ARS NB9M

WLW's 500KW Transmitter


Lost Technologies 0 Comments 01/26/2020

A Tour of the Facility

Posted By: Bradley Stone (UncleBrad)
Post Date: 01/26/2020

Tour of the historic WLW AM monster broadcast transmitter facility located in Mason Ohio. WLW has kept a major piece of broadcasting history alive by keeping much of the old high power transmitter intact. Recorded while at Hamvention, Dayton OH, in 2013.

Back in 1932 WLW increased their power from 50,000 watts to 500,000 watts. They were the only AM broadcasting station in America ever to operate at 500,000 watts. Much of the old transmitter still exists. It is really a high power amplifier with a high level modulator (360,000 watts). The amplifier was driven from their existing 50,000 watt Western Electric transmitter. The system used 20 100,000 watts tubes ($1,600 each in 1932) that required water cooling that used a cooling pond located outside the station. Tons, and tons, of hardware was required to achieve the 10 dB gain.

According to WIKI: But Crosley still wasn't satisfied. In 1933 he obtained a construction permit from the Federal Radio Commission for a 500 kilowatt superstation, and he spent some $500,000 (at least $17 million in 2010 dollars using a CPI conversion factor of 0.13[9]) building the transmitter and antenna.

Before the 500 KW went on the air, WLW installed a Blaw Knox vertical radiator, or as we say today a vertical antenna. Back in those days a horizontal wire flat top antenna supported by two towers was common. Photos in the video show the impressive antenna farm at WLW. The engineering was state of the art pushing the 1930s technology to achieve 500,000 watts. Operating the transmitter required a team of many engineers to bring it to life and control it while it was on the air. A simple ON-OFF switch did not exist!

Enjoy the tour of the facility and the history of this high power station. Thanks to Jay, Geoff, and Ted of WLW for hosting the tour.


  

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