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
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
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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