Blowing The Doors Off

I became Chief Engineer of KKYX in the mid 1970s right after a callsign change from KBAT to KKYX and a format change from Middle-of-the-Road (MOR) to Country as Great Country 68. My arrival at KKYX was the direct result of Len Ballard, Swanson Broadcasting Director of Engineering, transferring me from KKNG-FM in Oklahoma City (my first Chief Engineer position) to San Antonio.

WOW! The KKYX facilities on Bandera Road just west of Leon Valley were nothing short of amazing!

Additionally, KKYX was(is) a 50 thousand watt AM with a directional (DA) radiation pattern at night. The only 50kw AM-DA that I had previously ever even seen up close was KRMG in Tulsa.

The original transmitter facilities at the site were built by Elliot Roosevelt, FDR's son. The transmitter building was built like a fort with walls over two feet thick at the bottom. The ceiling height in the Transmitter Room was 16 feet and the ceiling in the Phasor Room was as least 30 feet above the floor. There also was a full basement which contained wood and metal shops, storage and a Power Room.

The Power Room was where the public power utility (CPS) electricity arrived at the building via underground cables. Within the power room, the electricity got transformed down to a lower voltage and then distributed throughout the entire facility.

To keep the huge multistory Westinghouse 50HG-1 Transmitter cool there were two seven foot by four foot squirrel cage blowers located immediately below it under the floor. These blowers drew outside air in through a filter bank via a below ground level wall and into an air lock chamber before the air was forced through the transmitter to remove massive amount of heat produced by the huge transmitting tubes.

Due to extreme air pressure, in order to enter the Air Vault, you opened the outside door, stepped inside and immediately closed the outside door. Once the outside door was securely shut, the pressure would equalize quickly. Nearly always you would experience resounding "pops" in both ears. That meant that it was important to keep your mouth open when you closed the outside door in order to aid the air pressure "equalization" process within your ears. After the equalization process was completed you would enter the Air Vault via a small sliding door.

I was NOT working there when it happened but there was a "story" about a former engineer who left the outside air doors open while attempting to power up the Westinghouse Transmitter. When the transmitter blowers come on, the air flow was so great that the outside doors were blown shut with such a force that they shattered and door pieces went flying outside into the parking area.

E. J. Pryor

As a side note...The CEO of Swanson Broadcasting was Gerrock Swanson of the frozen TV dinner Swanson's.

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Copyright 2019 by E. J. Pryor and All Rights Reserved.