FM Broadcasting History - Various Articles

Apex Station On Its Own

Complete and Separate Schedule Is Broadcast by 26.4 mc. Subsidiary of WTMJ

This article appeared in Broadcasting on Jan. 1, 1937. The station used amplitude modulation.

W9XAZ, the Milwaukee Journal ultra-high frequency experimental broadcasting station, operating in what was formerly known as the "apex" band comes up with a "first" in its field. So far as known, it is the first station of its kind to originate programs of its own on regular exclusive schedules and to pickup remote control broadcasts separately from WTMJ, the regular broadcasting station operated by the newspaper.

The purpose of this new activity for W9XAZ is to determine more accurately and fairly public reaction to ultra-high frequency broadcasting.

The FCC for the past year has encouraged research in the ultra-high frequencies to ascertain possible practical application of this spectrum in a private service which would meet the requirements of public interest, convenience and necessity. Most of the experimental work until now has been limited to use of the programs of a regular broadcasting station.

The operators of W9XAZ feel, however, that using programs originated by WTMJ cannot give a true picture of public reaction to W9XAZ in its primary service area. Why, asks the Journal, should listeners tune in W9XAZ when they can hear the same program on WTMJ, in the standard broadcast band?

It is hoped that by giving W9XAZ an identity of its own with original programs and special event broadcasts, the Journal can furnish more specific data to the commission in this phase of ultra-high frequency research.

W9XAZ started its remote control activities last month with a two-hour broadcast direct from Madison of the testimonial dinner for Head Coach Harry Stuhldreher of the University of Wisconsin. Within the next few months it will broadcast the Marquette University basketball schedule, local boxing matches and other special events.

W9XAZ will borrow staff artists from WTMJ for its own programs, and Russ Winnie and other WTMJ staff announcers will handle the shortwave station's sports broadcasts.

The Journal feels that W9XAZ can perform a valuable public service, in that it will air special events and other program features which, because of full schedules, WTMJ cannot broadcast, and which other Milwaukee stations do not carry.

W9XAZ operates on 26.4 megacycles, a frequency excluded from reception on many radio sets. Plans are now under way to make the 26.4 megacycle band available to owners of any receiver, even those which do not carry any shortwave bands. To arouse interest in this project and to give publicity to W9XAZ, a contest has been devised inviting suggestions as to how to build an inexpensive converter so that the 26.4 megacycle broadcasts may be heard on the average set. The contest will be conducted in the columns of the Milwaukee Journal and over the shortwave station.

Milwaukee Station Using Apex Band Tells of Results

W9XAZ, With Own Schedule, Is Checked by Spotters

This article appeared in Broadcasting on May 15, 1937. This station used amplitude modulation.

The experiment with ultra-high frequency program origination in Milwaukee is bearing fruit. W9XAZ, the Milwaukee Journal apex station, operating on a frequency of 26.4 megacycles, has had its own independent schedule since last December. Before that it had been repeating WTMJ programs.

Special events such as boxing matches, basketball games, banquets and concerts have been broadcast exclusively over W9XAZ, with Russ Winnie, popular WTMJ sportscaster, or some other WTMJ announcer at the microphone. The entire Marquette U. basketball schedule, not carried on any other station, was broadcast on the shortwave station. Special transcription programs also are used.

Research in this field of radio activity has been encouraged by the FCC to determine public reaction to high-frequency broadcasting. The Milwaukee Journal feels that in order to determine more fairly and accurately the possibility of practical application of this spectrum in a private service, it is necessary to operate its shortwave station independent of WTMJ. Thus W9XAZ has an identity of its own.

Technical Director D. W. Gellerup has arranged for periodical checkups of program and signal quality with a large corps of "spotters." Each week they send in their reactions to W9XAZ activities.

With 500 watts on 26.4 megacycles or 11 meters, W9XAZ has a service radius of 25 miles. In this area there are about 5,000 sets capable of receiving this high-frequency signal. Only in the last few years have standard model receivers been built to reach this spectrum. W9XAZ is one of the few stations in the country with proved high fidelity. Its distortion from microphone input to transmitter output is only 2 1/2 percent. Frequency response is flat from 20 cycles to 17,000 cycles within one decibel. Long line tuning is used in the final amplifier by means of two parallel tubes 15 feet long. This does away with coils.

The W9XAZ sky wave does some funny tricks. Its signal in Los Angeles is stronger than that of the local ultra-high frequency transmitter. Reports of good reception have come in from all over the world, especially from England and New Zealand.

The Milwaukee Journal has helped to promote listeners for W9XAZ by running frequent articles in its radio columns. Recently a contest was conducted among radio listeners and amateur operators for the best working model of a converter so that the 26.4 mc. broadcasts can be heard on average sets. Schematic diagrams of the two winning models were published in the paper and immediate interest was created. Radio part stores advertised "official W9XAZ shortwave converter kits" and a department store made inquiries to have the equipment manufactured on a volume basis.

While it is obviously impossible to claim a large potential audience for W9XAZ at the present time, the Milwaukee Journal feels it will soon be in a position to furnish more specific data in this phase of ultra-high frequency research, its management states. If actual practical use is made of this spectrum in the future, the Journal will have benefited by its experiences in pioneering with apex broadcasting.

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