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My Formative Years
I've been told that as soon as I could crawl, I was attracted to anything connected with electricity. I would constantly stick whatever I could find into electrical outlets resulting in a few surprises. I would get especially animated at the sight of neon signs.
In the fall of 1947, a nine year old, convinced his textile worker father and stay-at-home mother to purchase a Silvertone FM/AM console radio. The salesperson at the Sears Roebuck store assured his parents that an FM station was indeed being constructed in the Manchester area, WMUR-FM. Frequency Modulation was still very new to New Hampshire, although the state had been a laboratory in the development of the art of FM broadcasting, with experimental station W1EXR. In 1939, it would become the first commercial station in the state, Yankee Network's W39B. The call was changed to WMTW in 1943.
There were very few FM stations available in 1947, WMNE, Mt Washington (formerly WMTW) and WLOB in Claremont were the only two New Hampshire outlets on-the-air. A few Massachusetts FM stations could also be picked up in southern New Hampshire.
In the late 1950's I built my first High Fidelity Heathkit FM/AM tuner and amplifier, fed by a five element yagi antenna and an "Alliance" rotor. The 50 foot run of transmission line was "low loss" foam-line.
I remember quite clearly waiting for WTAG-FM, Worcester, to sign-on at 2 pm...the carrier would be up, around 1:45, there would be complete silence (quieting) on the channel. The silence was broken at 2 pm by the QXR Network chime, followed by New York Times news. It was Magic, and spellbinding, I was in awe.
In the late 60's,
I went stereo and professional with a Technics turntable, KLH
Model 27 stereo receiver
and a pair of KLH Model 6 speakers.
My First Radio Station
I built my very own radio station during my high school years, with money I had earned from my paper route. I purchased a Silvertone reel-to-reel tape recorder and microphone. What every teenager spends his money on. On a family vacation to New York City I bought an RCA '45 record player as my souvenir. My dad built me an enclosed space in what had been a coal-bin.....my studio. I used the local oscillator from an AM radio and modulated it, as my transmitter. A shielded RG58 line ran to the base of two 10 foot sections of TV mast, giving me a 20' antenna, that was insulated from the ground by a piece of plywood while ropes were used for guy lines. It was properly painted in alternating red and white bands and boasted a flashing red light on the top.
My First Job
My first professional radio job was with WGIR in Manchester, where I spent, in two stints, a total of almost twenty years of my career. I started October 7, 1957. On October 4, I had gone to the Boston FCC Regional Office, and managed to get my First Class Radio Telephone Operators License in one try.
I went to my favorite "hangout", the local radio and television repair shop. The owner would give me spare parts and encouraged me. I told him about my good fortune. He was a licensed operator and had worked for a few stations in the area. He told me that WGIR had contacted him about an opening on their staff, but he was not interested. He called WGIR and told them there was somebody he could recommend. As the say..."the rest is history."
My First Passion: FM
WGIR was born as WMUR, which had the aforementioned WMUR-FM till sometime in 1950. It would be thirteen years later before FM would again be associated with 610AM. WGIR-FM constructed a new facility on the same Mount Uncanoonuc and went on-the-air June 5, 1963. The original WMUR-FM tower and building were now occupied by WMUR-TV. I was privileged to help Chief Engineer Harry Handfield in construction of the new FM. This WAS what I was born for. I always believed that I was born 20 years too late. As far as I was concerned this is what radio was all about. We had an STL, subcarriers, used telemetry for control and metering....it just didn't get an better than that!
My Career Chronology
WGIR: October 7, 1957 for nearly 11 years, until March 31 of 1968. Was Assistant C.E. when I left.
WEEI/CBS: Worked in Boston at 4450 Prudential Tower as a staff engineer for 2 and a half years.
WGIR: Returned to Manchester in October of 1970, after the sudden death of C.E. Harry Handfield. I was offered the position as Chief, and I accepted it. During this nine year period, a total rebuild of the station was undertaken. The only things that remained intact, were the four self supporting towers and shell of the original building. Everything else was replaced. Mr. Knight, a group owner, decided it was time to make the WGIR facilities, state-of-the-art. The project was under the guidance of Ed Juaire, corporate engineer for the Knight Stations. Worked a combined total of 20 years at WGIR.
WRKO/WROR/RKO General: In 1979 I went back to Boston for an extended period. Three years were with the RKO stations as a staffer. WRKO started as WNAC and the Yankee Network, Steeped in broadcasting history and innovation.
WHDH/WCOZ: Moved to WHDH as a staff engineer and ended up being Studio Supervisor with a staff of eight people. In January of 1985 I was "terminated" by WHDH, I was let go as "unnecessary personnel." Those were the early days of "downsizing". A procedure that became very popular with many other companies in the ensuing years.
WMJX/WMEX:: After being unemployed for a half day, I was hired by Greater Boston Radio's WMJX as staff engineer. When Kevin McNamara, C.E. left, I assumed that position. WMJX had previously moved it's transmitter from the suburbs, Westinghouse's WBZ-TV tower, to the downtown Prudential Building, a very popular transmitting site. A Master Antenna system was erected on the "Pru". Milford "Smitty" Smith, V.P. Radio Engineering, Greater Media, (parent of Greater Boston Radio/WMJX) took the lead role in the project, as such I was the on-site project manager. In the meantime Greater Boston Radio acquired 1150AM (Lexington, MA) rebuilt the facilities with state-of-the-art equipment. Constructed new AM studios at the Stuart Street location. Classic Rock & Roll radio returned with the "Good Guys", using the call letters and format of 1960's WMEX/1510. At the completion of this projectI wandered again on October 16, 1991.
MediaTouch Systems: This time I went to Salem NH, and again worked with John Connell, for the fourth time (WGIR, WEEI, WHDH, MTS). Jack was Founder/President and visionary behind MediaTouch, the grandfather of all TouchScreen based automation systems. I wanted to be on the ground floor of a new and exciting technology. After a few years I was forced to retire due to poor health.
Always had an interest in automation and computers. My first experience in computer programming goes back to my days at WRKO. We had a Radio Shack TRS1 at our disposal, thus started my programming in Basic.
May of 1981. I purchased my very own TRS III, with the 64K RAM upgrade, . The machine was self contained with monitor and two floppy drives. I've had an account with Compuserve since 1981. Those were the days before the Internet, as we know it today. The service was text only. I was operating at 300 baud. I wrote a crude, very crude, a word processing program, "Snow Storm School Cancellation", data base for tracking wire/cable routing, finances and many more software programs.
From there I went to an IBM XT machine that had 10meg of hard drive. This was followed by a Tandy 1500HD laptop, with twice the storage; 20 megs.
A couple machines and a scanner later, here I am, with my own website. Since I'm a packrat, I still have all of my machines and five printers.
My Reason for Being
Over the years I've collected broadcast related material. I decided to use it as a base, and expand on it, with the creation of this website. This is an ongoing endeavor that gives me great pleasure and satisfaction. I enjoy going through old industry magazines and reliving the early days of broadcasting, which I believe are their glory days. That was the time when broadcasting was considered an "art" and not just a money making machine. To those "old radio people" like, John Shepard 3rd of Yankee, John V.L.Hogan of WQXR, William Paley of CBS, Dr. Allen B. DuMont and Mr. Norman Knight, that I had the pleasure to work for, and so many others...this was more than just a business ...it was a passion.
I'm a Charter Member, #25, of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, and have been a member of the Broadcast Pioneers Association.
My Personal Reflections
In my career, I've moved around quite a bit, by some standards. Quite a few people spend their whole career in one location. By nature, I'm curious as to what is around the corner or behind the curtain. The only way that I could satisfy those needs was to move around and learn all I could, by "stealing" knowledge from other work cultures. I've always preferred "small operations" because it would allow me the freedom to expand and further my "education" by observing and participating in the workings of other departments. I was not satisfied with just engineering, but was also interested in programming, billing, promotion, traffic and all operations are required to operate a radio station.
I have no regrets, except for not ever having worked atop Mount Washington. Over the years I have made lasting relationships with wonderful people in broadcasting that continue to this day.
For nature to work in harmony a proper balance must be maintained. Life is more than just taking...as a result, I volunteer at New Hampshire Public Television. Selfishly I personally benefit, by keeping in touch with my broadcasting roots.
Our voyage through this vast experiment, called life, gives us great opportunities to learn and to share. In a small way, I hope that the patina I may have acquired over the years can rub off onto someone else through these pages, allowing them to forge a rewarding career or bringing back fond memories