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Greetings from Franklin, Massachusetts, USA. Here is a tour of the area with some local radio and TV history.

W1AWX is licensed to Art Donahue, formerly KA1GGG. I have a great deal of respect for the inventors and pioneers of radio, television and film. It was their hard work and genius that enabled me to have a career in broadcast television and participate in the fascinating hobby of amateur radio. This webpage is dedicated to their memory.

I'm originally from Adams, MA, home of Massachusetts' highest mountain: 3,491 foot Mount Greylock.

In 1954 Mount Greylock was the site of WMGT-TV74, once the most powerful television station (300,000 watts ERP) in North America. The studio was in Pittsfield, MA and owned by electrical inventor Leon Podolsky. They provided local news and programming with just one RCA-TK11 camera linked to Greylock by microwave. WMGT also carried DuMont (WABD-TV5), the New York Daily News' independent WPIX-TV11, and ABC (WABC-TV7) programming picked up directly off the air from New York City 135 miles away with VHF yagi antennas atop Mt. Greylock. At it's Feb. 5, 1954 sign-on WMGT-TV was the highest transmitter elevation east of the Mississippi until WMTW-TV8 began broadcasting from 6,289 foot Mt. Washington, NH on Sept. 25 the same year. (WLOS-TV13 Asheville, N.C. held the title for one week Sept. 18-25 from the top of 6,089 foot Mt. Pisgah, N.C.) The original WMGT-TV tower was destroyed after only two years in a February 1956 ice storm. There were too few TV viewers with UHF receivers and there was not enough cash left to rebuild. The station was sold to Lowell Thomas and became WCDC-TV19, a satellite station of WTEN-TV10 in Albany. These images are from the original 16mm film that was shown on that very first optimistic WMGT-TV74 broadcast day, Feb. 22, 1954.

The replacement 247 foot WCDC-TV tower was also destroyed by an ice storm on March 9, 1983. (That same ice storm destroyed the 1,305 foot WCSH-TV6 tower on Winn Mt. in Baldwin, Maine.) Today the Northern Berkshire Amateur Radio Club operates their 146.91 Mhz (PL 162.2) K1FFK repeater from the summit. It's also the site of the world famous W2SZ VHF/UHF Contesting Group, the Mount Greylock Expeditionary Force.

Back in the 1960s the WCDC-TV19 transmitter building had a public observation window. I took this picture of the transmitter engineer at work with my Kodak Instamatic camera when I was about 12 years old. The transmitter and monitors in my picture are the original 1953 WMGT equipment still being used when I was there in 1967. I was fascinated by broadcasting. The WMGT 1953 building is still there today with it's original design granite block entrance.

Sadly, this pioneer mountaintop UHF broadcaster was sold by Nextar Broadcasting in the 2017 FCC Spectrum Auction for $34.5 million dollars and is going off the air to make room for wireless networks.   WMGT/WCDC-TV19, 1954-2017.

 I’ve had a ham license since 1980 and am currently licensed as Amateur Extra Class. My wife, Mary is KA1KRF. She grew up on the side of Asnebumskit Mountain in Paxton, MA.

At 1395 feet elevation, Asnebumskit is the site of Major Edwin Armstrong's 1939 pioneer FM station W1XOJ with it's original tower and building still standing. In 1947, AT&T constructed one of 7 hilltop TV microwave relay stations from New York City to Boston atop Asnebumskit. This was the first TV microwave relay in the United States and operated in the 4 Ghz band. This experimental relay proved that transcontinental television networks were possible. The structures are also still there.  Pioneer UHF-TV station WWOR-TV14 began broadcasting from Armstrong's W1XOJ building on the summit in December of 1953. The station later became WJZB-TV14. Much of the equipment was destroyed by fire in 1969 and the station never returned to the air. Today the building is a private home. The Central Massachusetts Amateur Radio Association operates their 146.97 Mhz (PL 114.8) W1BIM repeater from the summit.

One of the most unusual AT&T Network television relay stations was on Mohawk Mountain (1680 feet) in Cornwall, Connecticut. In order not to block the view of the existing state-owned fire tower AT&T agreed to build this hybrid microwave relay with fire tower atop. That's Josephine Vaill, state fire observer for 32 years at the tower during it's last season back in 1985, operating KNAB 706 on 44.68mhz/44.92 Mhz for the state and 33.70 Mhz for Litchfield County Fire. The Mohawk Mountain AT&T relay was used to send ABC's live color television programming from the 1980 Lake Placid, NY Winter Olympics to ABC master control in New York City for national distribution. If you watched the "Miracle On Ice" USA vs. Russia hockey game, it was brought to you through this relay station.

The AT&T national television microwave system for network televison distribution to local stations was replaced by satellites in the mid 1980s.

I got a $7 Remco Caravelle AM transmitter for my 9th birthday. It ran on one 9 volt battery. I was able to broadcast my collection of two brand new Beatles 45 rpm records (bought at Woolworth's) from the basement of our house to the living room. How cool was that?

My first "job" in radio was painting the WHMP-AM 1400 transmitter shack in Northampton, Massachusetts along with the son of the station's general manager when I was 13 years old back in the 1960s.

The WHMP transmitter site also had an underground bomb shelter and radio studio built by the U.S. government in the Cold War Era of the 1960s due to Northampton's proximity to Westover Air Force Base. That's legendary WHMP news director Ron Hall at the mike. He was one of local radio's longest running news directors for over 40 years.

Across the Connecticut River from Northampton, Mount Holyoke (elevation 935 feet) overlooks the valley.

Mount Holyoke is the site of the oldest surviving mountain house in North America and the first passenger incline railway. At one time a 2 meter ham repeater was housed here.

Just south of Mount Holyoke, Mount Tom (elevation 1214 feet) had an even more elaborate summit house and incline railway. The oldest surviving motion picture from this region shows President William McKinley and his wife touring the Summit House in 1899. In the early 1920s Amateur Radio Station 1-CMK was an official ARRL Relay Station operating with a 100 watt transmitter from this building. There were 3 summit houses here over time. Two were destroyed by fire and the third was torn down. The foundation was used to house another early pioneer 1953 UHF TV station WHYN-TV55 (moved to channel 40 in 1957 and now WGGB-TV40) It also houses the Mount Tom Repeater Association's 146.94 Mhz (PL 127.3) W1TOM repeater.

South of Mount Tom is Provin Mt. (elevation 600 feet) in Agawam, MA home to the Mt. Tom Repeater Association's 146.67 Mhz (PL127.3) W1TOM repeater and WWLP-TV22. WWLP was the first commercially licensed UHF-TV station in the USA when it went on the air as channel 61 on March 17, 1953. It was also where I first worked in television in the early 1970s.

WWLP-TV22 Springfield, WRLP-TV32 Greenfield and WWOR-TV14 Worcester (on Asnebumskit Mt.) were all owned by Springfield Television Broadcasting Corp. Company president Bill Putnam was a pioneer in UHF television and local programming.

WWLP produced many hours of live local programming from this 1953 DuMont black and white remote truck known as the "Bread Truck". It used a 2 Ghz Raytheon microwave to relay video from the DuMont cameras to a rotateable receive dish on the Provin Mt. tower. It also produced live events for WRLP, WWOR/WJZB and NBC.

A decade later in the 1960s WWLP was one of very few U.S. local stations to own English-made Marconi Mark IV cameras. This same make and model black and white television camera was used by CBS in New York for the Feb. 9, 1964 live broadcast of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show.

I was in broadcast television for 45 years working at several New England television stations (WWLP-TV22 Springfield, MA, WRLP-TV32 Keene, NH, WBZ-TV4 Boston, MA, WFSB-TV3 Hartford, CT, WCVB-TV5 Boston, MA) starting in 1971. I received my FCC First Class License for broadcast engineering in 1979. I was involved in television microwave transmission beginning in 1976. I was very fortunate to be named "National Television News Photographer of the Year" in 1986 by the National Press Photographers Association.

Uncanoonuc Mountain (elevation 1324 feet) in Goffstown, New Hampshire is home to the 147.135 Mhz (PL 100.0) W1AKS repeater and WMUR-TV9. It was a key microwave relay site for network and local television presidential primary coverage in the days before satellite transmission as it is line-of-sight to New Hampshire's largest city, Manchester and Boston, MA.

In 1907 an Otis electric incline railway (identical to the one at Mount Tom in Holyoke, MA) and summit house were built here. A meteorite crashed within 300 feet of the railway track one evening in September of 1918 panicking passengers in the descending car. The hotel was destroyed by fire in 1923 and the railway tracks were severely damaged in a 1941 forest fire. The railway was never rebuilt.

As a television news photographer, I operated two-meter radios in news vehicles along with 450 Mhz 2-way commercial radios and numerous generations of scanning receivers. In the 1980s I shot and contributed video for the ARRL’s space shuttle videotape. In August of 1985, using just an Icom 2AT 2-meter walkie-talkie with a quarter wave 19 inch whip antenna in a parking lot in Tolland, CT, I was able to receive this slow-scan television image from the Space Shuttle Challenger. I'm still amazed that it worked. It was the first shuttle mission to transmit SSTV.

I’ve long been a great admirer of Hiram Percy Maxim, W1AW, and I am very fortunate to have call sign W1AWX that honors his memory. I have always been fascinated by radio and filmmaking and Maxim was both the "Father of Amateur Radio" with his American Radio Relay League and the "Father of Amateur Filmmaking" with his Amateur Cinema League. All ham radio operators owe him so much for his leadership and courage a century ago. He also strove to improve the quality of 16mm filmmaking and much of my career was involved in shooting, editing, processing and video conversion of 16mm news film. In the 1990s I produced a television story on H.P. Maxim’s life and achievements using his own 16mm films. At that time I met and interviewed his daughter, Percy Maxim Lee. She was an amazing person with a distinguished career. Here are some still frames from that story.

In an article Maxim wrote for the first issue of the ACL's Movie Makers Magazine in 1926 he predicted “You are going to see the day when radio-transmitted, colored motion pictures will be shown, not only in theaters, but in your own homes!”

These amateur motion picture cameras were in use during Maxim's time with the Amateur Cinema League from 1924-1936.

In 1935, shortly before Hiram Percy Maxim's death, he experimented with RCA's first 16mm optical sound camera which recorded an optical variable-area soundtrack onto the film. I was not able to discover if he had made a sound-on-film recording of his voice. It would have been great to hear what he sounded like. After his death at age 66, it was revealed that he had written humorous articles for the ARRL's QST magazine under the pen name of "The Old Man". He also did the same for the ACL's Movie Makers magazine using the name "Doctor Kinema".

40 years later, I used an Auricon Pro-600 16mm sound-on-film camera for TV news that still was using RCA's Photophone variable-area optical soundtrack and a tube-type battery powered audio amplifier. This camera also could record onto magnetic sound strip film as seen here using a transistor audio amplifier and a battery AC inverter to power the 110 AC 60 cycle synchronous motor. Total weight in excess of 40 pounds.

How's that for a simple threading path? It was an amazingly reliable camera.

Edward Rowe Snow (1902-1982) was a historian and prolific author who also pioneered in New England radio and film. His weekly broadcast "Six Bells" was heard throughout New England on the Yankee Radio Network in the 1940s and 50s. In 1996 I transferred his original 16mm lecture films to video and interviewed his wife Anna-Myrle Snow for WCVB-TV5's Chronicle. He did much to preserve and record the maritime history of this region. Some of his radio broadcasts have survived.

I was fortunate to work with many of television's first generation. It was a great opportunity to learn from the pioneers of the business. The dapper gentleman with the headphones and audio mixer on the left was John Davin in 1973. John's first assignment as a newsreel cameraman for Fox Movietone News was Calvin Coolidge's funeral at the Edwards Church in Northampton, Ma. on Jan. 7, 1933. He moved from newsreels to television in 1957 and became a news photographer for WHDH-TV5 in Boston. He was a great mentor to me.

The New England region of the United States is home to an amazing amount of radio history.

Out on Cape Cod at Wellfleet, Massachusetts, the last remains of Guglielmo Marconi's transatlantic wireless station are falling into the Atlantic Ocean. Here in 1903 the first two-way wireless message was sent from the United States to England. The message was between U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt and England's King Edward VII.

The Marconi Wellfleet Station's call sign was WCC. WCC moved nearby to Chatham, Massachusetts in 1914. In 1977 I videotaped a TV story at WCC where they were still using CW for ship-to-shore radio traffic. RCA owned the facility when these video images were recorded with a then-new state-of-the-art RCA-TK76 broadcast TV camera. WCC Chatham closed in 1999. The nearly 100 acre campus was sold to the town of Chatham and is now the Chatham Marconi Maritime Center and the home of the WCC Amateur Radio Association's station WA1WCC.

Just 3 years after Marconi's success on Cape Cod, Reginald Fessenden transmitted the human voice via radio in 1906 from Brant Rock in Marshfield, MA. The base of his 400 foot tower still exists today.

The oldest surviving operating radio station in the world is station "PJ" built in 1907 by Walter Massie. It is intact today with it's original equipment at the New England Wireless and Steam Museum in East Greenwich, RI.

Newington, Connecticut is headquarters to the American Radio Relay League, founded by Hiram Percy Maxim in 1914. It is also home to the most famous of all amateur radio stations, W1AW, originally licensed to Hiram Percy Maxim.

In 1917 amateur radio operator Alessandro Fabbri, 1-AJ (upper left) built and donated a radio station to the United States Government at Otter Cliffs, Maine in exchange for a naval commission to be in charge of the station. Station NBD was the U.S. Navy's best transatlantic radio receiving site during World War One. In the early 1980s my wife and I were very fortunate to meet wireless pioneer Fred "Hank" Grindle, K1SRE (lower right) who had worked as a radio operator at this station during the war. His skills had earned him a special citation from U.S. President Woodrow Wilson.

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On May 6, 1922 German inventor Arthur Korn used his Phototelautograph system to transmit a photograph of Pope Pius XI from Rome to Germany via telephone lines. It was then retransmitted via radio from Germany to station NBD in Bar Harbor, Maine where it was successfully decoded and printed in the New York World newspaper the same day it was photographed.

The first radio station in the United States to receive a commercial license was WBZ in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Westinghouse Electric Company manufactured radios in this plant and transmitted from a long wire antenna strung between these two towers starting in 1921. That's a Westinghouse radio made at the factory. The station was eventually moved to Boston, Massachusetts where it continues today. From 1977-1980, I worked for Westinghouse Group W as a newsfilm cameraman at WBZ-TV4 in Boston during the transition from 16mm film to videotape and microwave for news gathering. The abandoned building and towers in Springfield were torn down just a few years ago.

WBZ-TV4 was the only commercial television station in New England to use expensive 35mm motion picture projection equipment for broadcasting professional Hollywood-made films. These "Telecine" projectors had a heavy workload for a decade before videotape came to television. The film canisters on the projectors were required to prevent the possibility of fire from the highly flammable 35mm nitrate film. When I worked at WBZ my 16mm newsfilm was processed at the in-house film lab on the right side of this picture. That film processor was shut down and scrapped in 1979.

WBZ-TV had the first RCA TJ-48A live microwave truck in New England back in 1948. 30 years later I worked in the live trucks on the right. Marketing called them "The Instant Eye" Both images were taken in the same WBZ parking lot at 1170 Soldiers Field Road in Brighton, MA. The 1948 truck transmitted 2 Ghz microwave to a receiver on the 680 foot WBZ TV tower at 1170 Soldiers Field Rd. That tower collapsed during Hurricane Carol on August 31, 1954. In 1978 trucks still used 2 GHz microwave to transmit to a receive site on Boston's Hancock Tower.

On the corner of North Street and Clapboard Ridge Road in Greenwich, Connecticut you'll find a monument to Amateur Radio Station 1-BCG. This station was the first Amateur Radio Station to transmit a transatlantic signal received in Ardrossan, Scotland in December of 1921. Edwin Armstrong (on the far left in the group photo at the 1950 monument dedication) was one of the ham radio operators involved in the project.

The MacMillan Expedition left Wiscasset, ME in 1923 for a year in the Arctic Circle. Ham radio operator Don Mix, 1TS, operated shortwave station WNP "Wireless North Pole" aboard the Schooner Bowdoin, which was designed to survive the Arctic winter. Hiram Percy Maxim, 1-AW, was there to congratulate the crew on their return in 1924. It was the first use of a shortwave radio in Arctic waters. This historic vessel is currently used as a training ship for the Maine Maritime Academy.

The first live music broadcast relayed from England and rebroadcast live in North America occured on March 14, 1925. Live orchestra music from the Savoy Hotel in London, England was transmitted from station 5-XX in Chelmsford, England and received here in Belfast, Maine by Radio Corporation of America receiving station 1-XAO using a long wire "wave" antenna. The received signal from this site was then simulanteously broadcast on WJZ, New York City and WRC, Washington, D.C. The former RCA receiving building is now used as the National Guard Armory in Belfast.

From W3LPL: On January 7, 1927 AT&T began the first commercial long wave radiotelephone service from New York to London via this 3 mile long wire receiving antenna system in Houlton, Maine. The wire antennas were aligned and tuned to receive 60 Khz SSB voice signals from the British General Post Office transmitter at Rugby, England. The system was in operation until 1956.

On Oct. 26, 1931, W1XAL Boston became New England's first shortwave broadcaster. It began as experimental W2XAL in 1927, the first U.S. licensed shortwave station in New York City. In 1979 the final transmitter was shut down at the 10 acre antenna farm at Hatherly Beach in Scituate, MA and the station moved to Florida. The station's call sign in Florida was WYFR and ceased transmission on July 1, 2013. It was the oldest existing shortwave broadcast facility in the world when it closed.

In the early 1930s amateurs were experimenting with VHF frequencies. An ARRL relay from Hartford, CT to Boston, MA was established on the 5 meter band (56 Mhz) by T.F. Cushing, W1AWW at the Porteri Observation Tower on Wilbraham Mountain (elevation 800 feet) in Wilbraham, MA relaying line-of-sight signals from W1AW in Hartford, CT to Worcester Radio Club members who had set up a station in the Mount Wachusett (elevation 2006 feet) Summit House in Princeton, MA, which was line-of-site to Boston.

T.F. Cushing, W1AWW, changed call signs to W1HMO at the Porteri Tower in Wilbraham, MA and went on to participate in further VHF relay milestones. Here is the path of the first Boston to New York City 56 Mhz relay on May 13, 1934. W2CTF utilized the height (elev. 2,250 feet) of the Catskill Mountain House in Haines Falls (Palenville), NY overlooking the Hudson River Valley to relay to and from W1HMO in Wilbraham, MA and W2AG in Yonkers, NY.

The Catskill Mountain House was once served by the Otis Elevating Railway climbing the Catskill Escarpment also known as the "Great Wall of Manitou". This engineering feat was the cover story of Scientific American Magazine in 1892. U.S. Presidents Ulysses S. Grant, Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland and Teddy Roosevelt all stayed overnight at the Catskill Mountain House. The hotel fell into disrepair and was burned to the ground in 1963 by the New York State Conservation Dept.

Just south of the Catskill Mountain House along the Hudson River, you'll find two mountaintop UHF television stations from the 1980s that have both been sold in the 2017 FCC Spectrum Auction to make room for wireless networks. Overlook Mt. (3,140 feet) in Woodstock, NY was home to WTZA/WRNN-TV62, a restored fire tower and the ruins of what would have been the highest hotel in the Catskills. Mount Beacon (1,611 feet) in Fishkill, NY had it's own hotel, incline railway and DTV transmitter for WTBY-TV54. As part of the New York City television market these stations commanded high sale prices to be shut down. WRNN was sold for $211.6 million dollars and WTBY $162.4 million. Goodbye to WTZA/WRNN TV62, 1985-2017 and WTBY-TV54, 1981-2017.

North of the Catskills along the Hudson you'll find the Helderberg Escarpment. Located along the 1600-1800 foot ridgeline are many of Albany, New York's FM and TV transmitters. This was and still is the transmitter site of General Electric's pioneer electronic TV station WRGB, which has been on the air since 1939 and is now owned by Sinclair. General Electric's experiments with mechanical TV at Schenectady in the valley below go back to 1928.  John Boyd Thacher State Park runs along the ridgeline and is host to the Albany Amateur Radio Association's annual Field Day site. The AARA operate their 145.19 Mhz (PL 103.5) repeater from the summit.

About 100 miles southwest of the Helderbergs, Binghamton, New York is home to one of the last surviving original Marconi towers in the world. It was one of two original 97 foot towers that supported a long wire antenna designed to attempt to communicate with a moving train back in 1913. The test was a success for Marconi and the Lackawanna Railroad. It has become a landmark in the city.

The first Mount Washington, New Hampshire to New York City 56 Mhz VHF relay followed shortly after the Boston to New York City VHF success on May 27, 1934 with W1HDQ climbing to the summit of Mount Monadnock (elev. 3,166 feet) in Southern New Hampshire with portable radio, antenna and battery equipment.

Mount Everett (elev. 2,602 feet) in Massachusetts' southern Berkshire County was a key station in the 1934 VHF Mt. Washington to NYC relay. Mount Everett is also part of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and in 2016 was an activation site for the ARRL's "National Parks On The Air", a celebration of the 100th year of the National Park Service. The fire tower in this 1985 photo was removed in 2003.

The Porteri Tower was destroyed by fire in 1954, as was the Mount Wachusett Summit House in 1970.

Today, the Montachusett Amateur Radio Association conducts annual Field Day activities from the summit of Mount Wachusett.

On May 13, 1939 Franklin Doolittle broadcast New England's first FM signal from West Peak in Meriden, Connecticut. Doolittle was a close friend of FM inventor Major Edwin Armstrong and Armstrong used the W1XPW facility as a relay for the Yankee FM Network. The original 70 foot tower and transmitter building are still there. W1XPW became WDRC-FM "Doolittle Radio Company" 102.9 Mhz and still broadcasts from West Peak. The Southington Amateur Radio Association operates the W1ECV 145.49 Mhz D-Star repeater from West Peak.

This impressive mountaintop building is the 1914 Heublein Tower on Talcott Mountain just west of Hartford, Connecticut. Built as a home for importer Gilbert Heublein the 165 foot tower was later sold to The Hartford Times newspaper and became known as "The Times Tower". From 1948 to 1950 they operated WTHT-FM 106.1 Mhz from an antenna on the roof. Today the restored tower is part of Talcott Mountain State Park and can be climbed for great views.

On May 10, 1932 a world distance record was set for radio signals in the VHF 5 meter band (56 Mhz) of 142 miles from the Summit House on Mount Washington, NH (elevation 6289 feet) to the Blue Hill Meteorogical Observatory on the summit of Blue Hill (elevation 635 feet) in Milton, MA near Boston. The long distance signal path was slightly over-the-horizon which was previously thought by many to be impossible. The Mount Washington Observatory was established soon after and relayed it's weather data to the Blue Hill Observatory by radio. The Blue Hill station became W1XW. Both institutions exist today.

WGBH (Great Blue Hill)-FM, one of the first educational FM stations in the U.S. went on the air October 6, 1951 from a transmitter in the basement of the weather observatory. That original 20,000 watt FM transmitter was built by Edwin Armstrong and is today at the Smithonian Institution. WGBH continues to transmit from Blue Hill and at 98,000 watts effective radiated power is the most powerful FM station in New England.

Another early "slightly-over-the-horizon" long distance UHF television record was set at the Blue Hill Observatory in March of 1953. WWLP-TV on Provin Mt. in Agawam, MA. was the second non-experimental UHF station in New England and began broadcasting on March 17, 1953 on UHF channel 61 (later dropped down to channel 22 in 1955 by the FCC due to early technology transmission and reception problems at such high frequencies). Their pioneering 6 Mhz signal at 752-758 Mhz was received 80 miles east on Blue Hill, the longest received distance for WWLP at that time.

At 6,289 feet, the highest mountain in New England, Mount Washington, New Hampshire is known as home to "the worst weather in the world". A record windspeed of 234 miles-per-hour was recorded here in 1934. Just three years later, Major Edwin Armstrong constructed an FM antenna and later this building known as the "Yankee Network" building in this inhospitable environment. This was relay station W1XER, receiving FM programming from W1XOJ in Paxton MA which originated from John Shepard's Yankee Network in Boston. W1XER relayed FM programming to the northern New England AM radio affiliates of the Yankee Network. The tower and building are used for many other radio signal relays today. And yes, that snowdrift is covering the front door in this picture taken in late May.

WMTW-TV 8 was a unique TV broadcast station in the eastern United States as they (as did Major Armstrong and his earlier FM station) generated all the power on the summit of Mt. Washington. It had the largest coverage area of any television station in the eastern U.S. There are no powerlines to the summit. They were challenged by having to store eight months worth of diesel fuel at the summit to sustain the transmitter from October to May when the road is inaccessable due to snow and ice. Initially, WMTW used Armstrong's FM tower to mount their TV antenna.

WMTW-TV8 Mt. Washington transmitter engineer and ham radio operator Marty Engstrom, N1ARY delivered live TV weather reports for 38 years from this transmitter building adjacent to the Armstrong Tower. The building was destroyed by fire in 2003. Mount Washington is home to the 146.655 Mhz (PL 100.0) W1NH repeater.

In the 1990s I lucked out and was in the right place at the right time to record video of moonrise over the summit of Mount Washington with a broadcast Ampex Betacam camera. You can see the Armstrong FM tower, the WMTW-TV8 tower, the WHOM-FM 94.9 tower and the WMTW-TV transmitter building silhouetted by the moon.

On January 15, 1986, I was videotaping WFSB weatherman Hilton Kaderli on the observation deck of the Mount Washington Observatory. The temperature was 35 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. He was suddenly hit with a wind gust of over 100 miles per hour and blown off the deck. Fortunately, he was not injured and he made some great TV!

Less than a month after WMTW-TV8 went on the air from New Hampshire's highest mountain in 1954, WCAX-TV3 began broadcasting from neighboring Vermont's tallest summit, 4,393 foot Mount Mansfield. WCAX-TV can trace its heritage back to 1919 and amateur radio station 1-ARY of the University of Vermont Radio Club. 1-ARY was received in Ardrossan, Scotland shortly after Greenwich, Connecticut's 1-BCG initial transatlantic transmission in December 1921.  Owned since it's construction for 63 years by the Martin family, WCAX-TV3 was the longest and last family owned television station in New England. It was sold to Gray Television in 2017.

Mount Mansfield is home to the 146.94 Mhz (PL 100.0) W1CTE repeater.

Here's a 1924 QSL card from the collection of Brian, N2BTD. It's from the University of Vermont's 1ARY, the grandfather of WCAX-TV3 transmitting from Mount Mansfield, Vermont since 1954. The ski trails are the Stowe ski resort. Thanks, Brian!

A few miles south of Franklin is Chopmist Hill (elevation 731 feet) in Scituate, Rhode Island. This was adjacent to one of the largest and most important top-secret listening posts in the United States operated by the Federal Communications Commission during World War Two. This secret receiving station was described as "The best location in the country for radio transmission and reception to any part of the world". Frank, W3LPL adds these facts: "While the site was sometimes referred to as the "Chopmist Hill" site, it was more commonly referred to as the "Scituate" or "Suddard Farm" site. The FCC site was located on the former 183 acre Suddard Farm on a 600 foot hill about one mile southeast of 700 foot Chopmist Hill. The 18 room farmhouse used by the FCC is still in use, its now a private residence. The W1OP Field Days during the 1960s used many of the 80 foot telephones installed during the war to support rhombic antennas. We did not use the farmhouse during Field Days; however, the Providence Radio Assn. met in the old farmhouse during the mid 1950s before it built its own clubhouse closer to Providence in 1958. Suddard Farm was subdivided into many much smaller lots during the 1970s after the State of Rhode Island auctioned it in 1969."

Thank you Frank! Today Chopmist Hill is home to the 146.76 (PL 67.0) KR1RI Mhz repeater owned by the Rhode Island Amateur FM Repeater Service.

In 1957 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology built the world's first UHF radar satellite tracking antenna on Millstone Hill in Westford, MA. It detected the Soviet Sputnik 1 and tracked Sputnik 2.

Here's a telephoto view from South Pack Monadnock Mt. near Peterboro, NH of the Millstone Hill site 26 miles away with the Boston skyline at 54 miles distant.

On July 11, 1962 the first transatlantic television signal was transmitted to France via the Telstar satellite from this earth station in Andover, ME. Only the foundation floor of the radome building remains today.

Returning to Mount Holyoke in Massachusetts, a look north from the Summit House will reveal a forgotten piece of local broadcast history. It's what remains of a 1950s TV microwave relay.

This long-abandoned 7 Ghz microwave system on Pocumtuck Rock (elevation 846 feet) in Deerfield, MA once relayed color TV programming from WWLP-TV 22 in Agawam, Massachusetts to WRLP-TV32 in Winchester, New Hampshire. Today, Pocumtuck Rock is the home of the 145.13 Mhz AB1RS repeater.

WRLP-TV32 was a pioneer UHF-TV broadcaster that began transmission in 1957 from Gun Hill (elevation 1000 feet) in Winchester, New Hampshire. It was the NBC affilate for the tri-state area of Brattleboro, Vermont, Keene, New Hampshire and Greenfield, Massachusetts. It received programming via microwave (and back-up cage UHF off-air antenna) from parent station WWLP-TV22 in Springfield, MA. It also created its own local programs with two DuMont TV cameras from its mountaintop studio and processed 16mm black and white film here for its local newscasts.

It failed to make a profit even though the signal from its 600 foot tower atop the 1000 foot ridgeline could be received in parts of 5 New England states. Tragedy occured here on August 15, 1966. A father and son were killed when their private plane hit the original tower. The severely damaged tower and antenna had to be demolished and rebuilt. The station ceased its local programing and became a repeater of WWLP until the mid 1970s when it restarted a 6:30 PM local news broadcast produced at WWLP-TV22 in Springfield. That's Bill Harris in the CH. 32 control room and on the WRLP ID slide. He anchored the newscasts. I was often assigned to shoot newsfilm for WRLP. We used tube-type GE radios on 161.67 Mhz for two-way communication relayed to the Springfield newsroom via phone line from the WRLP tower.

On January 23, 1977 I filmed one of the worst fires in Brattleboro, VT history for WRLP-TV32: the Barrows Coal Company fire. The early morning fire was fought in below zero (F) temperatures. The camera I used was a 16mm Bell and Howell 70DR, similar to the camera Hiram Percy Maxim, W1AW used in the 1930s.

It was the end of an era. Just a few weeks after the fire the 16mm film Filmline processor at WWLP was shut down as the conversion to electronic news video was complete. The next year, 1978, pioneer station WRLP went off the air after 20 years of broadcasting. Today the tower is still the tallest structure in the state of New Hampshire. The massive UHF antenna was removed a few years ago to relieve the stress on the tower that's today used for rental two-way radio communications. Today I feel a little nostalgic for WRLP and am glad I got to play a small part in its history.

The Travelers Insurance Company's WTIC TV3, AM 1080 and FM 96.5 moved into this state-of-the-art "Broadcast House" on Constitution Plaza in Hartford, Connecticut in 1962. Their logo was "the broadcaster sowing the seeds of knowledge". My wife and I worked in this building in the 1980s when it was WFSB TV3 owned by Post-Newsweek. It was demolished in 2009 and the station moved to Rocky Hill, CT. More broadcast history vanished.

The Northeast was once an important manufacturing region for film and television equipment. Here are some production tools I used in the 1970s and transmission equipment that were "home grown"and "locally sourced" in this part of the United States.

That's the WMTW-TV8 Alford antenna being mounted atop the old Armstrong FM tower on Mount Washington, New Hampshire in the summer of 1954. It has long since been retired but is still on the summit today. In 1965 Andrew Alford and Frank Kear designed and built the world's first "Master FM Antenna" atop the Empire State Building in New York City. It allowed several FM stations to transmit from the same antenna and is still used over half a century later as a backup antenna.

This is a view of the "Route 128 Antenna Farm" west of Boston, MA. For 30 years my film and video were broadcast from the tower on the far right. First for WBZ as NTSC (standard definition) and later for WCVB as NTSC and ATSC (high definition). At a height of 1200 feet when it was built in 1957 the WBZ-TV tower was the tallest broadcast tower in New England. Just two years later it was surpassed by the WGAN-TV13 tower in Raymond, Maine. At 1624 feet, that tower was "the world's tallest man-made structure" when it was constructed in 1959.

In my job as a television news photographer, local television would occasionally make news. In Avon, CT back in 1984, Astroline Communications received FCC approval to purchase Hartford's WHCT-TV18 in a "distress sale" from religious broadcaster Gene Scott. By that time the station was reduced to operating entirely out of the tiny transmitter building with a failing transmitter, ancient equipment and a severly misaligned C-band satellite receiver to pick up Scott's programs from California. That freeze frame of Gene Scott with the hat and sunglasses illustrates how poor the actual signal quality was going into the transmitter. The new owner arrived with a consulting engineer to shut down the transmitter. It was the last moment for this original 1954 transmitter once owned by CBS and later managed in the early 1960s by CBS's Charles Osgood as the first "Phonevision" pioneer scrambled-signal pay TV station. The ownership history of this television station is fascinating reading, but the station has hit the end of the line. It's call letters had changed to WUVN by the time it was sold for $125.5 million dollars by Entravision for shutdown in the 2017 FCC Spectrum Auction to make room for wireless networks. WHCT/WUVN-TV18, 1954-2017.

About 125 miles north up the Connecticut River from Hartford, CT you'll find two more UHF TV stations that have been sold in the 2017 FCC Spectrum Auction. WNNE-TV31 in Hanover, New Hampshire was preceded by an earlier NBC affiliate WRLH-TV31 with studio and transmitter on the summit of Crafts Hill (1,079 feet) in Lebanon, NH from 1966 to 1976. When I worked at WWLP-TV22 in the early 70s, I used to process color 16mm film for WRLH as a free courtesy from WWLP when they had a special news event that required color. I shot a story for WBZ-TV4 Boston on how WNNE covered the New Hampshire Primary in 1980. WNNE first broadcast in the late 1970s from the summit of Mount Ascutney (3,130 feet) in Windsor, Vermont. By the end of their run they shared a transmitter site on a lower shoulder of Mt. Ascutney with Vermont Public TV station WTVA-TV41, as seen in this photo. WNNE was sold for shutdown by Hearst for $50.4 million and WVTA sold by Vermont ETV for $56.6 million. Goodbye WRLH/WNNE 1966-2017 and WVTA-TV41 1968-2017.

 

On October 29, 1998 WCVB-DT Boston began broadcasting in 1080i high definition television on UHF channel 20. WCVB was the first television station in New England to transmit in HD. The first transmission was live coverage of John Glenn's return to space on NASA mission STS-95 aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.

Just a few months later in January 1999, I was assigned to shoot a WCVB half hour Chronicle magazine program in high definition using equipment on loan from Sony. At that early stage of U.S. high definition broadcasting, no 1080i cameras had yet been manufactured. The Sony camera I used was a 1035i Japanese standard HD camera recording to Sony's HDCAM videotape. The program "Chronicle HD: Vermont's Molly Stark Trail" aired on March 3, 1999 and was the first locally produced and broadcast HDTV program in New England. I was very fortunate to be part of that event in New England broadcast history.

U.S. broadcast television switched to digital transmission in 2009. U.S. movie theaters transitioned shortly after that from 120 years of 35mm motion picture film distribution and projection to nearly 100% digital acquisition and presentation by 2017. Here's a look at a few of New England's projection booths that I've shot stories in over the years.

I'm also a hiker using portable VHF/UHF radios for line-of-site "mountaintoping". Climbing the region's fire lookout towers to hear how far I can transmit and receive has been a long time hobby. There are several amateur radio meter repeaters operating from fire towers and they provide great range.

In New England the states of New Hampshire and Massachusetts currently operate fire towers. The 1966 Mount Wachusett tower in Princeton, MA (on the left in this picture) was replaced by this new tower in 2012. The Mount Wachusett tower (2006 feet) has the widest visibility area on a clear day (from the Berkshires to the Atlantic Ocean) of any tower in the state. During the fire season around 40 of these Massachusetts fire lookout towers operate on 151.235 and 151.310 Mhz NFM tower-to-tower calling out azimuth lines to triangulate the exact location of fires.

New England summits have been special places for radio amateurs for nearly a century. For many years the Franklin County Amateur Radio Club has set up Field Day activites at the century-old Poet's Seat Tower on Rocky Mountain (elevation 475 feet) in Greenfield, Massachusetts. Their 448.875 Mhz (PL 136.5) UHF repeater is located near the tower.

The Appalachian Trail Golden Packet Relay is an annual one-day in July ham radio relay of packet communications along the entire length of the Appalachian Trail over 2000 miles from Maine to Georgia. It involves hams from many states setting up 15 mountaintop line-of-sight radio relay stations from Mount Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia. Here are pictures of Relay Station 11 on Mount Greylock in Massachusetts and Relay Station 12 on Mount Equinox in Vermont.

For the past 6 years this emergency data communications test has relied on the dedication and hard work of Tim D'Apice, KA1YBS to make the 5 hour climb up to the summit of 5,267 foot Mount Katahdin in Maine, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.

New England is home to an excellent collection of radio, television and film museums and archives.

There is even a museum dedicated to scanning radios.

Currently, one of my interests is landscape photography. My work can be seen here:

www.artdonahue.com

Arthur Atwater Kent of Burlington, Vermont was a famous inventor and pioneer manufacturer of high quality radios in the 1920s and 30s. He donated many acres of land to Acadia National Park in Maine.

Here is a link to a video of my television career:

https://vimeo.com/23172298

My HF antenna system is limited to one G5RV dipole.

Maximum output power is 100 watts.

Ham radio has always been lots of fun for me.

Thank you Hiram Percy Maxim!

Thanks for scrolling all the way down here.

I hope you found something of interest and I hope we'll meet on the air some day.

73,

Art Donahue, W1AWX

 

 

W1AWX Call Sign History: Nearly a century old!

The origin of the W1AWX call sign is nearly 100 years old as 1AWX was first assigned to Charles D. Colman, Jr. of Rochester, New Hampshire after the end of of World War One in 1919. The February 1922 edition of the ARRL magazine QST lists Colman's 1AWX as one of the prime amateur stations for message relaying in the state of New Hampshire.

By 1926 callsign 1AWX was assigned to Adolphe Plant, Jr. of New Bedford, Massachusetts.

In 1928 the "W" prefix was added to U.S.A. calls and the new W1AWX call sign first appears listed to George P. Bent Jr. from Hyde Park, Boston, Mass. in the early 1930s. George received an ARRL Public Service certificate for emergency work during the September 1938 New England hurricane. More than 680 people were killed in the storm and George worked with the Fall River, MA police department using a portable 5 meter radio in locating and reporting the recovery of bodies. He was also the winner of the 1950 ARRL CW Sweepstakes for Eastern Massachusetts.

By the 1960s W1AWX was assigned to Lee Atkins of Stamford, Conn. Mr. Atkins passed away in 2001, and the call became available once again.

Art Donahue applied for the call sign and it was granted in February of 2015.

Special thanks to the members of Nutmeg Chapter 149 of the Quarter Century Wireless Association for their research into this call sign.

If anyone knows the history of these 1AWX-W1AWX radio pioneers please contact me, Art Donahue, the current licensee of call sign W1AWX, as I would like to pay tribute to them on this website. Thank you.

 

 

8429229 Last modified: 2017-11-03 16:47:21, 58101 bytes

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