA-N, unlimited. There
were extensions of completion date. License to cover
the C.P. granted 11/9/48.
- 9/19/56 Vol. assign. of lic. to WTSP, Inc., eff. 10/1/56.
- 7/15/59 The call letters changed to WLCY.
- 6/20/63 Vol. mod. of lic. to change the name of the licensee to
- 7/25/69 Vol. transfer of cont. of lic. corp. from N. Joe Rahall,
Sam G. Rahall, Farris E. Rahall et all, to Rahall
Communications Corp., eff. 10/3/69.
- 6/27/74 Vol. transfer of cont. of Rahall Communications Corp.
to N. Joe Rahall, Farris E. Rahall and Richard O. Jacobs,
Voting Trustees, eff. 6/27/74.
- 2/27/76 Granted auth. to identify dual city of license as
St. Petersburg - Tampa, FL.
- 7/28/78 Vol. assign. of lic. to Florida Radio, Inc., eff. 9/12/78.
- 8/26/81 The call letters changed to WNSI
Some Fidonet Posts by WTSP Engineer Don Kimberlin in
Sept. 19, 1993
... Well, the Dirty Mic Switch was War Story # 17683, but the Loose Mic
Switch is yet another.
SET WAR_STORY.SYS /on
WARNING TO ALL READERS: IF YOU DON't LIKE WAR STORIES, THE FOLLOWING
HAZARDOUS TO YOUR TOLERANCE LEVEL, IN WHICH CASE SKIP PAST THIS
... The "Control Room" at St. Petersburg's WTSP during its
ownership by the St. Petersburg Times was a proud jewel of the
Times Publishing Company and its owner, Nelson Poynter. It was also,
however, a truly "working" one, wherein it was used as a Master Control
Room for special events and the fairly frequent network originations
that occurred from a vacation spot and had a "control room operator" at
work in it, while various times were covered by "combo operators" and
DJ's who "ran their own board." The number of "combo operators" was
increasing greatly, and WTSP increased its hours to 24 daily, except
Sunday night/Monday morning.
For some period of months, the overnight "program" was merely a
fourteen-inch tape played back on an Ampex playback deck at the
complete with all breaks and ID's on the tape. But, an enterprising
salesman found the Tampa area's appropriate sort of all-night client,
Club Carnival, an out-and-out strip joint in downtown Tampa.
Best (or worst) of all, the client decided they wanted a "live
right inside the Club Carnival, but there were a couple of operational
First, the constant noise and "boom-ba-da-boom" of the drums
the non-stop strip show made it impossible for the announcer to ever
much less be heard there inside the place. So, the answer was to build
"soundproof booth" for the announcer to do his "live broadcast." It
somewhat, but whenever the mic was open in that booth, you could still
the rumble of the drums at a fair level, even when speech was knocking
Second, a combination of GTE rates that made it uneconomical to
have a music quality line and GTE's long-standing inability to provide
such a line anyhow, resulted in having to staff the control room back
in St. Pete with a combo man who played the records, did the breaks,
and inserted "produced" commercials. (Of course the content of the
entire program, by its very nature, constituted a nonstop commercial
for the Club Carnival anyway.)
There might have been an option in a sensible economic situation,
since the WTSP transmitter was located right along the main highway
halfway between Tampa and St. Pete, with copper pairs from the "toll
cable" split off and terminating there ... with two terminal strips
that indicated the "Tampa end" and "St. Pete end" of each pair, which
GTE used at its convenience to provide lines and dial tone, since there
was no local cable out to the transmitter from St. Pete.
However, GTE insisted on its tariff- given "right" to charge an
additional 14 miles for carriage right past the transmitter to downtown
St. Pete and back out to the transmitter again ... even though they
never did that in reality. Thus, it was determined to be a better
arrangement for WTSP to incur all the labor costs of double-staffing
for the Club Carnival "event," and the use of a Schedule D line from
the club to the St. Pete studio. (Which we found, when GTE built it,
ran on a "Tampa end" pair right up into the transmitter, where a GTE
repairman came out to put two little jumpers over to the "St. Pete end"
to carry our own program line on downtown! Oh, yeah, we "tried it," but
the roll-off was too much for the many miles of unrepeatered old copper
toll cable, and after equalization in one spot, sigs were down too
close to the ever-present hum in Florida buried cable.)
... Anyhow, now we have the scene ready to explain the Loose Mic
Switch. Back downtown in the St. Pete studio "control room," the audio
console was a Collins 212-B, well know to many old-timers, I'm sure.
Its switches operated vertically, as compared to the horizontal
operation of most other consoles, and the "program channel" position
was down, while the "audition bus" was the up position. That Control
Room mic switch got batted a lot by DJ's who'd run in with their coffee
or a newsbit off the wire, or just a casual swat at it when dropping
the phone to their feminine admirers when a record or network program
ran out. As a result, even though the 212-B was made with nice
heavy-duty telephone-type lever switches, that particular one was
pretty loose and sloppy. As a matter of fact, there were occasions when
a sheet of paper dropped on it had knocked the control room mic on the
air. Its springs and bearings really were that loose.
... The event of the Loose Mic Switch occurred during a "produced"
insertion by the combo man from the studio. At the time, the person was
who has gone on to become a TV anchor in major markets (but we won't
his name here), and true to the genre of a "DJ," he usually had
admirers there in the control room with him, waiting and watching in
their Media Giant Hero performed his labors, which were to play records
the announcer over in the soundproof booth wanted a break, and at
quarter-hour commercial insertions. The program never even included
network news on the hour, since at that time Mutual Radio stopped
after the midnight hourly news.
... The Club Carnival musical logo for its spots was a dixieland
"The Rampart Street Parade," which opened in classic New Orleans style
some trombone riffs and several short pauses, before one could hear the
imaginary band come marching up the street playing the main theme. The
line was always the same:
<music up for riff>
<music down> Anncr: Girls ...
<music up for riff>
<music down> Anncr: Girls!
<music up for riff>
<music down> Anncer: GIRLS!!!
<music up and establish Rampart St. theme>
<music down to BG> ... Yes, it's always Girls ... .Girls!
... GIRLS!!! ... At the beautiful Club Carnival in downtown Tampa!
<music up & establish, then down for announcement>
... Whereupon the announcer would read a rundown of the week's featured
strippers and their "specialties" from prepared copy.
... Well, it all worked well, except one night when the
one-day-to-become-relatively famous combo man mishandled one of his
tricks in the studio, and the mic switch didn't flip back up and down
quickly, because its old springs had just gotten too tired. His little
trick to impress his Admirer Of The Evening was to flip the switch up
audition bus between his intonations of "Girls!" and say to nobody, "
ugly old broads!" It really would impress them with what powerful
happened "behind the microphone" that only they know about.
... That is, until that fateful night the Mic Switch Springs Gave
Out, and he sat there all night long, getting his "And Ugly Old Broads"
remark on the air for hours. The guy in the booth at Tampa usually had
his own sort of "private show" going on in the booth, or out on the
Club Carnival floor, which was pretty obvious on the air most nights,
because he got really sloppy diction by about a half hour into the
show, and the door of his booth kept getting pushed open by unseen but
highly imaginable causes. Attempts to interview the happy clientele of
the Club Carnival were usually pretty fruitless after about 1 AM, since
most of them were so sloshed they couldn't even be understood, much
less answer the questions that were asked. The transmitter operator was
either asleep (not unlikely) or outside taking in the night air
(frequent, at least on the off-swamp side of the transmitter building),
or just plain had his monitor turned way down (because after hearing
"Night Train" or "Ebb Tide" and all the other classic 50's stripper
favorite records for the thousandth time tends to make you do that) ...
so no one really heard it ... except, as always, another of those
famous Scourges of Radio, Some Listener Who Told The Client The Next
... And so, that night marked the end of live broadcasts from the
Carnival in Downtown Tampa. The client got into a hard review of what
being provided at the costs incurred, and the show got changed by the
night into a special new tape made for the Ampex playback unit at the
transmitter, with produced Club Carnival spots inserted in the tape.
Actually, it got more boring than ever, because now you heard "Night
and "ebb Tide" at exactly the same time every night ...
Aug. 22, 1993
... And there were the contests that went really wrong, like
Hunt for the New Car Key." WLCY managed to tease the whole area with a
series of clues for about a month, and had all sorts of people looking
that key for a brand new car that was, of course, on display in out
the car dealer's place, festooned with signs about it being the prize.
guessed it already ... .the REAL key was hidden in a crack of an old
post out by the old movie studio on Weedon's Island, and the happy
just took that key down to town and drove the prize car away! (I guess
sorted it out, but they never were able to wind up the contest with the
hoopla they wanted ... )
... And there was the "Guess When the Snow Will Melt" fiasco, with
boat, motor and trailer for a prize. The prize was on display with a
on the trailer tongue just looped over an iron post under a pile of
ice down in the Central Plaza parking lot..right out in public. You
that one, too. Several nights before it was planned to have a big event
about the judges deciding the instant that the last of the "snow"
someone came by, lifted the chain out of the "snow pile" and hauled the
prize away. That one never did get found, and the sponsor was not at
happy when he had to come up with a second boat, motor and trailer so
promotion could be completed. Maybe the public never knew about that
Dec. 13, 1992
... Ad therein lies a lot of what the attraction of "real" radio
was: To think one might work in the place where such fame worked.
That can even be done by extrapolation.
... Example: WDAE in Tampa, Florida was the place that purchased
studios from the 1939 New York World's Fair and transported them, lock,
stock, barrel, interior furnishings, WECo 25B consoles, 639A
polycylindrical walls and the works back to Tampa and re-installed them
the premises of the Tampa Tribune, their owner. Every day was filled
stories about who had been "on the radio" at the World's Fair.
... Across Tampa Bay, at WTSP, owner (and St. Petersburg Times
publisher) Nelson Poynter planned on a TV station, and so bought all
the equipment, including a transmitter that ran into a dummy load, and
installed it in his newspaper building downtown. When it lay dormant
for years due to the FCC freeze, they started up a business making
kinescope recordings of famous Big Bands that came to the St.
Petersburg Coliseum doing their stuff - perhaps the world's earliest
"music videos"To sell to TV stations for those early attempts at TV
programming, for use in cities where people thought that a video
version of Million Dollar Ballroom was what TV programming was supposed
to be (oldtimers may recall seeing some TV stations try out having a
deejay on the air for a while). ... Anyhow, over at WTSP , you could
walk over into the TV "studio," and put up a three-minute Ralph
Martieri or Benny Goodman or Dorsey video on a projector and watch it
in the control room, and imagine where the footprints in the hallway
... Powerful creative aphrodisiac, it was!
May 29, 1993
... And do you know how old that stunt is? WLCY had me put in
machine with a spiffy jingle on its outgoing message cart in 1958 ...
number reserved for "the request line." The request messages never got
listened to, as it was a Top 40 station, so every valid request would
played within an hour or two anyway ...
June 21, 1993
... All true, too. FWIW, to help fill in your files and Barry's, WLCY
started out as WTSP in St. Petersburg in ... .1937, I think, built by a
local consortium of four professionals, like a doctor, lawyer,
I-don't-recall-who-else, and the publisher of the St. Petersburg Times,
Nelson Poynter. It was on 1370 with 1 kW-U; moved to 1380 in the 1941
shuffle. After WWII, Poynter bought it out from the others, increased
it to 5 kW-DA-N, with the night pattern designed to provide a broad
null toward the north at the same limits as the former operation, thus
its weak SIGs your direction at night. A large argument ensued from the
then-CE, Bill Mangold, who wanted to move to 570 in 1947 and get an
advantageous freq, but Bill lost out to the Washington advice to "avoid
problems with 570 in Cuba." In order to maximize WTSP's range, Bill got
with Walter Holey, an ex-FCC RI consulting from Atlanta, and built an
antenna system with a 5/8 wave daytime tower that also was used for its
height for an FM antenna, as well as the center radiator of the
three-tower night array. (Other stations were built this way, but I
don't know who did it first..). Anyhow, the FCC gave them a bad time
about the small skywave lobe of the night array, but they overcame it.
Walter Holey was quite expert on antenna systems and their performance,
and in those days just after WWII, when copper was scarce, put the
antenna system in with only four radials around each tower, leading
down into the salt water swamp the array is located in. But, in that
day and age, one would never tell the hallowed FCC one had done
such a thing. He proofed it all out, and showed it performed correctly
... but he never got around to telling the FCC about it! Some years
later, in the late 1950's, we had to do an overhaul on the entire
antenna system, and Walter came back to town, whereupon we did a whole
week of testing, comparing the radiation levels and circularity of each
tower separately ... and they all put out a nice, textbook
circular pattern, just as they had years before. That salt water swamp
is just a nice, conductive ground plane. Watch it go to heck when the
swamp gets filled in!
... Anyhow, WTSP in its Times heyday was a leading Mutual network
in the sense of originating most of the Mutual programs from Central
Florida, like the Spring Training Mutual Game of the Day and occasional
feeds from around that part of the state. I got to do a lot of them,
sitting next to the great baseball announcers who'd come to Florida
their teams. During the Times ownership, the catchlines were: WTSP:
Welcome To St. Petersburg; WTSP: Where the Stars Parade, but of course,
parodied it with WTSP: Why Take Sleeping Pills!
Endnote: Bill Mangold remembered his 570 idea, and years later built
WPLP in Pinellas Park, and Walter Holey came back to build another
"groundless" array ... this one saying so on the license. It of course,
became WTKN, and the 570 transmitter has moved up to somewhere in Pasco
County, isn't it?
... Anyhow, thanks for the kind words. Hope all this blather helps
fill in some gaps for you and Barry.
Feb. 8, 1993
SET WAR_STORY.SYS /ON
The Setting: Early 1960's, St. Petersburg, FL, after Roy Nilsson had
WLCY and the Swingin' Gents a runaway success in the Tampa Bay area,
things like a 60 on Pulse and Hooper surveys of the era ...
making and snagging all the added audience that $6 pocket
radios could make with a whole age group that radio hardly knew before
The Scene: Running the old RCA BTA-5F on AM that had been there
now with "combo people" who might read the meters once every 6 hours,
whether they needed it or not, regardless of the still-effective FCC
that the transmitter's meters were supposed to be in constant
logged every 30 minutes.
... Only two of us to keep the whole place functioning, however,
and cutting mangrove bushes out of the tower legs in the Florida
the place was built on, and a myriad of other chores. 24 hours per day
operation except midnight to 6 AM Mondays. So, we got inside the
transmitter plant in the wee hours of each Monday, and had that puppy
shape for what it was ... which was a brick of a transmitter plant ...
standby transmitter ... that had been pillaged out and shipped off to
station in the group.
... We'd usually be there for Monday start-up and go home around 7
sleep for a while. Then it was usually back out to the station around 3
or so, to continue the other chores.
... One Monday afternoon, I was driving back out to the station on
of town, and the audio sounded strangely distorted, in a peculiar sort
way ... nothing that sounded like a typical cause. On arriving there, I
walked right into the transmitter room rear entrance and things were
obviously wrong. Antenna current was way down, final current was quite
low ... and the transmitter was hanging on; not tripping any overload
... On looking in the window of the RF final amplifier cubicle, the
the trouble was quite apparent: One-half of the center-tapped bright
tungsten filament of the 892-R tube had burned out. Now, when this
happened, the broken piece would typically fall down inside the tube in
a way as to short it and make the transmitter shut down ... or cause
filament to open up so there would be a similar failure. In this rather
unique case, the doggoned thing stayed on, with such inadequate
that it kept on running, putting out maybe half its 5 kW, but of
with audio for 5 kW getting pumped at it, so it was overmodulated ...
pretty badly; worse than you ever normally hear an AM broadcast station
... The "swinging gent" up front was, of course, lost in his art as
with his phones switched off to the line audio, because they didn't
compressed sound of the air monitor. No telling how long it had been
way. The transmitter log didn't have a reading on it for about the past
... I went down to the control room and told him I had to take some
to change the final amplifier tube. The P.D. happened to be in there,
asked, "How long will it take you?" I replied, "If I get the spare tube
there in its crate, and have the tools lined up surgery-style, I think
minute or less."
... Nilsson asked, "How about just waiting a minute or two, while
you get the
spare out and tools ready, so I can type up an announcement, then go
and dump it when you hear a direct cue?" In that crazy place, I could
say, "Sure, Roy," and I ran back up to the transmitter room and started
getting things out.
... At the end of the record, the jock came on, played a musical
read: "In order to make some minor adjustments to The Tower of Power
Great Tampa Bay, WLCY has to leave the air for just a few seconds ...
don't despair! Call in and tell us how long you think we'll be off, and
when we return, the closest guess will win a copy of the album, whatever
was hot that week! Start calling now!"
... I dumped it and changed an 892-R in pretty good time ... .42
seconds on the
transmitter room clock, and even put a clip lead around the time delay
punch it back on as soon as the filaments looked bright. During the
process, I noted that the phones were ringing off the hook!
... Soon as there was a carrier up, the jock started right back in
another musical stab, and, "OK, folks we have another big winner here
Tower of Power for Great Tampa Bay, WLCY - St. Petersburg/Tampa! It's
<name> of <town> who called in to say we'd be off for 54
seconds, and we
were really off for only 52 seconds! Remember that staying in tune with
Great Tampa Bay's Number One pays off!" And, into a record he went.
... That's one of those little life experiences we never really
Thanks for reminding me of it. Hope it didn't bore you and others ...
Jan. 19, 1993
... It's doubtful that more modern hardware would do something so
as actually suffering a major explosion ... but one of the Tales of
that I was first told was how, in 1947, the GM of WTSP in St.
"saved the station a lot of money" by buying what was represented as a
Western Electric 302 (I may have mucked that model number up now after
these years) sight unseen from an ad in Broadcasting magazine.
... The station was at the point of going from 1 kW D/500 Watts
night to 5 kW DAN (As were a lot just after WW II) and adding an FM.
So, there was a nice spiffy new transmitter plant out on the edge of
town with a large space that needed to be filled with transmitter. The
GM, being a rather typical type for that era, had been an RCA salesman,
so he was quite certain he could decide what was the right thing to
buy. (That characteristic doesn't seem to have changed with later
generations of GM's either, has it?)
... When the "Western Electric" transmitter arrived, it turned out
someone's home-made copy of the WECo circuit! Built in a set of
made out of plain flat boiler plate and the works, it had numerous
One of the more curious ones was that if you blew cigarette smoke in
some of the vent holes punched in the boiler plate door of the exciter
cabinet, the transmitter would declare a bias failure and shut down.
cigar or pipe smoke in there, and it was happy as a clam ... no
... But, the final blow was that the thing had oil-filled plate and
modulation transformers mounted on a concrete pad out back in a little
fenced-in yard, and it seems that like so many things climatological,
probably had never had the heat of the Florida sun shining on those
transformers in its prior home. One day, after it had been there for
months or so, when the Florida afternoon sun was parboiling everything
Creation, the plate transformer exploded and its oil caught on fire.
Although the old 1 kW transmitter was also in place, it never got on
air. The station just was gone.
... Now, the studios were seven miles away in the Times Building in
St. Petersburg, which at six stories was one of the tallest in the
When the air monitor went dead, and nobody answered the phone at the
transmitter building (we're talking the era of all transmitters being
attended, of course), people ran up to the roof and could see a pillar
black smoke from out there at the transmitter plant. Of course, they
immediately called the fire department and the C.E. and several others
... On arriving, they found the fire was isolated to the
the building air fan had sucked the building full of chokingly acrid
oil smoke, so they couldn't even get in for a while till the building
cleared itself. The car of the transmitter operator was gone.
... Well, after the building cleared, they got the 1 kW on the air
resumed program while starting to clean up. But people were worried
the transmitter operator, who disappeared from the scene. Finally,
went over to his house, and there his car was, and he was found in bed
the covers pulled up over his head. He never came back to collect his
paycheck, and opened up a radio repair shop. I won't publish his name,
because a lot of St. Petersburg people would know it. He just got
from that experience that working with the heavyweight stuff was not
... Oh, what did the ex-RCA salesman GM do about it? I bet you
figured it out. He just turned around and bought a brand-new RCA
the transmitter he should have bought in the first place.
Mar. 7, 1993
SET W_C_FIELDS.SYS /on
... AH, yessss ... .echoes of the glory days of Real Radio. It was
what you describe ... the romance of a sort of Delphic location called
Transmitter" that sucked me into wanting to be a broadcasting engineer
in the `50's. A place peopled by seeming giants with some sort of
knowledge possessed by few, I'd be downtown in the studio, running the
with network news on, cueing up some spots and getting things ready for
jock who would take over in a couple of minutes, when the "special"
from The Transmitter would ring. When I picked up it up, one of those
Voices From the Gods of Gandy Boulevard (that was the name of the
leading out of town it was situated on) would say, "Well, Kid, the
building up pretty quick and it looks like Florida Power is gonna take
dump in a few minutes, so let's get over on the generator. Give me a
seconds during the station break and we'll get off FPC." Gee! My chance
interact with the Gods of Gandy Boulevard!
... Sitting in the chair, and holding the transcription with the
station ID on it slipping on the felt turntable, I'd hold it just a
of seconds after the network end cue, and hear the little
in the air monitor, then let the disc go, right back into regular
Oh, if the public only knew what clever action was going on behind the
stage they listened to! When the Chief Engineer, Bill Mangold, who was
only denizen of The Transmitter who ever came to town, cut-off shorts,
worn-out sneakers, chewed cigar in the corner of his mouth and several
of beard ... .I mean, we're talking a real hippie appearance in the era
hippies here ... came into town to pick up the paychecks once a week
in and said to me, "Kid, you're pretty clever. Just get over to Tampa
pass that First Phone examination and we'll put you to work at The
Transmitter." ... well, it was like being invited to mingle at Mount
What would the other kids at school say? Wow!
... So, you can guess what I did ... I got a Q&A manual, like
they told me to ... learned all that good stuff, like how to calculate
the mutual and self-impedance of a pair of radiators under specified
conditions and all the stuff of the "art" And got that coveted piece of
wallpaper ... and joined the Gods of Gandy Boulevard!
... It was a similar scene to what you describe, Florida-style.
Built up off
the ground in case the swamp would flood in a hurricane, glass block
windows to admit daylight, self-sufficient for power and such for
days at a time ... and populated with wondrous, huge, glowing machines
went "BOOM!" when something went wrong..not just "pop" or "click."
..And, oh what about the kids in school when I told them I worked at
Transmitter? They said, "Is that where the disk jockeys work? Can you
me to see the disk jockeys? I want to see the disk jockeys!" Oh, how
they understood ... I was hooked on a totally different orbit than they
understood ... .an ego one had to keep to oneself ... and now those
want to tell me how to understand Star Trek ... heck, we were living
Trek in our own 1950's way, down there in the swamp in Florida!
July 1, 1993
... If you want more detail, I can provide it, reaching back into
newspaper ownership days, studios in the Times building, an FM
that actually had a patent license signed by Howard Armstrong hanging
wall next to it (how I wish I'd not let that document get
Nelson Poynter's smashed dream of a television station ... plus, of
many vignettes to daily life in a radio station that was closely run by
personality that would make TV's "Lou Grant" look like a piker ... but
not the sort of stuff to clog this echo with, except when a story is
along the lines of a thread ...
BTW, I presume you knew that N. Joe Rahall, Sr., died April 1 at
80. He was born in Beckley, W. Va., and here is an excerpt from the
obituary in the Beckley Register-Herald:
In 1947, Rahall and his brothers started three radio stations:
WWNR in Beckley, WKAP in Allentown, Pa., and WNAR in Norristown,
Rahall Broadcasting purchased the WTSP radio station in St.
Petersburg, Fla., in 1956 and changed the call letters to WLCY.
The company subsequently started WLCY-TV, of which Rahall was
Rahall was also president of WFBM AM-FM in Indianapolis.
Radio Station WQTY was purchased in 1962 by the Rahalls and was
donated to Jones College of Jacksonville, Fla., in 1964.
... No, I didn't. Although we hardly ever saw Joe the Elder Rahall,
several sorts of interplay with the other Rahall operations; things
going up to Jax to keep replacing the ground radials at WQTY (it needed
dearly at its location), due to the local denizens pulling them up to
for scrap, and swapping/shipping stuff around (mostly OUT to Beckley or
Norristown, as the Rahalls raped WTSP's plant when they bought it). or
getting the darndest phone calls from their people (who never saw a
Florida-sized lightning bolt, so always called us about what to do..).
get Executive Orders penned by Joe Rahall, on little letterheads in
envelopes from Nick's Dress Shop in Beckley, WV ... and oh, not
Joe's obit was their Manchester, NH station (the callsign escapes me),
well as, I recall, the Beckley water company and bus company ... .The
we saw at St. Pete were Sam, who was the day-to-day tyrant, and Ferris,
easy-going investor brother of the crowd. They were a tight
bunch ... in
more ways than one! Sam was such a expletive deleted that when
ticked me off so much I got another job, he first tried to bluff me
saying I wouldn't leave him ... then the last day, he took me out on
steps, looking out over the swamp, sat down on the concrete, put his
around me and cried (real alligator tears) about how I was leaving him
the lurch. Gimme a break, Sam ... your new Cadillac with the big fins
year and St. Pete Yacht Club lunches every day!
I have some recall about WINZ from the Sixties when I was down in
Lauderdale. It was owned by one Rex Reed, an ex-RCA broadcast salesman
(many of them made some large bundles in that era), but it ran on a
traded-in RCA BTA-50A ... the FIRST water-cooled 50 kW that RCA ever
made ... best characterized as the Tyrannosaurus Rex of radio's
Dec. 20, 1993
SET WAR_STORY.SYS /on /#27568
... St. Petersburg's WRBQ-AM (nee WLCY; nee WTSP) is a nice,
relatively simple 5 kW DAN dating to 1947 or so. Old timers will
remember such a simpler era in directional operations.
... The WTSP consulting engineer was Walter J. Holey, an early FCC
from Atlanta who knew lots of good tricks and limits to the rules, and
used some there. Seeing as WTSP was at 1380 and would suffer ground
range compared to its prime competitor of the day, WSUN which was on a
more favorable 620 with 5 kW (at the time), Walter told them to build
1947 WTSP with a 5/8 wave high tower for the daytime non-directional.
problem with the daytime and doing that, in 1947.
... However, when it came to the night operation, WTSP was required
its northerly radiation to a level that did not exceed its former 500
toward 3 different northern stations, one each in Texas, Missouri and
Pennsylvania (as I recall). He designed a three-tower in-line array
1/4 wave towers on the ends, with the daytime 5/8 wave becoming the
radiator of the array. To get it in, he had to overcome some stink
the minor skywave lobe that a 5/8 wave puts out ... but then, no small
Walter Holey's value was knowing people in the FCC ...
... The end result of this was while WTSP put out a really nice 5
in the day, that reached well beyond Clearwater to the north, at night,
got sucked back to 500 Watts effective in the Clearwater direction.
Meantime, the excess bulged out toward the south like a dowager bulges
over her evening gown - some 13.5 kW effectively ... spilling down into
Sarasota that was on the fringe of the daytime 5 kW.
... So, the common jock fun phrase at pattern change time was:
"It's (time), time to say, `Goodnight, Clearwater' ... "
"Hello, Sarasota, this is WTSP, St. Petersburg!"
... And from what we heard from the audience, that was just about
the way it
Jan. 4, 1994
... Runs close parallel to the war story already told here about the DJ
thought it was clever to snap an old shellac 78 on mike, because he
out the click got through the old Collins 26W peak limiter and would
the AM transmitter down to low power -- after which, the transmitter
engineer spent the rest of the morning cutting every mention the DJ
his name for the rest of the morning. (Jeff Miller: I'll tell now that
DJ's name was Glen Dill; it was old WTSP in St. Petersburg, and I saw
Davis doing to Glen.)
Jan. 12, 1994
Yep. WPD was a low budget operation. And WDAE apparently
back in the dark ages to get good towers.. which are apparently still
... Hmmm ... means those towers would be around 70+ years old these
Guess they just don't make `em like they used to..
... So, WPD is gone, and the towers are still there? Wonder if it's
Florida real estate promoter who thinks they are worth a million bucks,
a REAL funny story from good olde St. Petersburg:
... The original WTSP, circa 1937, was at the corner of Fourth
Street North and 38th Avenue, with a nice little 1/4 wave
self-supporter, 178 feet tall. Well, after a few Florida blows (don't
recall what years hurricanes put some heavy winds there around 1940 or
so), the joints of the tower got loose ... and over the years, they got
looser and looser. Old timers told me that when it got to the point
that a breeze would make scratchy noises on the air, the boss finally
hired Clayton Ogles, the area's tower steeplejack, to have a man go up
there with a small gas torch and weld the joints to make them
... According to the account, that guy was up on the little tower
and seemed to have done a great job. No more was thought of it ...
until some years after WTSP built their DA plant out on Gandy Boulevard
sold the old place.
... A Florida real estate investor got the nice little old
building, with its Art Deco rounded architecture and glass block
windows ... .and that tower sitting out back. He must have been real
proud of the property.
... However, he resold it sometime in the 1950's or so, and called
take the tower down and deliver it for storage to his ranch up north
somewhere. The story went that he send orders through some underlings,
nobody knew what a tower was or had any interest in knowing details ...
just repeated a command from their boss to "take it down and store it
... So, Clayton sent men out with cutting torches because that
had been made into one solid piece of iron by the joint-welding job.
"smart investor" paid a lot of money to get a tone or so of cut-up
iron delivered to his ranch!
Mar. 10, 1994
... Nothing unusual in that at all. Heck, we had a WECo 503B that liked
wander 2 mHz down the band and get on top of WDAE's FM, and never say a
about it - while everyone who knows the Hewlett-Packard FM freq mons of
era will tell you the darned things happily looped around back on-scale
every 3 kHz or so, so you didn't know what you were within 3 kHz of
you tuned yourself in on a receiver!
May 25, 1994
SET NOW_IT_CAN_BE_TOLD.SYS /on (i think)
... When WTSP was built out in the swamps on Gandy Blvd. around
1947, its station license described the classic 120-radial ground
system. Well, we had to do some work there about 15 years after it was
built, and found the nice bonded mats at the base of each tower, but
there seemed to be only four radials ... and pulling on one would get
you a piece of copper wire about 20 feet long that tapered off to a
needle point in the salt water swamp. Puzzled, I called the CE who had
built it, and he told me flat out that copper was so hard to get just
after WW II, that they cheated just to get the station on the air. The
consulting engineer was a retired FCC R.I. who knew his stuff plenty
good, and said there was so much salt water swamp all around the place
that the pattern would work without much in the way of radials, so long
as they could get bonded to all that salt water. They really weren't
short of money, just time, and fully intended to go back and do it
right someday ... but it never became a problem, so it never got fixed.
For all I know, it's still like that today, and the performance of that
array over the years proved out that it worked like it was supposed to.
... Heck, what was that one up in Clearwater that you moved off the
down to the swamp? Same idea, eh?
July 31, 1994
... Hahaha! That's akin to Jim Harriott in his earliest days working
the overnights at WTSP, when they ran a show from a (semi) soundproof
booth at a Tampa strip joint called the Club Carnival. (You could hear
the boom-BA-DA-boom through the walls of the booth ... ) Anyhow, to
give the guy in the booth a break (from what?), he was supposed to do a
quarter hour from the control room every so often, with live spots. The
music intro and bg for the spots was always "The South Rampart Street
Parade," and the opening was always, "Girls - Girls - Girls! At the
Club Carnival in downtown Tampa," with the music up and down from bg.
... Well, Jim always seemed to have some feminine fans in the
even at 3 AM, and he liked to impress them by swatting the badly-worn
"Control Room Mic" switch right in the middle of the old Collins 212-B
AUD and holler, "Girls - Girls-Girls!" mic to AUd "And ugly old
<mic to PGM> ...
... You guessed it. That old switch just gave up the ghost and got
jammed in PGM and its bat handle came off and flew across the room as
tried that trick one morning ... and, yes, the boss over at the Club
listened to the whole program ... and, and, ... you know the rest of
Aug. 23, 1994
... Until Sam Rahall finally came to town to take over the WTSP they
killed with waltzes and polkas (I bet you don't even remember that,
the city just turned its dial elsewhere ... ). Anyhow, after a couple
disastrous years, Sam came to town, spent the cash, and robbed Roy
and his cohorts away from WALT, and the rest you heard when WLCY took
that style ... and got up to utterly astounding numbers like 60's on
and Hoopers for several years ...
Sept. 30, 1994
... Fortunately for all concerned, those were in FM's Darkest Days, so
was listening anyway. Near the end of WTSP-FM, for the year or so
they finally ordered pulling the switch and mailing the station license
in, we ran it only the mandatory 8 hours a day, from 3 to 11 PM. It
carrier off at 11 PM, no matter what was on the air, The
boss got irate
about spending one extra penny with Florida Power on that puppy. So, it
didn't matter if it was the seventh game of the World Series, bottom of
ninth inning, tied score, bases loaded and the count on the batter 3
--- <click>. Nobody ever called to complain ...