2008 National Radio Club Convention
Pittsburgh 2008 August 29-31
The National Radio Club’s 75th anniversary
The City of Pittsburgh’s 250th anniversary
by John R. Malicky
To: Mr. Robert Weaver
Founder – National Radio Club
603 West Market Street
Dear Mr. Weaver:
As with any story of recognition, there is usually a tribute or credit given to a person, persons, or events for the ideas and decisions that led to what has been achieved through such efforts. Like a declaration and since my involvement with our club in 1981, these words have slightly changed and could state more than what is said that, “founded in September, 1933, the National Radio Club is a non-profit organization devoted to the medium wave DX hobby and is operated solely by uncompensated volunteers.” Within this statement, we also say thank you for the idea to form this club, unlike no other, but recognizes all clubs. That it is still the world’s oldest and largest medium wave (and maybe of any band) club is an honor unto itself. A non-profit organization devoted to enriching the lives of all that join and especially to those who attend any convention for the friendship, camaraderie, learning, entertainment, and the love of radio and broadcasting in general. A club that is operated solely by volunteers who’ve spent many hours, effort, and monetary means to report, educate, relate a sense of satisfaction, and tell a story of warmth especially through our audio service for the last 23 years. Also, to include those receptions, QSL cards and letters, photos, calendars, now e-mail, and any correspondence, that those words, so simple and innocent, would still hope to inspire, enrich, and live with us for the rest of our lives from your idea 75 years ago. For all our members, past and present, whose wealth of experience and expertise has made our club stronger, as I would also mention to open the 75th convention, I write these reports to honor all of you. For all the world is a radio, and we are merely speaking into the microphone!
In closing, thank you again Mr.. Weaver for an idea that continues to flourish, in reflection of our great and wonderful club; and now begins this story of Pittsburgh 2008 with the recognition and dedication to the National Radio Club’s 75th anniversary.
To: William Pitt , the Elder, Earl of Chatham _ (London) England
To say that this was a most notable act is an understatement, appreciative we will always be that your authorization to fund and designate Brigadier General John Forbes to lead his men along with George Washington’s men on November 25, 1758 to claim this fertile land by the three rivers, the Monongahela, the Allegheny, and the Ohio and name this juncture in your honour of “Pittsbourgh” and now “Pittsburgh”. From the pioneer spirit to expand the colonies west for commerce, strategic, and militarily point of view to now see a city and area so strong and beautiful, we do so honor you. From a place known then as the “forks of the Ohio” to a city that was built by hard work and labor through the steel mills to one that now continues to compete in high tech, business, education, engineering, research in medicine, and athletics. A great city is Pittsburgh that inspires ideas and creativity through the arts and the warmth of our people. From the energy of the merging rivers at the point that signify strength, it was your vision to promote expansion, freedom, and liberty. For as you were quoted, “I love Americans because they love liberty.” To this tribute and your coat of arms on our city’s flag, we celebrate Pittsburgh’s 250th anniversary now and in this story.
With 100% of the voting now in, NRC Pittsburgh 2008 was a winner! For a product slogan once so often heard, “You can be sure if it’s Westinghouse,” and now “You can be sure it is Pittsburgh,” members and guests came to honor the National Radio Club’s 75th anniversary and the City of Pittsburgh’s 250th anniversary, plus Duquesne University’s 130th anniversary and KQV-1410’s Ray Goss’s 40th year on the air. For the name of George Westinghouse, who could possibly be considered the world’s greatest engineer and synonymous with 361 patents of mechanical equipment, he was also responsible for the introduction and development of alternating current for light and power. Also, with his founding of 60 companies including Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company in 1886, the name of Westinghouse in radio became so revered in the broadcasting industry as “Group W”. Even now, with CBS’s acquisition of Westinghouse in 1998, the name of “KDKA” is still revered in the industry, and the “Voice of Pittsburgh” became an even greater friend to the NRC for their help and assisting with Pittsburgh 2008. For the idea to host Pittsburgh for the third time (1990 and 2001) during the week of Boise 2007, it was considered to tie in the “Conrad Project” or the garage, now still in storage, of Dr.. Frank Conrad’s experiments on his equipment of 8XK that led to KDKA being the first commercially licensed station on the air November 2, 1920. However, with the NRC’s approval for this convention on New Year’s Eve 2007, all the planning, scheduling, commitments, purchases, donations, registrations, and assistance made Pittsburgh 2008 a success and my greatest achievement. Thankful for all members, their families, and friends who came, I am grateful to all the names you’ll read about and to these members for assistance: the NRC Board of Directors including Wayne Heinen for PayPal, Dick Truax for treasury funds, John Bowker for name tags, Ernie Wesolowski for registrations and video recording, Paul Swearingen for the DX News bulletin ad, Wally Wawro and Fred Vobbe for the programming and technical aspects of WNRC, Paul and Fred for the auction, “The Wizard of Wireless” Scott Fybush for ideas, the quiz, and presenting to us, along with daughter Ariel and wife Lisa, his newborn son and our newest member Eli (born May 13), Jason Togyer for ideas and the WRCT dedication. Curt White for transportation, and our 75 year member Kermit Geary for wisdom and a dedication. Other assistance and recognition also is given to Paul Kemp of Visit Pittsburgh for some of the posters, the “Pittsburgh Official Visitors Guide”, and Pittsburgh, Heinz pickle and ketchup pins, Jim Orkwis for copying the 23 page program. Antique Electronic Supply of Tempe, AZ for their 2007-08 catalogs. Universal Radio of Reynoldsburg, Ohio for donations. Managers Chaz Letzkus and Jessica Allshouse for coordinating our convention at the Pittsburgh Greentree Holiday Inn, and President Tootsie Jones of Jones Associates Advertising-Canonsburg, PA for the design of the ‘diamond within a diamond’ NRC and City of Pittsburgh anniversary black and gold 4″ x 4″(inch) magnet. Now, on with the show!
Who can?! We can, with a warm reception, and did visit our Pittsburgh NBC television affiliate WPXI-11 at their new and impressive facilities just after 1 FM on Day One, Friday, August 29, 2008. Occupying 17 acres of land at 4145 Evergreen Road just off 1-279 North with their large call letters on the building facing the highway, WFXI began operations here less than one year ago in October, 2007. Signing on September 1, 1957 as WIIC, then changing to WPXI in early 1981, their old studios nearby on Television Hill were being demolished during this weekend. Our ‘directors’ for this tour were Engineering Manager Frank Bobro and Engineer Dave Morrison with arrangements through Maureen O’Connor. At WPXI for approximately ‘eleven for eleven’, the years Mr. Bobro has been here, he reported to us first in the conference room of chairs with the “11” logo carved into the wooden backs. With 800 miles of wire beneath an eighteen-inch-elevated floor, our tour began through the open office and reporters area, the satellite center, the large main studio, and the audio engineer’s room. One of the unique finds in the main studio is the camera operator’s panel. From here, one operator can control three cameras for the news, weather, and sports. To know which camera is being used, light impulses travel through large cables on the floor that are attached to each camera. Mr. Morrison also mentioned of some stations where no operator is needed to control the cameras! Another unique fixture of the studio is that of the large wood doors that were brought here from the old studios. Honoring their past, there is a small plaque on the outside on of the doors when, in the 1960’s and 1970’s, TV 11 telecast a popular local weekend show, “Studio Wrestling”. Still on the air at WJAS-1320, legendary TV 11 personality Bill Cardille once hosted this show that included local and national professional wrestlers including the great Bruno Sammartino, a ‘live’ audience including “Ringside Rosie”, and another legendary personality. Hall-of-Fame baseball player Harold “Pie” Traynor. During a break for American Heating, Pie would proclaim that for the best service, “who can,” give you the best service, but, “Ameri-can!” Also in the early days, “Chilly Billy” Cardille hosted horror movies on “Chiller Theatre”. It was also where this writer found the best place behind the couch to watch those shows! Out in front now was reporter Jonas Chaney passing through the studio while sports anchor John Fedko was seen at the Pirate opener, two of the many recognizable personalities at WPXI. As a standard for many years, Bill Cardille returns to TV 11 hosting the local feed of Jerry Lewis’s MDA Telethon held again this Labor Day weekend. On Monday at 6:30 PM, WPXI would record another high in local donations at 1.7 million dollars. Other productions here include work for PCNC (Pittsburgh Cable News Channel) and the WPGH-53 news. About three years ago, ownership of TV 53 transferred their news to be broadcasted by TV 11 personalities Monday through Saturday, even though engineering is separate. Owned nationally by Cox broadcasting along with WTOV-9 in Stuebenville, Ohio, WPXI transmits with 316 kilowatts visual and 31.5 kw aural from their 848 foot tower about one mile away. Next February, 2009, WPXI will switch to DT channel 48 while KDKA TV-2’s WPCW-19 will move to DT-11. Always delivering quality news and programming, we thank WPXI for this ‘moving’ experience!
At 5 pm in the NRC Hospitality Room or Pine Room, it’s “Pittsburgh Pierogie & Pizza Time”! From an authentic ‘old world’ recipe, the first food item came from “Pierogie’s Plus” in nearby McKees Rocks, PA while for the second time since NRC 2001, the pizza was delivered from Pietro’s, this time from radio friend and owner Pete. For the rating, with pizza and pierogies in the Pine Diner, nothing could be finer!
Continuing the tradition from NRC 2001 of greetings from local personalities, at 7 PM we began with, “Hello, this is Ellis Cannon, Bill Hillgrove, Jon Burnett .Porky Chedwick, Candy and Mike, Big Ray Edwards, and Larry Berger as we would like to welcome everyone to Pittsburgh 2008 celebrating the National Radio Club’s 75th Anniversary and the City of Pittsburgh’s 250th Anniversary!” Each recorded separately, beginning on April 7th at the Pirate home opener at his broadcast booth outside PNC Park, Ellis Cannon hosts a 40 minute pre-game show or his “Sportsline” show week nights from 6-8 PM with “your favorite infotainer” from “Planet E” on “FM Newstalk 104.7” WPGB. Next was WTAE-4, Steeler and 38-year voice of Pitt football and basketball Bill Hillgrove who also is the MC each year for the West Perm Sports Hall of Fame banquet in May. Recorded in June at the Father’s Day Race co-sponsored by KDKA is their morning radio and weekend TV meteorologist Jon Burnett. Our fourth and legendary personality while at WKFB-770 on July 5th after his last show on the first Saturday of the month was “your platter pushin’ papa, your daddio of the radio,” oldies DJ “Pork the Tork” Porky Chedwick, now at 90, whose 60-year voice on the airwaves began at WAMO’s WHOD-860 in 1948, as their sign-on date was August 1. This was good timing here as Porky announced he was retiring to Florida in two weeks or by August 1 with wife Jeanie, though there will be a website created for him. Our fifth and sixth greetings came from veteran oldie personalities Candy and Mike and Big Ray Edwards who are now at WEDO-810 McKeesport. Prior to this. Candy and Mike were also at WKFB-770 every Saturday at noon. Our seventh and final greeting came from the Saturday Light Brigade producer and air talent Larry Berger. On the air for 30 years, the SLB is a weekly 6 hour show Saturday morning from six to noon, a ‘light’ style of entertainment, music, and quizzes, and a ‘brigade’ to signify a sense of belonging among listeners. With a 6-station network, heard locally on Carnegie Mellon University’s WRCT-88.3, and conducting an interview on August 24th for Pittsburgh 2008, Mr. Berger’s studio is in the ground floor of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and the previous Buhl Planetarium. To be or not meant to be was a second interview, while receiving donations on August 28th at our Clear Channel stations by popular afternoon sportstalk host Joe Bendel on “970 The Burg” WBGG.
Our next presentation was the NRC game show, ‘traveling down memory lane’, to honor the NRC’s 75 years with a recap of the last 25. With a special thanks to Dave Schmidt for conducting the February 1981 DX test of WCHE-1520 which led to my membership, and Jerry Bond for our arrival to my first convention at Louisville in 1982, I expressed my deepest gratitude to all members. Along with the NRC developing the DX audio service or DXAS by Fred Vobbe in April, 1985 and the electronic newsletter, e-DXN, in September, 2006, all these conventions were mentioned and attended except in 1984. With some duplication and some of the hosts mentioned, these conventions were Enfield, CT in 1983 and 1993 hosted by Ron Musco, 1985 in Portsmouth, RI by Craig Healy, 1986 and 1997 in New Castle, DE and 2005 in Kulpsville, PA by Dave Schmidt, 1987, 2000, and 2002 in Lima, OH by Fred Vobbe, 1988 in Milwaukee, WI, 1989 in Topeka, KS by Paul Swearingen, 1990, 2001, and 2008 in Pittsburgh by myself, Chris Cuomo, and Curt White, 1991 and 1999 in Bridgeport, WV by Bill and Brenda Swiger, 1992 in Omaha, NE by 8 members including Ernie Wesolowski, Carl Mann, Dan Bartek, Neil Zank, Bob McCoy, Mike Hawk, Lonnie Merritt, and Curn Chadwick, 1994 in Nashua, NH by Bruce Conti, with both in Colorado at Colorado Springs in 1984 and Aurora-Denver in 1995 by Wayne Heinen, 1996 in Knoxville, TN by Steve Francis, 1998 in San Antonio by Dale Hamm, the NRC’s 70th year in 2003 at Dallas by John Callerman, Bill Hale, and Wally Wawro, 2004 in Batavia, NY by “the magnificent seven” or Jerry Bond, Saul Chernos, Greg Coniglio, Scott Fybush, Rick Lucas, Jim Renfrew, and Nolan Stephany, 2006 in Akron, OH by John Bowker, and finally in 2007 at Boise, ID with the first ‘joint’ convention with WTFDA (Worldwide TV/FM DX Association) hosted by Frank Aden. Our deepest appreciation would also recognize Paul Swearingen, DX News Publisher for 20 years, AM Switch Editors Jerry Starr and now Bill Hale, our column and contest editors including current editors for the Domestic Digest East and West Mike Brooker and Bill Dvorak, International Digest to Bruce Conti, and Barry Finkel for Sport Networks, Ken Chatterton for the years of NRC Publications continuing now along with the many years of producing and keeping the database current, along with my dedication to be mentioned for Saturday, for the AM Log Book to Wayne and Joan Heinen, keeping the books in line. Treasurer Dick Truax, and contributing members to DXAS including the Travelog and Ombudsman, John Bowker. This club survives because of our great members and contributors and will continue into our 100th year with your support and help. Thank you.
Next was a short tribute to the City of Pittsburgh’s 250th Anniversary which included the founding by General Forbes, the name derived from William Pitt, our history, and the ongoing celebratory events. From when Forbes and British troops headed west clearing what became Forbes Trail and now US route 30, they came upon the French who had just burned Fort Duquesne and headed north up the Allegheny River. Within a few years, the five-sided Fort Pitt would be built, would be besieged by the Indians during the French and Indian War of 1763, and by 1764, a ‘redoubt’ or the Blockhouse at Fort Pitt and built by Colonel Henry Bouquet would be the only remaining building to this day in what is now Point State Park. Many years later in June, 1892, this privately-funded Blockhouse would be acquired and now operated by the Daughters of the American Revolution. Now adjacent to the five-sided Blockhouse and officially operated since April, 1894 by the DAR is the state-funded Fort Pitt Museum. Meanwhile, in the early years of the name of the city, a printer overlooked the “o” which no one bothered to correct, and by the 1890s, the U. S. government forced the city to remove the “h”, thus “Pittsburg, but by 1911, residents fought and won to return the letter, thus “Pittsburgh”. Over the years from a small village to an industrial giant, a “melting pot’ of immigrants built a strong and great city, the “Steel City”, whose mills would provide steel to help build the nation and provide for the wars. While the city would be first in several venues like radio, public TV in 1954, WQED-13, a service station in 1913, a diesel-electric rail car in 1929, at 42 stories, the tallest school building in 1937, the University of Pittsburgh’s Gothic style Cathedral of Learning, an aluminum building in 1953, the Alcoa, and a retractable domed “Civic” or now “Mellon Arena” in 1961, Pittsburgh could not shake the image of the dirt, soot, and grime that once could blacken the city during the day which caused street lights to come on and designer Frank Lloyd Wright once claimed to improve the city, one should, “abandon it!” However we didn’t that through Renaissance I and II, as an example, either from atop Mt. Washington or exiting the inbound Fort Pitt Tunnel, a beautiful city emerges! Still emerging, there’s an ongoing renovation of the river fronts, converting historic buildings downtown into lofts, nearing completion of a transit tunnel under the Allegheny River linking downtown to the North Shore’s ballparks, hotels, construction of a new casino, and a new multi-purpose arena for our NHL Penguins and concerts to open in 2010. With 77 inclines over one hundred years ago, but now at two, there are still 446 bridges in the region to cross the rivers. One river we have crossed is honoring the great men and pioneers who laid the city’s foundation. Names like Andrew Carnegie and George Westinghouse in the steel, rail, and electrical industry, the banking of Andrew Mellon, the “57 Varieties” of H. J. Heinz, and the designing of Henry Clay Frick and Willard Rockwell. Also, we’ve recognized in the medical field the works of Dr. Jonas Salk for the polio vaccine and Dr. Thomas Starzl for transplantation surgery. Now, there’s been a growth of biotech and computer software companies and recognition as world leaders to the universities of Carnegie-Mellon and Pittsburgh for computers, engineering, science, and medicine, with UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) the highest employer in the region at 42,000. Also recognized for business: the universities of Robert Morris and Duquesne. Of course there are the great teams of the Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins with just over 40 hall of famers for the first two with names of Wagner, Traynor, the Waners, Clemente, Stargell, Mazeroski, and Stauther, Greene, Bradshaw, Harris, Ham, Lambert, Blount, Stallworth, Swarm, and Lemieux, and now, “Sid the Kid” Sidney Crosby. Of course there are also the local stars of Ditka, Dorsett, Marino, Unitas, and boxers Conn and Zivic. Don’t forget our broadcasters like Bob Prince in the Baseball Hall of Fame and Myron Cope, the lone football voice in the Broadcasters Hall of Fame, plus Porky, Rosey, Rege, and Bill and Patti Burns. The arts and entertainment continue with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Opera, Ballet, Playhouse, and many other venues. Great entertainers in acting, singing, composing, and writing whether local or regional emerged from here with names like Gene Kelly, Stephen Foster, Stephen Flaherty, Billy Eckstine, Oscar Levant, Ted Cassidy, F. Murray Abraham, Charles Grodin, Frank Gorshin, Perry Como, Jimmy Stewart, Fred Rogers, Bobby Vinton, Jeff Goldblum, Michael Keaton, Dennis Miller, Barbara Feldon, Shirley Jones, and Rachel Carson. In jazz and a lighter style, other names included George Benson, Walt Harper, Harold Betters, Earl Hines, and Johnny Costa. Born in Cleveland and New York, Henry Mancini, Lena Horne, and Christina Aguilera lived and started their outstanding careers here. Outstanding pop artists Burton Morris and Andy Warhol, whose museum of a single artist here is the largest in the world, are two of the city’s favorite sons. Even Hollywood has come to Pittsburgh with 100 films shot here with the influence of the Pittsburgh Filmmakers Office and horror director George Romero since 1968. Throughout the year, there have been events to celebrate the city’s anniversary. Some of these included a gold medallion dinner in April, a “Parade of Champions” sports exhibit at the Heinz History Center during the third weekend of June, a competitive bike race that began on June 24 near Philadelphia and ended here on June 29 while following the Forbes Trail or US 30, a full day of festivities capped off by a grand fireworks birthday display to occur on October 4th, and an inventor’s display in November that will be described later in this story. Finally and for our concern, a ‘diamond’ 75th anniversary black and gold magnet with a baseball diamond was designed to honor the NRC and Pittsburgh. The magnet also included the club logo, website “www.nrcdxas.org”, the date of our convention, the “Pittsburgh” name in bold letters along with the city’s coat of arms, a “250” number logo, and a baseball within the zero along with a football and hockey stick and puck for our three teams. So with hockey season near, while far to our north, “vive le Quebec!”, city that is which they are also celebrating their anniversary of 400 years in 2008, but always remember that diamonds are forever!
“You better not pout, you better not cry, you better not shout, ‘cause I’m telling you why, Santa Claus is coming tonight.” In August?! To an NRC convention?! Actually, though not registered, but certainly most welcome because of his energy, jolly attitude, and often portly physique, though we forgot the pillow, our next guest was a person named “Pa Pitt”. Dressed in colonial attire and somewhat considered the father of the city, “Pa Pitt” came to recap Pittsburgh’s life in a lighter style. A creation of cartoonist Fred Johnston of the Pittsburg Leader in 1897 and redrawn many times, “Pa Pitt” became most famously drawn by Cy Hungerford who used the character to embody Pittsburgh life and politics. Used several different ways including within the logo of then WIIC TV 11, “Pa Pitt” retired in 1977, but sometimes would make appearances, like tonight! With the outfit rented from Spotlight Costumes in Pittsburgh’s South Side, “Pa Pitt” was portrayed by professional actor David Crawford who also sang small passages from songs like, “Moon River”, “Way Down Upon the Swanee River”, and “Stormy Weather”, and a few lines from old Duquesne Beer, “have a Duke”. Once a booth announcer replacing George Eisenhower at KDKA TV 2, it was ‘elementary my dear’ folks that Mr. Crawford was currently performing at Pittsburgh’s Hazlett Theatre as Sherlock Holmes, taught acting, and worked at the Open Stage in the city’s Strip District. To “Pa P” and Mr.’C’, we thank you from the N-R-C!
Next, from afar in his car from PARS (Pittsburgh Antique Radio Society), of which I’m also a member, veteran local member Karl Laurin spoke about PARS’ significance in the radio community. Now, “in our 22nd great year”, PARS is incorporated as a non-profit Corporation “dedicated to the preservation and exhibition of historic communications equipment and early electronic entertainment media, with an emphasis on the Pittsburgh area and related material’’, whose, “members are encouraged to acquire, restore, or replicate historic items and collect publications, recordings, and other materials related to the history of communications and broadcasting.” This from Article II, the PARS Constitution. With dues at $10 a year while receiving the Journal of the Pittsburgh Oscillator four times, Karl obtained three NRC members to join PARS. To that I say, with: my confusion of presenting instead Karl as our longtime member, may the ‘Forth’ be with you!
Before this Friday night closes, presenting itself in another venue is “Your Convention Station -WNRC” at 100.3 megahertz playing the oldies you love and the info we needed during our convention weekend. Operating with a ‘blistering’ 30 milliwatts, WNRC was unable to transmit on 1520 AM, in accordance with the NRC being a medium wave club, due to a lack of an antenna site around the hotel. Though one of these days, we’ll have a large enough tower to rival any 50 kilowatt clear stations! For NRC 2008, WNRC used a brand new system for transmitting. This system consisted of a new digital exciter, new audio processing, and a newly-formatted WNRC complete with new ‘sweepers’ or promotional announcements and a new jingle package from TM Studios in Dallas, one of the highlights of tours during NRC Dallas 2003. With the music on WNRC obtained from Chief Engineer Fred Vobbe’s collection, the programming was played off a WireReady automation system while the sound rivaled that of the best commercial station. To format and prepare for Pittsburgh’s Wonderful New Radio Classics, the total effort required about 150 hours. The wonderful assisting talent for WNRC included Dallas’s John Summers of KLUV-98.7 and NRC member Wally Wawro from WFAA-TV 8 along with WLIO-TV 35’s Fred Vobbe as well as voice overs from Vickie Hudson, Doc Morgan, John Wells, Dick Ervasti, and a cast of thousands; make that dozens. Continuing with music and programming for one more night, “This now concludes the information for WNRC at 100.3 mhz in Pittsburgh. We thank member and CE Fred Vobbe and his staff for all their work. Please tune in again when WNRC will attempt to resume their normal and creative programming at NRC 2009. For now from your convention host, have a pleasant good night.”
“Overture, curtains rise, Saturday’s here, we’ll hit the highs, and oh what highs we’ll hit, on with the show, this is it!” Continuing a precedent of past and successful NRC conventions, the Pittsburgh, namely KDKA, radio community and tours shined like the sun would on this beautiful August 30th and Day Two of NRC 2008. At 0930 hours EDT, 23 members would visit the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center at 1212 Smallman Street in the city’s Strip District. Not to be confused with “77 Sunset”, the Strip consists mostly of old buildings, warehouses, stores, and other businesses, some of which have been transformed into trendy nightclubs, restaurants, shops, lofts, and the history center, though all still within the receiving docks of produce (fruits and vegetables) via truck and train.
Formerly the Chautauqua Ice Company which cut and transported ice from Lake Chautauqua in New York to Pittsburgh, this roughly 100-yearold brick fortress of a building would be converted and opened as the Heinz History Center in 1996. Also, the center is now linked, “in association with the Smithsonian Institution.” With his early years devoted to working with his father. Jack, on civic development downtown, then a 20-year career in political office holding over 500 town meetings while legislating over many issues including the environment, and representing Pennsylvania as Senator in Congress since 1976, Senator John Heinz III, great-grandson of Henry John (H.J.) Heinz, was killed on April 4, 1991 outside Philadelphia in a collision with his chartered plane and a helicopter en route to a town meeting. As his father who would create the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust in 1984, it was a noble achievement to name this history center for Senator Heinz. In a small and honored way, we were received before regular opening hours of 10 AM by the History Center’s Westinghouse Historian Ed Reis. A retired 25-year employee of the electrical giant and former curator of the now-closed, since May 2007, Westinghouse Museum in nearby Wilmerding, Mr. Reis explains that the other building is now used by a different group while all of the Westinghouse artifacts have been brought here. Some of these artifacts along with other items will be on display to the public in November under a Western Pennsylvania/Pittsburgh Inventors theme in conjunction with the city’s birthday, but for the NRC, this was similar to being at the movies with a peek at the coming attractions.
With a total of seven floors at the history center, our visit is to the fifth beyond the “Clash of Empires – The British, French, & Indian War, 1754-1763” exhibit to the Westinghouse artifacts. With some of its original parts, our first and main interest was witnessing a replica of KDKA’s original transmitter from 1920. About three feet in height, the transmitter’s front is a black paneled face with five white circular meter levels and two dial switches in the upper portion and several connection points below. Behind the face is a metal stand bolted to the front with the shelf two thirds up. On the shelf, the main parts are six large tubes, three on each side, and a coil about one foot high in the middle. Beneath the shelf is a vertical panel with wires connected from the front to the lower brace. A few minutes later, a Heinz Center employee connects two wires to hear the first voice of KDKA, Harold Rosenberg, begin to read the election results of Harding/Cox on that historic night of November 2, 1920, “This is KDKA of the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company. We will now read the election results.” Repeated again, within our group there’s a chilling moment coming alive again. Although I’ve since learned that this was actually a recreation by Mr. Rosenberg around 1930, I’m reminded of him and three other men of KDKA in a shack, with this transmitter more enclosed on a table shelf, atop the now demolished eight-story “K” Building over one year ago in East Pittsburgh. Portion of the plant still houses other businesses and was visited by some members of NRC 2001. Ironically, while forming his company in 1886, a Civil War veteran and buried in Arlington National Cemetery, George Westinghouse (1846-1914) never would realize or see the beginning of radio which was developed by one of his employees. Dr. Frank Conrad. With some on loan from the Smithsonian, other items included a 1925 electric range with a windup mechanical timer clock, a 1927 street car’s controller stand, a 1930 400-pound electrical refrigerator that was still in use up to 1992, a 1954 color television, an electrical range, and a curious exhibit of an electrical heat wave (or crokinall wave) metal hair curlers. Relating more to history, two other items were replica time capsules from the 1938 New York World’s Fair buried on the autumn equinox of September 23 and to be opened 5,000 years from the date of the fair. With the equinox chosen so that it could be more easily remembered, the replicas were made around 1939-1940 and contained a light bulb, an American flag, a small Westinghouse radio, and letters from Albert Einstein. Open at the top and shaped like torpedoes, the capsules were made of a copper-like material called, “coppalite”. Another first for Westinghouse, they would coin the terms, “time capsule” and “laundromat”. With the more recent passage of time, Westinghouse Corporation would sell the radio division to CBS in 1998, divest itself of making appliances, and concentrate solely on nuclear power. In 2006, Japan’s Toshiba would acquire Westinghouse Electric but still keep the name under a license agreement. In 2009, Westinghouse will move into their huge headquarters just outside Pittsburgh. So with all their significance, with the Westinghouse name still used like WABCO ( Westinghouse Airbrake Company), we will always be sure of this visit! Also sure, the capsules did contain other items.
With so many exhibits and attractions including a life-size streetcar one can board, a specialty steel cruiser automobile, a Heinz horse-drawn wagon, and metallic signs from Westinghouse and USS (United States Steel) and fluorescent ones from expired local businesses like Klein’s Restaurant and Isaly’s Ice Cream stores, there’s some time to visit the impressive collection on two floors of the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum. Beginning on the second floor, a self-guided tour passes through a large room with a continuous video of great moments in Pittsburgh sports, then into a larger room with a huge mural of the outside of Forbes Field and Pirate hall of famers Clemente, Stargell, Mazeroski, and Wagner. In this larger room is other baseball memorabilia including the Negro League’s Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays and from the Pirates, a “green weenie”, a plastic shaker from the 1960’s to hex opponents, a KDKA banner, and from a cabinet radio, great highlights with the voices of Rosey Rowswell, Bob Prince, Nellie King interviewing Roberto Clemente, and the longest-tenured at 33 years, Lanny Frattare. On the third floor are collections of football, basketball, hockey, and other sports that include Steeler items like a carpet logo, a life-size “The Terrible Fan” from the 1970’s, and a photo of legendary original owner Art Rooney with son Dan, helmets from high school football rivals, a photo of Franco’s (Harris) Italian Army inducting Frank Sinatra as a general from the early 70’s, Perm State with Joe Paterno and Pitt’s Dan Marino and Tony Dorsett photos, championship stories with photos of the 1968 ABA Pipers and 1991-‘92 NHL Penguins with Mario Lemieux, a simulated golf range from the Oakmont Country Club and Arnold Palmer, an actual Indy car from Chip Ganassi Racing, and photos of Olympic champion runner John Woodruff who competed in the 1936 Berlin Games along with Jesse Owens and hurdler Roger Kingdom who once held the world record (12.91) in the 110 meter high hurdles. Our last hurdle completed, we thank Ed Reis and the Heinz History Center for one record of a visit!
Staying with a sporting theme, most of the group walked two blocks for lunch to the Sports Rock Cafe while other members continue four more blocks to the former 18th Street and Primanti’s where Pittsburghers and the NRC enjoy their favorite sandwich! Also celebrating their 75th year, Primanti Way was renamed this past July that included an outdoor festival. A ‘festival’ of a sandwich, Primanti’s serves theirs mixed with fries, coleslaw, and your choice of beef, turkey, or whatever your stomach can handle. Getting a handle on anniversaries, along with the NRC, Primanti’s, Pittsburgh, and WAMO, other celebrations in 2008 included WTAE TV 4 for 50 years, the Gateway Clipper Fleet also at 50, the Renaissance & Baroque Society for 40 years, and on October 30th, the 70th-anniversary broadcast of Orson Wells’ “War of the Worlds”. Next year, Pittsburgh Opera will celebrate 70 years of performances. Another performance and a peaceful one was a tribute near 2 PM to the NRC from member and the enjoyable voice of Jay Thurber, noon to 2 or 3 PM on WRCT-88.3 Carnegie-Mellon University. From the NRC, thanks to the SRC, Primanti’s, J.T., and WRCT as we must flee for our next visit at three!
Taking a short trip of about 10 miles off route 28 to route 8 north and turning right onto Clearview Road up the hill, we came upon a clear view of the impressive transmitter and clear-channel site of KDKA-1020. With the cornerstone of “1939” placed in the outside wall of the transmitter building, this site moved here at Allison Park from Saxonburg and also was a visit during NRC ‘90. With arrangements through Chief Engineer Vic Pasquarelli, we meet on-site Engineer Roy Humphrey. An engineer for 55 years and currently seven years at KDKA, it is a bit nostalgic for myself having met Mr. Humphrey about 21 years earlier at WLTJ-92.9. Besides his duties here, Mr. Humphrey also is the CE at Pitt’s WPTS-92.1, WPGH “Fox 53/WPMY “My TV” 22, and a few other stations where his expertise is needed. Of note, when television changes to digital in February, 2009, WPMY will become DT42 and WPGH DT43. Inside the building, the vintage Westinghouse transmitter, about 35 feet in length, was retired in 1971, but is still a great admiration of Mr. Humphrey. As much of the interior and coils are still intact, on the front side in the middle there’s the “Westinghouse” nameplate and a much smaller “KDKA” plate at the top. Even the old operator’s control panel is still here. Still in awe for this second visit, on the opposite side of the room replacing the old Harris 50k transmitters are the three month old Harris 50k “DX Destiny” HD ‘refrigerator’ transmitters. Labeled “1” and “2” with the “KDKA” name carved in wood, each transmitter has three panel doors, is nine feet in length, and is separated by the KDKA name on the wall. Of note, when KDKA went to HD, the co-channel ‘hiss’ now completely wipes out WINS-1010 while WBZ-1030 is barely audible. Unlike 1990, this time we descend downstairs to see the old generator and along the wall, a plethora of KDKA’s past, ads and some programs with some labeled from the 1960’s on reel-to-reel tapes, records, and logbooks. Outside in real time about a one-hundred yard walk in a ‘field of dreams’ is the 718-foot guyed KDKA Franklin tower centrally fed and motorize-tuned at the center and base. KNBR-680 and WHO-1040 have the same towers, but their feed points are much higher. Installed in 1995, at first this tower presented many problems as the 50k power feed was too overwhelming, and inclement weather increased problems in the signal. As Mr. Humphrey would reiterate what a CBS engineer had proposed, to cut 200 feet off the tower, over time the signal problems were overcome and the fade zone did increase past a 25 mile radius. Meanwhile, next to the new base is the old one, as that tower, also a Franklin, was dynamited. As we will see them later, instead of scrapping the old tower, KDKA decided to have the metal sliced into tiny slabs and encased in lucite. Labeled and sold at $20 to benefit Pittsburgh’s Children’s Hospital, some of these ‘tower cubes’ will be presented as a courtesy at our dinner and auction. Also, in the moving process from Saxonburg to here, this original tower broke, but was soon fixed. As one of the NRC Quiz questions, “In the 1933 AM dial published (by Bruce Conti) in DXN Vol. 75 #28, this was the only U. S. station on the air at 980 kc.” Answer – KDKA! Isn’t it ironic that KDKA would move their tower here from Saxonburg, with the land or an area owned by Westinghouse and where most of the engineers lived, close to the time of the U.S. frequency switch in the 1940-1941 period. Another switch was KDKA’s backup antenna which consisted here of a longwire suspended by two California redwoods, but long since replaced now by a 154-foot guyed tower adjacent to the transmitter building. Long a friend of the NRC, in the January 17, 1934 issue, “KDKA broadcasts DX Tips, including those from DX NEWS, every Monday, 12:30 to 1 AM, on 980 kc in a DX program conducted by Joe Stokes.” This excerpt and several others were taken from the NRC’s 50th anniversary book, “Commemorating the History of Broadcast Band DX’ing”. Following a short walk on a gravel road, or maybe a yellow brick or long and winding one, we also visited the KDKA-TV satellite station with various dishes adjacent including two that were thirty feet in diameter. Transmitting our thoughts into words, we thank and bid Roy ‘73’s’ and return to no other place like home or the Holiday Inn for another kind of dish served for the NRC Banquet!
With dinner at 5:30 PM and followed by a short NRC Business Meeting in the Board Room, we’re not bored in our suits and ties, or maybe not, and smiling so nice to the suggestion of “IBOC!” for the NRC Group Photo outside the front of the Inn taken by more friends of the NRC, longtime member Jerry and Bonnie Starr. Urging Jerry to rejoin, Bonnie is again the official photographer for the group which held up, front and center, a three-foot sign of the NRC logo drawn by the host. In All-American colors of red, white, and blue, this moment attempts to recreate one from an old photo of the 1939 “ERIE, PA” convention which held a similar sign. Following another delicious dinner, Paul Swearingen and Fred Vobbe are front and center successfully conducting again the NRC ‘Business-as-usual’ Meeting. Among the topics, membership is still good holding at approximately 480 in DXN, with 29 foreign, 164 in e-DXN, and 120 in DXAS. With the DXN layout still assembled by Paul, the printing and mailing is done now by Benjamin Printing in Watertown, NY; the technology of this 21st century has helped the NRC immensely especially for the DXN and the NRC Publications Center; the NRC Treasury is solvent while to help in the balance, more NRC AM Logbooks are ordered by non-members than by members; as a new editor is needed for DXN, a ‘spam’ editor is needed to edit the NRC website and maintain it; and make that three posts to be filled as DDXD-“Vast Westland” Editor Bill Dvorak announced he will step down at the end of 2008; and finally Bob Smolarek of High Bridge, NJ offered to host NRC 2009 in Allentown, PA pending the NRC Board of Directors’ approval. Then to close, two members were recognized, myself and Kermit Geary. From Wayne Heinen, Chairman of the NRC BOD, the 29th edition of the AM Radio Log, “has been dedicated to (me) for your unfailing coverage of our annual convention over these many years. It is actions and dedication like yours that deserves recognition by the BOD and public acclaim for the work that you do.” For this I say, ‘for all yunz (you plural in Pittsburghese, a ‘yinzer’ is an area resident) do, this report is for you!’ Next, to the NRC Member of the Year at, “Pittsburgh, PA August 2008. For participation in and service to the National Radio Club during its 75 years, we salute Kermit Geary.” With this plaque held by Ernie Wesolowski, we congratulate you, Kermit, for your 75-year-membership! Then as the Steelers celebrated their 75th anniversary in 2007-08, I hope yunz left room for our anniversary sheet cake with the magnet icing in the middle singing, “Happy Birthday to you, and your DX is true, happy birthday dear NRC, happy birthday to you!”
With participation and service with recognition to the Pittsburgh and radio community, the utmost respect is given to our three guest speakers, KDKA’s Dr. Knowledge and Miss Information (Charles and Audrey Reichblum) and former 34-year Engineer Mel Check. From our initial meeting with Dr. K. as he spoke first at the 100th anniversary of wireless transmission symposium honoring Professor Fessenden on November 11, 2006 at Pitt, then accepting this past March to be here now, for “the Chancellor of the University of KDKA” to “class is back in session”, Dr. Knowledge, along with Miss Information, impart knowledge, not just trivial, but information that is power for the mind. Broadcast twice weekly on Saturday and Sunday, their show airs from midnight to three. With a strong and easy voice that elaborates on his answers, Dr. K. began his fifth year, from August 28, 2004, on “The Voice of Pittsburgh”. Bumped from Fridays by the addition weeknights of The Dennis Miller Show, Miss Info joined Dr. K. one year ago. As to his hiring at KDKA, Audrey Reichblum, “Accredited – Public Relations Society of America”, first booked guest Author Charles Reichblum on ex-morning host Mike Pintek’s Show in February, 2004. With an interesting discussion, when an overnight slot opened, Dr. K. was hired and thus began his question and answer show. ‘And now, the rest of the story’. What three great air personalities graduated from the University of Syracuse? If you answered Marv Albert, Bob Costas, and Charles Reichblum, you are correct! While as an Orangemen undergrad. Dr. K. worked for a time at WAER, “Always Excellent Radio”, which was the first college station on the air, signing on January, 1946 as listed in Broadcast Yearbook at 2.5 watts, then upgrading to 6 kilowatts in the ‘60’s, and now a full 50k at 88.3. Upon graduation, Dr. K. would soon accept a position at WJAS-1320 replacing Pirate voice Bob Prince but would only remain there for a short time. Always interested in stories and facts, Dr. K. would write a syndicated column, “Interesting Facts”. This soon led to writing books in a copyrighted series, “Knowledge in a Nutshell” on topics like America, popular products like Heinz, and sports. Even before this. Dr. K. would create his own news service in 1959, Century Features, while his first book, “Greatest Events in American History”, would win a Freedoms Foundation Award in 1966. Now with a weekly newsletter, one can order this at: www.knowledgeinanutshell.corn or 1-800-NUTSHELL (688-7435). With cards passed around, a one-year subscription includes a special 10% discount and a free series book. To hear and/or respond on The Dr. Knowledge Show, dial 1-877-855-KDKA (5352) or the “instant access” website, kdkaradio.com. From one plug to another, did Dr. K. receive his name here? No, Mr. Reichblum received his name, through Miss Info’s bookings, from talk show hosts in Kansas City and Houston. To find out how Miss Information got her name, well “only the shadow knows!” With so many facts “a’nat”, we thank Program Director Marshall Adams for donating the KDKA (CD) 50th and on cassette, the 80thanniversary recordings, plus some tower cubes for our auction. Now, class, with three of the cubes for prizes to a correct answer, these questions were asked. One, whose face is the Statue of Liberty? Answer, Charlotte, the mother of the French sculptor Frederic Bartholdi who said her face was perfect because she looked strong and honest. Dedicated on October 28, 1886, the statue’s body was that of the sculptor’s girlfriend while its likeness was from the Greek goddess of freedom. Two, who was the youngest president voted into office? Answer, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt at 42, our 26th President, who took office Sept. 14, 1901 and stayed for seven years. Our second youngest and 35th President, John F. Rarnsdy at age 43, took office Jan. 20, 1961, then assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963. Three, on August 28, 1922, what significant event was broadcasted on radio? Answer, the first commercial for the Queensboro Realty Company, this was the first ad on station WEAF in New York. Other observations, now in the form of questions included, what significant broadcast event occurred this week at the end of the Democratic national convention; two, in 1784, this part of western North Carolina existed as what state for 4 years, eventually joining its neighbor Tennessee; three, where did the name “hamburger” originate; and four, from what source are half of the United States’ names derived? The answers, CNN, the cable network had the highest ratings over the broadcast networks of CBS, ABC, and NBC; the state of “Franklin” of which a highway in Tennessee still bears the name; Hamburg, Germany; and the Native American language. Reminded of Ed and Wendy King, another couple in the early 1970’s on KDKA, their show, “Party Line”, only allowed their voices on the air to answer questions from callers off the air. Now, with both hosts and callers heard, there are few rules as listeners may respond more than once, like regulars Chuck, RV, and the baseball and sports expert Tracy, but any person should try to give one answer to a question so that will give others a chance. For our audience tonight, we were delighted that Charles and Audrey Reichblum gave us a chance to hear them!
Through TV 2’s story teller and twenty year personality Dave Crawley, our next speaker was Mel Check, formerly KDKA radio engineer for 34 years (1964-1998). Having met the first time at the KDKA transmitter site during NRC ‘90, in retirement from KDKA, Mr. Check almost works more now than before as an audio engineer for CBS Westwood I broadcasts in this general area and local games involving the Penguins, Pitt football and basketball, and some Steeler and Pirate games. There’s no doubt about Pirate voice Lanny Frattare who’s worked over 5,000 games, but Mel has worked 2,000 more! For it is his equipment, worth thousands, of consoles, boards, and microphones and not the teams, stadiums, or arenas that is now used for broadcasts which is carried over an ISDN (Integrated Service Digital Network) line which in today’s technology, there are still problems over the internet for feeds to the studio. Like the name Westinghouse, you can be sure you’re receiving the best engineering work for Pittsburgh sports broadcasts as the names of Mel, and son, Dorn Check have been synonymous for games here. Even now, Mr. Check still travels with the Pitt football team for away games and hires engineers to work baseball games for the Cincinnati Reds, Pirates, and other events while saving teams from doing the paperwork and booking costs. About 80 miles north from here, Mr. Check began his career in Clarion, PA building their TV station and working at WWCH-1300. With transmitter problems at WWCH, Mel would meet CE Walt McCoy of WEEP-1080 who arrived and solved the problems being familiar with their transmitter. Already with 17 engineers, Mr. Check would be hired at KDKA as everyone would work well together even though he felt ‘overshadowed’ by these graduates of M.I.T. and Cal Tech. Regardless and with this helpful group, for the longest time Mel would respond to letters for QSL’s while surprised at the number of Scandinavian reports. Working with a great family like KDKA, with personalities like Rege Cordic, Jack Bogut, “your ‘ole Uncle Ed (Schaughency)”, “your pal (Art) Pallan”, John Cigna, speaker at NRC ‘90 “the big voice of KDKA” Bill Steinbach, news anchor Bob Kopler who retired at the end of 2007, and so many others, everyone was loose, easy-going, and very professional. Of course there was the mild humor with stories about longtime personality Bob Tracy, Miss Pittsburgh, and the cigarette, the KDKA newlyweds and the phone, and the Engineer’s picnic and the outhouse. ‘Details at eleven, only on KDKA’! A “jewel” of a person and very forgiving and giving was the great Pirate voice (1955-1975) Bob Prince. Well, “kiss it goodbye, we had ‘em all the way” as I’ll even throw in sportscasters like “The Possum” Jim Woods, Tom Bender, and Nellie King, but before we leave you, from the Pennsylvania AAA Guide, please check out Check’s Radio Museum in Armstrong County near Karns City, PA. In a room the size of this banquet area, or about 50-60 feet in length, there’s an amount of close to CKLW, or 800, vintage radios at Mel’s home. Also included are wire recorders, a “77D” microphone used by Ed and Wendy King, a 1920’s magneto (wires wrapped around a coil used as a generator) from Forbes Field, and a ‘mouse sitting on some cheese’ novelty radio which when tuned to “Newsradio 1020” or any talk station, the mouth will move! Sort of ‘cheesy’, but will the mouse still talk or bite the hand that doesn’t feed it?! Anyway, of these radios from the 30’s with tubes, batteries, and earphones, they could cost almost as much as a car. Finally and being cost effective, by the mid-1980’s, KDKA would switch from music to talk as broadcasters would be more in the entertainment business whether it is information, knowledge, or reporting. For us, we’ve reported that Mel Check has been entertaining and informative! Next, stay tuned for the NRC Auction.
Now it’s time to ‘break your bank’ or open your piggy bank as the NRC Auction is here in the Pine Room this year. The NRC wishes to thank all those for donations, whether brought to the auction, mailed, or shipped UPS with a recognition to Fred Vobbe for the WLIO TV 35 shirts, note pads, labels, and other items. Harry Hayes for Radio Shack items and back issues, Chris Cuomo for a bag of cans, or stickers. Dale Park for Hawaiian stickers, KDKA for the tower cubes and anniversary items. Promotion Directors Bryan Engel at WEAE-1250 for shirts and Anthony Alfonsi at Clear Channel Radio for the WDVE-102.5 mugs, and finally Universal Radio President Fred Osterman’s nostalgic catalogs,’ Popular Communications magazines, FM Atlas books and others, Yaesu shirts and hats, and a pocket-size Sangean DT-220V AM/FM/TV receiver won by the host. Fred also wished us the very best for NRC 2008 as he enjoyed the last one attended in Boston 1973 during the days of “GPN”, Gordon P. Nelson, an expert member and host. Having exhausted their supply of the ‘07-‘09 catalogs, Fred mentioned members can order the new ‘08-‘09 catalogs by calling 800-431-3939. With a final tally of $244.15, some of the interesting items Auctioneer Fred Vobbe sold included a digital TV converter box won by Harry Hayes and a Sony ICF-5900W receiver won by auction accountant Paul Swearingen. Before retiring, some members would listen to the Dr. Knowledge Show while others, in the words of the late TV 2 news anchor Bill Bums, would say, “good night, good luck, and good news tomorrow!”
Like game Seven of the 1960 World Series and the drama unfolding, “This is WJRM signing on to highlight events on the final day, Day Three of NRC 2008 and the final day of August, Sunday the 31st. For those of you leaving after the quiz, please have a safe trip home, while for others, enjoy the ball game in the afternoon.” So, ‘who’s on first?, what’s on second?, and I don’t know is up third’, and am I going to like it?! Answers are, Scott Fybush’s “Official 2008 NRC Quiz” warning member Frank Merrill to be very afraid, the Pirates-Brewers game, and TBA. First and having the answers ahead of time, my score of 28 was the highest, but in effect I would become a resident of the ‘Steal City’, so as to be excluded; our winner with 25 points was George Greene who won a free year’s membership! Congrats George, thanks Scott, and now a few brief questions. “Two AM stations in the Pittsburgh market hold construction permits to swap frequencies. What are the two frequencies in question? Answers: 910 and 1360. Of note, this application has been ‘on the books’ over two years while 1360 this weekend would dump their WPTT talk format for ‘one for the money’ WMNY, a business advice format. “Go to a Steelers game and you’ll be surrounded by fans waving ‘Terrible Towels’, the creation of legendary Steelers announcer Myron Cope who died this past February. What Pittsburgh AM station was Cope mostly associated with? Answer: WTAE-1250. Of note, when WTAE was sold several years ago, they wanted to phonetically keep a similar call, thus they became, still are, and owned again with TV 4, WEAE. That could almost award myself to be a “Copanut!” Finally, a general question, “Only one AM frequency has three 50 kW stations with three-letter calls. Name the frequency and the stations.” Answer: 810 and KGO, WHB, and WGY. Of note, the WGY call will have some significance later. Finally, a small red maple leaf white magnet door prize only for Canadian members was won by Niel Wolfish. Now, let’s “play ball!”
Following a boat ride on one of the Gateway Clipper Fleet which docks at the South Side’s Station Square traveling on the “fallen bank” or Monongahela River, around Point State Park on the “pleasant” or Ohio River, then anchoring at the Allegheny River, 26 members and family will attend, at the NRC group rate of $14, the 1:35 FM game between the ‘sinking’ Pittsburgh Pirates and the “True Blue Brew Crew” Milwaukee Brewers. Did you know the Brewers were called the Seattle Pilots in 1970 before relocating? With an attendance of 21,392 on this beautiful “Kid’s Pirate Wall Clock Day”, some of the Bucco fans wish they could turn back the clock for their team to the championship days of 1960, 1971, and 1979, even throwing in 1909 and 1925. With hall of fame statues Clemente and Stargell at the left field gates and Honus Wagner at home plate and a beautiful view of the Allegheny and downtown, ESPN.com still rates PNC Park number one in all the Major Leagues. With our group seated in Section 315 on the third level and just to the right of home plate, some of us wait’ for the seventh inning stretch when broadcaster and former Pirate pitcher Steve Blass of “FM 104.7” WPGB, the flagship station, would toss team souvenirs to fans below as he does at every Sunday home game. Other fans, except those of the Brewers, cannot wait for this game to end as flamethrower Brewer and ex-Indian pitcher C.C. Sabathia shuts out the Bucs on a one-hitter, 7-0. Except for a weak ground ball by Pirate Jason Michaels that was ruled a hit, this play was mishandled by C.C. and the official scorer ruling a hit that should have been an error. Regardless, this ball game trip today was a ‘home run’ and hope ‘yunz’ all enjoyed the experience.
Finally and “rounding third and heading home”, one more attraction and visits for some members began in the Oakland section of the city to the Pirates’ former home, Forbes Field (1909-1970). With Schenley Park behind and Pitt’s campus adjoining, what remains is the left-center to right-center field wall. At center field is the flagpole and the 457 foot number of which after New York’s Polo Grounds came down was the deepest or longest center mark in the majors. In 2006, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission would place a plaque near the wall while in the street on Clemente Way is a smaller plaque, along with bricks marking the former wall, designating where Mazeroski’s home run was hit. Now honoring that October 13, 1960 date for almost 20 years, the Game Seven Gang and other fans meet at “The Wall” to hear that historic moment recorded now on CD from the broadcast of WGY and Chuck Thompson’s call: “Art Ditmar throws and here’s a swing and a high fly ball going deep to left, this may do it, back to the wall goes Berra and it is over the fence, the Pirates win!! (pause) Ladies and gentlemen, Mazeroski has hit a one-nothing pitch over the left field fence at Forbes Field to win the 1960 World Series for the Pittsburgh Pirates by a score of (10-9). Once again, that final score, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the 1960 World Champions defeat the New York Yankees, the Pirates 10, the Yankees 9.” With apologies to all Yankee fans, this moment perhaps was the single greatest moment in World Series, baseball, and most certainly in Pittsburgh’s sports history. Nearby in former Chancellor, Wesley Posvar Hall, is home plate embedded in the floor. Near and up “Cardiac Hill” or DeSoto Street 31 on the former site of Pitt Stadium is our second stop, the Petersen Events Center which is about six years old and home to sold out Pitt men’s and the ever growing women’s basketball games. Our third and final stop is downtown, across the river from PNC Park, One Gateway Center and the home, since 1956, of KDKA radio and TV. Again from the Pennsylvania Commission, there is a plaque designating the “World’s first commercial station …”
Like the Olympic Torch having passed from Beijing to London, the NRC ‘torch’ or sign is passed as I declare NRC 2008 Pittsburgh closed and to reconvene in one year to NRC 2009 Allentown. In the words of the Penguins’ Mike Lange, “and Elvis has just left the building!” 73’s! -JRM (please note, my apologies for this overdue report)
Recognizing the 54 members, guests, and friends at NRC 2008 Pittsburgh: CA: James Marmack FL: Mike Lantz IL: Frank Merrill KS: Paul Swearingen MD: Richard dark MA: Ray & Arlene Arruda NE: Ernie Wesolowski NJ: Bob Antoniuk, Bob Smolarek, Bob & Patti Stonier NY: Jerry Bond, Scott, Lisa, Ariel, & Eli Fybush, Kenneth Lyon, Martin Wishnewitz OH: George Greene, Gary Siegel, Jerry & Bonnie Starr, Fred Vobbe, Mike Ward ON: Wayne Ryan, Dave Whatmough, Niel Wolfish OR: John Adams PA: Mel Check, Bruce Collier, David Crawford, Helen De-Carlo, Elmer Gasper, Harry Hayes, Clarke Ingram, Ed & Andrea Malack, John Malicky, Jim Orkwis, Jack Pawlak, Charles & Audrey Reichblum, Dave Schmidt, Gina Snyder, Jason Togyer, Francine Vozos, Curt White TN: David Jones WV: Dale Ireland WI: Bill & Nina Dvorak PA: Karl Laurin, Fritz Jones Recognizing the 2 K-9s and our best friends: FL: Lexie; NJ: Grady