Brett Moss is gear and technology editor.
Via the unofficial, underground Radio World network of broadcast equipment rescue operatives comes a story with a happy ending. Hat tip to Radio World contributor Ken Deutsch.
Electronics and aerospace giant Raytheon long ago departed the broadcast business, to which it had supplied transmitters and consoles for a decade or so after World War II. However one of its consoles, a 1948 model RC-11, continued plugging along in Sayre, Pa.
And plugging along …
And plugging along …
And plugging along until a week ago Wednesday: Aug. 18, 2010.
Thanks to Peter Kanze, a broadcast equipment “rescuer” in New York, the long-serving but then discarded sexagenaric RC-11 will find a good retirement with him.
“This came from our local radio station, WATS(AM)/WAVR(FM),” he told RW. “It has been in constant service from the day they signed on, July 23, 1950 to the day it was taken out of service, August 18, 2010 … 60 years!
“It’s been converted to stereo and been repainted, but it is what it is and it is a glorious survivor of small-market local radio.”
The RC-11’s last duty had been handling satellite feeds. Kanze described it as “a faithful servant to the end.”
Kanze provided the accompanying archival news clippings. An undated picture shows the console and Ben Franklin, who was then chief engineer. No, not THAT Ben Franklin; it’s old but not that old (even though THAT Ben Franklin might have made a pretty good CE).
The station describes itself as a community voice: “WATS(AM) signed on as Bradford County’s first radio station in July of 1950. Its call letters stand for Waverly, Athens, Towanda, Sayre. Station owner Robert Kloss added WAVR(FM) in 1974.” For a tour of the station including some images of more great gear, visit the station site and toggle through to “Station Gallery.”
Kanze says, “I don’t try and restore anything. I’ve always cleaned the pieces up and enjoyed them for the legacy that came before.” They often then are passed on to other collectors.
His current collection, heavy on NYC stations, includes an RE20 mic that Don Imus used while at WNBC, another mic from WABC and a switching board from the old WMGM “Million Dollar Studios.” He thinks that board is the last surviving piece from those legendary facilities.
His collection was downsized when he moved from White Plains to Waverly, N.Y., which is across the border from Sayre.
Kanze has been a broadcast equipment (and knick-knacks) collector for more than 30 years. His varied background includes stints as an ABC Radio engineer, broadcast historian/researcher, writer for Billboard magazine and consultant for movies, television programs, albums, historical exhibits and books.
“Like many of us ‘perspiring young broadcasters’ I went to radio school in the very early 1970s,” he said. “I went to Announcer Training Studios on 45th Street in NYC (in the old WINS studios). The call letters on my long-destroyed first air demo tape were ‘WATS.’ Forty years later, as I am officially out of radio, perhaps my last act is to acquire the board of the real WATS.”
Got an old equipment story to tell? Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.