New Station, New Bosses, New Trouble
Now that the FM was on and profitable, who would run it for Harvit? We all knew he was very ill and wanted to move to Florida. He tried Tennis at the helm, but it was just too much to do. But then he put the Bookkeeper, Janet Evans in charge. I had had minor problems with Janet the whole time. She questioned me about everything I spent. I guess the one question that sums up her outlook toward Engineering was this: "Why do you keep buying more tubes!" And yes, I did have to respond to that. She wanted everything but didn't want to pay for anything. Big ideas, no money....you get the picture.
Part of the agreement for the FM was to move the AM tower off the hotel roof. Things had settled down and in the Summer of 1979 I was looking for someone to take the tower on the roof down. I also was getting ready to use the FM tower as the AM radiator. Harvit (but most likely Janet) would not approve the purchase of an FM isolator so we could put the AM on the tower. Instead it was opted for a "bazooka" feed arrangement. This required the FM cable to be kept away from the tower by six to ten inches up to a 1/4 wavelength point. Even then the cost of solid rod plexiglass was high. For whatever reason, I was "gone around" and a D.C. Consultant was brought in. (that's cost effective, isn't it?). I was told to do exactly what he said. The tower feed system was put together exactly as this guy said....then he left. When I tested the tower, it didn't work. The taller tower should have yielded a radiation of 242 millivolts per meter at one mile. What we got was 148. Even less than the 150 we got out of the roof antenna! The Consultant was called, but would not come back and offered no "fix". At the same time Janet was mad about paying someone to take the hotel tower down. It was in our contract, so we had to! Then the automation began to overheat. The gas air conditioner had failed! I reported this to Janet and was asked, "Can't you fix it? I thought you could fix everything!" I politely informed her we have a local company that does that. "Well then why do we have you?" she barked. That was it. I had had enough! I walked out and I didn't go back! A few weeks later I was interviewing at APCO when a friend came in and told me they wouldn't hire me for Janet had told them I was going back to work for her! I had been blacklisted for all practical purposes. No one in the area would touch me. But then my wife had her sister in Virginia tell her "My boss has an opening, he should apply here!" It was late fall but I did go up there and on January 1, 1980, I started my job with System Planning Corporation as an Engineering Technician. I had an office, letterhead, and was treated with respect and made twice what I had in Williamson, with full family benefits!.
Did I tell ever them what was wrong with the AM tower? NO! But here it is:
A "bazooka" type feed requires attachment of the shield of the FM cable to the tower at one quarter wavelength. However, the FM transmission line must have it's inductive reactance cancelled out by a return path to the radiator. Meaning, there needed to be a high voltage variable capacitor from the shield of the FM cable to the tower. Variable so an exact value could be found and the variable replaced with a fixed value. That was all. Perhaps a $200 fix. Later, since the tower didn't work, the FCC allowed them to put the full 1,00 watts into it, for the minor output.
Janet rode the wave of what we had created back then, but the coal boom began to move on. Williamson was going to take a huge economic hit and it wasn't going to come back. Pikeville was the new Williamson just as Williamson had been the new Logan decades before. Sales began to fail and Harvit wanted to sell. I'm told the right of first refusal was Janet's. After a couple of years, she couldn't come up with the asking price and (again, I'm told) was sent on her way. But then East Kentucky Broadcasting bought it. To save it they went ahead and moved the transmitter into Kentucky so they could increase power to 100,000 ERP. This was something Harvit saw no profit in and would not do. The AM and The FM are now programmed out of studios in Pikeville. Not long ago the Williamson tower was re-licensed as a back up FM transmitter site. WXCC continues to be a popular station for EKB.
I wish them well !
© 2014 Harold Cremeans