Directional ex-Class IA AMs

Thu Dec 17 06:52:55 EST 2009

Nice photo! I had never been there, but I had seen pictures, though
not ones that included the Tx building. I had also seen pix of another
WEAF Tx building somewhere else on Long Island, I believe; it must
have been the predecessor of this one--it had a similar look. The
towers are pretty much what I recall from the pix I saw--fat
self-supporters. The very tops of the towers don't show in your
picture, but IIRC, the towers were not pointed at the top; the tops
were flat with a cross-section of maybe 2'.

I think you will agree that your picture strongly suggests that the
line of the towers ran more or less east to west. The shoreline in
Port Washington runs pretty much north to south. Port Washington is on
a fat peninsula or promontory, one of several that jut into Long
Island Sound from Long Island's north shore, which runs pretty much
west to east.

Dan Strassberg (
eFax 1-707-215-6367

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Dave Doherty" <>
To: "Dan.Strassberg" <>; "A. Joseph Ross"
Cc: "Boston Radio Interest"
<>; <>
Sent: Wednesday, December 16, 2009 10:26 PM
Subject: Re: Directional ex-Class IA AMs

>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.
> -d
> --------------------------------------------------
> 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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