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WB4IZC USA flag USA

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First, this page is being laid out and written for a 800 X 600 display so that visually impaired viewers will be able to explore it with ease. For all who have asked, the plane I am standing in front of on my QRZ cover photo is the B-17 Aluminum Overcast that I had the privilege of flying on back in 2004.

I was first licensed as a Novice Operator, WN4SGK, in August of 1970. Upon graduating from High School, I attended the University of Tennessee at Martin where I helped build WUTM, FM-90.3, as an Engineering student and later served as one of the station's original Announcers.

In 1973 I became WN4IZC while attending Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, KY, where I worked at WKYU-TV and pounded my fist out at WB4DQM, the WKU Club Station.

While working at WKYU-TV, I cut my teeth on camera setup/ painting with the station's four GE-350 and 250 color Studio Cameras and the art of editing on our Ampex 1200 recorder and playback decks.

In 1974 I sent a Radio Gram to Becky Mercer asking her to become my Wife. Thirty seven years later she is still my XYL and yes still puts up with all the wires and aluminum. Below is a photo of my 1974 Heathkit SB-101 HF Station fed to a tri-band dipole antenna.

Upon graduating from WKU in 1975, I went to work for WPLN in Nashville as an Engineer. While there, I assisted in the building of our 2nd Ave. Studios and served as a Test Engineer. I was given the best test gear to work with in that very tiny RF Screen Room that was really built out of sheet metal. I tuned thousands of SCA receivers for the next three years from that workbench.

In 1976 I passed my Technician Class License exam and became WB4IZC and then the General Class test later that same year. (13wpm CW test in 5 letter groupings plus a TX code test)

In 1977 I became the Director/ Chief Engineer for the TTY News Center in Nashville. The Center was the first of its kind in the Nation to produce Newscasts for the Hearing Impaired via our TTY phone system. Do you recognize the HAL equipment along with the Model 23 and 42 TTYs. Again Amateur Radio provided me with the necessary skills to design this concept project.

In 1979 I obtained the opportunity to design, construct and staff a radio station for the Memphis Public Library. As the Station Manager/ Chief Engineer, I was able to once again use my Ham Radio skills toward this new endeavour. On March the 3rd 1980 the Library's SCA service, 67KHz closed ciruit station aboard WKNO, went on the air. Unfortunately, the station had to move it's studios in 1981 bringing even more challenges. Time Warner Communications came to the rescue by providing the funds to construct new studios within the City's Main Library at 1850 Peabody Ave. In 1981 the station expanded again by extending its coverage to all of West Tennessee through the SCA signals of WKNO-FM and via 92.3FM in Milan, TN. My challenge was to design and build a city to city audio path to deliver the station's programming to the Milan transmitter site via off-air relay linking. With my Amateur Radio experience, I was able to construct a link between Memphis and Jackson with funding assistance from the West Tennessee Lions Foundation.  From Jackson to Milan we used a Broadcast phone loop. 

KB4ZOP and I co-hosted a daily news hour on the station from 1980 until Willie became a SK in 2000. Over the years KB4ZOP and I licensed and installed Satellite equipment, and fabricated radio and TV automation systems for stations making up the IAAIS network.

In 1984 I was elected Vice President of the Delta Amateur Radio Club here in Memphis. Later that year, I headed up the Delta Team that constructed the new W4BS repeater system. John Guthrie - WA4MQQ , loaned DARC a Mid-town tower site while a lease could be negotiated with WPTY-TV to allow the Club to install their repeater at the 500' level on their Bartlett/ Highway 64 tower. The new Spectrum/ ACC Controller 146.22/82 repeater went on the air at the September 1984 Club meeting and then became operational from the WPTY-TV tower in July of 1986. Steve Pickell - K4TAZ & CE WPTY-TV/ ABC24, Milton Critez - AE5XA, SK Bill Rayburn - K4CXY and I worked extremely hard to obtain this great site for the Delta Club. WPTY allowed us on the tower due in part to the public service commitment that the Club had begun providing the National Weather Service by collecting weather information, nightly, for the Memphis office.

Bill Rayburn K4CXY arranged for me to receive a 45' tower and a Hy-Gain TH4 tri-band HF antenna from two Hams who no longer could make use of the equipment. With help from Bill, Bill - KC4QT, and Dan Columbus - AA4HV my first tower went up in the air.

Upon DARC President Andy Anderson's early resignation as President in 1985, I served out his term and then an additional term as the Club President. With a club membership growing to nearly 500 members, I lost allot of good friends over club politics. God, I wish I could relive those days. With help from SKs Wade McCay - WA4TFI, Ollie Olson - W4OMI, Upton Couch, Bill Hall - N4GCF and from my good friends Jim Moffatt - WD4SMW and William Dohogne - KC4QT, I survived those years. However, I never want to serve an elected office again. The most successful accomplishments of my Presidency was the publication of the Delta Club Memphis Area Call Book and securing the WPTY tower site.. Hams could look up Memphis Hams by Call-sign or by Last Name. from this local club publication

Through the generosity of a Broadcast Engineering Consultant, I obtained the necessary funds in 1985 to purchase my first new HF station, Yaesu FT757, tuner and matching power supply. Who would have known that providing a friend a hot tip where he might be able to purchase two diansour tape machines, Ampex 1200s from a University in Muray, KY would be so profitable.

My wife Becky, became a Pilot in 1985 and opened her own Flight School and Aircraft Service, Arlington Flight Center, Inc., in 1988. N2245L was her plane while mine, a Cessa 150M, N3858V, was under contract to the Flight School. Our family spent many hours aloft enjoying aviation and yap I got to work some VHF and UHF signals using my Yaesu FT727HT from the planes that we flew in. The two of us were also very active in the Civil Air Patrol for more than 15 years.

N2245L above and below with Jennifer Terry Armstong - N3858V Cessna 150M top right and the B19 below.

In1989 I filed a competing License Application with the FCC to obtain the license of WLYX-FM 89.3 MHz after Rhodes College took the campus student run station off the air. After the WLYX broadcast tower fell down on campus, the Officials at Rhodes decided to forgoe any further Commission challenge. In 1990 the Memphis Public Library obtained a construction permit to build 89.3FM with an ERP of 2.75Kw at an AGL height of 157 feet. The Station obtained Memphis's first radio tower, which was built in 1923 as the AM two-way radio tower of the Memphis Police Department, for it's transmission platform.  This 220' self supporting tower was lowered to 198' and refurbished. Willie, KB4ZOP and I designed and constructed WYPL's first TX facility based on a Solid State 4Kw FM transmitter that used seven 700 watt modules to obtain a combined TPO of 4Kw. The station employed a two bay ERI antenna to radiate the station's signal. The antenna was side mounted on the Northeast side of the Barksdale tower. The station used a 500' microwave path

to relay the program content from the Studios to the TX building just a half block away. After experiencing two lightning strikes at my home QTH I recommended that WYPL invest in a Lightning Eliminator System, (broom looking device) atop the station tower. An artificial earth ground was created at the base of this city tower location to provide a lightning path for any stikes, which we had quite often.

WYPL and WEGR were the first two station in the Mid-South to broadcast a RBDS, Radio Broadcast Data Sustem, signal. General Motors teamed up with the two stations to help them kick off this new radio service. WYPL went on to use its RBDS signal to broacast the station's Program Schedule and to promote its simulcasts of "Action News 5" and "NBC Nightly News." to the car radios of Memphis drivers.  Many stations were reluctant to broadcast scrolling text to car radios for fear of being sued if a driver ran off the road while reading these messages. WYPL was also the first station in the United States to use the RBDS signal to broadcast EAS alerts and "Action News 5" Weather information.

WYPL's On-Air Automation continued to grow and evlove throughout the 25 years that I spent at the Station. The system grew from using only six reel to reel tape decks to a system containing 16 decks. As the years passed by reel to reel decks were replaced with DAT, Digital Audio Tape, machines and then in 2000  Mini-Disc units were used bringing the system to a fully digital playback system. In 2005 the station upgrade again to a server based storage system.

In 1993 FM89.3 became a CPB, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, funded station. Upon spending countless hours writing Federal PTFP, Public Telecomunications Facilitis Program, grants the Station upgraded Studio C to become Memphis's first Digital Recording Studio. KB4ZOP and I installed a Wheatsone SP6 8 track mixing console with outputs feeding an A-DAT Digital Recorder which used 8 track VHS tapes as well as to DAT Machines and a PC based Edit System. A new Digital Microwave and Audio Processor system were installed to give WYPL an all digital chain all the way to the Trasmitter's analog inputs. This Studio allowed the WYPL staff to produce

progams for the National Public Radio Satellie Program Exchange Service including "Airwaves" a weekly show dedicated to presenting news about Amateur Radio, Short Wave Listening, and Broadcasting. I served as Executive Producer of this show until I retired. The show aired on many Public Radio Stations throughout the United Sates and around the World.

Upon twisting his arm not once but twice, I was able to recruit Paul Luke, N4NBC, to record all of WYPL's new Station ID's, Action News 5/ NBC Nightly News Intros and Closes, and new station Promos promoting this unique new simulcast venture that I and Mason Granger - General Manager of WMC-TV were about to guide our staffs through, "Action News 5/ NBC Nightly News/ Action News 5 AM."  Paul's voice continues to be heard on WYPL some 16 years since relocating to Homeland Security/ FEMA in Washington, DC. We spent several nights in this studio laying down hundreads of tracks to use in the production of ths new station image. The goal was to create a Station ID package like the ones that were offered by TM Century of Dallas. As a Public Radio station we could not invest those kind of dollars for a product that would only be on the air for a few seconds each hour. With Paul's volunteer voice effort, we were able to build a package that rivaled the one that TMC created for KMOX in St. Louis.

In 1995 my QTH experienced a lightning strike just outside my shack window in the front yard of my SE Memphis home. That strike fried every electronic circuit board within my home. That act of God allowed me to purchase a new HF station, Yaesu FT-990/ SP6.

Lightning does strike twice. In 1997 my station experienced a direct lighning hit to my 2 meter quad atop the tower. Not only was the feed line and ground wire vaporized but, the strike then jumped over to the phone line and bore 6" holes through my home's slab. This time I only lost my UHF radio and antennas but, my Wife lost her organ.

In 1997 N4NBC and I developed a means of broadcasting the Emergency Managers Weather Information Network's weather programming to EMA offices throughout MS, AR, and West Tennessee using the 67KHz SCA frequency of WYPL's Broadcast signal. That same year the station hosted a booth at the Huntsville Hamfest and Paul Luke and I presented a paper on WYPL's EMWIN Emergency Managers Weather Information Network, system.

That same year WYPL became the Local Primary One, LP-1, radio station for providing Memphis Broadcastes and Station Listeners with Emergency Alert System broadcasts from The National Weather Service and the US Goverment. I served as Tennessee's EAS Coordinator for 14 years. Paul Luke, N4NBC, and I were chosen by the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters to represent Tennessee's EAS efforts at various Broadcast and Emergency Management conventions.


1997 also brought a new oppertunity to me, for I became an Alternative Broadcast Inspector. Paul Luke - N4NBC, Pat Lane - W4OQG, and I inspected many stations throughout Tennesse over the next 15 years. Paul and I have passed this treasured position over to W4OQG since I have retired from Broadcasting and Paul relocated to Washinton DC in 2001 where he serves as FEMA's Radio and Television's Broadcast Manager. I consider it an honor to have worked side by side with these two great Hams over the past 38 years.

In 1996 I filed an application with the FCC to increase WYPL's ERP from 2.75Kw to 100Kw and from an AGL, Above Ground Level, of 150 feet to 1,260 feet. KB4ZOP and I spent two years looking for a suitable tower site to meet WYPL's growth objectives. Finally a perfect location was located in Mississippi County AR just across the Mississippi River from Millington, TN.

Barnstable Broadcasting owned a 1,260' television tower that they had been using for one of their Memphis radio outlets and was interested in selling the structure. Barnstable Broadcast Group under the Direction of Mike Kaneb, decided to sell the tower to WYPL for about 1/35 of what the Tower had cost to construct (aprox 3.5 million) They later turned around and leased space on the tower for a new move in radio outlet that they obtained, giving WYPL the needed funds to refurbish and improve safety features on the Arkansas facility. Again,  my Amateur Radio experiences led me to  take on a new role of Managing this tall tower facility which included working with Structural Engineers, who perform facility growth analysis for both WYPL as well as for two yet to be constructed TV stations and an additional FM broadcast partner. Basically, I went from working on a Rhon 25G tower to one having a 7.5 foot face. We invested nearly $50,000 in 2000 to upgrade the tower's safety system and to have the entire tower painted and guys tensioned. The Barnstable 20 year lease would give the station the necessary funds to purchase a 4 bay Shively Antenna, 35KW Broadcast Electronics Transmitter, and other equipment needed to build out WYPL to a full Class C FM station with an ERP, Effective Radiated Power, of 100Kw at a AMSL, Above Mean Sea Level, height of 1,500'.

The station used 4" Hard Line to feed its signal up the stick. When the tower's 12 strobe lights are switched to Daylight intensity at night one can see the tower from Downtown Memphis.

One very cold January day in 2001, I found myself standing in an AR field assembling WYPL's new 4-bay Shively antenna. Unlike our 2-bay antenna in Memphis, this new antenna would be installed with Ice Domes so that the station would not have to reduce power during poor weather conditions. My Elmer for a great many aspects of my Broadcast Career was W4OQG, Pat Lane. Pat is the retired CE for WKNO-TV & FM who owns not one but two tall sticks on their antenna farm in East Memphis. Matt McCormick with Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth PLC and Wayne Reese of Munn-Reese & Associates were two people who's guidance steered me toward success time after time throughout my Broadcast Carrere.

(Top) - The view from the top of WYPL's AR Tower (Below) - 35Kw TX and TX Building/ Ice Bridge

(Pictured above you will see the AR TX Building and 150' of Ice Bridge leading out to the tower base and the 35T being slid into the building on skids.)

The BE 35T transmitter is made up of three cabinets with the left one containing the power supply, the center one being the tube cavity with a folded half-wave cavity which eliminates troublesome and unreliable DC plate blocking capacitors and all sliding RF contacts, and the third oine houses the Exciter and PAs.

The station also used an Optimod Audio Processor and a Mosley Digital STL microwave sytem that made hop 1 from 3030 Poplar to the Barksdale Tower and then from that tower to the new AR site. WYPL used an 8 ton air conditioning system to provide a closed cooling system for the new transmitter plant.)

3030 Poplar with WYPL on front right ground level - main news studio G1-A lower level - night view WYPL Studios below front grade of building. All of Radio and TV MC was constructed on raised flooring. Radio's PROD C was equiped with TV lights and cameral cable connections. Studio C is a Radio Peforming Arts Studio. WYPL's Lobby and Offices are located at ground level surrounding TV.

In 1999 I was given the opportunity to design WYPL's new broadcast studios. The studios would encompass 2 Production Control Rooms, a Studio/Control Center, a Performance Studio, 5 Announce Booths, News Studio, Radio & TV Master Control, along with Offices and Engineering. I visited many stations throughout America to make certain that we would invest our dollars wisely as we strived to construct these new digs. Barnstable Broadcasting pledged a $250,000 donation toward helping us outfit this new facility. Time Warner Cable, made it possible for us to house our new PRSS, Public Radio Satelite System, dish at their Memphis dish farm and they provided the fiber path and associated equipment for us to link the two facilities together.

In 2000, I also became the Chief Engineer for WYPL's Television facility. Most of my time was spent however working on the roll out of Channel 56 which would become the Library's over the air TV channel. In 2001 WYPL and WKNO decided to merger their endeavors toward launching channel 56 and both stations relinquished their efforts to build channel 14 to Kaleidoscope Broadcasting of Little Rock.

 

Steve - WB4IZC, in WYPL Weather/ EAS Center in Radio/TV Master Control, 2004.

N4NBC introduced me to Echolink in 2000. I am still an avid user of this mode of operation some 17 years later. I have met a great deal of new friends on EL and have been able to keep up with old ones as well.

I was offered a rare opportunity in 2004 to fly aboard the Aluminum Overcast. The most amazing thing I came away with was how thin the skin of the aircraft seemed from up in the air. It was a real treat to be able to put my eyes and hands on the radio gear used by the crew of this aircraft back in WWII. It was in lightening to see how the crew flew in such a limited environment. The smooth sounds of those four radial engines were so cool to hear as we lifted off from Navy Memphis and flew South down the river to Tunica and back.

In 2003, my eye condition, Retrolental Fibroplasia, also known as Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP,) was worsened by the onset of Cataracts. Doctors at UT-Medical in Memphis and at The Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore said that most likely my condition would not be operable one due to the brittleness of the still attached retina. My eye sight at this time had decreased from 20/200 to that of 20/1700 in my best eye. In 2004 after completing the upgrade of WYPL's signal to 100Kw and upon reaching 25 years of service, I retired from the station, for it was no longer safe for me to work on the new high voltage, (tube) transmitter system without assistance.

The FM89.3/ WYPL 1.0 MVm signal area grew from a population of 720,000 listeners to one that would now reach an estimated 3.4 million listeners living in TN, AR, and MO.

The overwhelming reason for increasing the station's power was to obtain a city grade signal over all of Shelby County, TN and assist WEVL in removing co-channel reception problems due to our two frequencies being only 600KHz apart.

With WYPL's new signal pattern, the station expanded its "StormScan" weather warning coverage to 18 new counties from the 17 previously served by FM89.3's 2.75Kw signal. Thus, FM89.3 now provided SVA, SVR, TOA,and TOR warnings to 35 counties in AR, MO, and Tennessee. WYPL staff alnog with the Action News 5 Weather Team would describe weather situations and radar images so that not only the sighted but non sighted potential storm victum could understand threatening weather conditions. WYPL's Weather Center also contained a 2 meter Amateur Station so that licensed starion staff and volunteer Operators could interface with the Mid-South Weather Net and WMC-TV's Amateur Station also housed in their Weather Center.

 

Upon retiring, Becky and I chose to relocate to DeSoto County Mississippi. We purchased a 3/4 acre lot in Horn Lake and contracted with a local builder to construct our new home. We selected a lot that would afford me natural antenna wire supports and her the forest like environment that she sought. Mississippi also imposes no State Income Tax on one's retirement income and gives us a 50% tax break on Property Taxes since I took a disability retirement. From my new QTH, the antenna farm is made up of dipoles on 20, 15, and 10 meters, a 270' long 160 meter dipole, a new off center fed Windom antenna for 80 - 2 meters, and 20 and 15 meter vertical antennas. The 20 meter flag pole vertical can be seen proudly from the front of my home. While the 15 meter vertical is now located out of sight within our new Christmas tree farm. We fly a special 911 flag from the 20 meter pole on the day that changed our contry forever.

VK3ZTR, Tony Wakefield, developed a new Echolink display that would allow vision challenged Hams to enjoy Echolink even more with Elseemore. Tony and I became good EL friends and through our friendship I provided him with feedback that led to him introducing Echo Shack a rived up version of Elseemore.

I became a user of CQ100 & QSO-TV in 2009. This mode of operation allowed me to meet so many new friends from wherever I found internet access. Among two friendships that I truly find myself blessed to have formed are those with K5ZZ - Bill, and W4CTM Doc. 14.176 on CQ100 is where I and more then 65 other CQ100 users called home on this medium. Unfortunately, many of these users moved on to Skype when the annual subscription fee kept rising.

I have decided to completely overhaul my HF amateur station by upgrading to a SDR HF radio. After examining all of the avenues available, I have chosen to move toward using PowerSDR-IF Stage to control a Yaesu HF radio coupled with a LP-Pan SDR receiver. As my eye sight continues to decline the key to the new station will be to assemble equipment, monitors, and associated meters that will allow me once again to be able to operate the radio without assistance from a family member.

(Testing PowerSDR-IF Stage on shack PC 2012 below)

In 2012 I ran across a video that caught my eye, Ham Radio Now D-Star, The host introduced himself as John Davis and then said his call was WB4QDX. I thought to myself, is that the same Hilltopper that I new from WKYU-TV in Bowling Green. Yes it was, and it was good to see that John is involved in many aspects of Amateur Radio for we had not talked for more than 30 years. I then watched all three episodes running almost three hours. I have now shared that video series with every Amateur Operator that I have spoken with over the past year. N4NBC challenged me to dive into this new found mode of operation. I met his challenge by selling off all of my analog equipment and have now assembled a full D-Star station. For me, this is the most exciting new aspect of Ham Radio.

After coordinating the ABIP program for the TN Association of Broadcasters for 15 years, I felt that it was time to pass the baton over to someone who was still involved in Broadcasting on a daily basis. Fortunately for TN Mike Murrell and W4OQG, Pat Lane agreed to share the role that I served in Tennessee's program. I also decided to resign from Chairperson of the TN EAS Committee. Broadcasting has changed so much in my time and with all of the new technologies evolving I felt that this chapter in my career needed to be concluded.

A small group of hams from here in Horn Lake, MS have formed the Northwest MS D-Star Association. The goal of this group is to construct a stack of D-Star repeaters that would bring HT D-Star coverage to Horn Lake and Northwest MS. After obtaining our Club Call KF5RUP the group filed for frequency coordination through SERA. We are currently working on several grant opportunities that would give NWMS D-Star the needed funds to construct a full D-Star stack system.

I have hit the floor running here in 2013. My Amateur Radio Shack is getting a complete rebuild, new antennas are being erected, and new modes of operation are being explored. My biggest challenge is to construct a station made of equipment that will allow a visually challenged person, like myself, to have freedom of operation as fully sighted hams enjoy. Stay tuned for I will post more photos as the shack takes shape.  Since it is now four years later and two complete radio shack remakes, I guess I need to post some new photos, now into DMR/ D-Star/ C4FM/ Free-DV etc. 

I have also decided to help recruit new Hams to the hobby by offering free Technician Classes to primarily the Young Adult and 55+ age groups. I have even found a Sponsor who will furnish each Young Adult who becomes licensed with a brand new fully programmed VHF/UHF HT.

It looks like, as I turn 64, that the hobby I have enjoyed for 47 years is going to bring new challenges and hopefully the opportunity to make some great new friends, worldwide here in 2017.

I also now invite you to visit the Northwest MS D-Star Association's QRZ page at W5AV.

8182493 Last modified: 2017-06-26 17:25:33, 46847 bytes

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