Welcome brothers, our brethren, to this city, Kulpsville, Pennsylvania, for the love, of radio!
In our 72nd year and well into the 21st century, with all the terms like HD, IBOC, CD, DVD, www, you couldn"t spell this convention with more emphasis, "f-r-i-e-n-d-s!"
So, WELLcome all to NRC Kulpsville 2005, a town about 20 miles north of Philadelphia. Kulpsville is also the site of the annual March meeting of the North American Short Wave Association Convention. NASWA was previously ANARC. For the third time in 20 years, longtime member and Musings Editor Dave Schmidt hosted our convention: the other two were in New Castle, Delaware in 1986 and again in 1997. Now living in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Dave moved this year"s convention to Kulpsville as the Scranton area had major bookings two years in advance. Anyway, "all’s well that ends well!" Once again, as for the past several years, our wonderful friends and NRC members, John and Linda Bowker of Sun City Center, Florida provided assistance with registrations, the convention bulletin, tabulations of the NRC Auction, and working with Dave to schedule the order of events. If NRC Batavia ’04 was a convention of visits and action, NRC Kulpsville
"05 was a convention of comfort and reaction, and learning, too! In a twist of words, there was much ado about something and an enjoyable time for the 47 members, wives, guests, and friends.
Our convention officially began Friday morning, September 2, 2005 at 9 AM with opening registrations at the best inn, west, east, north, and south, at the Best Western “The Inn at Towamencin”, 1750 Sumneytown Pike, which is Pennsylvania Route 63 through Kulpsville. The town is also situated at Exit 31 on the Northeast Extension, I-476, of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, providing easy access for anyone coming here by car. The "buzz" around here all weekend was that the inn was a "beehive" of activity with a dance club, little leaguers, and a wedding reception all going on at "our" meeting place. Meanwhile, in Room 155, better known as the NRC Hospitality Suite, we danced to the beat of a different sort, DX, radio, the NRC. And we "vowed" to keep it that way!
On Friday evening at seven, John Bowker presented an entertaining illustration of “Bowker’s Theatre of the Mind”: the sounds of “AM Radio in Tampa Bay.” Most of those attending had never heard the likes of Sportsradio WDAE-620, talk on WFLA-970, news-talker WHNZ-1250, and Disney’s WWMI-1380. In all, an even split of 23 AM and FM stations in Tampa-St. Petersburg. "Bucking the trend, like lightning in a bottle, and a ray of sunshine, this show kicked off a "slapping, easy-pitched" weekend! Next, a wealth of information and last year’s co-host, Scott Fybush of Rochester, New York, presented an update of the radio situation in the New Orleans and Mississippi areas following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina this past Monday, August 29. He was unable, however, to keep in contact with the situation there and how the storm affected WWL and other stations.
“It’s a Beautiful Morning” at nine AM on Saturday, our second day, when as many as 25 attendees began a voyage "no DXer en mass had done before" with a 20-mile trek south into Philadelphia to the home of “Philadelphia’s Christian Radio” WFIL-560 and “Newstalk 990 WNTP. Owned and operated by Salem Communications, both stations occupy the building at 117 Ridge Pike on Lafayette Hill. The 990 station has been located here for over 60 years, while WFIL has been here for about ten. This excellent tour of the studios and transmitters was conducted by NRC member and Chief Engineer of the facility, Rene (Re-nay) Tetro. Rene also conducted the DX tests for WNTP on December 11, 2004 and WFIL on January 8, 2005. An extremely knowledgeable and jovial fellow, Rene has been here during two different tenures. The first was from 1980 to 1985, and again from about 18 months ago to the present time. During his first tour of duty with the 990 station, then known as WZZD, Rene verified my DX report of February 21, 1983. At the time of his return in early 2004, Christian-formatted WZZD changed to a news-talk format as WNTP. Rene has also worked at other facilities in the northeast to as far west as Indianapolis, at WNDE-1260. He described WFIL’s previous transmitter site as being on Franklin Way in Philadelphia, but the city took the land as part of an "eminent domain" seizure. But even today, the building and tower bases remain, as the land is still undeveloped. WFIL first went on the air in 1922.
The 990 station first went on the air in 1924, but on 980 kilocycles, was once known as WIBG, which stood for “Why I Believe in God”. They later became the area’s Top 40 rocker. Now the WIBG calls belong to the 1020 station in Ocean City, New Jersey. And they are unwilling to sell the calls "WIBG". Even after being given “an offer they can’t refuse”!
Our tour began outside to examine the six-tower array shared by both stations. Up until 1986, there were five towers, but WZZD had to remove one to comply with the North American treaty which stipulated that no U.S. station on 990 kilocycles cross the Canadian border, since 990 was a "Canadian Clear Channel. That rule has since been modified. Now, the site features six towers, of which WFIL uses three and WNTP uses four, in different combinations. Both the WFIL and WNTP day patterns feature two "egg-shaped" lobes toward the northwest and southeast, while the night patterns are basically the same but without the lobes to the northwest. WNTP, of course, has to protect CBW, along with WNML in Knoxville, Tennessee. WFIL must run 7.1 kiloWatts daytime and 8.3 kiloWatts at night to satisfy their licensed 5 kW because the towers are only 251 feet tall, or 51 degrees at 560 kHz. WNTP runs 50 kiloWatts days and 10 kiloWatts nights. WNTP also is applying to go 15 kW at night to reach the greater population growth in West Chester and Bucks Counties. Inside, each studio was flipped around for the other, evidenced by the fact that some of the remote lights feature the other station’s calls letters.
Some of the equipment Rene prefers is the CoolEdit and Profit Systems, and Enco automation system to alert him or the Operations Manager at their homes if something is wrong at the station. Board operators run both stations from 5:30 AM to 7 PM, at which time the automation takes over. WNTP’s line-up is syndicated, but one of Rene’s favouri te shows is Laura Ingraham from 9 to noon. Her face is even on the 990 remote van! At WFIL, two programs are local, while the rest come from the parent company, Salem Corrmunications, which now owns 107 stations. WNTP is also the flagship for Villanova football and basketball, some Penn State football games when there is no conflict, plus also carries some Notre Dame basketball. However, a few listeners attempt a "Savage takeover" when their hero Michael is preempted!
It’s 1900 hours or more appropriately 7 PM, as the informative NRC Business Meeting is conducted by NRC Board Member and club Omsbudman, John Bowker, as well as the efficient and "teaching by example" DX News Editor, Paul Swearingen. John’s first order of business was to recognize Ken Chatterton, who served for over twelve years as NRC Board Chairman. Ken has recently stepped down as Chairman of the Board, yielding to Wayne Heinen. Longtime NRC member plus videographer, Ernie Wesolowski, stepped up to accept, in Ken’s absence, a plaque for the 2005 NRC Outstanding member. Congratulations, Ken!! Ken may not be in "Frank Sinatra’s position" as Chairman of the Board, but he still remains on the Board.
It was also reported that the club is financially strong with a treasury of over $10,000 and solid with a membership around 580 for the NRC and 125-150 for DXAS. The NRC’s AM Radio Log Book for 2005-2006 sold for $19 at the convention, with all but three copies being sold.
The announcement that the NRC will be meeting in Akron, Ohio over Labor Day in 2006 leaves me to believe that this will be the NRC’s version of the Bermuda Triangle, as we met in Batavia, New York in 2004, in Kulpsville in 2005, and Akron in 2006. The best Best Western in Akron will our host hotel. Reservations already are being accepted! Paul then took center stage to finally reveal, after 2-and-a-half years of planning and experimenting with the format, “E-DX News” will debut on the world-wide-web.
So, for anyone on the Internet, DX News features will now be available. With some formatting still to be determined, this new service of the DX News magazine will be available either with the printed copy, or alone off the Web. For the remainder of the year, members can log on and view “E-DX News” for free. After that there will be a charge of an additional $15 if taken alone, or an additional $5 if taken along with the print edition. This avenue will also be set up to offer any overseas DXer a chance to sign up for the on-line edition, saving as much as $37. Moving forward into the 21st century, your NRC!
A few other interesting points were offered just after the meeting. First, Scott “Fybush announced that DDXD-West Editor Bill Dvorak of “Badger country, Madison” hosted his one-day Get-Together on August 20, where an astounding 41 Dxers and guests attended! Scott also recognized longtime NRC member and Akron resident “Who Me, I’m Hosting Akron?!” George Greene as having reached the milestone of visiting every single county in the lower 48 states early in August when he entered Koochiching County in Northern Minnesota near International Falls! For his achievement, George was presented a mounted roadkill! Not!
Later, another longtime, former board member, and former AM Switch Editor Jerry Starr presented a video of the taking down the nearly 600 foot tall self-supporting tower of Sharon, Pennsylvania’s WPIC-790 in late April and early May, by a local construction company. Known as “Ole Shaky”, the "Fall of Sharon" was completed only after some pain-staking attempts to break all five porcelain tower bases which did crack, toppling the tower the way it was supposed to and not on grandma’s house! A longwire antenna is “temporarily in place until a new 380 foot guyed tower is installed in November. “And that’s a WRAP!”
As always, at 9 PM, the highlight of all NRC Conventions, and this year was no different, was the auction. Taking center stage along with his assistant Paul Swearingen, You know him, you love him, oh well, it’s none other than "The Pittsburgh Kid" and "The King of Swing", "El Kabong", or better known as Clarke Ingram! For the next 90 minutes, the laughs and snickers, even the candy, filled the room to relieve my mind off the 42-21 pasting by Notre Dame suffered by my Pitt Panthers. We watched Clarke peddle an early Marc Connelly phasing unit for $27, and Ben Dangerfield’s donation of his HQ-180 go for the minimum bid of $100 by Harry Schools, who recently re-joined the club. Harry, of Philadelphia, is also a member of 12 different clubs, acquired this fine receiver. Congrats, Harry! Also, a giving person and not to conflict with the bidding, Clarke donated $20 of his own money to the club! Final tally of the auction was around $241. Tally ho, and goodnight following a free pizza party given by Tony Dee and Dave Marthouse.
"Early to bed, early to rise" on Sunday, September 4, 2005 at 9 AM as 5 events and programs took place. First, get your sweet tooth ready for John Bowker’s Candy Quiz as he and Linda “had more candy than you got answers.” Next, the NRC DX Quiz composed by another longtime member Frank Merrill as the club’s thinking is if we let Frank write it, then he is sure not to win it! A cleverly written document brought calls of “I’ll get you next year Frank!”, nonetheless found some interesting questions in this 19-part test. As an example, in section 4 was “Citizen Kane” part with each correct answer worth one point, thus, “What is the frequency of and city-of-license of KANE?” The answers are 1240 kHz and New Iberia, Louisiana. And our winner for 2005 who got a year’s free supply of gas (and not the liquid kind) and a year’s free membership in either club, Scott Fybush with 55 points or a double nickel! Congrats, Scott.
Due to timing constraints, the bandscan for 930 kHz had to be rushed to DXAS Editor Fred Vobbe via "pony express" and wasn’t available for presentation by John. However, a four page listing of 940 stations was distributed, included the call change history of 940 in Macon, Georgia, which has had WMAZ, WMWR, and now WMAC.
Around 1 PM, a thoroughly entertaining tale of tales was given by the co-owners of the NRC’s favorite station “30 miles away from any larger town” in Brookneal, Virginia, WODI-1230! A graduate of Seton Hall University in New Jersey with a degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications, Dave Marthouse has been involved in radio for over 31 years, starting in college radio in 1974. Afterward, he worked at WSUS-102.3 and WCTC-1450, both in New Jersey, crossed paths with partner at WODI, Tony Dee, when both were and still are, amateur radio operators. They saw an ad in Radio World in 1995 advertising WODI for sale. Tony, as an engineer and having worked for 15 years in microwave electronics at Stevenson Electronics, teamed with Dave, who decided to acquire WODI from then-owner Graham Jones on September 5, 1996, right after the NRC’s Knoxville Convention in 1996. Thus the celebrating began, only to find out Hurricane Fran was sinking and flooding WODI!! In his kindness, Mr. Jones moved any and all valuable equipement to his house to survive any destruction and water damage! The station was forced to go off the air, but with acquiring a mobile trailer in New Jersey, plus cleaning the equipment at the tower site, like the tower base and insulators and "APUs". The FCC gave WODI until February 9, 1997 to return to the air, or be off for good as the three year limitation would be up at that time.
WODI returned to the air on February 1st, 1997, but with only 100 Watts, and eventually full power status of 1000 Watts. A "labor of love" , then and now, for WODI, as it serves the 2000+ residents of Brookneal, thanks to Chief Engineer Harry Kane, and Dave and Tony’s friends Larry Steele, aka Larry Stolar, and Bob Anthony, aka Bob Antoniuk. Their dream to have WODI stay as close to their area was realized. A few of the WODI bits which entertained those who attended the presentation were “Vito and The Plungers”, “WODI-1230 Brooklyn or Brookneal”, and the “WODI Cake”. Dave even hopes to run a short 60-second DX Test in code for the club and DXers, to say thank you. But it is we who say "thank you" to Dave, Tony, and even Mr. Jones for a wonderful time.
Two videos also were shown during the afternoon session. The first was the FCC conducting an “EAS Records Inspection” procedure, along with how fines are assessed. The other was how a small town radio station, in this case WODI, operates. The tape was made in 1977. WODI’s original sign-on date was October 8, 1965.
At 3 PM, Wallingford, Pennsylvania’s and longtime NRC member Ben Dangerfield presented an interesting talk on early Philadelphia radio. Included in the talk was where all the early stations were at on the dial. For example, KYW was at 1020 kHz before moving to 1060. Another noteworthy fact was that the KYW calls originally in Chicago. With all the talk about numbers and dates, a voice cried out from the back of the room. It was Dottie Jean Dangerfield, Ben’s wife. She said we were missing the "real" radio: the old time programs like “Amos & Andy”, “Jack Armstrong”, and others that kept families listening and entertained. Dorothy, we’re listening to you!
NRC Kulpsville 2005 finally began to wind down with three more highlights to conclude the evening and this convention. First, for those of you 47 members and guests who attended, but were left out of the gathering for the NRC "05 photo which was shot at 5:45 PM by Ed Mauger of Philadelphia. Twenty-six folks gathered for the memorable event.
Then come and git it! The NRC Banquet, followed by the guest speaker, Mr. David McCrork of Lansdale ,who two years ago, acquired the information and equipment to build his “hobby”. This "hobby" has become a service to the immediate area surrounding his home, a “Part 15 Radio Station”, WNAR-1620. WNAR runs at one tenth of a Watt, or 100 milliWatts from his home plus two transmitters or "relays". The calls stand for “We’re Nostalgic About Radio” and runs many of the same programs Dorothy had mentioned all day, plus a satellite news service which is paid for by Mr. McCrork. In Mr. McCrork’s terms, “it is the theatre of the mind.”
A consulting engineer to WNAP-1110, WNPV-1440, and WISP-1570, Dave said WNAR went on the air February 28, 2003 and a has a highly efficient transmitter pushing those 100 milliwatts, a Hamilton Rangemaster MWXAM 1000 with the antenna at 20 feet matching the transmitter. Thank you Mr. McCrork for presenting us with another fun and exciting way to use and live radio.
And now we say goodbye until Akron 2006 when “you never know what evil, or DX lurks, but only the Shadow knows!”
PS - In Lieu Of WNRC AM or FM, we had WNRC shortwave at 6930 kHz LSB/AM.