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K7AGE posts video of WLW's 1932 500,000 Watt AM transmitter

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by K7AGE, Jul 20, 2013.

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  1. K7AGE

    K7AGE XML Subscriber QRZ Page


    While In Dayton Oh at Hamvention 2013 I attended a tour of the WLW AM 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.

    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.

    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.

    I will soon post another video the covers the collection of 50,000 watt transmitters that are also in the same building.

    To learn more about this transmitter's history, please visit these sites.


    Jim Hawkin's WLW page:

    History of WLW, Cincinnati:

    WLW's Big Arse Transmitter:


    WLW - A "Super" Station Tour:

    Not Just a Sound: the Story of WLW:
  2. AG6AM

    AG6AM Guest

    Wow. Thank you for posting this. It was very interesting and educational. One can only imagine what it would have been like to have the opportunity to work on equipment such as this. I started watching the video and was so enthralled that I missed my departure time for an appointment.
  3. KN4AQ

    KN4AQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Meet K7AGE on HamRadioNow

    Randy also sat down with Jeff & me for a HAMRADIONOW interview, which I finally got edited and just posted at our web site. Get to know Randy a little better! And thanks, Randy! Good job on the video...

    Gary KN4AQ
  4. K8ERV

    K8ERV QRZ Member QRZ Page

    WOW. I would like to see the Bird Wattmeter!

    About 1947 I wrote a commissioned piece on Nathan Stubblefield (one of the claimed inventors of radio) for WLW, but could not receive it in Ky so don't know if it was aired.

    TOM K8ERV Montrose Colo
  5. AF6LJ

    AF6LJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    That is impressive.
    Thank You for posting that, it was fun to watch.
  6. AC4BB

    AC4BB Ham Member QRZ Page

    I believe some on "Da'Bowl" are running more than that? Awesome video. Still listen to WLW nightly.
  7. KN4OK

    KN4OK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thanks Randy, I will take one :)
  8. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Shame to think all that hardware ended up in the hands of some Chicken Bander. :)
  9. WX1DX

    WX1DX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Just imagine building something like that the ingenuity involved the creativity! would love to know what the total project cost was and what that would amount to in todays dollars.
  10. N0NB

    N0NB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks, this is much appreciated.

    I've read that WLW was routinely heard in Europe during its 500 kW run. In a way it's a shame that it could not continue. World's Largest Wireless.
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