September 2011
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The Gates BC1J

This transmitter is found at WBEC in Pittsfield, MA.  It is still in operation as a standby transmitter for that station and has a manufacture’s date of 1955.  The Broadcasting Yearbook places WBEC first on air in March of 1947.  This would be the second transmitter the station installed.

Gates BC1J in service as backup at WBEC, September 2011

Gates BC1J in service as backup at WBEC, September 2011

The transmitter has been in service for 56 years, which is remarkable.  This was made back when Gates was just Gates (no Harris) and AM radio was still king of the airwaves.  TV was coming of age, FM radio still had a ways to go until widespread acceptance by the general public.

This transmitter doesn’t get to run very much, the third transmitter installed at WBEC is a Nautel AMPHET-1.

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8 comments to The Gates BC1J

  • Dewey Jacks

    WBEC should keep that Gates transmitter,…even if it doesn’t get to run very much. That is a piece of living radio history and should be kept that way. That is a neat looking vintage tube transmitter,…keep it,WBEC!

  • Dewey, no worries, I don’t think that transmitter is going anywhere soon.

  • That’s a nice old rig! Always good to see one of the classics still serving as a backup.

  • Larry Kratka

    Would make for a great 1KW rig on the 160 meter ham band. Would also heat up my garage. LK

  • Greg Cotton

    I love these transmitters. I have a BC-1J in the basement awaiting conversion to 160/80 meters.

    You see quite a few BC-1Ts but very few of these. It was worth the 1,000 mile drive to Longmont, CO where it had come up for sale after the local station had let two storage lockers of gear go to auction for back rent. The guy I bought it from had paid $200 for both lockers and was going to take it all to the scrap yard until a friend told him he could sell it on Ebay, where I bought the BC-1J in very nice shape. He sold all the other gear including a MW-5 to other people. I hauled it home in a 16 year old Mazda mini truck, all 900 lbs of it!

  • Tom Wiseman (WZYX)

    Does anyone have couple of inter stage transformers, or amp deck?

    Thanks Tom Wiseman WZYX CE

    P.S. I gave birth to ole thing 12/15/56

  • Kent Teffeteller


    If I had spares for the BC 1J, I’d oblige you. I need a parts rig for the BC1J I care for. The BC1J wasn’t built beyond 1-2 years at most. This rig was the transition between the Parker Gates era BC 1F and the Harris era and George Diveley’s Value Engineering mandate beginning with the BC 1T.

  • Jay

    A beautiful example of mid 50’s transmitter design. 833s modulated by 833s was a very durable and effective design. Many of the Gates and RCA transmitters of that era have found new life in the amateur radio service with serious AM operators.

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