Thursday, April 28, 2011

My very first commercial radio gig ...

... was as a part-timer while I was in the Army at Ft. Hood TX, near Killeen.  The station was then a daytimer at AM1050.  The calls were KLEN.

That station and its full time FM that signed off at 10PM (I forget the frequency) was owned by an old-timey Texas-type radio owner named AW Stewart.  Most of those guys were one-of-a-kinds.  I wish that you had known them.

On Sunday I worked from 6AM-12N and then again from 6PM-FM signoff.  In the morning, we ran church shows, one after the other, from the "next studio over,"  the room next to my main studio. The church shows were almost all mostly musical and required a bit of help to set them up.  But none of them got on the air until they passed through the KLEN lobby and made their cash payment to owner AW Stewart, who sat at the front desk with a cash register.

Ya pays yer money and ya gets on the air.

No money, then we played gospel records

The AM carried mostly live programming, playing turntable music that had no format base or compatibility, using the news resources of the Texas State Network when it was offered.  Occasionally the TSN was carried on the FM, if the AM board operator remembered to arrange the banana plugs so that it happened.

Everything was kinda casual.  The FM ran off 10" stereo tapes and we interrupted them whenever we needed to.

AW had a series of personal engineer FCC First Class licenses that dated back to the Department of Commerce, that began with the number of 0004 and were signed by Herbert Hoover and subsequent cabinet authorities and continued into contemporary FCC licenses.  They were all posted and framed, within the transmitter cabin, top to bottom, just off the control room.

The legend (and there is no reason to disbelieve this) was that AW had built the tower for his 1050/AM-NonD station by hand and then laid miles of cable through his radial field from his tract of land tied into the nearby railroad tracks, increasing his AM signal significantly.

I do remember watching AW Stewart come grumping into the studio and into the transmitter area (set off by a wall and some glass windows) when we had a power issue.  He thought it might be a fuse, so he stuck the first two knuckles of his right-hand index finger into the area where a fuse the size of a 12-guage shell might be.

No shock, and he went on to fix another area of the tranmitter.

Wow!  Texas radio guys!