THE WIBX CONTROL ROOM 9TH FLOOR STUDIOS OF WIBX RADIO
Use your mouse to highlight the circles in the photo and see how each knob is used.This scene shows the WIBX control room and control room board. The buttons and knobs on the board made the sounds of WIBX radio for many years until the studios and offices were moved to Clark Mills in the Town of Whitestown.
This picture is from Studio B of WIBX. It shows the control room, the control room board and the larger studio Studio A.
It was from here where music programs were featured, choral groups, youth presents programs, it was the studio, which featured the members of the "Swing Wing" of the Rome Air Force Base Band. It was the studio from where Nate Cook conducted his morning Timekeeper Show. Nate never learned to operate the control board, always required another employee to spin the records, punch his microphone buttons. But Nate was hired to be a radio personality as he was hired to be the person in charge of marketing the station to prospective advertisers. And he did an excellent job at that. But back to the control board:
It was a custom made board under the supervision of those two radio gurus Jack Dowdell and Everett Radley.
Pressing a button on the control board operated the two turntables seen on the left of the photo. It enabled the turntable to operate and it also sent the tones of the record(s) to the WIBX transmitter, which was located in the Town of Marcy on a site, which is today called the Utica Marsh. As you travel south on the North-South Arterial in the area of the Utica Marsh you can see the area where the transmitter building and radio antenna were located -- as you view westward. As a kid, I thought the WIBX radio signal emanated from the First National Bank Building, corner of Elizabeth and Genesee (now the Adirondack Bank Building). The antenna was located on the top of the Bank Building when WIBX moved its studios from the Hotel Utica to the Bank Building. Later the piece of property was purchased in the town of Marcy. The swampy land was deemed excellent for extending the radio signal of the 250-watt WIBX. Assigned a frequency of 1230 kc, the WIBX radio signal covered an area of forty (40) square-miles.
The first set of buttons on the control board had two buttons for one (1) knob. The left button started the turntable and when the contents had played out, the operator on duty would press the second button to close the circuit. There was a small light which served as an indicator.
The second knob area was that of the control room microphone which was used as an on-air microphone. The left button turned on the microphone, the second button of the second knob area turned off the "mike".
The third (3) knob was to operate the second turntable. As seen here, there was a "gutted" radio placed in the area underneath the record rack, which was used to "get a cue". On each transcription (and 78 record) there are two or three "dead" grooves at the beginning. To eliminate these "dead" grooves, and to coincide the sound on the transcription and/or the record, the control room person (announcer/engineer) would "cue" up the record by counting the number of turns. It was usually about three spins which meant that the operator of the board, using the "sound only" would listen on that set to determine the number of grooves, then turn back about 2 and ½ turns. So when a selection of music was announced (or not) the operator/announcer would press the "on" button, the left one on the knob and the sound was heard on the air.
Each studio had two channels (knobs) on the board. Two for studio A, two channels for Studio B, each having an open/off button and each had a red light indicator. The last knob on the board was reserved solely for receiving programs from the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). It was the responsibility of the operator/announcer to keep watch on a needle, which indicated the level of sound and maintaining the proper level. If the needle was too far to the right indicated the sound was too loud and caused a great deal of distortion on the receiving end. The signal arrived by special wire (equalized) on the 9th floor of the WIBX studio location and then sent to the WIBX transmitter site from which it was sent into the ether and broadcast over an area of 40 square miles.
When the microphones in both studios were turned "on", the person(s) in either studio could not hear from the studio speakers. Sometimes, a person speaking on a studio microphone would forget the "mike" was turned on and uttered some famous words and phrases which, if captured, could have been best selling CD disks. But I digress. The technology at that time was flat, metal disks upon which to record voices/sounds. One vivid memory of the WIBX days was the sight of Jack Dowdell, Chief Engineer, wearing a headset, and recording various programs and other special events. There was no tape, no tape cartridges. The first new technology was the introduction of wire recorders made by the General Electric Company. That occurred in 1945. The drawback for this new device, which worked heavily against it, was the fact that if the program being wire recorded, it required an hour to rewind the material recorded. The wire recorder was slow in its acceptance because of that. That is, until some bright young guy conceived the idea of a fast rewind. And the rest is history. Audiotape technology was developed by the Germans and discovered by American GI's as they crossed Europe during World War II.
There were two (2) modes on the Turntables in the Control Room of WIBX. One was a Vertical Mode another was the Lateral Mode. The station, WIBX, and other stations, had subscribed to transcription services to obtain recorded music material. WIBX had at this time the World Library. The transcriptions, which were very much as the long-playing disks of the recent past, required the Vertical Mode. That is, the tone arm received the audio sounds at the bottom of the disk whereas the 78 records reproduced sounds on the tone arms on the side of the groove. Remembering the proper mode when playing World transcriptions was easy to remember and so was the speed of the transcriptions. But more often than not, and speaking from personal experience, you got caught with an array of "wrong speed" decisions.
The operator/announcer on duty during his/her shift was required to keep a log of the radio time for which the station was on the air. We had to type the name of the program, the time it was aired, and the name of the sponsor for a program or a commercial 30-second or one-minute. The sponsor was not necessarily the product advertised. Each person on duty was mandated to sign (in long hand) their name(s) on the log sheet upon starting their shift and at the conclusion of the shift. All else had to be typed. The information so gathered was kept by the radio station and then, upon request, was sent to the Federal Communication Commission.