50 Pounds In A One Pound Bag
Things were beginning to move in the late spring of 1978. Equipment was on order and the studios were being....changed. The sales room with one desk would become the FM live studio. The news room up front would now share two more small news desks. Accounting would expand some too, but the bathrooms stayed the same....tiny! If we had an automation system, where would it go? In the floor in front of Traffic Manager, Francis Miles, desk, it was decided. With the AM transmitters still there, we would have a "full house"!
I remember it was very cold when we went to visit WXIT in Charleston to see there Schaffer system. They told Harvit they just wanted to go back live (and had already done so), but the system was "fine". I wasn't too sure of that, nor was Bob. But, two weeks later, he bought it. I never did find out how much he paid for it. Trucks from B & L Furniture went to pick it up. We would find out later the racks and tele-types were not tied down and fell over, causing damage. This was just the start of the problems with the used Schaffer 901. More on this "thing" later.
In late spring construction began on the transmitter building. That was going faster than I expected. We had only one "theft" and that was the 2 x 4 pile for the building walls. We found them down on Vincent Street. It would be hard to prove, so Harvit let the guy buy with it. I had purchased a Pi-Rod, 430 foot tower with the top 60 feet being a pole (for the FM six bay antenna). They had sent the specifications for the base and anchors and again a problem. The plans called for five cubic yards of concrete in each anchor. Seven cubic yards in the base. One anchor was 300 feet over the mountain on the city side! How do we get concrete to it? We couldn't make a road to it. Again Lonnie Varney had the solution. He used section of 'V' channel aluminum roofing and a frame to make a moving chute! The angle over the mountain was so steep, if you placed a stick of rebar in the slot and gave it a push, it would end up buried two feet deep in the pile of dirt behind the hole. But there was a 'low spot' in the run which slowed the concrete down to the point it had to be pushed to the hole. This long slide over the side of the mountain was sure to bring calls. But we never did get any about that.
At 430 feet it would be the tallest thing around, but even so, it was almost even with the then Mingo County Airport runway. Down in a hole for sure! I paid $18,000 for it and another $5,000 to put it up. It came on one truck. What a day that was!
The truck driver called and wanted me to 'lead' him. I called Lonnie to come up after us and take the 20 ft. Tower sections out to the site. What no one thought of the height of the wires over Vincent Street! The load on the truck was under legal height, so there should be no problem....wrong!
Up Vincent Street we went! At the big curve half way up to the Airport, we off loaded onto Lonnie's truck for the trip (3.6 miles) out to the site. The tower was there and all was well....or so I thought. On the way back down Vincent Street we noticed a large number of C & P Telephone trucks. As we looked closer, we could see phone lines ripped off houses and pulled into the street. Many of the lines (we later found out) were no more than 8 feet off the road! I know C & P wanted to hang us, but hey, they broke the rules!
That was not the end of this day. The driver need to call the office and after the flood there were few pay phones anywhere. The closest one was across from the Field House. He pulled in there with me behind. He could see he might block the entire entrance to a business, so he pulled up enough so a car could get by. He had no more than entered the phone booth when the owner came out screaming....at me! "is that your truck?", he asked. I said no,but the guy will only be a minute or two. The owner went ballistic, screaming and yelling at me. When he shut up, he hit me with the banana he was eating. The driver came out of the booth laughing and said to me. "Like bananas?". Then drove off. Before I could get back into the Blazer, the owner again appeared. "That wasn't your truck?" I said, " No, but thanks for the banana!" To which he replied, "Oh shit! Now I'm gonna get arrested!" I just got in and left. Enough of this day.
It was a couple of weeks before the tower went up.
That's when the UFO's arrived in Williamson!