March 2012
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WNAW North Adams

Originally signed on as WMNB in 1947, it is a Class C AM station on 1230 KHz, one of thousands in the country. Initially, it had a power of 250 watts, upgrading at various times to its current power of 1,000 watts.

WNAW-WUPE-FM, North Adams, Ma circa 2012

WNAW-WUPE-FM, North Adams, Ma circa 2012

What is different about this station is the studio building. It is located in it’s original place on Curran Highway on the south side of North Adams. The studio is a late Art deco design, complete with small glass atrium in the lobby.  Like many older radio stations, this installation was built on a raised floor.  The walls and doors are all well constructed for maximum sound attenuation.  The doors are large, heavy and solid wood.

WNAW news room, formerly the performance studio

WNAW news room, formerly the performance studio

Inside, the original studios are laid out with a control room, a broadcast studio and a live performance room.  At one time, the live performance room had a grand piano.  Several times per week, live music shows were broadcast on the station.  There was a large news room, a big corner office for the General Manager and sales managers.

WNAW studio monitor speakers

WNAW studio monitor speakers

WNAW studio, looking into the control room.  Back in the day, the announcer, who’s only concern was announcing, worked in a separate studio from the engineer on duty, who worked console in the control room.  The audio level limiting consisted of turning down the level on the console if the announcer started speaking loudly.  They often communicated with each other with hand signs through the windows.

WNAW lobby

WNAW lobby

At the time that WMNB was signed on, the Adams/North Adams Massachusetts area was in the heart of the north east manufacturing belt.  Sprauge had a capacitor plant in Adams, GE was making plastics in Pittsfield, There where many textile mills still in operation and so on.  The population was predominantly working middle class.

WNAW control room console

WNAW control room console

Obviously, the console has been changed since those days.  The current console is a Audio Arts R-60.  This serves as the control room for WNAW and WUPE-FM.  The programming for WUPE-FM comes from Pittsfield on a T-1 line.  From here, it is relayed to the transmitter site on a 950 MHz STL.   WNAW transmitter is located about 2/10 of a mile south of the studio building on Curran Highway.  It consists of a skirted self supporting tower with a Gates 1 solid state transmitter.

WNAW-WUPE-FM equipment racks

WNAW-WUPE-FM equipment racks

Equipment racks containing the T-1 equipment, modulation monitors and STLs.  Note the very old Moseley TRC-15 remote controls.  We have been unwiring these at the transmitter sites and disconnecting the TELCO lines.  The transmitter sites now have Sine Systems dial up remote controls.

In 1961, WMNB-FM (now WUPE-FM) signed on the air from a tower north east of down town, off of Mohawk Trail (MA route 2).  It broadcast on 100.1 MHz with an ERP of 1,000 watts using a Gates FM1B transmitter.

WNAW continues on today as a community based radio station and is well liked and supported.

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4 comments to WNAW North Adams

  • Lui

    Are you parting with the Mosely TRC 15’s; I’d be interested in one or both, if the price is right.

  • Michael Putnam

    The live performance studio was where I got the radio bug as a teenager. The station broadcast the rosary live on Sunday nights at 6pm. And I had the opportunity to be part of the broadcast on several occasions. Later in life, when I worked there, I spent many nights in that room cataloging music for the station.

  • David A. Gray

    I can add some details to the early history of WNAW that may be of interest. The station had a history long before the call letters were acquired by WMNB.

    WNAW was an entirely separate station that also went on the air in the late 1940s. The call letters stand for the name of the original owner, Neil A. Welch. It had a daytime-only license on 860 kHz, a clear channel. (The daytime restriction was to protect the principal licensee (?) on that frequency from interference due to nighttime skip.) WNAW’s studio was in a hotel, whose name I forget, on a street, whose name I also forget, in the center of North Adams. The area now appears to be a parking lot. WNAW’s transmitter was precisely where the present one is. The present tower, last time I looked, 10 or more years ago, was the old WNAW tower with the top 25 or 30 feet lopped off (to bring its height down to around a quarter wavelength at 1230 kHz instead of 860 kHz).

    A daytime license by the 1950s was a money-losing proposition and WNAW folded in the fall of 1951. In July of 1952 it went back on the air, having been bought by an evangelical organization from Pennsylvania. The station carried Oral Roberts and other syndicated religious programs in addition to its local fare, religious and non-religious. Not long after that I left the North Adams area, and on a visit a few years later I noted that WMNB was broadcasting their 1230-kHz signal from WNAW’s old, shortened tower. Later still, in the early 2000s, I found WMNB was now an FM station and the old WMNB was now calling itself WNAW.

    How do I know all these snippets of ancient history? I worked, mostly in a technical capacity, for both WNAW and WMNB when I was a student at Williams College, just up the road from North Adam, in the early nineteen fifties.

  • Paul Thurst

    Thank you for your interesting insight, David.

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