Cris Alexander’s delightful reminiscing on changes in audio processing (“Air Chains Then and Now” ) brought back memories of when I was hired by GAF Corp. in 1976 to rebuild and manage New York’s Classical WNCN, 104.3 FM.
We started with a blank sheet, and the first thing GAF’s chairman did was to retain the services of the legendary Dick Sequerra to handle all aspects of the audio chain.
The chairman was an audiophile, and had one of the amazing Sequerra FM1 tuners in his home. Of course, we had one in our main studio as an off-air monitor, too.
As our studios and offices were located in a building on Sixth Avenue, and the building’s foundation went straight down to the Sixth Avenue subway, the studios were built as rooms within rooms, with the inner rooms mounted on rubber dampers that resembled hockey pucks.
Sequerra hired WFMT Chicago CE Al Antlitz to design and fabricate the boards used in each studio. Their performance was far superior to anything available in the marketplace and greatly added to the very clean sound that he wanted to achieve.
Sequerra hoped to broadcast the way that the BBC did with its Classical channel, requiring the announcers (presenters) to ride gain, with no processing. AFTRA, the announcers’ union, mandated that wasn’t about to happen, so we ended up with the then-new Orban processors, which really were superior to anything else on the market.
As part of his passion for excellence, Sequerra went into the bowels of Manhattan and rebuilt the telco amplifiers going from our studios to the Empire State Building, unknown to New York Telephone, of course.
After the new Gates transmitter was delivered to our space in the Empire State Building, Sequerra spent three days tearing the transmitter apart and rebuilding it to his specs. The performance was just spectacular! My memory is not absolutely perfect here, but as I recall, with the Orban bypassed, the lines were clean to something in the –90 dB area.
There is no doubt that Dick Sequerra’s passion and expertise made WNCN the best-engineered FM station in the country. The programming team was led by a Julliard graduate, and the combination made WNCN a leader in the country’s Classical music FM stations.
Thanks for the memories.