Friday, March 25, 2016

WOKO Soap Box Derby

The WOKO on air today went on the air in 1962 as WJOY-FM. The station was also known as WQCR from 1972 to 1990, when it became WOKO, the country station in Bernie Sander's back yard. It is not related to the former WOKO which started in the 1920s in New York City and operated for many years in Albany; that station is now WOPG. Is that that New York WOKO that entered a soap box derby back in 1959.

It is however interesting to me that they chose the British spelling of "Radio Centre."  It's been  250 years since the colonies and United Kingdom were ruled by the crown. According to many sources, it was the either the 1806 or 1828 edition of Webster's dictionary that was so responsible for standardizing these "Americanized" spellings. His dictionary came to be seen in the UK as Americanized and became less popular.  Incidentally the word "Center" passed the tipping point in the US in 1910. SOURCE [HERE]

In 1939 WOKO published a radio guide which highlighted their new Radio Centre on Elk Street. If it was new that year, then it was already 20 years old when that Soap Box racer hit the pavement. SOURCE [HERE]

Harold E. Smith bought 1460 WOKO-AM when it was still a New York City station.  He moved it to Peekskill, NY then later in 1931 Albany, NY. In 1934, he bought 1400 WABY-AM.  When the Radio Centre was complete his CBS and NBC affiliates now shared studio space. (WOKO was CBS, WABY was NBC) Though they never shared a radio tower.  The WOKO transmitter was on Central Avenue, and the WABY transmitter was near Colonie, NY. It is probably one of the earliest instances of radio stations sharing studio space but not programming.

Thursday, March 24, 2016


This is a surprisingly complete tutorial on how to build a digital radio studio. We define a radio station in many different ways today. Clyde Broadcast manufacture radio studio equipment in the UK. Btu they don't turn this into a sales pitch. it's just a mart way of looking at all the interconnected parts of your studio.



Wednesday, March 23, 2016

An Unknown Call Sign

I found this posted online for auction. It was listed as "unknown" call letters. As you might expect, that was all too enticing a mystery.  Clearly the important part is that mic, since over it is a call sign. But the photo is washed out. The scan seems to be of decent quality so I blew it up. Then I added contrast and then started playing with the color filters.
So that first letter is pretty rough, probably a "K". But then the next three letters look like "TSF" making the calls either WTSF or KTSF (assuming this is a US station.) But KTSF is a TV station that signed on in the 1970s. There also were no radio stations of note under the calls of WTSF. I am for the moment... stumped. Unless one of those blobs is a number and not a letter.. i.e. experimental calls.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Morse code via Apple Watch

I first read about this here.

Patryk Laurent, cat the Brain Corporation in San Diego developed an application that uses Morse code to send Apple Watch messages. He's an radio ham of course.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Key West Naval Station - NAR

Naval Air Station NAR, in Key West, FL was located only four miles east of Key West city. It was about 150 miles Southwest of Miami and 90 miles North of Cuba.  The naval air station and military airport (NQX) still lies on Boca Chica Key.  But the radio station is gone. More here.

The station's mission began in 1905 at what is now Truman Annex, when it was called the Naval Wireless Telegraph Station. Back in 1915 it broadcast time signals just like NAA in Washington, NAT in New Orleans and NPH in San Francisco among others.

NAR, was a link in a chain of Wireless Telegraph Stations in what was then referred to as the "Coastal Signal Service" of the US Navy. That chain extended from Cape Elizabeth, ME, to New Orleans. It further included wireless stations at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; San Juan, PR and after 1910, even one in Panama.

Following World War I, the military downsized many installations. The air station and submarine base were closed and its personnel released. Many buildings on Trumbo Point were demolished. But a small Navy force stayed on to continue maintaining that wireless station at the Naval Station in Truman Annex.

But in the 1960s as the cold war ramped up, the base expanded once again. At it's peak the site employed 19 officers, 268 enlisted personnel and 31 civilians. In 1965 the Navy even acquired the 640 acres of land on Saddlebunch Key to build another transmitter site. But the cold war cooled off and the radio functions became civilian-led and operated by contractors. More here.

In 2011 the Navy began the process of closing the long-running radio communications center. Improvements to high-frequency broadcasting require fewer stations. The station was officially decommissioned on Sept. 21 2012. The station signed off in Morse code. It had been 107 years since the station first signed on.