The Orange File
I had no idea what that file had in it when Harvit picked it up. He handed it to me and said "Build it!,,,,I hope!" He then explained how he and Three States Broadcasting had been in this 'fight' over the frequency. One side would win, the other appeals and they win. This had gone on for years. He continued, "look this over and be ready". I said, "I take it we won?' "Yes", he said, "And they appealed!"
I left his office and hurried back to my little room (actually the front of the building that had been part of a balcony over 2nd avenue) now called Engineering. The first thing in the folder wasn't about the new FM. It was a letter to the FCC giving up all rights to the local UHF TV channel (32 I think) and that the FCC should grant the use of channel 33 to West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Being from Barboursville and having applied to the politically motivated Cabell County Board Of Education, I knew about the new station. This letter was key to it's very existence!
Under that were flyers from the late fifties for TV equipment and several proposals.
Next was a coverage map for the FM. The site was on Buffalo Mountain near Cinderella, close to the fire tower. It involved a short tower and a low ERP of 14 KW.The coverage from that site was great! But under that section was another with the tower being on a point overlooking Williamson with a tower of 430 feet and an ERP of 50KW. So I called Harvit and asked "why?" He told me Three States had argued that line of sight service was required from any site to Williamson. The Buffalo Mountain site didn't provide that. The in town site gave 99.99% line of site coverage. I responded, "50,000 watts and you have to see it? That's crazy!". Harvit explained even so, the FCC said it had to be. How silly!. Just as silly were the equipment lists and proposals that were overblown and old. I knew I had a lot of work to do and I figured I had a lot of time. I was right.
At one point Harvit took some of us to Washington, D.C. for a hearing. Talk about nuts! Some one had left the building to get a pack of cigarettes while on a transmitter log and it was a major issue! Both sides had many mistakes made by employees but there was one difference. I noted the first day two loose leaf note books on the FCC desk. Both were marked "engineering Citations" and there was one for each station. The one for WBTH had a few sheets in it. The one for WHJC was nearly full. I asked Harvit's attorney, Mr. Midland, why that hadn't been the 'real' issue. He said, "Wait until tomorrow!".
And indeed the next day it was all about a "stuck base current meter" of Three State's. I couldn't believe the 'nitpicking' of both sides. On the last day of the hearings, Harvit came in smiling like the cat that caught the canary. As we exited 1919 M Street N.W., he turned to us and said "I've got tickets!". I had no idea what he was talking about, but everyone else did. It was the week of the NAB Convention and he had tickets to the biggest party in town....the ABC party!
I figured out why he brought me along. It was the convention. I was to look at the new equipment, not that we needed it yet. I went to everything radio and some TV booths. One was demonstrating video editing by editing a recent Dean martin show automatically. At one seminar I sat beside Ted Turner. We talked about the media thru most of the presentation. I met a lot of interesting people that week. The most interesting was quite by accident. We stayed at the Gramercy and one morning at breakfast, the doorman announced "Mr. Kissinger!".This ordinary looking person come in an sat across from us. I guess he saw we were all stunned so he said "Good morning gentlemen!" in his heavily accented voice. We all responded and had a short conversation with him. He had no idea he had just made our week!
On the plane back home we all talked of the 'what if', but we knew it wasn't over. It could be a very long time before it would end.
In a few years, quite by surprise....it WAS over! The staff had all but forgotten about the case when the news came. Harvit called us all back to his office where he told us...."If there is no appeal by five PM tomorrow, it's over....It's ours!".
Could it be ?