History of WBAA
Thu November 17, 2011
Broadcasting in the 1934-1935 School Year
The Purdue Exponent - Thursday, September 20, 1934
WBAA Receives Fan Mail Acclaiming New Set-up
Numerous reports have been received by WBAA, the University radio station, of the reception of programs which are now broadcast on a new wave length, 890 kilocycles, and on a power of 1,000 instead of 500 watts. Programs are conducted five days a week, Monday through Friday, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. and are being widely heard over Indiana, judging from recent fan mail. A feature of the daily broadcast is a report of grain and livestock markets at Lafayette, Chicago and Indianapolis, the markets of primary interest in this part of the state.
The Purdue Exponent - Thursday, September 27, 1934
Future Radio Players to Hear Buelah Brown
Buelah Stillwell Brown, for the last five years as a member of WOSU Players, broadcasting from Ohio State University, will talk on the subject, "Producing Radio Plays," this afternoon at 4 o'clock in room 1 of the Memorial Union Building. This talk is being sponsored by Theta Alpha Phi, honorary dramatic fraternity. Those who had auditions at WBAA Tuesday and yesterday, and all interested in the subject are invited to attend.
Mrs. Brown's husband, Dr. H. B. Brown, is a member of the horticulture staff at Ohio State. He was formerly a member of the University faculty.
The Purdue Engineer, Vol. 30, No. 2, p. 21, December 1934
A New Wbaa Emerges by E. F. Kueck, E. E. '36
It was in April, 1922, when WBAA first sent its call letters out into the now crowded ether, which makes it the oldest broadcasting station still operating in the state. The transmitter then in use was locally built, and operated first on fifty watts, and later on two hundred and fifty watts, the initial frequency being 833 kilocycles. The station was first located in the old Electrical Engineering Building, now known as the Engineering Administration Building.
In 1924 Prof. R. V. Achatz, who had been managing the station up to this time, resigned from the University staff, and was succeeded in WBAA by M. J. W. Stafford who had been assisting at the station for several years previously. Mr. Stafford, assisted by students, continued the operation of the station with minor changes in the transmitter until the spring of 1933.
When it became apparent at this time that the old transmitter was inadequate, Prof. G. E. West was given a free hand in rebuilding the station. Ralph Townsley and J. W. Hammond assisted Prof. West in this undertaking. The new transmitter was completely finished by September, 1933. So well had the work been done that the transmitter, which is the one now in use, put out a signal which in both strength and quality far surpassed that of any commercial station of similar rating. The whole set, even the microphones, was constructed on the Purdue campus. A complete technical description of the station is given at the end of this article.
For several years WBAA had been sharing time with WKBF, an Indianapolis commercial station on the same frequency of 1,400 kilocycles. At this time, just when the transmitter had been rebuilt, WBAA's time on the air was reduced by the Federal Radio Commission to only two hours per week. Such a light schedule having proved to be inadequate, both stations petitioned the commission for more time on the air. The hearing upon this petition was held in Washington on May 31, 1934.
As the indirect result of this hearing, WBAA was tentatively transferred from 1,400 kilocycles to 890 kilocycles and was allowed to use 1 kilowatt day-time power. Much more time was available as well, although this was confined to daylight hours, the evening schedule and its listening clientele having been sacrificed in the meantime. WKBF was allowed full time upon 1400 kilocycles and was thereby permitted to broadcast full chain programs.
Since the new frequency was the same as that of station WILL at the University of Illinois, that station immediately entered a protest with the Commission to prevent WBAA from having a permanent license upon their frequency. After many conferences and special agreements regarding hours of football game broadcasting, an amicable arrangement between the two stations was reached which warranted the University of Illinois in withdrawing its protest. Dr. C. F. Harding, head of the school of Electrical Engineering, was a tireless worker in the campaign which resulted in better hours, frequency, and power for WBAA.
Although the station has been improved technically, there was still some dissatisfaction with the programs being broadcast. As a result, and upon the request of the School of Electrical Engineering, President Elliott appointed the University Radio Committee about the first of February, 1934. Prof. W. A. Knapp, of the Engineering Extension Department, was made chairman of this committee. Other active members appointed included Mr. C. E. Dammon, formerly of the English Department; Mr. Albert P. Stewart, director of many of the university musical organizations; Prof. G. E. West, member of the faculty of the school of Electrical Engineering; Mr. T. R. Johnston, Publicity Director for the University; and Dr. C. F. Harding.
The station is under the direct supervision of three members of this committee, Mr. Dammon having charge of all programs, Mr. Stewart being responsible for all music, while Prof. West controls the actual broadcasting. Under each of these three men is a large staff of students, thus placing the station on a par with any other University activity. Try-outs are held from time to time for each of the various positions, thus requiring each member to put forth his best efforts at all times. Among the students now working at the station are seventeen announcers, five assistant operators, four publicity workers, and at least fifteen who serve as artists, broadcasting regular programs.
The programs, however, are not, as the above paragraph might indicate, limited entirely to specialized educational features. On the contrary, the men now in charge of the programs pride themselves on the fact that almost any person can find during the course of a week quite a few broadcasts in which he will be definitely interested.
No commercial propaganda and no paid programs are permitted from the station. It is truly an expansion of the resources of the University, which enables it to reach out over the state with its expert advice, musical talent, athletic games and conference speakers so that thousands of families interested in Purdue University may have its facilities in their homes daily.
The WBAA transmitter is of unit type construction, the first unit containing the crystal oscillator and buffer amplifier states. The 890 kilocycle quartz crystal is maintained at a temperature of 49.8 degrees Centigrade by means of a thermostatically controlled electric oven. A single crystal controlled oscillator tube operates into the first buffer amplifier, consisting of a push-pull stage. This excites a second similar buffer amplifier.
The second unit contains the Class C modulated amplifier, the modulator, and the Class B linear amplifier. The modulated amplifier consists of two 204-A tubes in push-pull, while the modulator has two 849 tubes in parallel. The modulated radio frequency current is fed to the final Class B linear amplifier, which uses a single Western Electric water-cooled tube of five kilowatts capacity, operating with a plate potential of 4,500 volts. The modulation of WBAA is checked on all transmissions by means of a modern Cathode Ray Oscillograph. An output power of 1,000 watts is delivered to the T-type antenna.
The audio frequency equipment begins with the microphones of which several types are used. These feed the preamplifiers, supplied with batteries for hum-free operation. Then come the line amplifiers which deliver audio energy to the line at zero decibel level. Finally, the station amplifier feeds directly into the grids of the modulator tubes.
The overall frequency response of this audio equipment is flat with plus or minus one decibel from 40 to 7,500 cycles. The frequency deviation meter is checked against the fifty kilocycle standard which has an accuracy of one part in a million.
The Purdue Exponent - Wednesday, March 6, 1935
WBAA to Reenact Histories of First Fraternities Here
Both organized and unorganized men and women of Purdue will have an opportunity to learn the history of Greek letter organizations on this campus when the University radio station, WBAA, broadcasts a dramatic sketch presenting the struggles involved in the planting of the fraternity seed here over half a century ago. The half-hour sketch has been written and directed by Helen Walters, in charge of the weekly Scrapbook Hour broadcast over the local station, and it will be put on the air Friday at 4:30 p. m.
This early history of Purdue fraternities will deal specificially (sic) with the founding of Sigma Chi sixty years ago and Kappa Sigma fifty years ago. The program seems to be particularly appropriately timed since it comes one week after the sixtieth anniversary celebration of the Sigs and one week before the Kappa Sigs' golden anniversary. Characters in the feature will adopt the expressions of the 'seventies and 'eighties and will attempt to present material found in dusty fraternity files about the campus in the way that the original factors first carried out the action.
Among the highlights of the Greek letter history here are the so-called "Purdue Case" which was fought years ago in local courts and was finally decided by the state Supreme Court in 1884, in favor of Sigma Chi, and the report that the battle between fraternities and the University administration at one time caused a Purdue president to resign his post.
Alumni groups of Sigma Chi and Kappa Sigma have been notified of this radio program by mail. Both Miss Walters and the WBAA officials are anxious to get the reactions of those who hear this program. If sufficient interest is shown in the subject, further delvings into local fraternity history will be presented by the station on later programs.
WBAA Allots Full Period to Dr. Phillips' Lectures
Students and others who have been annoyed in the past by the abrupt breading off of Dr. Phillip's American Institutions lectures on Monday and Wednesday mornings over WBAA, will be glad to learn that this will no longer be necessary. The February program did not permit this feature to continue till the end of the lecture at 11:50, but the March program was rearranged so that it is not possible to continue broadcasting the lectures until Dr. Phillips has finished.
The changes necessary to accomplish this improvement, and the addition of another musical feature from 4 to 4:15 on Tuesday were the only changes in the March program.