Directional ex-Class IA AMs

Dave Doherty
Wed Dec 16 22:26:53 EST 2009

I was digging for a photo for my annual card, and I found deep in my 
archives the following photo of the 1950's WEAF (WNBC, WFAN) site at Port 
Washington.  I don't recall where it came from, but it corresponds exactly 
with my memory of the site from my childhood.


From: "Dan.Strassberg" <>
Sent: Monday, November 23, 2009 8:57 AM
To: "A. Joseph Ross" <>
Cc: "Boston Radio Interest" <>
Subject: Directional ex-Class IA AMs

> Back in the day. there were four Class IA clear-channel stations that
> operated DA-1 (same facilities day and night): WBZ, WWL, WEAF (now
> WFAN), and WTAM. Of those, two remain directional. In all cases,
> really, the reason for directionalizing was the same, not to protect
> any station but to send the signal over land (where people live) and
> not waste it over water (where only fish and a smaller number of
> crustaceans live).
> In WBZ's case, the water is the Atlantic Ocean to the east; in WWL's
> case, it is the Gulf of Mexico to the south; in WEAF's case, it was
> Long Island Sound to the east; and in WTAM's case it was Lake Erie to
> the north. Of these four stations, WBZ is the most directional (sends
> the least signal--the equivalent of ~1 kW ND--over Mass Bay). WWL
> sends something approaching the equivalent of 5 kW ND to the south; I
> don't know why. I have never seen WTAM's or WEAF's patterns. but my
> understanding is that neither of these stations (both then owned by
> RCA/NBC) was strongly directional.
> WEAF's transmitter was in Port Washington on Long Island's north shore
> in Nassau County, a pretty good distance from mid-town Manhattan. The
> signal was boosted to the west to level the playing field with New
> York's other Class IA clears, WJZ 770, which transmitted from New
> Jersey (I think it was Bound Brook until the 1943 move to the current
> Lodi site) and WABC 880. (For those who don't remember that far back,
> the WABC calls were on 880 until, I think, 1943. 880, then as now, was
> on an island east of the Bronx in Long Island Sound--but it was a
> different island back then.) WEAF's signal to the east over Long
> Island and Connecticut was pretty potent--I've heard the equivalent of
> 25 kW ND, but I can't verify that.
> As for WTAM, there was a significant potential audience in Ontario, 50
> miles or so across Lake Erie. Also, the transmitter itself may have
> been south of downtown Cleveland. The antenna was quite unusual for a
> US station. The designer, the legendary Carl Smith, used a technique
> that has been used successfully in Mexico and Europe but was never
> popular with the FCC. It was a one-tower, two element, DA. The tall
> uniform cross-section, guy-supported tower was, of course, one of the
> elements. The second element was a wire dropped from one of the
> supporting guys, resulting in unequal element heights and rather close
> spacing between the elements. Neither of those characteristics was a
> killer and, indeed, those characteristics are shared by many current
> two-element DAs constructed of two conventional towers. I remember
> seeing a polar plot of the WTAM pattern. It was not very directional
> and the radiation efficiency was HUGE--much higher than that of WTAM's
> current conventional half-wave tower. I don't know the height of the
> old tower; presumably, it was more than helf wave--maybe as much as
> 5/8 wave.
> There were other Class IA AMs that might have benefitted from using
> DAs but never chose to do so. The most notable was KFI, which, back in
> the '30s, could have built a two-tower array (or even a one-tower
> setup like WTAM's) on Catalina Island. I suspect, however, that KFI's
> owner, auto dealer Earl C Anthony, figured that the publicity from
> having the station's 750' tower right next to his auto dealership was
> a good trade-off for the coverage KFI could have gained in southern
> California's then-sparsely populated desert areas. Also, there might
> have been problems with getting the audio to a transmitter "26 miles
> across the sea." I don't know in what year Pacific T&T installed its
> first undersea cable between Santa Monica and Avalon.
> As for what stations the directional operations protect, although that
> was not an issue when any of these ex-IA stations was built, changes
> in the FCC rules might make it an issue now if WBZ or WWL wanted to
> abandon its DA-1 operation. WBZ's radiation toward a station in Puerto
> Rico might become an issue if WBZ wanted to operate ND. And I believe
> that there is now at least one full-time station on 1030 in Florida.
> WWL's limited radiation to the south now protects several signals in
> (I believe) Venezuela and surrounding countries.
> -----
> Dan Strassberg (
> eFax 1-707-215-6367
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "A. Joseph Ross" <>
> To: "Dan.Strassberg" <>
> Cc: "Boston Radio Group" <>
> Sent: Monday, November 23, 2009 12:30 AM
> Subject: Re: UHF in Southern New England (was WHNB/WVIT Channel 30
> (was Re:WTAG-TV?))
>> Why does WBZ have a directional signal at all?  What do they have to
>> protect?
>> -- 
>> A. Joseph Ross, J.D.                           617.367.0468
>> 92 State Street, Suite 700                   Fax 617.507.7856
>> Boston, MA 02109-2004          

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