|F C C Rues on Hobby FM Transmitting Click Here|
|My first radio station "WMAR 1550 am" was run by me and my best friend in my mom's basement in winter months of 1979-80. We used a microphone transmitter called "dyno-mic" this mike was similar to a Mr. Microphone except it was on AM band instead of the FM band.|
|At first we would just lay the dynamic next to the speaker of a stereo record player with a 8 track player and slowly picked it up to announce the songs. Also we used a simple mono cassette player.|
long of into the broadcasting I disassembled the little mic and
discovered that I could wire the little transmitter directly to the
stereo speaker (only one channel worked) I had always played with
radios taken them apart and reassembling the radios. I did
have any electronics knowledge; I just know that I needed to make this
work. Not knowing anything of ohm's law and any other electronics
related info; I had no idea that I could blow the little transmitter to
bits by wiring it directly. Luckily I figured out how and
sounded fair with the stereo turned to a low volume and 3/4 range on
the tone control. The old stereo that we were using had a
connection on the front panel to hook a microphone to record on to
8-tracks. Well to my surprise this old stereo I think was called a
"Grand Prix" the stereo would play the microphone sounds live through
to the speakers when in record mode. Well now, we have a transmitter
and stereo that we could connect a microphone too and broadcast like a
real radio station. With some practice and turning the selection knob
fast from its differnet source like record(LP) or aux to tape and
pressing the record button at the right time we could make it sound
like we were using a mixer
. We ran that station all winter and spring having a blast.
During the summer vacation from school my friends were into CB radios just like everybody else around the country. And during a trip to our local CB repair shop the owner heard that we had an am radio station and suggested that we go to the FM band. He said that he had a small FM station back in the 60's. Man, I thought this was very cool; but want a minute we are just kids with very little to no money and only making what little money we had was from doing chores around our homes. The CB shack owner knew this and let us use a piece of test equipment that he had called a "signal generator". With some modifications he had that generator broadcasting on the FM dial in mono. WOW, now we have a FM transmitter now and it energized the station again. My best friend who lived across the street from me, his dad had a storage building that he was letting us use as workout gym with all the good stuff, weights and a bench some home made stuff to get fit with. We were also kids in early teens trying to build muscles. Well we just had to move the radio station to room next to the gym. That would give us a place to workout and run a radio station at the same time.
With all the stations equipment moved to its new location and out if that musty old basement and with an addition of another stereo we began broadcasting on 106.1 fm playing mainly popular music, really we would play any music or shows we could get. Now in this its new location we just had to change the name. We changed the name from "WMAR" to "WKEQ" the new name came from 2 of our favorite FM stations "WKEE" and "WKQQ". The equipment we had was 2 stereos with turntables and cassette decks built in on each stereo and we had the 8-track player/recorder with the microphone trick for placing our voice over the air for broadcasting. And not long after the move we had listeners, neighbors on the street who knew we were trying to run a pirate radio station. To their surprise we actual sounded as good as a real station.
We had produced our own station Id's and sweepers and we even produced commercials most of the spots were jokes ads. We ran the station that entire summer break, running it 7 days a week at least 14 hours a day. On Sunday we would play our recorded American top 40 show that we recorded the Saturday before from another station "WKEE 100.5" and we would replay it all day long with our ads and sweepers it sounded very cool a big city sounding station in a real small town by 2 kids and pirate radio station.
Well School started back and the station went dark until the next break in school. Like on after school, weekends and holidays and so on. Over the next few months we still ran the station and got some much needed equipment improvements. We got a modified CB ground plane antenna that was cut for the FM band. This really improved the transmitted signal coming from the station. Our next improvement to our station was the acquisition of a true Stereo FM transmitter "Stellatron FX-2" which had a much stronger signal than the signal generator that we were using. In comparison the signal generator transmitted maybe 2000 feet. With the Stellatron FX-2 we had a range of well over a mile in full stereo and could be heard miles away. It might have gone further if we did not live in the hills of eastern Kentucky. The local sheriff did not mind that we were breaking any FCC rules by broadcasting; he told us that he was happy to see us doing something that would not get us in any real trouble. We also got ourselves a Realistic stereo mixer from Radio Shack. Adding this mixer made a world of difference in our station. We were able to turn out high quality productions in radio ID's,Sweepers, ads, comedy shows and general broadcasting.
Over the next few months we ran WKEQ after school and weekends like a real station. The station was #1 in town with all the kids and young adults. We even had bumper stickers made with the station call letters and frequency. "WKEQ FM 106" the background was orange with black letters.
We was even talking about having t-shirts made with the same logo and we were going to get them from the local record store who also made custom t-shirts. At that local record and stereo shop liked us so much they always tuned in and even gave us a break on the music that we purchased from them and on occasion we even get the entire top 40 free on cassette in return for commercials for them to use. This is the event that caused WKEQ to go dark for good ...rip
The record store liked us so much they wanted us to produce a series of commercials for them to air on commercial radio station in the area. We did it and they sounded great, much better than the spots airing on those stations at the time. The station manager (which will remain nameless) was so taken with the production quality of the spot he just had to ask where they had the spot produced. Of course without thinking the store owners told them that we had a radio station in town and that we are real good at what we do. It turns out we were just a little too good for the manager of that station (by the way station changed its format year later to match ours...lol). He freaked knowing that a couple of kids were running a pirate radio station and had better quality production skills than his station. Well the station manager checked us out and had us recorded on tape and mapped our signal pattern. Of coarse it did not end with this just looking into our station. I guess he was a little troubled that we had a bigger following in town than his station and we were breaking about 100 FCC rules in the process.
Well the station manager called our station, my buddy who was on air answered the phone. The manager of the commercial station told my buddy to stop broadcasting at once or he was calling the FCC to report us as pirate station and that we would get a huge fine and jail time for breaking FCC rules. Needless to say this scared tactic worked because it scared the living shit out of us. What took years of scraping together stereo equipment and transmitting hardware we had dissembled in 20 minutes or less.
We were so into running the station that's all we talked about. We even tried to get an application from the FCC to start a low powered FM station with no success. About a month or two later we decided to go back on the air but broadcasting on a different frequency 97.9 and no name. We even changed our on air names and started using background sound effects to make us sound different. To bad this set up only lasted about a short time because on one fateful summers evening a thunderstorm roared through and for some reason we did not disconnect the outside antenna. Which we always disconnected everything because of fear of lighting stikes. The station always went dark when a thunderstorm was in the area because we did not want to damage any of equipment. Well lighting doing to electronics what it does best, the lightning smoked the Stellatron FX-20 leaving us damaged and out of the radio broadcasting. I guess this was just meet to happen because my buddy and I were moving into paths in life my family was moving to another neighborhood and we were also going off to collages in different towns. My buddy followed a career in broadcasting and works today as morning & afternoon man at local country station. Myself I went into the electronics end of things getting into Radio and TV repair and later computers.
After starting to work a real job for a living I started another neighborhood station without giving my name just a made up station ID "Hot Rocks 88" on 88.3 fm using a transmitter that I built from scratch which I dubbed DB-1 and it ran about a half watt in stereo. I kept this going for about 4-5 years until I got married. after I moved again to another town where I live today about a year into my new life with my wife she got me a very tiny fm stereo transmitter as a gag gift for Christmas one year well that's all it took to get me going again. I was out of the electronics business and did not have the stuff to make a bigger FM transmitter so searched around and found Ramsey Electronics with their FM10. This was a far cry from the Stellatron FX20 that I had used in the early 80's but it would do. I used it for about a year or two then Ramsey came out with the FM25A. I ran the FM25a transmitter until XM radio started broadcasting in 2001 and I needed a better transmitter so I purchased the FM25B which had just come out and a better. I no longer make any station ID or sweepers now I just rebroadcast my favorite XM radio channels and my favorite webcast. So to all the broadcasters on the web your station just might be on the air in my neighborhood.
|My First Radio Station by Darrell B aka meldar_b|