Thoughts about the Great Blackout of 1965

BBS: The Inner Sanctum
Date: 01-03-94 (23:20) Number: 19656
From: STEVE COLETTI Refer#: NONE
To: JEFF MILLER Recvd: YES
Subj: 1965 BLACKOUT 1 OF 2 Conf: (8) BROADCAST

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

WABC's transmitter was in New Jersey and was uneffected, power wise.

It did go off the air because they had a silence alarm connected to the plate switch. If the line went dead for more than 20 seconds the transmitter went off. Once the signal was restored, they may have had to manualy, or by remote control, restore the juice to the transmitter, it may not have come on automatically.

WMCA had a similar silence alarm set up, but they rigged up a fill in tape to run instead of turning off the transmitter. I heard them either screw up a studio switch or an end of tape at the top of the hour once. The record ended, 15 seconds of dead air, Lisbon Antiqua by Les Baxter started to play, then BONG, the top of the hour gong cutting in a few micro seconds late, the announcer quickly gave the id, all this overlapping for a full second with the record that cut off with a click. Ah the magic of mechanical relays.

BTW, WMCA was the first to use a bell, but only as a time tone. Later they stopped being so tight with the clock, but continued to used it for the TOH newscast. They would ring it once, but for news bulletins they would do it 5 or 6 times fast. It was a real fight ring bell in the studio that the announcer rang. The WABC chime time gong was on tape, but was the actual ring side bell from Sunnyside Garden. I believe they actually got posession of the bell when they tore the place down.

==========================================================================

BBS: The Studio PC Bulletin Board
Date: 01-02-94 (19:52) Number: 1320
From: STEVE COLETTI Refer#: NONE
To: DON KIMBERLIN Recvd: NO
Subj: Re: 1965 Blackout Conf: (380) BROADCAST

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

As for Radio, WNBC and WCBS come from the same tower and had generator backup and a straight copper backup lines. WMCA operated off batteries from their engineering room. They did later get some sort of power to play records and spots, unless that was also 12v portable stuff. WABC may have been back on, but cut over to origination at the transmitter later that night. WHN was running fill music from the transmitter, but managed to send over announcers later. WINS wasn't really effected if I remember as everything cut over automaticly.

Jersey based stations didn't know anything had happened. That included a Newark TV station that didn't notice that their NYC based transmitter had gone off, or at least they didn't tell the program host. They found out when they left and saw none of the buildings of the NY skyline lit.

===========================================================================

BBS: Ground Zero Date: 01-04-94 (13:27) Number: 2140
From: DAN KENNEDY Refer#: NONE
To: STEVE COLETTI Recvd: NO
Subj: Re: 1965 Blackout Conf: (243) c2FN Broa

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Have you heard the aircheck of Ingram's show on WABC from when the blackout was just beginning to take place? He was playing "Everyone's Gone To The Moon" and it was *ovbiously* slowing down. Ingram said, "Does that sound like it's slowing down to you? I don't know what's going on in here, anyway, 77 WABC and 'Everyone's Gone To The Moon' in the key of 'R'...."

He got through a couple of more breaks and then his newsguy came in to do his regular newscast. By now, turntables and carts were *barely* moving. The newsguy sat down to do his lead story which, by the way, had nothing to do with the blackout since he probably had no idea what was going on, and fired off his first actuality. That was all it took to knock out the studio electricity. I couldn't tell from listening if the carrier stayed on or not, but power to the board was apparently gone. I understand about half an hour later Ingram was able to finish his show from the transmitter site.

===========================================================================

BBS: t.a.b.b. Tampa, Florida
Date: 03-02-93 (19:55) Number: 12253
From: STEVE COLETTI Refer#: NONE
To: RICH WOOD Recvd: NO
Subj: WORLD TRADE CENTER Conf: (5) BROADCAST

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Cable in the outer reaches of the area weren't so lucky. WPIX and WWOR went "in the clear" so they could be picked up. One O&O bounced a home shopping channel off one transponder and the others went up on network backup feeder transponders. Also, public stations in the area began rebroadcasting the feeds. NJN aired WABC and WLIW did WNBC. I'm told WNYE broadcast WNET programming too.

Radio wise, I know WPAT keeps their backup at the AM site/studio in Patterson, NJ. I don't know about your alumnus, WQCD, but they were ok in the city but barely readable in Suffolk Co. that night. WYNY was a joke, they were barely audible in the city. They'd better invest in a good site for the next emergency.

WNYC, FM & TV were off as was WKCR (FM), WNJU (47) and W60AI, the HSN's LPTV station.