April 2011
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WCKY transmitter site tour

This is of interest because of the GE BT-25-A transmitter footage.  I do not know the serial number of the WCKY BT-25-A transmitter, but it is looks identical to the old WPTR BT-25-A unit which can be seen in this post.  As I stated in that missive, I have not heard any transmitter before or since, that sounded as good as this unit.  They were really engineering marvels, even in 1999 when this video was shot.

No doubt the MW-50 (no letter) and particularly the DX-50 transmitters are more efficient. In this day and age when many AM stations are just scraping by, over paying for utilities is not an option. I noticed the Harris MW-50 transmitter with the PDM drawer open. That brings back memories too, those PDM boards where a pain in the rear, as I recall.

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6 comments to WCKY transmitter site tour

  • J. Aegerter

    In the ’60’s, WCKY had a consistently strong signal every night into Wisconsin, and their BT-25 audio was astounding. WLS had the newer design, a BT-50, and its audio was also remarkable. However, I always preferred the BT-25 audio over all the other 50 kW transmitters of the time. The GE BT-50, the RCA BTA-50F1, and the Westinghouse 50HG series were all very close, but my personal preference would always be the BT-25 with its slightly warmer sound.

  • Lee Rust


    I see you worked at WPTR in the ’90’s. I was pretty closely associated with Rust Communications, one of the prior owners of that station. Those GE’s were very similar to the Westinghouse 50HG that was in service at WHAM in Rochester until the early ’80’s. Back when those things were made, everything was so very big and heavy at those power levels. The whole building was built around those old transmitters, and everything about them was taken very seriously.

  • Paul Thurst

    Lee, I was meaning to ask you if you were any relation to Bill.

    WCKY never came in well around here, mostly due to WKBW on 1520 and WPTR on 1540.

  • Dewey Jacks

    When I watched this video tour of this GE transmitter,I would have to ask why any radio station would want to shut it down and run the newer,more modern solid state transmitters. Granted,I am sure the newer,more modern solid state units run more efficiently,but I don’t think they can match these tube jobs when it comes to the audio quality. Those old tube transmitters are engineering marvels!

  • Paul Thurst

    @Dewey, you are right, the older transmitters are engineering marvels and very inefficient. Most stations in the 70’s and 80’s installed newer transmitters that paid for themselves in electrical savings in a few years. That was when electricity cost 2-3 cents per KWh, unlike today where it can range up to 15 or 20 cents a KWh. Plus, the older transmitters like this one had PCB capacitors and transformers, which became too much risk for financiers to tolerate.

  • lee martin

    1n the 50s I listened to the hillbilly jamboree and at the hour of sunset they would shut down and switch o higher power if I remember right they went to 500,000 watts. this was during the Korean war and soldiers from Japan and Germany mailed in request for their girlfriends that were listening. they were popular in Florida. Marty Roberts and Nelson King. read the requests.they had mail from most of the country. they sold any thing from grave markers and fruit trees to baby chicks and harmonica lessons. when they took on broadcasting the reds games and stopped the country music. the power was reduced quite a bit. hated to see the end of an era. if you didn’t care for the music you could find the many sales pitches for items less than $2.00 amusing

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