The History of WTIM
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)
(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)
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 6 am, 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 restroom.
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 hallway 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.
(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.
Thedoorwaywiththesmallawningwastheentry way to the radio station after the hotel was closed. The original entryway 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 midpoint of the facility was made into a lobby which overlooked the main control room and it 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)
(left): Like a lot of local radio stations, WTIM would have their share of local celebrities. For me, Johnny "Payola" Mazzotti was the most notable. He would host the "1410 Club" every afternoon after 3:30 in which he would play the top 40 songs and address the show toward the teenagers in the community. His tenure would cover the mid-1960s, and I hope to add to his story with more information coming soon.
Another local legendary WTIM personality would be "Cowboy" Bill Durbin. Unfortunately, I have no picture or information about his role at WTIM as the "Hillbilly" DJ who hosted weekend Country and Western music shows.
Any information about either or both of these WTIM personalities would be most appreciated. Drop me an e-mail!
(above): An article published in the late 1960s featuring the Taylorville Radio operation and its use of IGM automation. Larry Williams is pictured.
(from Larry Williams)
(right): As a promotional device, WTIM distributed this window sticker to its clients to place on their doors. I saw this sticker on doors for years.
(image from the Doug Quick Collection)
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 New Castle, Indiana to manage WCTW and WMDH(FM) and was replaced by Larry Stewart. Later Stewart was replaced by Bill VanArsdale and eventually Jon Ulz again.
Staff members I recall include Rick Doan, Rob Tooley, Enes Estes, Chris Spurling, Brent Wookey, Cathy Styles, John Heck, Mike Del Valle, Mike Robinson, Rob O'Bryan, Lee Freshwater, Mary Jones, Millie Doughtery, 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 aired a "homemade" format of MOR standards and some contemporary hits developed by Bill VanArsdale and Lee Freshwater.
Rick Bulger worked at WTIM in the early 1970s leaving in 1972, then returning in 1976-77. I remember him when I was helping out a Junior Achievement group sponsored by the station around 1971. The group would sell advertising and air commercials produced by the group during a weekend radio show put on by the J-A group. I wasn't a part of the group officially, but I supplied many of the records played during the radio show and would take them to the station.
Rick was the announcer/DJ on duty and would operate the board for the J-A production. He was nothing but patient and friendly in working with the group. If you've ever worked with a committee, you know how disjointed the group could be, and trying to do what the J-A students requested had to be quite a challenge for Rick.
He seemed to be the "voice" of the station at the time. I don't remember any other voices other than "Cowboy Bill Durbin."
(picture courtesy of Rick Bulger)
How Much Did it Cost?
Advertising on WTIM/WTIM-FM was surprisingly inexpensive. Here is the station's rate card from 1971 showing the various rates for advertising. Thanks to John DeWilde for sending me this gem!
Click on the rate card to see a larger version.
Click on the center picture for an explanation and continue to click on other pictures.
My Time at WTIM/WTIM-FM(WEEE)
(left): 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.
On January 1, 1977, I spent my Christmas vacation from WIU developing an automated format I called "Rock n' Gold" that would sound similar to Drake-Chenault's "Solid Gold." It was comprised of hits from the late 1950s through the mid-1970s alternated with current day "adult" hits and recurrents. A month or two later both WTIM and WEEE would air a new set of station jingles from the Tanner Company. WTIM would air the "Spirit of Philadelphia" jingle package. I don't recall the name of the WEEE package, but at the time it was the best choice I could make with the limited quality and selection available through Tanner.
I also changed the station name to "W-3-E" to cover for the ridiculous call letters of W-E-E-E. That's what I used on the bumper sticker shown to the upper left.
I did my best to maintain a level of promotion with a contest involving bumper stickers and other such give-a-ways. So around the broadcast of St. Louis Cardinal baseball games, high school sports and even a half hour paid religious program each morning, I tried to make it work. I was hearing the station being played at local businesses more than ever before, but frankly, that half hour daily religious program at 8:30 am was difficult to take. The income from it was difficult for ownership to turn down.
Larry Williams, a former employee, worked out a deal with Jon Ulz that would essentially lease the station to Larry in which he would produce a nightly progressive rock program from his home in stereo, and air it from the only stereo source in the station, the IGM automation system reel to reel playback machines. Larry would sell advertising to his own client base, mostly in Springfield that aired on the station from 9 pm to 2 am each day.
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. :55and :00. Diode pins would be inserted to instruct the system to "ready up" designated sources.
Programming the IGM Automation for WEEE(FM)
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 crossfading 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 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 spotset 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 weathercast from an outside meteorologist which ran at the: 30 positions.
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 :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 turntable to feed a preamp 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 usingIGM 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??
(left): Here's an air-check from early July of 1977. WEEE(FM) being programmed by the IGM automation system.
(right): WEEE(FM) from August of 1977.
After I left in 1977, the stations, WEEE was operated as a contemporary station for a while 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. In 2017 during the stations anniversary week, I once again participated with a phone-in interview.
The first time I left WTIM 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 newsreader 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 a full-time sales executive and PD of WEEE in Taylorville as described above.
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). Unfortunately, the station was operated by the AM staff and some saw to it that it 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 at least one AM announcer. 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 the WTAX/WDBR 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. The cost of 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 operator 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."