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! The image below from Broadcasting Magazine with the FCC approval of the station going on the air in early 1951.
(Broadcasting-Telecasting, Doug Quick Collection)
This is the summary of the application for what would possibly be WGGM(FM), 95.1FM in Taylorville. This is from the August 3, 1959 edition of Broadcasting Magazine.
The 1960 edition of the Broadcasting Annual Yearbook reported Taylorville having two radio stations. There is a question as to whether the FM station ever existed.
Trying to follow the rabbit hole of the various owners of WTIM AM/FM, over the years has been a challenge for me and this website, to say the least. It would have been even more difficult if I hadn't been a part of the history of the stations. I've included mentions along the way of my experiences with the station during my short tenure, but I write even more of my experiences at the bottom of this page. So prepare to follow along with the story of this small-town central Illinois radio station.
WTIM-1410AM in 1974 was a 1000-watt daytime station that 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 quarter-mile south and east of the old single lane 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 Television debacle in Jacksonville and is pictured in the gallery below). It was an approximately 800 square foot structure that contained two studio rooms, an office, a transmitter room, and a restroom.
WTIM signed on the air with the playing of the National Anthem by the Taylorville High School Band on January 20th, 1952. The owner of WTIM was Moyer Broadcasting Company, owned at the time of sign-on by Russell Armentrout and his wife who owned a number of movie theaters under the name of "Clark Theatrers, Inc." Roger L. Moyer who managed the Clark Theaters was the other owner. It seems that the Armentrout's would sell their shares of the station back to Keith Moyer and his brother Roger as soon as 1952 or 1953. The Broadcasting Yearbooks from 1952 to 1961 lists the ownership of WTIM as being K.W. Moyer Broadcasting Corporation (as the original owner).
But, here's a curious thing...It also lists WGGM (FM) owned by Moyer and being a Taylorville FM station going on the air on May 1, 1960. Further investigation in Broadcasting Yearbooks in 1961 and 1962 are indicating WGGM (FM) as being on the air. It's listed as being at 95.1FM and operating at 3.4 kW. I'm not able to determine where the tower/antenna was located, although I have to assume that it was located at the WTIM(AM) site with the FM antenna on one of the AM towers. By the time WTIM was sold in 1962, the listing for WGGM disappeared from Broadcasting Yearbook in future editions. Either the license was turned back into the FCC when the station sold, or it never existed at all.
Kieth Moyer continued to seek out more radio properties in 1960 when he and James Hilderbrand under the company name of Bay Shore Broadcasting (PO Box 481, Taylorville, IL) applied for another radio station in Hayward, California. Moyer had 75% ownership, and James Hilderbrand at 25% and was set to be general manager for KBBM(FM). The station was at 101.7FM and broadcast at 900-watts. Shortly after being granted ownership for the FM station, he applied for an AM sister station at 1340AM, and power of 1kW full time. The cost was set at $10,050, with the first-year operating cost at $48,000 and expected revenue at $60,000.
Based on the information in the Broadcasting Yearbooks from the early 1960s, he was either not granted the new AM construction permit, or pulled the application, as there was not a KBBM(AM) listed in future editions of the Broadcasting yearbook. In the transfer of ownership application for the California station, Moyer was also identified as being the sole owner of WGGM-FM and a 71% owner of WTIM, both in Taylorville, Illinois.
There are several caveats in the information in the previous 2 paragraphs. First of all, as I have done hours and hours of research using the weekly editions and the annual yearbooks for research, there are a number of inconsistencies in the published data. Some include misspellings, incorrect locations, wrong call letters, and outdated information. When it comes to WGGM in Taylorville, even though I found the posting for the application for the station, I was never able to locate the FCC approval for a permit to construct the proposed station, even though it showed up in the Broadcast annual editions as being completed. I was also never able to find a notation that the permit for the station was ever refused or returned back to the FCC.
When WTIM was purchased by Community Broadcasters, the application for the transfer of ownership never mentioned anything other than being WTIM(AM).
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 a concrete block exterior which had the main entrance to the main hallway from the lobby of the hotel just to the west of the hotel ballroom called "The Melody Room."
After the studios moved to the Frisina Hotel, 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.
The building was located on the south side of the Cherokee extension past the Oak Hill cemetery and the South Fork of the Sangamon River. (source: Miller Media)
This early picture probably from the 1910s, was of the Antler Hotel at the corner of Market and Walnut. Market runs from the left (west). Walnut runs from the right (north). (unknown source)
This is an undated newspaper account of the completing of the sale of WTIM to Community Broadcasters. (courtesy of Jeff Denning)
The building was located on the south side of the Cherokee extension past the Oak Hill cemetery and the South Fork of the Sangamon River. (source: Miller Media)
Pictures will cycle through every few seconds. There are 21 pictures in the gallery. To read the full description of the picture, just click on any picture and you can read the full story, then click on the arrows to the left or right to see the next or previous picture. Click on the upper right-hand corner "x" to return to the original view on the page.
(above): Milburn Stuckwish with a newspaper article from the Decatur Herald announcing his purchase of WTIM(AM), in Taylorville. This is from 1962.
(above): Jon Ulz, a former partner in Community Broadcasters Inc. Later became a Dean of Boys at Taylorville High School before returning to radio in the early-mid 1970s. This photo is from the Taylorville High School Yearbook, The Drift, from the 1970-71 school year.
The new Frisina Hotel studios were approximately 20 feet wide and probably a good 100 feet long and contained a lobby with an 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 that contained an electric organ. Yes, the station had a "staff organist," a 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 through the mid-70s at least. Behind the organ, the studio was another on-air studio that was used as an on-air news reading booth.
Meanwhile, in 1962, two employees of WSOY AM/FM in Decatur formed Community Broadcasters, Inc. Those owners included, Milburn H. Stuckwish (at 50%) and Jon R. Ulz (at 32.5%) along with John E. Anderson (at 12.5%) and Harold E. Anderson (at 5%). At the time of that sale, the ownership of WTIM was listed as being Moyer Broadcasting Corporation, owned by Keith Moyer (at 71%), Roger L. Moyer (brother of Keith (at 29%).
Community Broadcasters purchased WTIM for $115,000, with $15,000 being part of a non-compete agreement lasting well into the 1970s to Stuckwish. Stuckwish was required to relocate to Taylorville with his ownership by the FCC. With the new ownership, there was no change in the current staff, other than Stuckwich would become general manager. Jon Ulz would act as commercial and promotion manager.
When the station's 1964 license renewal was filed, everything was in place as originally claimed and both Stuckwish and Ulz were residing in Taylorville and had become active members of the community.
Eighteen months later, on April 27, 1966, Stuckwish filed an application for the purchase of WCSJ(AM), Morris, Illinois for Grundy County Broadcasters, in which Stuckwich was to be a 75-percent owner. Stuckwish would spend a minimum of 50-percent of his work time at the Morris facility. Also, with the new acquisition, three employees of WTIM agreed to leave Taylorville to be full-time employees at WCSJ. The purchase of WCSJ ended up being $105,000.
On September 27, 1967, 15 months after the purchase of WCSJ(AM), Community Broadcasters filed an application for a new FM station for Taylorville, that would be operated with WTIM(AM). At that filing, Community Broadcasters requested approval for WTIM(AM) and the new WTIM-FM construction permit be filed at the same time as an ownership change under with the new owners being Public Service Broadcasters or PSB for a purchase price of $270,000. Donald G. Jones was listed as president and general manager of PSB. Stuckwish claimed that the price of $250,000 he received for WTIM was less than two times station gross revenues, which was a typical formula at that time, receiving only $20,000 for WTIM-FM was less than equipment costs for the addition. That sale was approved on December 19, 1968.
Stuckwish claimed that his sale of the Taylorville station was based on his partner, Jon Ulz, deciding to go into the educational field. Indeed he did, as he was Dean of Boys at Taylorville High School during the 1970-71 school year. Before that, he worked at a local Savings and Loan, before returning to manage WTIM AM/FM under Donald Jones' Public Service Broadcasters.
This goes with my personal timeline, as I first applied to work at WTIM in the Spring of 1972. My interview was conducted by Don Jones and Ron Billiter, whom I assume was the station's operation manager. After not being hired, I tried again two years later, this time with Jon Ulz, who did hire me.
Stuckwish also indicated to the FCC that he wanted to be released from his requirement to live in Taylorville in order to move to Morris, Illinois where he said WCSJ needed his 100-percent attention. He also filed to purchase WRMI(FM) in Morris. It was granted on August 23, 1971. Then in April of 1973, Stuckwish owner of his new company, Superior Broadcasting filed for an FM construction permit for Decatur, Illinois, and indicated a desire to be its general manager. The next year, June of 1974, he offered the sale of both Morris stations, AM and FM.
Also coming in to play, Prairieland Broadcasters, who operated WDZ in Decatur, on the filing for the FM station in Decatur, claimed to the FCC that Stuckwish was trafficking in broadcast operations. Plus, his covenant to not compete against WTIM that was enforceable through 1979 would make his owing and managing an FM station in Decatur and Macon County in direct competition to WTIM AM/FM located in adjacent Christian County. PSB and its president Don Jones even submitted a letter to Stuckwish stating that since the stations were located in two different counties, the covenant to not compete has no bearing on him owning a property in Decatur. With that letter, the FCC chose not to investigate this issue further, although Stuckwish's legal challenges weren't over yet, as Prairieland and WDZ continued to challenge his bid for Decatur's second FM signal, but that's another story. Perhaps I'll seek out that story in the future.
(above): Milburn Stuckwish applied for and received a permit to operate WTIM-FM, at 92.7FM. This was posted on Dec 15, 1968. The station was on a local frequency, with a maximum power of 3,000 watts. The antenna was located on the northeast AM tower near the top only giving the antenna a height of around 200-feet or so.
(above): Just a few weeks after WTIM-FM went on the air Community Broadcasters, Inc filed to sell WTIM AM/FM to Public Service Broadcasters bringing Don Jones into the picture. The price was to be $270,000.
(top): 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)
From 1963, a coverage area map with market information on local spending from people frequenting businesses within the radio station's coverage area. This only includes that of WTIM, 1410AM.
(below): 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)
Under the leadership of Public Service Broadcasters, WTIM AM/FM became an early user of broadcast automation, which would greatly reduce the number of on-air employees. During at least part of the time of the two station-IGM automation, both stations were overseen by a rotation of two people with 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. Most of the names on the logs from that era were Donald Jones and Pam Whiting. At least one local announcer was responsible, though, for local programming such as the popular local buy-sell-trade call-in programming "Swap Shop" along with local news blocks.
Here's the legendary Mary Jones, who began playing the organ professionally during silent movies before 1929 at the local theater. Pictured with her was WTIM AM/FM announcer Larry "Lonesome Larry" Williams who has been a major contributor to this site. This was probably taken in the early 1970s.
(Larry Williams Collection)
Rick Bulger was hired in the early 1970s and he enters the picture with probably a similar job description. Block programming consisted of country music with local DJ "Cowboy Bill Durbin," religious, farm and sports programming,
Much of the automated programming included the announcers provided by IGM. They even would record special segments for the local stations, local activities, but were limited by the delay of the postal service that would deliver the tape.
Sometime in 1972-73, WTIM(AM) went back to being a live operation, at least for most of the day. The general manager was listed as Dick Jackson with Mike Krost as news director and Roy Fritcher as chief engineer. By 1974, Jon Ulz was back as WTIM AM/FM general manager. Among the on-air announcers by the mid-70s were Keith Arnold, Rick Bulger, Bob McElroy, and Rick Derrick (as News Director).
When I was hired in 1974 the air/news/sports staff included Rick Doan, Keith Arnold, Bob McElroy, Chris Showalter, Lee Freshwater, Rick Bulger, Engineer Rob Tooley, News Director Rick Derrick. Salespeople were Chris Spurling and Eunice Estes.
In 1975, Jon Ulz transferred to New Castle, Indiana to be the general manager of WCTW/WMDH. Larry Stewart (who was from the New Castle area) was transferred to Taylorville to be the general manager of WTIM AM/FM. The 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).
In May of 1976, WTIM and WTIM-FM would once again change ownership. This time it would involve Jon Ulz at the helm and a company he formed with Don Jones continuing to be a minor investor, along with some local investors, and ownership now was by Delta Media, Incorporated. Jon Ulz would once again return to be the general manager of WTIM/WEEE.
Larry Williams was the person in charge of that as well as producing all of the other program elements that would be aired by the automation system. Larry describes his duties that included hosting "Mary Jones at the Organ," working the "Swap Shop" program, the late afternoon top 40 show, recording the ministerial alliance morning meditation that would air the next day or throughout the week, engineering highs school sports as well as Bill "Little Cowboy" Durbin's shows, sold advertising in the Pana area, as well as attending school board and city council meetings for the news department.
While Larry was at WTIM AM/FM he mentioned Don Sharp who was a sales manager, Lee Lawrick who was a sportscaster-and published a weekly magazine on Illinois high school sports (later went to WFMB as "Lovable Lee"). Larry would spot and engineer the games with Lee Lawrick, while Augie Kronshagen and "Big Dog" Ren Auldy of George's Candy Shop in Pana would do the play-by-play for the Pana Panther games. Larry would also do news segments from Pana from a studio set up in the Pana bank building.
Larry remembered his salary as $650/month plus a 15% commission on what he sold. After Larry and his wife, Susan (who was a bookkeeper at the station as well) left to go to Springfield's WFMB in the early 1970s. (continued below)
1974 Holdings of
Public Service Broadcasting
WTIM 1410AM, 1kW Daytime, Taylorville, IL-purchased 1/1/1969 (ownership changed after a corporate reorganization to Delta Media-5/12/ 1976)
WTIM-FM (call letter change to WEEE in 1975) 92.7FM, 3kW, Ant 150-feet, Taylorville-purchased 1/1/1969 (ownership changed after a corporate reorganization to Delta Media-5/12/1976)
WCTW 1550AM, 250w Daytime, New Castle, IN-purchased 8/1/71
WMDH(FM), 102.5mHz, 20kW, Ant at 240-feet, New Castle, IN-purchased 8/1/71
KFIZ 1450AM, 1kW Daytime, 250w Night, Fond du Lac, WI-purchased 10/--/72.
WVLN 740AM, 250w Daytime, Olney, IL-purchase date --/--/72 (sold to Eugene McPherson for $350,000 April 26, 1976)
WSEI(FM) 92.9FM, 50kW, Ant at 290-feet, Olney, IL-purchase date --/--/72 (sold to Eugene McPherson for $350,000 April 26, 1976)
KROS 1340AM, 1kW Daytime-250w Night, Clinton, IA-purchased 11/26/73
KROS-FM 96.1FM, 100kW, Ant at 360-feet, Clinton, IA-purchase date 11/26/73
KWEB 1270AM, 5kW Daytime, 1kW Night, Rochester, MN-purchased 10/--/74
KNCV 101.7FM, 3kW, Ant at 46-feet, Rochester, MN-purchased 10/--/74
Staff members I remember in the 1974-1977 period that I was there include Rick Doan(announcer-operations), Rob Tooley(chief engineer), Enes Estes(sales), Chris Spurling(sales), Brent Wookey(announcer), Chris Showalter(announcer), Cathy Styles(news), John Heck(news), Mike Del Valle(announcer-Operator), Mike Robinson(announcer), Rob O'Bryan(News), Lee Freshwater(operations mgr.), Mary Jones(organist), Millie Doughtery(traffic-bookkeeper), Mike Wasser(chief engineer), Larry Williams(announcer), Dave Williamson(sales), Jody Maisch(announcer), Augie Kronshagen(Pana sports announcer), Nancy Norris(traffic), Vonny Voggetzer(announcer-promotions), Elaine Blessman(secretary), Mike Del Valle(announcer), Gary Shultz(chief engineer), and Steve Adams(announcer) and I returned to be the program director at WEEE, and a sales rep for both stations, occasionally doing an air shift if necessary.
From 1975-76, 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. (continued below)
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.
My Time at WTIM/WTIM-FM(WEEE)
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)
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. (picture from the Doug Quick Collection)
WTIM Staff Meeting: from left to right: (partially hidden Rob O'Bryan, Chris Spurling, Vonnie Voggetzer(partial side head shot), then in the mid section: Bill VanArsdale and from the rear Lee Freshwater. Facing the camera on the right-Rick Derrick.
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)
For the first time since it was originally broadcast, here is a montage of WTIM AM/FM audio from the era of which I was a part. 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 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 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 owners 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. Does 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 that operated a microswitch which would "ready up" each source depending on the time of the hour. The commercials, ID's, time announcements, and the 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 with 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 that pulled out from the main control unit, in which there was a "game board, similar to the 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 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 IDs at the top of the hour, spot sets in mid-quarter-hour, etc.
The order of the sources for each "break" was determined by the order in the source control knobs that 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 the 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 lengths 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 that 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 at 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 its own music service, and I guess it was a way to keep subscribers to their own music services.
I used a tone generator in 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 turntable 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, that 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 '70s!
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.
70 years and Counting...
In 2022, WTIM would celebrate its 70th Anniversary with a video produced by Miller Media, the present-day owner.
Participating in the video were former employees, including myself. I tell of my experience of getting hired at my first broadcast facility.
This video was seen at the Taylorville Area Chamber of Commerce dinner in May of 2022.
(from YouTube and Miller Media)
The first time I left WTIM it was to go back to school. It was the 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 that 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."
After I left in 1977, the station, 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 that 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 the north side of the square. The format of WTJY was changed back to a contemporary format that was satellite-delivered. Linton sold the stations to Jim Green of Riverton, Illinois in the early '90s.
In 1992, WTIM/WTJY was sold again, this time WTIM was sold to Miller Media and its 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 station's anniversary week, I once again participated in a phone-in interview.
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