Microphone Man-19

Page 19

 

Altec M11 System.

Altec-Lansing Corporation billed it as “The mike that became a must!” when it came out around 1949. I’m talking about the Altec 21B condenser microphone capsule which was part of the M-11 Microphone system. This capsule was an amazingly small mike for that era.

This mike was a revolutionary development at the time because condenser mikes had fallen out of favor way back in the 1930s. Ribbon and dynamics had taken over the professional audio field and many thought the condenser would never come back. Altec engineers had a different idea…a new approach to the problem: not “redesigning what was already available, but starting from scratch with a dual specification: “The best quality and the smallest size.”

More than 20 “man-years” were spent in the design and engineers of the 21B. The result wasn’t just a “better mike” – smaller in size – but a mike, smaller in diameter than a dime…that set a new standard in microphone performance…with new pickup techniques as well. The condenser mikes of the 1920s and 30s were big and had bulky amplifiers that had to be in close proximity to the pickup capsule and were powered by large battery packs.

The new smaller size capsule mated with the new “miniature” vacuum tubes developed during WWII made possible the come back of the condenser unit. Altec used an A/C power supply box instead of bulky battery packs. The result was the M-11 microphone system. The capsule itself was 5/8ths of an inch in diameter and just a quarter inch thick. It had a sound entrance opening that was a tiny slot around the top edge of the capsule.

People referred to this mike as the “coke-bottle” because of its unique and stylish shape. The small 21B capsule was mounted at the top of the slender “coke-bottle” “150A” base which contained a 6AU6 miniature vacuum tube which converted the very high impedance of the capsule to a low impedance by use of a cathode-follower circuit. The unit used a multi-conductor cable connected through a Cannon “P” 8-pin connector which was at the bottom of the “coke-bottle”. The mike could be separated from the power supply by as much as 400 feet.

This cable mated with the power supply box which supplied both filament and high voltage to the vacuum tube and condenser capsule. The power supply box also had an output cable that connected the system to the audio equipment it was to be used with. There was an optional matching transformer that plugged into the power supply box to provide a balanced output for professional audio systems.

The 21B capsule produced an extremely smooth and extended response over the entire audio range and was omnidirectional. Later modifications were the 21C and D which only changed the way the sound entered the mike at the top. Its graceful, slender shape made it possible for artists to “get out from behind the mike” and be seen with a minimum of obstruction when used on a mike stand and it also fit comfortably in the hand for mobile use.

The M-11 mike system became an instant sensation in the audio industry and saw wide use in broadcasting, public address motion picture production and recording. Later Altec used the same capsule with an even smaller base that used printed circuits and a sub-miniature vacuum tube…this was dubbed the “lipstik” M-20 microphone system. It was literally no larger than a lipstick and was practically invisible on a regular mike stand. It was also equipped with a fountain pen clip so that it could be put on a coat lapel or tie or hidden underneath the tie, corsage or other ornaments.

Altec went on to develop other condenser mikes including uni-directional units. This was the start of the resurgence of the condenser microphone in the US. Shortly after the Altec was introduced the industry saw the importing of the very fine German condenser mikes that continued the condenser comeback. Today condenser mikes of all kinds are used universally in everything from telephones to high end recording. Altec-Lansing was considered one of the premiere electronics manufacturers of the 20th century.

 

 

Microphone Man-4

Part 4 Western Electric model 618 “eight ball” In part 3 of this series we looked at the first practical dynamic microphone…the model  618 by Western Electric which came out in the early 30s. Bell Telephone Labs engineers didn’t rest after obtaining success with their first dynamic…by 1935 they had developed a real leap ahead in microphone design. The new mike was a big improvement over the model 618. This new mike was dubbed the model 630…but everybody called it the “eight-ball”…one look at it and you’ll know why.
The Western Electric Model 630A diagram.
Tests made by engineers at Bell Labs on the effects of various shaped objects on sound waves produced conclusive data which resulted in the selection of the spherical-shaped housing as the best suited in reducing directional distortion. The Eight-ball was the first truly non-directional dynamic and was designed to be mounted facing upwards. On top of the sphere were the sound entrance holes and over the top was an acoustic screen, two and a half inches in diameter and surrounded by a protective metal ring. This screen had wire mesh on either side of several layers of treated silk cloth. This screen reflected the sound waves coming from below and above in such a way as to make the pickup very uniform from any direction. Because of the look of the mike with the flat screen on top of the round body…the British called their version of the Eight-ball…the “Apple and Biscuit”! The British telephone company, Standard Telephone and Cable (STC), had the license from Western Electric to manufacture this mike in England… and I believe it was used by the BBC right up until fairly recent times. This British version had the STC model number of  4021. The overall quality of the model 630 was much better than the earlier model 618. Response to low and higher frequencies of sound was much smoother. The size of the 630 was much smaller as well and I think it was just a much cooler looking mike than the rather ugly 618. This mike had a special three conductor plug that fit into the bottom of the mike which also incorporated the stand mounting threads. There was also an accessory chrome swivel-joint that could be used to tilt the mike. The Eight-ball dynamic found it’s way into big and small radio stations all over the country as well as finding uses in motion picture and recording studios. WOR in New York, a big 50,000 watt station, was a big user of the Eight-ball when it first came out. The Oakland Tribune station, KLX, used the model 630 on it’s live morning show back in the 40s and early 50s. I have a big band record album that features the Benny Goodman band with a picture of Benny and the boys in concert in the 1930s with an Eight-ball on a floor stand right in front of the band. I’ve also seen a film of Peggy Lee singing with Benny’s band and using the Model 630 Eight-ball. Next time we’ll look at the very last dynamic mike designed by Western Electric which became even more popular than the Eight-ball. -*-+Microphone+Man+Index -*-+Museum+Index -*-+Next+Microphone+man+page 5  

Microphone Man- 3

 

Page 3

Western Electric microphones

Our previous sessions have dealt with ribbon microphones by RCA, one of the two prime makers of broadcast and sound equipment in the mid 20th century. This time we’ll turn to the other of these major makers, Western Electric Company.

RCA and Western Electric were fierce competitors in this era. I think I am safe in saying that the majority of radio stations from the 1920s through around 1950 used either RCA or Western Electric equipment, or a combination of both. Western Electric was the manufacturing arm of Bell Telephone…but also made

broadcast equipment designed by Bell Telephone Labs. In 1949 Federal anti-trust laws forced Western Electric to divest of their broadcasting equipment manufacturing. Both these companies made just about everything needed to equip a station from microphones and audio control to transmitters and antennas.

About the time RCA came out with the revolutionary ribbon microphone…Western Electric developed the first high-quality dynamic microphone. The dynamic uses the same basic principle as the ribbon….a moving conductor in a magnetic field to generate the audio signal from sound waves. Instead of a moving foil ribbon…the dynamic uses a round-shaped diaphragm that has a coil of wire attached that moves in the magnetic field…it’s a small electric generator. Another way of explaining a dynamic microphone is to think of it as a loudspeaker in reverse! A loudspeaker takes a signal from a radio receiver or amplifier and turns that electric signal into sound we can hear. A microphone, as we explained before, takes that sound we hear and translates it into an electrical signal so it can be amplified and sent to a loudspeaker, as in a PA system, or for broadcasting or recording.

Western Electrics’ new dynamic microphone was dubbed the model 618 and came out about 1931. The

RCA 618

model 618 was an omni-directional…or non-directional mike that was relatively small in size and very rugged…making it excellent for studio as well as remote broadcasting, especially in the outdoors. This mike was not sensitive to wind and breath noises like the ribbon mike…and it was relatively insensitive to handling noises making it excellent as a hand mike for interviews and such.

1930’s RCA 50A Velocity Ribbon Microphone

The model 618 was a great improvement over the earlier noisy carbon and bulky condenser mikes of that era. The 618 was a big hit with the radio industry and these mikes were used clear into the 50s. RCA, of course, would not be left behind by Western Electric….so they shortly came out with a very similar-looking mike they called the model 50A. Internally the RCA model 50A used a slightly different way of imbedding the wire into the diaphragm so as not to infringe on Western Electrics’ patents….but externally they looked very similar.

At left is an unknown announcer, center is Mickie McClung, the owner of KYOS, at right is Charles Kinsley who managed KYOS and later became a vice president and overall manager of KHSL-AM and TV in Chico, also owned by Mrs. McClung. The microphone is an RCA 50A omni-directional dynamic which was ideal for outdoor broadcasts.
“FDR giving a “Fireside chat” program on all major radio networks with both the RCA 50A (NBC) and the WE 618 (CBS and MBS)”

You’ll see both of these mikes in news photos and newsreels of the day…they were used for President FDR’s “Fireside Chat” broadcasts. If you look closely at these photos you’ll see that CBS and Mutual (MBS) used the Western Electric and NBC and the Blue networks used the RCA because NBC was owned by RCA.

A few smaller manufacturers also made mikes that looked very much like the Western Electric and RCA units but these smaller outfits could not compete with the two giants in the broadcast industry and their mikes were used mainly in PA systems and some smaller radio stations.

Shure 55

The dynamic-type microphone is one of the most used units up to this very day…and Western Electric was the start of it all. These pioneering mikes were all omni-directional….picking up sounds from all around…later a small company, at the time, named Shure Brothers designed the first uni-directional dynamic mike called the “Unidyne”. Most dynamic mikes today are uni-directional picking up sound from the front side of the microphone and rejecting sounds from the rear, thus preventing sound system feedback (howling) and eliminating background noises, and all based on Shure’s ground-breaking development of the late 1930s.

We’ll save that story for another session.

 

 

The story of Bill Bates and KTRB

By Cal Purviance

Bill Bates was born October 18, 1900 in Whiskey Hill, California (near Watsonville) where he attended elementary school. He was stricken with polio at the age of 10, which left him strapped to a board for 6 months and his right leg crippled for life.

 

His father was a major in the US Army who moved his family from the Bay area to Delhi. Growing up included picking prunes and chopping wood, which led Bill to the conclusion he must work with his head. In 1916 at the age of 16 Bill took up radio as a hobby. He became a licensed amateur radio “ham” operator with the call sign of 6KL, which was one of the first licenses issued in California. It was later changed to 6CF and then W6CF which he held until his death in 1969.

At the age of 17 he joined the US Merchant Marines as a radio operator. After his tour of duty he went to work for RCA in Southern California.   RCA sent him to Mexico to work on President Alvaro Obregon’s ship. He helped install radio equipment on Mexican navy ships.

Bill Bates became the Chief Engineer of KNX, owned and operated by CBS, Los Angeles.

In 1925 he came to Modesto and operated a radio store inside the Hotel Covell building until 1928. That year he moved to Los Angeles where he took a job with KGFH as an announcer/engineer. A few months later he took a similar position at KNX in Los Angeles where he later became chief engineer. In 1931 Bill, wanting to further his education, returned to the Modesto area and enrolled at UC Berkeley in physics classes. While there he worked as an announcer /engineer at KWBS, later KLS in Oakland.

He and local businessman Thomas R. Mc Tammany, formed a

The “T” in KTRB was for Thomas McTammany, Bill Bates’s partner.

verbal partnership to start a radio station in Modesto. After much planning, haggling and appearances before the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, KTRB was granted a license to begin broadcasting on June 18, 1933.

The station’s call letters came from the initials of the partners. “T” and “R” from T.R. McTammany, and “B” from Bill Bates. The FCC assigned the letter K that designated a station West of the Mississippi river. KTRB went on the air June 18, 1933 from studios behind the Sylvan Clubhouse on the northeast corner of Sylvan and McHenry Ave.

KTRB on McHenry Ave
KTRB first studios at McHenry and Sylvan in Modesto from 1933 -1942.

in Modesto. Bill and fellow engineer C.E. Peack built the first transmitter in Oakland by modifying an old ham radio transmitter.

KTRB engineers, Cliff Price and Joe Rice doing some antenna work.

 

 

KTRB went on the air with 250 watts on 740 KCs limited to daytime hours of operation. The frequency was changed in 1942 to 860 KCs when the station moved to Norwegian Ave. and power was increased to 1,000 watts.   Over the years the power was increased a number of times finally ending up with 50,000 watts in the ’90’s. KTRB was the only broadcast station in Modesto until 1948 when KBEE FM signed on the air.

KTRB studios on Norwegian Avenue.

KTRB FM became Modesto’s second FM station and Modesto’s third broadcast station signing on the air in 1949. KBEE-FM owned by the McClatchy newspapers became the second commercial broadcast station (first FM station) on the air in the market. KTRB-FM simulcast the programming from KTRB-AM for many years thus the station identification of  “This is KTRB AM and FM, Modesto”

Derek video clip of Solid Gold radio show.

 

 

 

 

RCA 88A Microphone

As 1940 was fast approaching…RCA needed a more modern dynamic microphone design to keep up with their main competitor….Western Electric. As we saw in previous articles, Western Electric had the jump on RCA with their very state-of-the-art models 630 “Eightball” and the 633 “Saltshaker”. The RCA model 50A “inductor” dynamic was becoming outdated.

RCA 88-A (Vintage)

RCA engineers came up with an excellent design to compete directly with Western’s “Saltshaker”…it was dubbed the 88A. The 88A utilized the same “moving-coil” dynamic principle as Western Electric used in their dynamic designs which meant that RCA probably had to get licensing for it from Western Electric! This mic was non-directional and had kind of a “saltshaker” look to it as well using a rounded chrome perforated screen on the front.

The 88A was “pill” shaped with quite a different mounting arrangement than previous mics. Rather than having the stand mounting on one end of the mic they used a side mount location just back of the front screen that normally had the mic in a horizontal position…although it could be tilted to any position with its ball socket-type swivel. As with most of RCA broadcast mics the stand mount used a half-inch pipe thread. RCA thought that this made it easier for stations to make up their own mic booms using readily available half-inch pipe. Most other mic manufacturers used a 5/8th inch size mounting which continues down to the present.

RCA showcased this new mic at the national political conventions in 1940. All of the floor mics…one for each state delegation were RCA 88As. Russell Pope, the chief engineer for McClung Broadcasting was able to purchase all of the RCA mics used in the Republican Convention in 1940. These mics were mostly 88As…but probably included a few RCA ribbon mics that were used on the podium and other places during the convention. Russ portioned out the mics to the various McClung stations…including: KYOS, Merced; KHSL, Chico; and KVCV, Redding. I worked at both KYOS and KHSL and I know each station had several of these RCA 88A mics that were used mostly on remote broadcasts away from the station…but also studio use, as well.

The 88A was a very rugged, high quality mic that was used at hundreds of radio and TV stations clear up into the 60s. It was great for interviews and news broadcasting. As a teenager in the 4-H Club I did my very first radio interview on KGIL, San Fernando from the San Fernando Valley Fair in the early 50s. The announcer and an engineer were touring the fair getting interviews on reel to reel tape and the microphone used was an 88A. I never did get to hear the interview but one of the 4-H parents said she had heard it!

The NBC network and many local stations fitted the 88A mic with a unique “handle” to make it easier for an announcer to handle the mic in interview situations.  A short length of half-inch pipe was threaded into the mic swivel attachment and over this pipe was fitted a motorcycle rubber handlebar grip.

The venerable 88A served the industry for many years…even well into the TV era.  As 1952 arrived…RCA decided it was time for an update and the 88A was replaced with a modernistic looking mic called “the Commentator” with the model number as BK-1A. ` The BK-1A was a cone-shaped mic that earned the nickname “Ice cream cone”. This mic looked similar to some of the modern lighting fixtures of the 50s. The specs for this new mic were similar to the 88A…non-directional with similar frequency response…60-10,000 cycles per second or “Hertz” in the modern designation.
RCA again supplied all the microphones used for the sound systems at the two national political conventions in 1952…and the new model BK-1A was the most used mic at these conventions.

The BK-1A was also much used in TV….NBC, of course, used this mic for news programs like “Meet the Press”,where each participant had a mic, and the Today show as well as the Tonight show. NBC Radio used the BK-1A on “Monitor” as well.

RCA Type BK-1A semi-directional pressure microphone

And as they say: “That’s a wrap for this time” Enjoy the photos.

Microphone Man-Index

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RCA 77 Series Microphones

In my mind there are about three microphone designs that most people would recognize as iconic. The RCA 44, which we covered in the first of this series, the RCA 77 and the Shure Unidyne model 55. This session we will take a look at the RCA 77 series of ribbon mics starting with the very first model, the 77A.

77A on the right compared to the last in the series, the 77D and DX models.

Dr. Harry Olson was RCA Labs expert audio designer. Dr. Olson was responsible for developing the ribbon microphone . The basic ribbon mic has a bidirectional pick up pattern, that is it picks up sound from front and back and is relatively “dead” to sound arriving from the sides. On May 1, 1931 Dr. Olson delivered a paper entitled “A Unidirectional Ribbon Microphone” at the meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in Cleveland, Ohio. The unidirectional microphone, as described in this abstract, consisted of the combination of velocity and pressure ribbon microphones which produced a heart shaped, or “cardioid” directional pattern. Simply stated, the mic picks up sounds from the front side and rejects sound from the rear. This microphone was commercialized in late 1933 as the RCA 77A Unidirectional Microphone. The microphone was an instant success. The RCA 77A was followed by the RCA 77B, 77C, 77D and finally the 77DX. The 77A was a huge mic which had a rounded top and a flat bottom. The 77B and the following models were much reduced in size due to stronger magnetic material available at the time. All of the 77 models used a rubber shock absorber in the stand mounting connector.

77B–the second in the model series–cardioid pattern only.

The internal workings of the mic consisted of a straight bidirectional ribbon unit in series with a pressure ribbon unit (omnidirectional). In the straight ribbon mic the ribbon is open to the atmosphere on both sides resulting in a bidirectional pickup. The pressure ribbon mic is achieved by leaving the front of the ribbon open to the atmosphere but closing off the rear side of the ribbon by a tube connected to an acoustical space within the mic body that is filled with sound absorbing material. This results in the nondirectional or omnidirectional pattern. Connect the output of the two-mics-in- one in series and the geometric result is the unidirectional pick up pattern.

The first two mics in the series, the 77A and 77B, had a fixed unidirectional pattern. The 77C gave the three basic patterns: unidirectional, bidirectional and omnidirectional selected by a screwdriver switch on the bottom of the mic which electrically selected the mic elements singly or in combination for the uni pattern. All three of these mics used a double ribbon element.

77C—Third model with cardioid, bi-directional and omni patterns.

The last two models in this series the 77D and 77DX were called “polydirectional” due to a more effective means to adjust the pickup pattern. A screwdriver adjustment on the back of the upper screened part of these mics let you choose unidirectional, bidirectional, omnidirectional and also three additional variations of the unidirectional pattern. This selection was not electrical but by a shutter mechanism that was mounted in back of the ribbon element. The shutter adjusted a single ribbon in relation to the acoustic tube and damping system to achieve the variable patterns. This gave great versatility to these instruments for the audio engineer depending on the type of sound pickup problem encountered. There was another screwdriver switch on the very bottom of the mic body that selected low frequency or “bass” equalization. This allowed the mic to be used for close talking without a “muddy” or “boomy” effect for a cleaner sound transmission. All ribbon mics tend to emphasize the bass when used close up. This was a huge revolution in mic design and made it possible to overcome many microphone sound pick up problems like imperfect acoustics causing too much reverberation and noise in rooms and studios. It is also a great help in public address systems by reducing the tendency to “feed back” or “howl.”

77D and 77DX last in the series–both looked basically the same.

In TV production the RCA 77 with it’s broad front side pickup pattern was perfect for overhead boom use; it rejected studio noises from the back of the mic like camera and other background noises. In radio and TV the RCA 77 series, especially the later models, 77D and 77DX, were very popular. RCA had a beautifully designed art deco style table stand for these mics. They were also used on Floor stands in radio and TV studios. If you watch the reruns of the old Lawrence Welk TV shows from the ’50s you’ll notice that ABC used the RCA 77D mics, usually two in front of the sax section and two more in back to pick up the trumpets and trombones. Later in the ’60s ABC audio engineers changed to the Electro-Voice model 666 cardioid dynamics for the Welk orchestra pickup.

The 77D and DX series units were used on TV overhead mic booms in the days when TV producers tried their best to hide the microphones whenever possible! The 77 was a popular radio control room mic too, usually hanging from a fixed or flexible boom. KYOS in Merced used a 77D in the control room. KYOS also had an RCA 77C model from the early ’40s. I visited the old KTUR, Turlock studios just after they had changed call letters to KCEY in the early ’60s and I saw more than one RCA 77D mic in their studio and control room. KBEE, Modesto was another station that used the RCA 77 as well as KRJC, the Modesto Jr. College station, as you can see in some of the photos on this web site for those stations. Other stations in the area including KSTN, Stockton used the 77 as well as TV stations KCRA and KOVR, Sacramento back in the day.

I worked in Chico most of my career in broadcasting at KHSL-AM and KHSL-TV. Both these stations used the RCA 77D mics. The TV station had one on their main studio boom as well as in the announce booth. KHSL radio used this type mic in the master control room as well as in the production studio for many years, clear up into the ’80s.

Remembering back to the “golden age” of TV…all three major networks used the RCA 77D and DX models in all phases of production. NBC was owned by RCA back in that time and they would only use RCA mics and other equipment made by RCA. The long succession of Tonight Show hosts had an RCA 77DX on the desk for years even to the early years of Johnny Carson.

If you search “RCA microphones” on Ebay you often see several 77s up for auction and they fetch up into the one thousand dollar and more range! There are several ribbon mic repair experts who will install a new ribbon in these old mics and make them like new again. One of these guy’s father used to work for RCA and has the original equipment used to repair these mics. The old RCA company ceased operations back in the 1980s; the RCA name is still around on consumer electronics but nothing is made in the USA like it was back in the glory days!

The RCA 77 series of ribbon microphones had an incredible impact on the audio industry and even today, in this digital age, are in demand by recording studios for their versatility as well as their smooth wide range sound quality.

Microphone Man-Index

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Microphone Man-2

 

Page 2

Last time we featured the RCA 44 series of high fidelity ribbon microphones

RCA 74B inside showing the corrugated aluminum-foil ribbon between the magnetic pole pieces.

which were the “top of the line” in their day. Radio Corporation of America was in the business of making money…so the audio division decided to design a less expensive version of their very successful model 44 that would appeal to a wider segment of the audio industry.

Somewhere around the middle 1930s RCA came out with the model 74 ribbon mike (microphone) …it was nicknamed the “Junior Velocity” Velocity is another term used to describe a ribbon microphone. This refers to the way in which a ribbon mike picks up sound…by the velocity or speed of air particles pushed by sound waves toward the mike.

The Jr. Velocity was a junior in size compared to it’s big brother. It was about half the size as well as being much lighter weight. The model 74 did not have quite the extended frequency response…or fidelity of the model 44 series….but it still was a very good sounding mike. It also did not have the rubber shock absorber or forked mounting of the 44. It had a unique ball and socket type stand mounting that allowed the mike to be tilted up or down toward the sound being picked up.

RCA’s Model 74B came out somewhere in the late 30s and was very popular. It was manufactured until, I believe, about 1950. The first 74B’s had a shiny chrome windscreen with a black bottom and then in the 1940s RCA changed the wind screen to a brushed chrome and the color of the bottom part to what they called “umber gray”. Umber gray looked more like brown to most people! The change in color scheme was necessary for television as they didn’t want shiny parts becoming a “glint” in the camera’s eye.

The model 74B cost less than half of it’s big brother the model 44. This mike was very popular with smaller radio stations, but even many larger stations used them especially for announcing and for indoor remote broadcasts because of their small size and light weight. The 74 was very much used on PA systems, too, due to it’s lower cost. Even though the quality of sound did not quite match the model 44…the Junior ribbon still had the smooth, clean sound typical of a ribbon mike.

Radio stations in the local area that used the RCA Junior Velocity included KBEE, KFIV, Modesto Jr. College radio and KYOS. The McClatchy stations like KFBK, Sacramento and KMJ, Fresno also used the 74B.

Around 1950 RCA replaced the 74B with the KB2 “Bantam Velocity”. This mike was much smaller than any previous ribbon mike. The Bantam used much stronger magnet material that came out of WWII…this allowed the smaller size. The actual case of the mike was part of the pole piece of the ribbon magnet. Another name for the KB2 was “paint brush” because it had a built-in handle that made it look very much like a small paint brush. Inside the handle, under a cover piece, was an “XL” type connector. The “XL” connector was made by Cannon Electric Co. of Los Angeles which would later bring out the “XLR” connector that everyone knows today. RCA claimed that they commissioned Cannon to make the “XL” connector especially for the KB2 series of mikes.

In about 1954 RCA replaced the KB2 with the SK-46…this also was a relatively small size ribbon microphone that RCA continued to manufacture until they stopped making mikes. For more information on these mikes go to “www.coutant.org”,

RCA brought out one more bi-directional ribbon mike before they went out of the broadcast audio business. Actually this mike, the BK-11, was to replace the 44BX. It is about the same size as the Junior Velocity but with a more curved, modernistic shape, it also has a swivel mounting on the bottom. The BK-11 is an excellent quality mike like the 44BX. This mike is still seen once in a while on Ebay but I don’t think RCA sold as many of the BK-11 as compared to the model 44s and 74bs…which are seen all the time on Ebay. Until next time…this is Mr. Microphone signing off for now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KMPH, 840 kHz History

KMPH A.M. 840 kHz Sold To Immaculate Heart Radio
August 1, 2014

Radio station KMPH, 840 KHz Modesto, California, was sold to Immaculate Heart Radio effective August 1, 2014 by owner Harry Pappas of Reno, NV. Pappas dropped their Graffiti Gold music format from the station with the consummation of the agreement and the new owners launched their Catholic talk radio format August 1, 2014. Immaculate Heart Radio stations broadcast authentic Catholic programming 24 hours a day over 31 group owned stations in six states including 15 translators. Stations including KWG, Stockton, KJOP, Lemoore, CA, KHOT, Madera, CA. and KJPG in Bakersfield, CA.

Meanwhile, the KTRB building and property on Norwegian Avenue is still for sale. There’ve been no no offers tendered for the property which was originally listed for sale over a year ago Harry Pappas, owner for $495,000. The price has been reduced $295,000 or best offer.

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Vandals Attack KMPH
August 14, 2013
KMPH’s mobile office/studios located in the parking lot of the former KTRB on Norwegian Ave. in Modesto was struck sometime overnight Wednesday August 14, 2013 by vandals. The responsible’s cut a hole in the chain-link fence that surrounds the property to gain access the mobile office which sits in the parking lot of the former KTRB . They knocked the station off the air by cutting the power to the office and transmission wires connected to the building. No attempt was made to enter the alarmed mobile office itself. Initial damage estimates place a loss of around $500.

David Jackson, program director of the station, discovered the station off the air at 6 AM and contacted station engineer Paul Shinn who discovered the crime when he arrived at the station. The adjacent former KTRB building, which has been vacant for several years, has in the past been broken into several times mostly for copper wiring which was stripped from the interior. KMPH, owned by Harry Pappas of Reno, NV, plans to increase the security of the property. The incident was reported to the Modesto Police Department.

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KMPH Returns With Graffiti Gold

August 11, 2013

According to Manoli Pappas of the KMPH management team, KMPH has returned to the air with a “Graffiti Gold” music format.
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KMPH-AM Modesto Being Liquidated
Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pappas Telecasting is liquidating its broadcast holdings, which include TV stations in California, Texas, Arizona and Nebraska and one radio station KMPH-AM (840) in Modesto, CA. KMPH was launched by Harry J. Pappas to replace KTRB-AM (860) which he moved to San Francisco in 2006. KTRB San Francisco is not part of this liquidation. KMPH AM went into receivership when Pappas failed to make a March 26, 2012 “discounted payoff ” which would have allow the stations involved to “re-vest” with him as the original owner. However, lender Comerica Bank failed to receive payment. Pappas had been the initial trustee, managing it on behalf of the creditors. Pappas’ own stock in the company is now being contributed to the Liquidating Trust run by Shubert, under direction of the Federal bankruptcy court in Delaware.

KMPH 840 KHz replaced the original KTRB 860 KHz on July 10, 2006 when the Pappas Company, headed by Harry Pappas, moved KTRB to San Francisco. KMPH failed on August 31, 2010 but returned to the air in August of 2011 carrying Mexican religious programming being fed to the transmitter by satellite from a Texas company. Other than the contract engineer and a maintenance man, there are no local employees. Harry Pappas’s nephew Jim Pappas, a company VP, managed KMPH during the year it was on the air and moved on to hold the same position with KTRB in San Francisco. He currently is an account representative for the Valley Yellow Pages.

( Radio-Info.Com contributed to this story)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pappas Telecasting is liquidating its broadcast holdings, which include TV stations in California, Texas, Arizona and Nebraska and one radio station KMPH-AM (840) in Modesto, CA. KMPH was launched by Harry J. Pappas to replace KTRB-AM (860) which he moved to San Francisco in 2006. KTRB San Francisco is not part of this liquidation. KMPH AM went into receivership when Pappas failed to make a March 26, 2012 “discounted payoff ” which would have allow the stations involved to “re-vest” with him as the original owner. However, lender Comerica Bank failed to receive payment. Pappas had been the initial trustee, managing it on behalf of the creditors. Pappas’ own stock in the company is now being contributed to the Liquidating Trust run by Shubert, under direction of the Federal bankruptcy court in Delaware.

KMPH 840 KHz replaced the original KTRB 860 KHz on July 10, 2006 when the Pappas Company, headed by Harry Pappas, moved KTRB to San Francisco. KMPH failed on August 31, 2010 but returned to the air in August of 2011 carrying Mexican religious programming being fed to the transmitter by satellite from a Texas company. Other than the contract engineer and a maintenance man, there are no local employees. Harry Pappas’s nephew Jim Pappas, a company VP, managed KMPH during the year it was on the air and moved on to hold the same position with KTRB in San Francisco. He currently is an account representative for the Valley Yellow Pages.

KMPH A.M. 840 kHz Sold To Immaculate Heart Radio
August 1, 2014

Radio station KMPH, 840 KHz Modesto, California, was sold to Immaculate Heart Radio effective August 1, 2014 by owner Harry Pappas of Reno, NV. Pappas dropped their Graffiti Gold music format from the station with the consummation of the agreement and the new owners launched their Catholic talk radio format August 1, 2014. Immaculate Heart Radio stations broadcast authentic Catholic programming 24 hours a day over 31 group owned stations in six states including 15 translators. Stations including KWG, Stockton, KJOP, Lemoore, CA, KHOT, Madera, CA. and KJPG in Bakersfield, CA.

Meanwhile, the KTRB building and property on Norwegian Avenue is still for sale. There’ve been no no offers tendered for the property which was originally listed for sale over a year ago Harry Pappas, owner for $495,000. The price has been reduced $295,000 or best offer.

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Vandals Attack KMPH
August 14, 2013
KMPH’s mobile office/studios located in the parking lot of the former KTRB on Norwegian Ave. in Modesto was struck sometime overnight Wednesday August 14, 2013 by vandals. The responsible’s cut a hole in the chain-link fence that surrounds the property to gain access the mobile office which sits in the parking lot of the former KTRB . They knocked the station off the air by cutting the power to the office and transmission wires connected to the building. No attempt was made to enter the alarmed mobile office itself. Initial damage estimates place a loss of around $500.

David Jackson, program director of the station, discovered the station off the air at 6 AM and contacted station engineer Paul Shinn who discovered the crime when he arrived at the station. The adjacent former KTRB building, which has been vacant for several years, has in the past been broken into several times mostly for copper wiring which was stripped from the interior. KMPH, owned by Harry Pappas of Reno, NV, plans to increase the security of the property. The incident was reported to the Modesto Police Department.

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KMPH Returns With Graffiti Gold

August 11, 2013

According to Manoli Pappas of the KMPH management team, KMPH has returned to the air with a “Graffiti Gold” music format.
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KMPH-AM Modesto Being Liquidated
Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pappas Telecasting is liquidating its broadcast holdings, which include TV stations in California, Texas, Arizona and Nebraska and one radio station KMPH-AM (840) in Modesto, CA. KMPH was launched by Harry J. Pappas to replace KTRB-AM (860) which he moved to San Francisco in 2006. KTRB San Francisco is not part of this liquidation. KMPH AM went into receivership when Pappas failed to make a March 26, 2012 “discounted payoff ” which would have allow the stations involved to “re-vest” with him as the original owner. However, lender Comerica Bank failed to receive payment. Pappas had been the initial trustee, managing it on behalf of the creditors. Pappas’ own stock in the company is now being contributed to the Liquidating Trust run by Shubert, under direction of the Federal bankruptcy court in Delaware.

KMPH 840 KHz replaced the original KTRB 860 KHz on July 10, 2006 when the Pappas Company, headed by Harry Pappas, moved KTRB to San Francisco. KMPH failed on August 31, 2010 but returned to the air in August of 2011 carrying Mexican religious programming being fed to the transmitter by satellite from a Texas company. Other than the contract engineer and a maintenance man, there are no local employees. Harry Pappas’s nephew Jim Pappas, a company VP, managed KMPH during the year it was on the air and moved on to hold the same position with KTRB in San Francisco. He currently is an account representative for the Valley Yellow Pages.

( Radio-Info.Com contributed to this story)

( Radio-Info.Com contributed to this story)

KFIV, KTRB, KMPH Personality Tim St. Martin

Long time Modesto area radio listeners have heard a familiar voice on the local airwaves for more than 30 years — 32 1/2 years to be exact. Tim St. Martin, who began his career at Modesto’s KFIV in the spring of 1967, is still going strong as a disc jockey and news broadcaster at KJSN Sunny 102.3 FM. He shares the morning mike with Gary Michaels and can be heard from 5:30 to 8:30 a.m. Mondays through Fridays.

The 53-year-old DJ, who grew up in Southgate in Southern California and went to broadcasting school in Hollywood, got his first job at KTHO, in South Lake Tahoe.” It was a good learning experience and a lot of fun for a 20-year-old but after one year I was offered a spot at KFIV” St. Martin said.

And so began his local career that very few can match or top, in terms of longevity or hours on the air. By his own estimate, he’s put in “about 20 thousand hours, maybe more.”

Perhaps only the legendary Cal Purviance can claim a longer tenure as an on-air personality. Purviance worked as a newsman and program director at KTRB full-time from 1951 to 1982. Even after retiring, he stayed on part-time until 1990.

Ironically, it was Purviance, who hired St. Martin away from KFIV in 1969 as Tim became KTRB’s newscaster, replacing Art Baker.  Purviance recalls St. Martin as being a “sure-fire” radio man.

“l hired Tim because of his fine on air personality and his nose for news” Purviance said. “He was very articulate and worked well with others. He never insisted on doing things his way only. He was with us a number of years and was a heckuva team player.”

St. Martin left the radio scene for a brief time in the seventies to enter private business. He tried his hand as a professional rodeo announcer and also worked as a yacht salesman in the Delta. But he soon found out that he yearned to get back into radio.

“l loved broadcasting the rodeo events and even enjoyed selling yachts but it’s hard to sell enough yachts to make a living. I knew I could make money working for a radio station, so that’s why I returned. ”

St. Martin eventually returned to KFIV in 1978 and has been associated with that station ever since. Sunny 102.3 FM is owned by the Texas-based AM/FM lnc. that also controls KFIV, B-93, Mega 96.7 and KJAX in Stockton.

The company, according to St. Martin, is the biggest of its kind in the United States, operating hundreds of stations from coast to coast. It even owns the Texas Rangers baseball team and the Dallas Stars hockey club.

Over the years, he has gone from a traditional news broadcaster. The station caters to women in 29 to 45 year age group but he really doesn’t get involved in the selection of the format.

“l consider myself a ‘rip-and-read’ broadcaster but his three-minute reports are heard on the hour and in an upbeat style of delivery. His broadcasting idol during his early years was Gene D’Accardo, who worked locally during the ’60s, then went to KNBR in San Francisco for many years before returning to KTRB. “He had a natural presence on the air St. Martin added.

Four radio legends from KTRB: Bob Lang, Bob DeLeon, Tim St. Martin, and Derek Waring

St. Martin normally doesn’t do financial, crime or what he calls other depressing news. “If people want those bad things, they can go to another station. That’s just the way I am.”

He ends each newscast with “I’m Tim St. Martin with the information you need, now back to the music you love on Sunny 102.”   It no doubt serves as a wake-up call for thousands of listeners each morning.

The Modesto area, still considered a small market , has been a launching pad for many DJs and radio personalities. Some have gone on to successful careers in television and movies,. Among them are Don lmus, Les Keider and Stu Nahan.

St. Martin points out that the late Wolfman Jack, despite being featured in “American Graffiti”, never worked for a local station. “He was at XERB, which had it transmitter across the Mexican border and could be heard all over the West Coast and as far away as Alaska.

Tim, with Rick Myers and Bob Mohr. Combined, 130 years of broadcasting, all sharing the same birthday

 

The lure of big city lights and big city money never have appealed to the local radio man. “l like it here and wouldn’t want to a major market. Actually Modesto is getting too big. It’s a good place to raise a family., “Now divorced, he has a 28-year-old daughter Amy living in San Diego and 18 year old Cari, who recently graduated from Johansen High School.

Although he says he enjoys his job, there is one thing he has never got use to. It’s the hours. In order to get to work on time, he has to get up at 3:45 AM although he don’t get to bed before 11:00 PM. But he takes naps in the afternoon.

Following a few hours of morning production time, he usually out of the office by noon, “unless a golf match breaks out.” Then he tries to leave a bit early. Golf, which he plays about twice week, and tennis are among his favorite activities. He also plays senior league softball on Thursday nights.

“l am pretty much a home body but I don’t do any cooking. My weakness is fast food restaurants, although I try to stay active and watch my cholesterol.

St. Martin says he’s never given and serious thought to retiring. “I know the day will come but I’m not prepared for it now. Who knows? Maybe I’ll take up fishing.

(Courtesy of ZORCH magazine, Bill Slayter publisher)

 

Bob DeLeon receives MAMA’s Lifetime Award

The Modesto Area Music Association super MAMA 2011 lifetime achievement award was presented to former Modesto DJ, musician and Modesto Radio Museum board member Bob De Leon. The presentation was made at ceremonies held at the DoubleTree hotel ballroom on October 13, 2011.

The award was presented by KFIV’s Rick Myers. Among his remarks he said De Leon could have been one of the characters in the American Graffiti film created by Modesto native George Lucas in 1962. The film was inspired by groups of young people, like De Leon and Lucas, who cruised 10th and 11th streets in downtown Modesto in the fifties and sixties.

Bob, accepting his Lifetime Achievement Award at the MAMAS.

De Leon began his career in 1959 playing keyboard with the Kent Whitt and the Downbeats band, all fellow students at Modesto high school. The band a stopped performing in 1963, but not until they had performed in a USO tour for troops in Alaska and Asia. The band spent 3 1/2 months touring Vietnam, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and the Philippines before the breakup started with De Leon and other members of the band being drafted into military service.

De Leon, in his remarks, said he made numerous friends while playing with the band, one in particular, a young lady named Roni, who eventually became his wife.

De Leon fondly remembers the fifties and sixties and enjoying cruising up and down 10 and 11th streets in downtown Modesto with his friends. After finishing his military commitment, De Leon became interested in the broadcasting business.

Bob doing his show at a remote location. Remotes drew big crowds. Have Turntables, Will Travel.

After obtaining a broadcast/operator license in Los Angeles, he returned to Modesto in 1963 and started working at KLOC radio station in Ceres, which had just been put on the air by country musician and media mogul Chester Smith. A few months later, he landed a position at KFIV as an on-the-air personality staying until 1972.

De Leon moved on to KTRB  before eventually making his way into the real estate business working his way up to Vice President of sales and training for Century 21 M&M and Associates Realty in Modesto.

In front of K-5, 1972. Bob is second from the left.

In 2004 De Leon, and several other veteran radio personalities in the Modesto area, formed the Modesto Radio Museum group dedicated to preserving the history of local radio broadcasting.

 

 

 

Editor’s Note: Bob lived in Modesto his entire life. He and wife Roni were one day shy of their 55th wedding anniversary when she lost the love of her life and we lost our dear friend and Modesto Radio Museum member. Bob De Leon died on December 19, 2020 from complications of COVID-19. He is in our hearts.

Read the Modesto Radio Museum’s Tribute to Bob De Leon

Rick Myers introduces Bob De Leon during the MAMA Awards

Listen to Bob De Leon on the air in our Aircheck section

Derek video clip of Solid Gold radio show.