EXPERIMENT IN FM WORKS OUT
by T. R. Kennedy, Jr.
New York Times, Mar. 1, 1942
Recently a small experimental radio station was moved from the corner of a Long Island City laboratory to a new location atop a Manhattan skyscraper. A few days ago the almost magical effect of the change was revealed from the results of a survey to discover how far the waves leaped into space from the 800-foot pinnacle. The new site, it was found, increased the station's normal 1,000-watt effectiveness more than sixteen times.
In other words, with no change made in the "actual" electrical power to propel the signal into space the station's "apparent" power had jumped to 16,000 watts; at least that was the effect on thousands of FM receivers.
Such is the brief history of W2XQR, offspring of WQXR, now about to emerge from the experimental stage and become another regular FM broadcaster in New York. To make the transition from experimental to regular operations as effective as possible new circuits and control gadgets, even some new FM studios with all the refinements of paraphernalia dear to the hearts of radio technicians, are nearing completion.
FM, it seems, is responsible for a number of general refinements in the broadcast art as practiced by WQXR-W2XQR engineers. The three new studios at 730 Fifth Avenue, for instance, have been "designed around the idea of killing a lot of radio noise at its source"; that is, right inside the control units on which announcers and engineers turn knobs and switches to govern and route outgoing programs.
Engineers have a way of uncovering faults in their systems by improving a unit here, another there, and so on until the whole is elevated to higher performance. Because it is so free of noise, FM is said to be acting as a general stimulant in that direction. Following that idea, up-to-the-minute apparatus recently placed in service in the microphone-to-transmitter wire links is producing results so beneficial that the entire WQXR-W2XQR control-room system will be completely revamped to higher standards, according to Russell D. Valentine, chief engineer.
But that is not all. Because recorded music comprises the largest part of its daily programs, new studio gadgets also include the most advanced engineering devices to reproduce such recordings for the air waves. The idea is to make all the disks "sound well" despite the half-dozen or so recording methods employed by as many different record makers.
Recorded music or voices, if improperly reproduced, may sound tinny, perhaps excessively harsh--definitely quite unmusical. At 730 Fifth Avenue, the job has been simplified. All records--some 25,000 of them--are catalogued in accordance with the points on a special dial that governs an "electric filter" of almost prodigious capabilities, which, in turn, molds the "music" so it "sounds good" to the average ear. No guesswork is permitted because many hundreds of records normally are whirled off the turntables in a single day at WQXR-W2XQR and requests for "repeats" are many.
As an experiment, W2XQR might be called eminently successful, even though its programs so far have radioed into space from a temporary wire atop the Chanin Building. When the tests are over, however, a new and more efficient aerial will be installed. The station, then, will be ready to receive the Federal Communications Commission's expected frequency modulation power grant of 10,000 watts and a permanent place on the city's air waves as "W59NY."
Twenty-four FM stations are now operating commercially in the country, six others are nearly ready for that category, ten are operating experimentally with no immediate prospect of commercialism, fifty-five applications are pending and forty FM stations are under construction.
The census of FM receivers in use from coast to coast, as of Jan. 1, 1942--except in the military service--topped 255,000, 50,000 of which are in the New York area. FM Broadcasters, Inc., which made the survey, estimates that 200,000 additional receivers will be produced by Spring.
A few days ago it was learned that Pittsburgh is about to have a second FM broadcaster, this one to be operated by Westinghouse Radio Stations, Inc., which also operates KDKA. The informant was radio man Richard G. Devaney of that city, who pointed out that the men of Uncle Sam's Army, who have learned to know and operate such sets in the service, "praise FM to the skies" when they come home on furloughs.
Date: 07-31-94 (00:02) - Number: 4218 of 4225 (Refer# NONE)
To: JEFF MILLER
Subj: KOZY Kansas City deletion
Read: NO Status: RECEIVER ONLY
Conf: INTER EMAIL (1000) Read Type: MAIL FOR YOU (A) (+)
BROADCASTING February 26, 1951
KOZY DELETED -- Pioneer FM Stations Turns in License
Pioneer FM station KOZY (FM) Kansas City, owned by Evertt L. Dillard's Commercial Radio Equipment Co., was deleted effective Feb. 15., the FCC reported last week. Done at the request of the licensee, the action was motivated by economic reasons, the Commission said.
KOZY, Class B outlet on Channel 251 (98.1 mc) with effective radiated power of 9.7 kw, has been off the air for about a year, ever since the station lost the lease on its site, Mr. Dillard explained last week. [98.1 is now occupied by KUDL(FM), which is actually licensed to Kansas City, Kansas.]
Mr. Dillard also is licensee of WASH (FM) Washington, another pioneer FM outlet "which will continue from where KOZY left off," he said. Difficulty in supervising KOZY's operation from Washington also was mentioned by Mr. Dillard.
Mr. Dillard was one of the moving forces behind formation of the FM Assn., which now has been merged with NAB. He is an ex-FMA president.
Kansas City now has only one authorized FM station in operation, KCMO-FM, which is a Transit Radio outlet. A Class B station on Channel 235 (94.9 mc), it is owned by KCMO Inc. [NOTE: It's still there, too.]
Mr. Dillard put KOZY on the air in 1942 as K49KC, operating in the former FM "low band" near 50 mc [44.9 mHz]. Much of the know-how used in establishing KOZY as a pioneer FM outlet came from Mr. Dillard's engineering work and experimentation with FM and high frequency AM during the 1930s. Many of his findings are included in the records of FCC's 1938 FM hearing.
WASH (FM) went on the air under regular commercial operation in December 1946. Prior to that Mr. Dillard operated the station experimentally as developmental outlet W3XL.
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NEW FM CALLS COMING
by T. R. Kennedy Jr.
New York Times, Sept. 19, 1943
Beginning next month, FM radio listeners will be required to learn and log a new set of call letters. On Nov. 1 all FM stations will abandon such calls as "W47NY," known as number-letter calls, and adopt "WAAX-FM," "WXAY," "WXRI" or some other simple letter combination approved by the Federal Communications Commission. About 4,000 such calls are available. Calls beginning with "W" will be assigned to FM stations east of the Mississippi, while "K" calls will go to stations west of the Mississippi.
Regular broadcasters also operating FM stations may or may not use hyphenated calls. For instance, the new call of the New York FM station of the National Broadcasting Company might become "WEAF-FM"; or for the Columbia System, "WABC-FM"; or Mutual, "WOR-FM"; or perhaps just "WXAF," "WXBC" or "WXOR," respectively.
All broadcasters desiring specific FM calls have filed requests with the FCC. Late-comers will receive calls picked from the general list remaining. There are ample four-letter calls, it is said, for all types of stations now operating and contemplated, including television.
The commission's decision to abandon the number-letter FM calls was based on limitations discovered by the FM broadcasters themselves. They were found cumbersome, hence did not meet with general public acceptance. The old familiar three or four letter call system was well rooted in the industry. It seemed so, at least. Another difficulty was that when an FM station was moved, geographically or along the megacycles, it involved changes in both letters and numerals.
Letter calls are intrenched in the public mind. What old-timer does not remember WBF of Boston operated by the W. B. Filene store in Boston before, during and after World War I; that WABC was derived from the predecessor of the Columbia System, the Atlantic Broadcasting Corporation, or that its first call was "WAHG," after the station's originator, Alfred H. Grebe, radio manufacturer of early broadcast days?
What radio nostalgia such old calls bring back. Old-timers in "wireless" remember that The New York Herald in the early Nineteen Hundreds operated Station OHX, which later became WHB. The locale was near South Ferry. Wanamaker's store was "WA," first two letters of the name. One of the first commercial stations in this city was that of United Wireless at 42 Broadway, which made "NY" known far and wide on the early air waves.
What operator doesn't remember "NAA," Arlington; "NAH," New York; "NAB," Boston; "WSE," Seagate; "WLC," New London; "WSL," Sayville, and the German Telefunken station "DWT"? Or "NBD," Otter Cliffs, Me., which established such an enviable reputation during World War I for transatlantic communications; or the imperishable "DS," initials of David Sarnoff, which the president of the Radio Corporation of America used during his radio-operator days--and still does--to identify himself.
Out of such calls grew the idea of broadcast station letters. It was easier and more natural to adopt a group of letters for a signature than figures, and there was precedent for it. Go back to the beginning of wireless. "CQ" was the ship danger call, later known as "CDQ"--Come quick, danger!"--and still later "SOS"--"Save our ship," liberally translated.
Letters were not only easier to make in the radio code than numbers but were more easily understood--for instance SOS is three dots, three dashes and three dots (...___...). It was desirable simplicity, so why not apply the same system to build calls for the new broadcasters? Incidentally, it is not apparent just why or how Pittsburgh's KDKA received that call instead of another one more like the Westinghouse name, but in general the simplicity rule held. So new broadcasters were assigned letters instead of figure combinations, and except for experimental stations have been receiving them ever since with letter prefixes denoting the countries in which the stations operated.
The idea of letter calls had its inception, the old records seem to show, at least as far back as Dec. 11, 1905, when the late Professor Reginald Fessenden operated his Brant Rock wireless "with such astonishing results" that the Bureau of Equipment of the United States Navy began to be interested.
A letter written to Fessenden a few days later at Boston said that its "operator in charge at San Juan (Puerto Rico) reports as follows: On December 11, at 9:15 P. M., heard a new spark. Never heard it before. Was making signals "BOZ," and kept repeating BOZ (or BOS, Boston) in continental code." That, in fact, may have been the actual beginning of letter calls on the air.
HIGHER BAND GIVEN FM BROADCASTING
FCC Orders It 'Upstairs' Between 88 and 106 Megacycles After a Long Fight
New York Times, June 28, 1945
by Winifred Mallon
WASHINGTON, June 27 - The Federal Communications Commission, in its final report on radio-frequency allocations between 44 and 108 megacycles, ordered today the assignment to frequency modulation of ninety channels between 88 and 106 megacycles, twenty of which, from 88 to 92 megacycles, are for non-commercial educational FM. At present FM is between 42 and 50 megacycles, and the action, consequently, lifts it "upstairs."
Six channels are assigned to television, one between 44-50 megacycles, three between 54 and 72, and two between 76 and 88 mc. Allocation of these six-megacycle bands, it is stated, will make possible immediately the use of all thirteen television channels below 300 megacycles.
Facsimile is assigned the 106-108 megacycle band. The band between 50 and 54 megacycles is allocated for amateur use and the space between 42 and 44, and 72 and 76 megacycles, to non-Government fixed and mobile services.
The allocations announced today are essentially those proposed as Alternative No. 3 of the Commission's earlier report, of May 25, modified only by the movement from 104-108 to 72-76 of non-Government fixed and mobile services, and the adjustment accordingly of the allocations to FM and television.
With the exception of FM, all the services for which provision is made in today's report have allocations in other parts of the spectrum, and so are not wholly dependent on these final assignments.
Commercial FM broadcasting, however, is covered fully by today's action. Today's allocations of the higher frequencies in preference to the present position between 42 and 50 megacycles, or the No. 1 Alternative of 50-68 megacycles suggested in the May 25 report, represents the final decision of the Commission in favor of the newly defined area of operations as one in which, for the indefinite future FM will be freer than elsewhere "from interference and other shortcomings."
The proposed upward movement of FM has been the most controversial issue in the whole program of post-war frequency allocations. In adopting the conclusion announced today, the commission overruled the recommendations of four panels of the Radio Technical Planning Board (panels on FM, television, facsimile and coordination of frequency allocations); of Major Edwin H. Armstrong, inventor of FM; and the strongly expressed opposition of officials and engineers of the Radio Corporation of America, the National Broadcasting Company, the Zenith Radio Corporation, Television Broadcasters Association, FM Broadcasters, Inc., the Electronics Manufacturers Association, and the Pioneer FM Radio Manufacturers. All had advocated the Alternative Number 1 placement between 50 and 68 megacycles.
On the basis of tests, tables and other data presented by FCC engineers, and by K. A. Norton, formerly of the FCC and now a civilian employe of the War Department, however, the commission ruled that the case for the placement of FM in the higher frequencies had been established to its satisfaction.
"Manufacturers, of course, are desirous of marketing receivers at the earliest possible moment; and the commission, too, is concerned that FM receivers shall be freely available to the public early enough to supply the immediate post-war demand," today's announcement stated.
"However, the commission has a duty to consider the long-range effects of its action as well as the effects during the months immediately ahead, and it does not propose to provide an inferior FM service during the decades to come merely because of the transitory advantages which may be urged for an inferior type of service."
Conceding that new equipment for use in the vicinity of 100 megacycles would cost more than equipment for use in the vicinity of 50 megacycles "at least temporarily," the commission argued that "it seems equally clear that competition will reduce the differential substantially, and that the benefit to the public resulting from an interference-free service will more than outweigh the slight increase in initial cost for service in the 100-megacycle region."
Opponents of the change based their objections not only on the increased cost to manufacturers and the purchasers of the new equipment but on the alleged invalidity of the technical data presented by the FCC engineers and by Mr. Norton, on which are based predictions of future interference with the FM service at other than the higher levels.
The testimony on these points of the commission's engineers was challenged at every hearing by Major Armstrong and others, and the presence of a "basic error" in the memorandum submitted by Mr. Norton concerning F-2 layer transmission and interference was also asserted in a statement submitted to the commission on June 18 and signed, in addition to Major Armstrong, by H. H. Beverage of RCA, Charles R. Burrows of the Bell Telephone Laboratories; Dr. Greenleaf W. Pickard, inventor of radio equipment and former instructor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Stuart L. Bailey of Bailey & Jansky, consulting engineers, of Washington.
It is stated by the commission that a converter has been demonstrated which would make existing FM receivers capable of tuning to the higher frequencies and which should retail for about $10.
Arthur Freed, vice president of the Freed Radio Corporation and conference chairman of the Pioneer FM Manufacturers, a trade group, stated here last night that the FCC's decision on allocations represented "a serious threat to the future of the entire industry."
Mr. Freed announced that the FM manufacturers would hold a special meeting within the next few days "on the course of action that will be followed by the industry regarding the FCC's decision."
"A serious threat to the future of the entire radio industry we believe that this decision, completely disregarding as it does the reasons advanced for adopting Alternative Plan No. 1, will result in widespread unemployment at a time when the industry is mobilizing its plans and resources for the reconversion from war production to civilian radio production," Mr. Freed said.
John Ballantyne, president of the Philco Corporation, one of the largest radio set manufacturers, heralded the FCC decision, however, asserting that it gave "the green light" to both FM and television.
"The commission's decision establishes FM radio on a high-quality basis that will provide interference-free service for the public and, over the years, lead to its fullest possible development," he said.
New York Times, Sept. 13, 1947
WOR's FM transmitter WHAM--which has been off the air for a year or more except for a series of tests carried on for the Federal Communications Commission, returns to the air with regular programs on Monday, Oct. 20. The dial position will be Channel 254, at 97.1 megacycles. The present one kilowatt transmitter will be used until a 10-kilowatt outfit is installed. Schedules are to include many features heard over the Mutual System but not locally over WOR.
When WCBS-FM returns to the air Sept. 21, at 3 P. M., after the current period of silence during which the transmitter and associated apparatus is being refurbished, it will be on the new assignment of 101.1 megacycles, channel No. 266.
Several missed calls in my previous history of FM assignments in New York city have been reported, so I am posting a revised version. The corrections which have been made in this revision (all from the current allocation system) are as follows:
Here is how the 42-50 MHz band looked toward the end of the band's existence:
The original 1945 proposed 88-108 MHz assignments were as follows:
A second 1945 proposal was as follows:
The actual 88-108 MHz frequencies in use in 1946-47 were as follows:
(During the 1946-47 period, some of the stations continued to operate simultaneously in the 42-50 MHz band. In fact, some used both bands in 1948, and Armstrong's W2XMN continued in both bands beyond 1948.)
The next list shows the current allocation scheme, which went into effect in 1947. It appears there was no single date on which stations changed frequencies. Stations generally were off the air for extended periods in order to make the necessary adjustments.
If anyone sees any omitted calls or other errors in the above list, please let me know.
Jeff Miller - email@example.com
Several missed calls in my previous history of FM assignments in New York city have been reported, so I am posting a revised version. The changes which appear in this revision (all in the modern allocation system) are as follows:
Here is how the 42-50 MHz band looked toward the end of the band's existence: