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Very Early Days of TV


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WTIM/WTIM-FM 



Trying to Get Into Radio

My first try at radio began in 1971 when a couple of friends of mine were in Junior Achievement working with my hometown radio station WTIM.  It seems I had more desirable records in my collection to use on their on-air project, so along with my recordings I had the opportunity to "hang out" at the station while Rick Bulger acted as the board operator and the students read the commercials they sold and acted as DJ.   I tried to drop a few hints that I was interested in working there, but no one took me up on it.


My second try in the Spring of 1972 consisted as auditioning for owner Don Jones and Ron Biliter at WTIM in April of 1972.  They sit me in the, what was then a news reading booth, and had me read a few AP scripts.  Frankly I was terrible.  I couldn't breath...I remember being so nervous, I probably perspired through my shirt.  My second try was also a failure.


My third try was at WTAX and WDBR when I requested a tour of the station.  Bob Taylor most graciously granted me well over thirty minutes showing me the WDBR automation and describing how the station operated.  I then asked for and received an 'interview' with WTAX/WDBR owner and GM Shelby Harbison.  Since I had no experience, nothing ever became of this try either.  But, it was an opportunity which I will remember always.  Both Bob and Shelby were so considerate of this young college kid!  It's ironic, now I participated in a quarterly lunch meeting with both of them, until the death of Bob Taylor,  along with WDAN/WDNL/WRHK G.M., and former workmate Mike Hulvey.


Finally Hired

It was in 1974 I began my first radio job at WTIM/WTIM-FM.   I was finally hired by General Manager, the late Jon Ulz.  It was owned by PSB, Inc. and Don Jones.  It was later purchased by Delta D Broadcasting, in which Jon was one of the three principle owners.  The station was located in an addition to the Frisina Hotel just east of the downtown square in Taylorville, Illinois.  The hotel, was long out of business, even though the restaurant was in operation for a while.  The radio stations had an entrance off the rear alley and parking lot.  I got my first experience with automated radio there.

One side note, the radio station had no rest rooms.  We had to use the ones which were located in the deserted hotel lobby.  The electricity was turned off, and each trip to the "john" included a flashlight.  The trip really got interesting, when the light beam would hit the floor and the cock roaches would scatter.  The challenge was making that trip down the hall, and returning before that two and a half minute country record was finished.  That's called paying ones dues!

The History of WTIM



WTIM-1410AM in 1974 was a 1000-watt daytime station which operated at 1000 watts with pre-sunrise authority which allowed it to sign-on at 6am, before sunrise.  The transmitter site was on the Cemetery road extension to Cherokee Street about a quarter mile south and east of the old single late four span Cemetery Bridge south of Taylorville. 

The building was located just off of the levee which was the roadway.  It was the original transmitter site of WTIM when it went on the air in 1951 as developed by Keith Moyer (who later was part of the WJJY-TV debacle).  It was an approximately 800 square foot structure which contained two studio rooms, office, transmitter room and rest room. 

WTIM signed on the air with the playing of the National Anthem by the Taylorville High School Band on January 20th, 1952.

From the early 60's to that time, the transmitter was used for storage of logs, records and other material along with a number of worked crossed word puzzles completed by the transmitter engineer when the FCC rules mandated a licensed operator at the site.

In 1961 the studios were moved to an addition to the Frisina Motor Hotel (formerly the Antler Hotel) in Taylorville.  The studio was adjacent to the rear parking lot of the "L" shaped hotel structure.  It was a concrete slab floor with concrete block exterior which had the main entrance to a hallway from the lobby of the hotel.  The radio station structure was located just to the west of the "Melody Room" banquet hall of the hotel.  It was approximately 20 foot wide and probably a good 100 foot long and contained a lobby with attached office.  Behind that was another office and hall way which went to the studio area and a newsroom studio overlooking the master control and a second on-air studio which contained an electric organ. 

Yes, the station had a "staff organist," an elderly woman named Mary Jones, who got her start playing for silent movies before 1929 at venues in the midwest.  She hosted a daily show in which she played requests and hymns for the senior members of the audience.  Behind the organ studio was another on-air studio which was used as an on-air news reading booth.  At the rear of that studio was the FM automation room.  Connected to the rear of the control room was a hallway which served as a record storage room and another room used for equipment storage and engineering.  When the hotel was closed in the early 1970's, the entrance was eliminated at the hotel, and an outside entrance was located at the newsroom studio and it was made into the lobby.  At that point the newsroom was moved to the room which also contained the organ.


A listing in Broadcasting Magazine with the news of an AM radio station application filed by Moyer Broadcasting, Co for 1410 kc, 1,0000 watt daytime radio station.  The original construction cost was only $20,000!

(Broadcasting-Telecasting, Doug Quick Collection)



(above): Picture from the Taylorville High School Drift, in 1953 showing students putting together a radio program at the WTIM studios located along the Cemetery Bridge Road, on the far south end of Cherokee Street just south of Taylorville.  This was also the transmitter site for the station, a two tower directional array.  The studio and towers are no longer in existence.  This picture is the only picture known of the interior of the original WTIM studios.

(the THS Drift Yearbook, compliments of Suzanne Skaggs)


In 1978 the studios of WTIM were moved to a former printing press building on the far western outskirts of Taylorville near the Taylorville Airport.  There they would stay until the sale of the station by Jon Ulz to a group from Wisconsin.  They changed the call letters of the FM to WTJY and programmed a country format for a time.  The next owners, Marsha Linton moved the stations to the former Mini-Mall on the north side of the Taylorville square.  There it would operate until the AM/FM was sold to Jim Green of Riverton.  He would operate the stations as WTIM/WTJY until 1992.   During that time WTJY was sold to WMAY/WNNS from Springfield (see more details below) which would get a license for a power upgrade taking the station to 11,500 watts and moving the transmitter to near the Sangamon-Christian County line.  With their ownership, the station would play to Springfield and become an album rock station with the call letters of WQLZ(FM).


WTIM was sold to Randy Miller in 1992.  In 1997 WTIM was moved from 1410 kc to 97.3 FM to give the station a full time/full power signal.  In August of 2013, WTIM would move once again back to the AM band at 870 kc.  This daytime signal would allow for a much greater coverage area with its AM signal, but would also rely on an FM low power (250-watts) translator (W242BZ) which would cover Taylorville with a full time FM signal at 96.3 FM.   The antenna/transmitter for WTIM AM (500-watts, directional pattern) is located just east of Assumption, while the FM translator is located just south of Taylorville on a tower at the 318-feet level.







(right):  The Frisina Hotel, formerly the Antler Hotel in downtown Taylorville, Illinois.   It was located at the corner of Market and Walnut.  The home of WTIM from the late 1950s to the mid 1970s.  The radio station was located  in an annex at the rear of the hotel. (see below)

(picture from the Doug Quick Collection)





(right):  This is a picture taken looking at the rear of the Frisina Hotel.  It shows the building which at the time this was taken (1988) which was the former home of WTIM and WEEE. 

The doorway with the small awning was the entry way to the radio station after the hotel was closed.  The original entry way was from a hallway which led west from the original lobby to the Melody Room.  The former lobby was made into a sales office, and a studio at the mid point of the facility was made into a lobby which overlooked the main control room and the was just to the north of the business offices.  The radio stations were located adjacent to the Melody Room. 

(picture from the Doug Quick Collection)




The History of WTIM-FM
For the first time since it was originally broadcast, here is a montage of WTIM AM/FM audio from the era in which I was a part of.   This includes a segment from WTIM-FM's beautiful music format going into the "Ovation 7 to 11" show as it was called and the show I deejayed when I was first on the air.  The clip is from "Solid Gold Saturday Night."  Other voices include that of Rob Tooley, Bob McElroy, Lee Freshwater, Jody Maish, Brent Wookey(later Keith Mason on WDNL), the late John Ulz(the GM).  In 1976 WTIM-FM became WEEE(FM).  Yes, includes me jocking country on WTIM(AM).   There's also a little audio that was from just after I left.
WTIM-FM(92.7FM) went on the air in 1967 as a 3000 watt beautiful music station which served as a "nighttime" extension of WTIM.  The antenna for WTIM-FM was attached to the north east tower at a mere 150 feet HAAT.  The biggest advantage of having the station was the live broadcast of Taylorville High School Football and Basketball games, which previous to the FM station was taped and replayed on Saturday mornings.  The station was automated with an IGM system which shared components with WTIM(AM).  For a while both stations were automated with IGM formatted tapes.  The FM with a beautiful music format, the AM with a more modern MOR format.

The article below from the IGM newsletter showed how two systems could work together in tandom to broadcast to two stations at the same time.



(scan of article above provided by Larry Williams)


In the late 60's, the station was operated by two people, each being on "log" for three hours on-three hours off.   I discovered this by finding some older transmitter and programming logs from the era which indicated the small air staff at the time during the time of full automation.  They were also responsible, though, for local programming such as the popular local buy-sell-trade call in programming "Swap Shop" along with local news blocks.  Block programming consisted of country music with local DJ "Cowboy Bill Durban." 

Sometime in the early 70's, WTIM(AM) went back to being a live operation, at least for most of the day.  Among the operators at the time were Keith Arnold, Rick Bulger, Bob McElroy and Rick Derrick (also News Director).   Sports Director was Terry Wright who prepared and broadcast play by play of all of the Taylorville Tornado games, while others like Keith Arnold were used for Pana Panther games(on tape delay). 




When I was hired in 1974 the staff included announcers Rick Doan, Keith Arnold, Bob McElroy, Chris Showalter, Lee Freshwater and Rick Bulger, Engineer Rob Tooley, News Director Rick Derrick.  Sales people were Chris Spurling and Eunice Estes.  Traffic and Office Manager was Marilyn Voggetzer and the General Manager was Jon Ulz.  Later Ulz moved to Green Castle, Indiana and was replaced by Larry Stewart.  Later Stewart was replaced by Bill VanArsdale and eventually Jon Ulz again.  Staff members I recall include: Brent Wookey, Cathy Styles, John Heck, Mike Robinson, Rob O'Bryan, Mike Wasser, Larry Williams, Dave Williamson, Jody Maisch, Nancy Norris, Vonny Voggetzer, Elaine Blessman, Mike Del Valle and Steve Adams.

By 1975-77, the FM station's call letters were changed to WEEE(FM) and was using a "home made" format of MOR standards and some contemporary hits developed by Bill VanArsdale and Lee Freshwater. 


As a promotional device WTIM distributed this window sticker to it's clients to place on their doors.  I saw this sticker on doors for years.

(image from the Doug Quick Collection)


In January of 1977, I was made PD and I took it to another "home-made" format which was a rip off of the Drake-Chenault "Solid Gold" format.  I called it "Rock n' Gold" using Tanner jingles because of some trade out agreement we had with them.  Echh!





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For the first time since it was originally broadcast, here is a montage of WTIM AM/FM audio from the era in which I was a part of.   This includes a segment from WTIM-FM's beautiful music format going into the "Ovation 7 to 11" show as it was called and the show I deejayed when I was first on the air.  The clip is from "Solid Gold Saturday Night." 

Other voices include that of Rob Tooley, Bob McElroy, Lee Freshwater, Jody Maish, Brent Wookey(later Keith Mason on WDNL), the late John Ulz(the GM).  In 1976 WTIM-FM became WEEE(FM).  Yes, includes me jocking country on WTIM(AM).   There's also a little audio that was from just after I left.










After I left in 1977, the stations, WEEE was operated as a contemporary station for awhile, but was moved to an album rock/progressive format which attracted a small but loyal audience where the station was able to reach.  Many listeners were in the Springfield area, where most of the advertising income was being drawn.   The stations were then sold to a group of Wisconsin headed in 1984.  At that time, the call letters WEEE were changed to WTJY and the format was changed to an automated country format produced by Tanner Productions.  The ownership of the Wisconsin group was a short two years, when it was sold to Marsha Linton of Edinburg.  During the Linton era, the studios were wisely moved to a downtown location, inside the former retail center, The Mini-Mall, which was located on north side of the square.  The format of WTJY was changed back to a contemporary format which was satellite delivered.  Linton sold the stations to Jim Green of Riverton, Illinois in the early 90's.  In 1992, WTIM/WTJY were sold again, this time WTIM was sold to Miller Media and it's owner Randy Miller.  Green at the same time sold WTJY(FM)Taylorville's only FM station, to Midwest Media.  Midwest which operated WMAY/WNNS in Springfield paid a reported one million dollars, as the 92.7 frequency was able to get a power increase and permission to move the transmitter site into Sangamon County, while still covering Taylorville with a city grade signal.  It then became WQLZ(FM) in Springfield. 

I had the honor of being a part of WTIM's 50th anniversary in 2002 when I was asked back to participate in a special talk show.  The audio montage above was prepared and aired as part of my appearance at WTIM's 50th Anniversary.




Me at the Gates control board at WTIM probably during 1975.  Behind the cart rack was the control for the two tower directional phasing unit at the transmitter site.  The radio station site is now the middle of a parking lot at the north west corner of Market and Walnut in Taylorville.

(picture from the Doug Quick Collection)


After each reel change on the WTIM-FM automation system, the levels of audio playback on the Scully decks would have to be reset to the 100 cycle tone on the beginning of each reel of music. That would maintain a constant good level of the audio during the playback of each reel.  A screw driver would be inserted  to set the levels of each channel of playback (left and right).  The14" reels would provide 3 hours of playback alone, but would playback for 6 hours when in rotation with another Scully reel to reel deck.

(picture from the Doug Quick Collection)






The operator (in this case me) would have to program the commercial breaks using the "battleship" drawer.  An explanation of how it worked is below.

(picture from the Doug Quick Collection)



This is the WTIM production room with one Gates turntable, two Pioneer reel to reel decks, an Eletravoice microphone, an ITC triple decker cartridge player/recorder and a 5 channel mono-Sparta board.  The phone could be recorded and fed from the board.  All in all, it was pretty efficient for the time. 

The studio was also used to feed the St. Louis Cardinal games for WITM-FM (later WEEE(FM)). The main control room was visible just to the left of the control board.  There was another window just behind the Pioneer reel to reel deck on the right which allowed the operator to see the FM station automation.

(picture from the Doug Quick Collection)



This was the view from just behind to the right and facing the main control board.  The announcer could see the FM automation on the other side of the window.  The main control room consisted of a XXXXX Gates board (vintage 1953), an ITC triple decker cartridge player/recorder and two Gates full size turntables just to the left and right of the sitting position.  There was also a Revox reel to reel deck in a rack panel just to the left of the control board and a 3-M Wollensak reel to reel recorder/player on the counter just to the left of the board. 

One note, the metallic box mounted on the board shown above was the switch to eliminate the output of the FM automation to the FM station and would simulcast the output of the board on both AM and FM stations. 

(picture from the Doug Quick Collection)




Brent Wookey at the control point for the transmitter.  It communicated with the transmitters of both WTIM and WEEE via phone line.

Brent would follow me to Danville the next year.  He changed his air name to Keith Mason and eventually was made program director of WDNL (D-102) from 1980 through 1987.  See more at the History of WDNL.


(picture from the Doug Quick Collection)




the "Gatesway" control board ad at left is from a Broadcasting-Telecasting magazine ad from 1955. 

It shows the guts of the board, and the face and was in use at WTIM until the mid 1970s when the station moved to the site of a former print shop on the far west side of Taylorville near the Taylorville Airport.

At the time of its conception it was billed as "broadcastings newest most modern console."  It must have been good as it was probably 20 years old when it was finally put out of service.

(ad from Broadcasting-Telecasting, Doug Quick Collection)


The IGM Automation and how it was programed for WEEE after January 1, 1977

Both stations from 1972-1975 used an IGM automation system which consisted of two Scully reel to reel playback machines, 2 random select carousels, 1 sequential carousel, 2 cart players and a time announce player.  All of the sources were available to two separate controllers, one stereo for the FM and the other mono for the AM station.  When both stations were on the system, each station used one Scully reel to reel for music playback.  Music overlap was non-existent.  Sometime in 1975, the mono controller was removed from the system and shipped to our then sister station located in Clinton, Iowa.  Anyone know what happened to it??

The IGM featured a "time insertion" control knob for each source.  Each source was controlled by a small clock type motor and a cam which operated a micro switch which would "ready up" each source depending on the time of the hour.  The commercials, ID's, time announcements and secondary music source could be inserted to play at intervals of 05, 7.5, 10, 20, 30 or 60 minutes or by following special clocks I, II or III(described later)after every time the "home music source" played.  Another way to program them, was something we came up after 1976, in which we could set up "ready up" times at special times, such as :15, :25, :30, :40 and :50 after each hour.  It was by using a modified row in the master clock drawer, which would program certain things to happen every hour, as opposed to random select hours.

The master clock was a drawer which pulled out from the main control unit, in which there was a "game board, similar to battleship" with 24 rows of holes vertically, and 16 holes vertically.  The vertical holes represented the intervals :05, :7.5, :10, :15, :20, :22.5, :25, :30, :35, :37.5, :40, :45, :50, 52.5. :55 and :00.  Diode pins would be inserted to instruct the system to "ready up" designated sources.  The full blown IGM system actually would consist of three clocks(we just had one).  They would be called clock I, II and III.  We modified it by changing one of the unused rows from overnight and making it work for every hour.  That allowed us to change the format and not make it uniform for each half of each hour.  Make sense??   The clocks were set to ready up 1 1/2 minutes before the actual time.  This would allow for events to air closer to when it was scheduled, such as the ID's at the top of the hour, or spot sets in mid quarter hour, etc..

The order of the sources for each "break" was determined by the order the source control knobs were physically placed in the rack panel.  For example, if your break consisted of a buffer, commercials, time announce, then the components had to be in the rack, in that order.  With a little bit of creativity and ingenuity, this very simple automation system could do some really nice things.  In fact, when I was made PD of the FM, when it was WEEE(FM), I took it AC and by switching a couple of jumpers on a circuit board, we actually had it cross fading music.  The next source was started by the preceding source's "step tone" which, on the Scully was a 22.5 cycle tone, and the usual secondary tone on cart.  There was also no dead role on the source, so when the "step tone" was over, the tape stopped and was recued to the next song.


The time announcement machine was a double cart machine in a drawer of the main unit, which put both carts facing each other, and sharing a capstan but with two separate rollers.  One cart contained the even minutes, the other the odd.  Each cart cued itself at the :30 second mark every other minute.  If you didn't use the time announcements, they could play jingles.  These machines were obviously in constant use and always needed cleaning and maintenance.

In order to program the correct commercials to play for each commercial break, the operator would insert diode pins of varying length into a "battleship game like" board with each length representing either the A carousel or the B carousel.  Each carousel would contain 24 cartridges (containing the recorded commercial on an endless loop tape cartridges).  Each cartridge could contain a multiple of commercials from the same advertiser would could rotate.  Generally they would be all 30 second announcements or 60 second announcements.  There were 24 holes representing a tray which contained the commercial.   A short diode pin would represent the A carousel and a longer pin would represent the B carousel.  An even shorter pin in a designated hole would indicate a return to the music format and the commercial set was over.

The third carousel was set up to be sequential, it was simply a single play cart machine in which the carousel would cue to the next cart after playing the first one, and so on.  I used it to play "buffers" and would only play 4 carts in it.  One would play before each spot set, and would consist of a brief weather forecast, or a local PSA, an hourly news brief, a station promo/jingle,  and the "Weather Watch" a sponsored complete weather cast from a outside meteorologist which ran at the :30 position. 

By programming it using clock "I", I had it play a station promo at :05,  ran local news brief at :15,  station promo jingle at :25, Weather Watch at :30,  local PSA at :40,
and a weather brief at :50.    Spot sets ran at  :17(after the news-news sponsor), :30(after the Weather Watch-sponsor spot), :40 and :50.   Time announcements ran at the completion of spot sets before a re-entry jingle at :15, :40 and :50.


One of the major problems of this system, is that it didn't react that quickly.  It would completely stop if it detected more than one "step tone" going through it an one time.   That made it necessary to keep the tones lengths on our "home-made" music reels as short as possible, and song to jingle to song segments were risky.  Jingles had to be longer than the longest "step tone" on a music reel.  Another major problem, was the 22.5 cycle tone needed on the music reels.  Most of the syndicators were using 25 cycle tones, which didn't work on this one.  IGM had their own music service, and I guess it was a way to keep subscribers to their own music services. 


I used a tone generator into the mike channel of a Pioneer reel to reel recorder when I recorded reels.  By flipping a switch on the generator, it placed the "step tone" on the reel, the music was faded and the recorder stopped.  A record was cued on the single turn table and the recorder was started about a quarter second before the song started.  In fact, we didn't even have a stereo studio, so I rewired the turn table to feed a pre amp and from there used RCA inputs to the Pioneer recorder, bypassing the mono control board.   There were other stations, which I found out much later, were using Drake-Chenault formats on IGM systems(such as WLRW).  Obviously there was a way to modify the detectable tones.  The audible 22.5 tones on the music reels were "filtered" by the automation.

The only other local stations I remember using IGM systems were WDZ in Decatur, WLRW in Champaign and former WTIM/WTIM-FM sister station WMDH located in New Castle, Indiana.  WMDH was using a massive system with at least 6 reel to reel decks.  WDZ was using carousels to play carted music.

All in all, the IGM systems were pretty reliable simple little automation systems.  A good engineer could modify the systems to do pretty much everything you wanted.  WDZ in Decatur probably modified one the most, and actually used an IGM to "talk track" and talk up song intros in a "like live" top 40 format in the mid to late 70's!

The question is, is there any more of these out there....and are they being used???


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Here's an air-check from early July of 1977.  WEEE(FM) being programmed by the IGM automation system.



WEEE(FM) from August of 1977.



Moving On

The first time I left it was to go back to school.  It was fall of 1975 and I left broadcasting to finish college at Western Illinois University.  Fortunately for me, right before I left, I had an offer to go to WTAX in Springfield after I was heard by WTAX Program Director Bruce Bagg.  I had to turn him down, but by the following spring of 1976 I was hired by Bruce during the summer to work a swing shift as announcer and news reader at WTAX.  Then, while returning to WIU in the fall and winter, I was given the opportunity to do a talk track at WDBR for weekends and some overnights during the week.  I did that until it simply got to be too much for me to do and I had to resign.  I was also doing a live weekend shift at WTIM/WEEE in Taylorville during the winter of 76-77.  When I finished my time at WIU, I returned as full time sales executive and PD of WEEE in Taylorville.

The second time I left the reason was simply... it was time to go.  I had some sales experience, I had some automation experience, I continued to be frustrated with programming WEEE(FM) with a non-cooperating AM program director who felt he should have been given the position.  Unfortunately, the station was operated by the AM staff and always got the least amount of attention possible. 

I was trying to do a more sophisticated format which required more detail in setting up and seeing it through.  An effort which was evidently too much to ask for from the AM P.D..  Many times I had to return to the station between sales calls to change a music reel, or get program elements to air at the correct times as required by the format.  By then, I had spent some time with WTAX/WDBR in Springfield and saw how a station should be run.  When I was given the offer to be part of co-owned WDAN/WMBJ in Danville I felt pretty good about making the change.

When I was given the offer to move on to what was to be WDNL in Danville, I was met with problems of finding housing in Danville and frankly the money wasn't all that great.  The cost of housing, furniture and other household items and the inability to find adequate housing in Danville made the choice of moving pretty difficult.  I felt that I had the obligation to tell WDAN/WMBJ GM Joe Jackson in person that I was going to turn the job down, so one morning I took off to go to Danville.  In listening to WEEE(FM) that morning on the way I heard the format going totally crazy as the AM P.D. took another opportunity to totally screw it up.  At that point I said, "The hell with it....I'm going to Danville and take the job no matter what."

WTIM is now 870am and 96.3fm

Find out what  WTIM in Taylorville  is all about now...





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updated  8/17/2014
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