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A Technical History of WHAV
Sign Off, Aug 2010
The only obvious audio input equipment is a Western Electric "bird cage" 639 cardioid microphone, mounted on a floor stand. Another one is mounted on a boom and both plug in to the wall. Two years later, Altec Lansing Corporation would take over the production and servicing of these mics.
A black Stromberg Carlson, 12-button intercom telephone appears below and to the right of the control room window. An external light mounted above the phone replaces the internal buzzer. The telephones seemed to have been used in all studios, control rooms and transmitter building. The sets appear to pre-date the station and may have been purchased used since many products remained in short supply after the war. The cradle of the phones could be mounted on top for wall use or on the face of the unit for desktop use.
The studio's rear door leads into a hallway. There are both steps to the lower level and a shorter set up to the control room.
Through the door at the top of the stairs leads to a small open area with several 19" equipment racks and two control rooms. The racks contain patch bays and a World War II surplus monitor amplifier that feeds control room audio to the studios below. Interestingly, the amplifier's manual contains instructions for cutting all wires and smashing tubes to prevent its use by the enemy. Chief Engineer Herbert W. Brown was hired before construction began and likely helped make the equipment selections.
There is a space between the control rooms and each has a window facing the other. The open space between the studios ensured no sound leakage. Publicity photographs from the time center on the control room overlooking the large studio.
Compared to years later when magnetic tape would come on the scene, few pieces of input equipment appear in the control room. The new Western Electric 23-C five-pot studio console is fed only by a 639 cardioid microphone in the room, plus those from the studio below. The console is in the center of a U-shaped wooden desk, covered with red linoleum with stainless steel side trim.
There are three Rek-O-Kut 16" transcription turntables -- one on the arm to the right of the mixer and two on the left. These turntables play only 33-1/3 and 78RPM discs. There must be a disc recording lathe somewhere in the building, but its location isn't obvious.
Like the lobby, walls are covered halfway up by a wood veneer with a clear varnish. Instead of straight-drilled tiles, the upper walls are finished in a smooth acoustic, wood-fiber tile. Unlike the large studio, lighting is indirect, with incandescent bulbs hidden in a wooden trough near the ceiling. Incandescent bulbs were considered a quieter option in smaller spaces of a radio station. A monitor, built in an angled wooden frame with fabric wrapped around the speaker, appears above.
Under the lower, right arm of the built-in desk is a steel 19" rack frame with a series of double patch assemblies. These were used to route audio in and out of the control room. A simple on-air light consists only of a bare red bulb in the studio window.
-- continued on page 3
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