Monthly Archives: June 2015

WLW’s 500 Kilowatt Transmitter, 1935

WLW tower. Photo by R.P. Piper, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license, via Wikipedia.

WLW tower. Photo by R.P. Piper, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license, via Wikipedia.

Off and on from 1934 to 1942, WLW in Cincinnati operated with 500,000 watts. For a time, it held the title as the world’s most powerful radio transmitter, and it was the most powerful broadcast station to ever operate in the United States. Other stations sought permission to boost their power to similar levels, but permission was never granted. In fact, WJZ in Newark, NJ (currently WABC), had gone as far as to order a 500 kW transmitter, but was never given permission to put it on the air. The WJZ transmitter was later sold to the British government, which put it to use during the war as the world’s most powerful mediumwave station.

500,000 watts is a lot of RF, and WLW had its work cut out to deal with it. One of the first problems was adjacent channel interference to CFRB 375 miles away in Toronto, which on 690 was only 10 kHz below the behemouth transmitter. This was solved by a passive element which WLW constructed across the road to limit the signal toward Toronto.

1935WLWThe other issue was all of the RF floating around near the transmitter site in Mason, Ohio, and those problems were detailed in a Popular Science article 80 years ago this month, June 1935. The photo here shows a WLW engineer drawing a spark from the metal fence that surrounded the tower. The arc would sing in time with the station’s modulation.

WLW programming could be heard from metallic objects for miles around. And if a man held a pair of wires attached to a 100 watt bulb in his hand near the gate to the tower site, enough electricity would pass through his body to light the lamp. A number of residents near the site erected antennas to tap the free energy and run lights or small appliances.

Much of the old WLW transmitter is still intact,  The video below shows a 2013 tour of the old facility:



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June 1945: Publishers Appeal for War Bonds


Seventy years ago this month, every newsstand in America was a billboard for war bonds.  Almost every magazine published that month carried the same message, shown here on the cover of Radio Craft, June 1945, urging Americans to continue buying war bonds.

The identical message was carried on the cover of most magazines and was signed by the five-star generals of the army and the admirals of the navy:


Your sons, husbands and brothers who are standing today upon the battlefronts are fighting for more than victory in war. They are fighting for a new world of freedom and peace.

We, upon whom has been placed the responsibility of leading the American forces, appeal to you with all possible earnestness to invest in War Bonds to the fullest extent of your capacity.

Give us not only the needed implements of war, but the assurance and backing of a united people so necessary to hasten the victory and speed the return of your fighting men.

Most magazines also included a message from the publisher urging readers to buy bonds.  QST, for example, had the following commentary:

With victory in Europe the war is half won–but only half, for there are numerous treacherous Japs still to be beaten. The surest way that we can help finish the job is to buy War Bonds–and keep buying them. It is in this cause that the five-star generals of our Army and admirals of the Navy have addressed to the American people the appeal reproduced on the cover this month. Won’t you help put the “Mighty Seventh” War Loan Drive over the top, so our fighting men can raise the American flag in the heart of the enemy’s domain?


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Ellensburg, WA, CATV, 1955


Sixty years ago, this was the community television antenna in Ellensburg, Washington, located about 100 miles east of Seattle, with a mountain range in between. It consists of sixteen stacked yagis, half for channel 4, and half for channel 5.

The system was shown in the June 1955 issue of Radio-Electronics,
which reported that the people of Ellensburg were receiving nearly perfect pictures with the new antenna system. The two Seattle stations were KOMO-TV on channel 4, and KING-TV on channel 5.

The same issue lists KCTS as being on the air on channel 9 in Seattle. That noncommercial educational station had just gone on the air in December 1954.

More information about the antenna system can be found in the Ellensburg Daily Record, March 9, 1954.

1935 Popular Science 80 Meter Portable Station

1935PS80meterstationEighty years ago, Popular Science, June 1935, carried the plans for this complete 80 meter CW station. It could be used permanently in the shack, or as a portable station. The entire station weighed in at about 35 pounds, and could be transported relatively easily. The front panel measured just 18 by 12 inches.

The top third is the transmitter, which uses a type 47 tube as crystal oscillator, and two type 46 tubes as the final amplifier, putting out about 30 watts.

1935PS80meterstationSchematicThe receiver used one type 58 tube as an untuned RF amplifier, with a type 57 tube as regenerative detector. A type 2A5 was used as an audio amplifier.

The bottom section contained the 110 volt power supply, with a transformer supplying 450 volts either side of the center tap. This was rectified by a 5Z3 tube, with several capacitors and chokes doing the filtering. The article noted that where commercial power was not available, the set could be adapted to a vibrator power supply to run off six volts.


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800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta

Magna Carta (Wikipedia image).

Magna Carta (Wikipedia image).

No free man will be taken or imprisoned or disseised or outlawed or exiled in any way ruined, nor shall we go or send against him, save by the lawful judgment of his peers and by the law of the land.

–Magna Carta, Chapter 39.

Today marks the 800th Anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, June 15, 1215. In the photo below, the great charter is delivered to the United States in 1939 for safekeeping during the War.


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1965 Emergency Broadcast System Simulated Script

Terrorism Section Content Nuclear Blast
A January 1965 report prepared for the Office of Civil Defense reported on several simulated fallout shelter exercises conducted in the Pittsburg area to investigate various shelter management factors. For example, in one study, the designated shelter manager arrived late. In another study, the effects of total darkness upon shelter operation were studied.

In three of the experiments, the stress level was increased by periodically playing simulated emergency broadcast system messages. The script of those broadcasts is particularly interesting, since it gives an insight into what civil defense planners thought might be a plausible scenario for a nuclear attack on the United States, and how news would be communicated to the public.

Here is the text of the nineteen radio broadcasts that might have been heard during a nuclear war:

EBS #1, Friday, 7:00 PM

ATTENTION. ATTENTION. This is the Emergency Broadcast System. Take shelter immediately. Take shelter immediately. This is not a drill.
Repeat: This is not a drill. An enemy attack is being launched against
the United States. Take shelter immediately and stay tuned to this
frequency for further instructions.


EBS #2, Friday, 7:10 PM

ATTENTION. ATTENTION. This is the Emergency Broadcast System. We have just been informed that the city is now on the emergency power system. Please inform the control center if your shelter is without light-., Repeat: The city is now on the emergency power system. Please inform the control center if your shelter is without lights. We also have ….. we also have word here that there has been no confirmed report of a missile strike in this area.  There has been no confirmed report of a missile strike in this area.

EBS #3, Friday, 7:15

(Phone is heard ringing in background.)

ATTENTION. ATTENTION. This Is the Emergency Broadcast System. A missile attack has been launched against the United States. Reports about the attack are fragmentary and unconfirmed. The strategic missile bases west of the Mississippi appear to have borne the brunt of the attack. As of this moment there has been no official report of a nuclear detonation in our immediate vicinity. Fallout has begun to descend on the western portions of our city and is expected in other areas imminently. Do not communicate with the emergency operations center unless absolutely necessary.

EBS #4, Friday, 8:00 PM

ATTENTION. ATTENTION. This is the Emergency Broadcast System. Stay tuned for an important message. (DISTANT VOICE: Okay, stand by now. We’ve got a remote from Washington.) Static ——- Noise. Another voice: This is a report from the emergency national command post in Washington. The President and his key civilian and military aides have been safely evacuated to the emergency seat of government. This evening at 6:35 PM the enemy launched an attack against the strategic retaliatory forces of the United States and its NATO allies. An intelligence warning allowed us to launch a portion of our land-based missile force against the enemy’s remaining strategic forces.
Polaris missiles have also been launched. In addition, our airborne alert and a portion of our ground alert aircraft forces have been sent against the enemy’s non-missile strategic forces. Our damage assessment reports indicate that many of our SAC bases have been destroyed or severely damaged. A number of communities near SAC bases have also suffered great damage. The fallout monitoring network reports that radiation is heavy in the western portion of our country and is increasing in the midwest and eastern portions of our nation. Although there have been several nuclear detonations in the east, it appears as if these have been the result of errant missiles, rather than a planned attack against population centers.  The President, whom, I repeat is alive and well, will address the nation as soon as his command duties permit. This is the end of the Priority One report. Local EBS stations may resume Priority Two broadcasting.

EBS #5, Friday, 8:30 PM

ATTENTION. ATTENTION. This is the Emergency Broadcast System. Short wave monitoring has disclosed that our air strike forces are currently launching attacks on the enemy homeland. These forces are utilizing a new….. what?  What do you mean it’s not for release? (Another voice: Priority One. Now.. for heaven’s sake! Announcer: Well what the hell …… 1)


EBS #6, Friday, 8: 50 PM

Has this one been cleared?
ATTENTION. ATTENTION. This is the Emergency Broadcast System. We have Just received word that the President has been evacuated to sea in the floating Whitehouse. The location of this ship is unknown. The floating Whitehouse is a battle cruiser, fully equipped for command and control functions. Our government has survived the attack. I repeat, our government has survived the attack.

EBS #7, Friday, 9:30 PM

ATTENION. ATTENTION. This is the Emergency Broadcast System, We have just been informed that a message is to be delivered from the governor’s office in Harrisburg. Please stand by,

This is a report from the governor’s office in Harrisburg. The state of
conditions in Pennsylvania is serious, but not critical. Erie has been
severely damaged by what is believed to have been a stray missile. No other cities have reported being hit, but the fallout level is rapidly increasing, particularly in western Pennsylvania. Apparently neighboring states have borne the brunt of the attack, particularly those in the western portions of the country. All citizens should seek shelter immediately. Do not attempt to evacuate your area until you are instructed to do so. Local law enforcement personnel should remain in their respective areas. State police have been assigned to more critical areas, and additional state aid will become available and be assigned when fallout levels permit.

EBS #8, Friday, 10:15 PM

ATTENTION. ATTENTION. This is the Emergency Broadcast System. Fallout began to descend on the Pittsburgh area several hours ago and radiological monitoring reports indicate that radiation levels are dangerously high in many parts of our city. No one should attempt to leave shelters. Repeat: No one should attempt to leave shelters. Youngstown, Ohio and Erie, Pennsylvania have suffered severe damage as a result of nuclear detonations.
As of the moment there have been no nuclear blasts in our immediate area.  The municipal power has been temporarily disrupted in some parts of the city. Power should be restored shortly. No further official reports on our retaliatory attacks on the enemy homeland are available. Unofficially, the absence of any significant second wave of enemy attack, plus the size of our surviving strategic force, allows cautious optimism that we will suffer no further major damage from any attack. Until further word is transmitted by this station, everyone must remain in shelters.

EBS #9, Friday, 10:30 PM

ATTENTION. ATIENTION. This is the Emergency Broadcast System. In order to evaluate the damage to Pittsburgh, the emergency operations center requests every shelter to gather the following information and to report it to the local emergency operations center. Is this a fallout or a blast shelter? How many persons are in the shelter? How many of these persons are injured? How many persons are suffering from radiation sickness? What is the condition, of your equipment? Is your shelter structure damaged? Do you have adequate electricity?
Do you have adequate ventilation? What is the state of your food supplies? What is the state of your water supply? Do you have any illness other than radiation sickness? As soon as we have received reports from district control centers we will relay such information on to you. When emergency missions are possible, disaster teams will be sent to those shelters which need medical supplies, food and water. Attempts will also be made to report specific areas of damage in our city. Please stay tuned for additional announcements.

EBS #10, 11:30 PM

ATTENTION. ATTENTION. This is the Emergency Broadcast System. Wee have hundreds of people in the area who do not have shelter with an adequate protection factor. They must be moved to other shelters in order to survive.
Please advise the emergency operations center as to the number of additional people you can take into your shelter. This is imperative. Please inform the emergency operations center as to the number of additional people you can take into your shelter.

EBS #11, Saturday. 1:30 AM

ATTENTION. ATTENTION. This is the Emergency 3roadcast System. Radiological monitoring teams report that the radiation levels in the Pittsburgh area are still high. However, there is no additional accumulation of radioactive dust. The fallout on the ground is beginning to decay. It is simply a matter of waiting out this decay time before we can undertake further civil defense measures.  Everyone is to remain inside until further notice. Please do not leave your shelters.

EBS #12, Saturday, 2:15 AM

ACCIDENTALLY OVERHEAR A SHORT WAVE BROADCAST. “Hello Tower…. to checkpoint two…. ” Static and short wave noise.

EBS #13, Saturday, 3:00 AM


ATTENTION. ATTENTION. This is the Emergency Broadcast System.

EBS #14, Saturday, 3:45 AM

ATTENTION. ATTENTION. This is the Emergency Broadcast System. Reports have been received that there are bands of looters wandering about the city.  Attempts have been made to loot shelters in this area. Be alert to this situation and act accordingly. Security police will begin patrolling the area as soon as the radiation level permits.

EBS #15, Saturday, 4:15 AM

“Angels 46 — Same heading — Roger, Angels 52 — Fuel 30 … ”
Much static.

EBS #16, Saturday, 6:00 AM

ATTENTION. ATTENTION. This is the Emergency Broadcast Svytem. Stay tuned for an important message. Okay, stand by to switch.
MUCH STATIC ———– “Please stand by.”
This is a Priority One report from the emergency national command post in Washington. It appears that the enemy attack is over. There have been no further reports of missile strikes since early last evening. Radio monitoring indicates no further enemy air activity. Damage assessment reports indicate that the brunt of this attack was borne by western states. Many of our SAC bases have been destroyed or severely damaged. Communities near SAC bases have also been severely damaged. The central and eastern portions of the country have escaped extensive damage although stray missiles have struck some of the smaller population centers. Fallout is moving across the country in an easterly direction, carried on westerly winds. All citizens should remain in shelters until instructed otherwise by local civil defense commands. The President and key members of his cabinet are still aboard the U. S. S. Northampton. The President will address the American people as soon as his command duties permit.

This is the end of the priority ….. this is the end of the Priority One report. Local EBS stations may resume priority two broadcasting.

EBS #17, Saturday, 7:30 AM

ATTENTION. ATTENTION. This is the Emergency Broadcast System. Emergency teams have been established and have begun to operate in various sections of Pittsburgh. There is a shortage of able-bodied men to serve on work details in Shadyside, East Liberty, Bloomnfield, and Morningside. Will all shelters submit to the emergency operations center the names of able-bodied volunteers who may be asked to leave shelters before radiation levels are completely safe for permanent exit. Phone the names into the emergency operations center. Further information will be provided as to when and where the rescue volunteers will report.

EBS #18, Saturday. 10:00 AM

ATTENTION. ATTENTION. This is the Emergency Broadcast System. Weather monitoring teams report that there is a severe storm approaching the Pittsburgh area. What’s that? It appears that this storm is bearing with it a radioactive dust cloud and we expect the levels of radiation to increase severely. Some shelters do not have adequate protection facilities against this cloud. There is a possibility that some shelters will have to mobilize and be moved. (PAUSE) We will contact these shelters by phone within the next few minutes. Please do not call the emergency operations center. If your shelter is one of these that has to be mobilized and be moved, we will contact you. Please stand by.

EBS #19, Saturday 3:00 PM

ATTENTION. ATTENTION. This is the Emergency Broadcast System. Radiological calculations of fallout levels in Pittsburgh indicate that permanent exit from some shelters will be possible in the near future. At the present time recovery teams are surveying the city to locate and to prepare facilities for post-shelter operations. It is imperative that you do not attempt to leave your shelter without prior notice from the emergency operations center. There are still many dangerous radiological “hot spots” in the city. Therefore, regardless of the radiological readings in your immediate vicinity, wait for official notification. from your government in the emergency operations center.


For more insight into 1960’s civil defense, my website contains a scan of the 1962 St. Paul, MN, civil defense operational plan, which includes the manual that shelter managers would use in the operation of a fallout shelter.

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Fall of Paris, 1940

Seventy-five years ago today, the city of Paris fell to the Nazis as German troops marched in during the early morning hours. By morning, tanks rumbled past the Arc de Triomphe. They met no opposition, as French troops had retreated to the south to spare the city. Within a week, newly appointed prime minister Philippe Pétain had signed an armistice, taking France out of the war.

Wikipedia photos, "Battle of France collage" by User:DIREKTOR - Top left: File:Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-055-1599-31, Frankreichfeldzug, Panzer IV.jpgTop right: File:Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-126-0347-09A, Paris, Deutsche Truppen am Arc de Triomphe.jpgMiddle left: File:French soldiers on Maginot Line.jpgBottom left: File:British prisoners at Dunkerque, France.jpgBottom right: File:Renault 35 montant en ligne sedan.jpg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Wikipedia photos, “Battle of France collage” by User:DIREKTOR – Top left: File:Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-055-1599-31, Frankreichfeldzug, Panzer IV.jpgTop right: File:Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-126-0347-09A, Paris, Deutsche Truppen am Arc de Triomphe.jpgMiddle left: File:French soldiers on Maginot Line.jpgBottom left: File:British prisoners at Dunkerque, France.jpgBottom right: File:Renault 35 montant en ligne sedan.jpg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

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Hotel Radio, 1925


Ninety years ago, it was expected that a deluxe hotel would install a radio for the entertainment of its guests, and the Biltmore in New York City was no exception. Here, a member of the hotel staff is tuning the set for actresses and Zigfeld girls Marion Benda and Mary Mulhern. Two years later, in 1927, Miss Benda married Zeppo Marx.

In 1930, Miss Mulhern married actor Jack Pickford, becoming his third and last wife. Citing mistreatment throughout the marriage, she was in the process of obtaining a divorce at the time of his 1933 death.

The photo here is from the June 1925 issue of Radio Broadcast.

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Foxhole Radio Update


Gould's rendition of the foxhole radio.

Gould’s rendition of the foxhole radio.

A few months ago, we posted about the history of the “foxhole radio,” a crystal set made with a razor blade detector,  As reported in the New York Times in June 1944 and Time Magazine in July, soldiers at the beachhead in Anzio made these receivers to pass the time. The receiver was later popularized in Jack Gould’s book All About Radio and Television.

Among those to see the plans was Radio Craft editor Hugo Gernsback.  In the September issue of Radio Craft, he pointed out that the original Razor Blade Radio Detector had actually been published by him, in the January 1909 issue of Modern Electrics. He also shows two other similar detectors published in 1906.

The 1909 razor blade detector actually differed from the “foxhole” version, however. The Modern Electrics detector uses two razor blades with a pencil lead balanced on top. The razor blade seems to be serving the function of “cat’s whisker,” as opposed to being the crystal in the foxhole version.



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Crosley Looks Forward to Postwar Radio


In June 1945, the war in the Pacific was still raging, American industry was still on a wartime footing, and the War Production Board still prohibited the manufacture of radios and phonographs. But the end was in sight, and radio manufacturers were engaged in intense advertising. These ads often highlighted the company’s contributions to the war effort, and they were also advertising their future products in anticipation of serving the pent up demand as Americans would cash in their war bonds and buy a new set at the final conclusion of hostilities.

The Crosley Corporation was no exception, as it carried this heartwarming story 70 years ago today, in the June 11, 1945, issue of Life Magazine. It tells the story of “Jerry and Barbara.” Jerry is a serviceman, apparently home on leave, and he is shown dancing to the Crosley radio-phono console with his betrothed, Barbara.

Barbara recounts their very first dance at the prom. She wore a red dress and the moment she danced with Jerry, she confesses “that’s when everything began for me.” Jerry quickly interjects, “for us. The minute I danced with you I knew, “This is IT.

The war intervened, and Jerry apparently had to go do his part to deal with the Nazis. Now, he is home on leave before he goes to finish the job in the Pacific. They are dancing again, this time to the Crosley, and Barbara closes her eyes and tells him that it’s a wonderful record.

Jerry quickly adds, “It’s a wonderful phonograph.” He points out that he and his father bought it for his mother right before the war, that it plays records a new way. He adds that the secret of the Crosley’s wonderful tone is in the needle, and that it was “the kind for us when I come home for keeps.”

There is a pause in the story as the ad explains that secret, namely Crosley’s patented “Floating Jewel Tone System.” The story concludes in the not-too-distant future, as we see Jerry and Barbara, with their Crosley radio-phono console, which appears identical in every respect to his mother’s.

To Jerry and Barbara–and to all the Jerrys and Barbaras–Crosley wishes that all their dreams come true. They point out that they are currently producing fighting materials to help win the war, but are looking ahead to being able to once again produce Jerry and Barbara’s console, and other radios, radio-phonos, and other home appliances.

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