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Jack Fox: All right. I think we're working now. This is Jack Fox, and it is a cold January 23rd-

Charlie Strickland: Very cold.

JF: Very cold in Louisville, Kentucky, but we're sitting in a warm spot and talking to Charlie Strickland who has some warm memories of WHAS. Charlie, how are you doing today?

CS: I'm doing very well. Thank you.

JF: It's been a little while since I've seen you and you're looking good too.

CS: It is.

JF: You're doing well. You haven't changed very much at all.

CS: Well, I could probably use a change for the better, but we'll take what we have.

JF: Charlie, you were the chief engineer at WHAS-Radio for how many years? How many years were you were you there?

CS: Well, I was with WHAS for almost 28 years and probably two thirds of that, I was chief engineer.

JF: That encompasses what time-frame? When did you come there?

CS: I started in 1972 as a operations technician in the radio master control. This was back during the days when union restrictions meant that if the newsroom wanted to record an interview on the phone, there was a reel-to-reel tape 1:00recorder back in engineering, and they could start that remotely, but then they had to have an engineer take the tape off the real to real machine, and then they could edit it from that point.

JF: But you had to initiate it from there?

CS: Right.

JF: did you also do controls for the people who were on the air? Did you play their records?

CS: Yes.

JF: And things like that and all their news cast [crosstalk].

CS: Yes. At that time with a few exceptions, just about everything that went on the air had to be controlled by an engineer.

JF: Wow. That was 1972 when you went there. Now, let's back up and talk about you just a little bit though. Where are you from? Where's home for you?

CS: I've always been in Louisville.

JF: Really? Went to school where?

CS: I went to school at Manual and University of Louisville. My father, right after World War II started a little radio shop. He wasn't really a very 2:00technical person, but at that time, radios were pretty simple and-

JF: Radio like a repair shop or?

CS: Right. He could replace tubes, and filter capacitors, and a few of these things. So he was actually able to make a go of it.

JF: Where was that located here in Louisville?

CS: This was in an area that's right around Louisville, excuse me. The house where we used to live at that point is now, I think it's Cardinal Shopping Center. It used to be Avery, I think it's Cardinal Way.

JF: How about that, wow.

CS: We then moved to another location. This was operating off his house, and I have some pictures of me as just a two year old surrounded by pieces of radios.

JF: So it got into your blood earlier [crosstalk]?

CS: It did.

JF: Is that right? Did that fascinate you or you're just doing because what your dad did or? What do you remember about that period?

CS: I remember taking apart a lot of things I could not put back together, but it was fun. And I just stayed with it. I got my second class commercial 3:00broadcast. Well, it wasn't just a broadcast license, but FCC license, second class when I was 13 and-

JF: How did you do it? You took a test for that?

CS: I did.

JF: Did training for that? Was it self taught or?

CS: Well, I spent a lot of time in the library.

JF: 13 though, wow.

CS: Got my first class when I was 14.

JF: That was pretty unusual. Was it?

CS: It is. Yeah.

JF: Yeah. What was the difference between the second class and the first class?

CS: It's just different levels of knowledge you have to have.

JF: Enable you to do different things or?

CS: Yes. Essentially the second-class license was good for two-way radio, that sort of thing. And you had to have the first-class to do broadcast.


JF: And you could do that at 14?

CS: I could well, the FCC said I could.

JF: Was that your ambition at that age? What were your ambitions?

CS: I have always loved radio.

JF: Really? What did you like about it? Let me ask you this, did you like to sit and listen to the programs that stimulate your imagination, or you were intrigued by what went on inside of the radio? And you knew they weren't little men in there doing these things, but were you more intrigued by the tubes and all that or?

CS: Well, both actually. I got my ham radio license at about that same time and enjoyed putting things together and fixing them. And I also enjoyed the programming aspects of it.

JF: Opened up the world really?

CS: It did, yeah.

JF: Do you remember some of the places you talk with as a young man on the ham radio across the world or?

CS: Not that far, but...

JF: Well ham, I'm thinking short wave. Ham was-


CS: Yeah. Right. Yes it does.

JF: I was thinking short wave. Yeah.

CS: Well, it's essentially the same thing. I had a lot of contacts around the US. Well, a couple of in Canada, I don't think ever would be on that.

JF: Yeah. Very good. So where did you go from there? Did you go to university of global, go to college, or did you go to a tech school or how did you train yourself?

CS: Well, while I was at Manual I had an algebra teacher who had some contacts at the public library, which at that time operated two non-commercial stations, WFPK, WFPL. And they were looking for a part-time after school control room operator. And I was able to get that job. And that was my first for real broadcast job.

JF: How old were you then?

CS: 17, I believe.

JF: Wow.

CS: And I was there for a number years. Left there, excuse me.


JF: Maintaining their equipment, installing, maintaining.

CS: This was mostly operations, but some maintenance. I left there to become chief engineer of WSTM, when it first went on the air in St. Matthews 103.1, which has gone through several call letter changes and-

JF: This would've been in the early to mid `60s.

CS: Yes, let's see, that would've been 1966, that it went on the air and I pushed the button to put it on air.

JF: You do the installation, bend the wires and hooking everything and all that, that had to be intriguing, and-

CS: It was.

JF: ... powerful, I guess, just to be able to push that button to know it went on the air and broadcast.

CS: Yeah. I guess for most people in broadcast engineering, being able to build something and later look at it and say, "I did that." That's-

JF: And listen to it anywhere. Yeah.

CS: That's a good feeling.

JF: Yeah. So you were there at STO for how long?



JF: WSTM I mean.

CS: From 66 well, basically until 72, when I started WHAS.

JF: What was your contact with WHAS? How did that happen?

CS: I guess that shows some of the importance of networking. I had a friend who was working in the newsroom at WHAS, and he called me one day and said there was an opening in engineering. It hadn't been too long before that, that I had put in an application at WHAS, and apparently it got stuck in a file cabinet somewhere. It was never looked at again, but because of my friend working there, I called Bill Hunter, who was chief engineer at the time and arranged an interview.

JF: That was a pretty big step-

CS: It was.

JF: ...from WSTM to a 50,000 Watt radio station. STM was an FM station so FM was 8:00just beginning then regain. So to go to a 50,000 Watt station that goes across the country is a big step.

CS: Yeah. So one of the premier prestigious stations of the whole country, everybody knew WHAS.

JF: Now, at that time, had they moved into the new facilities on the Chestnut Street that was still over in the Courier-Journal.... So they were brand new over there, they were pretty new weren't they? Yeah. So what was it like to walk into that building and what were your duties during that time?

CS: Well, it was a bit intimidating, but everybody there was wonderful to work with and helpful. And this was, as I said earlier, as a master control operator, excuse me, involved with a lot of taping and editing one of the things that the engineers did then was in commercial production at that time, you recorded everything on reel-to-reel tape, and if you had to make an edit, you didn't do 9:00it on a computer screen, you did it with a razor blade and splicing tape.

JF: And the little bar that you put ... Did you get pretty good at that? I believe I did. Yeah. So that was part of your duties then. Bill Hunter was the chief engineer, you said at that time?

CS: Yes he was.

JF: Do you remember some of the other names you worked with? Now we're at that time, where a lot of people going back and forth between radio and television doing the-

CS: It was all one operation at that time. The engineers almost without exception worked either radio or TV, there wasn't a lot of-

JF: There wasn't [crosstalk].

CS: ... back and forth there.

JF: Can you mention some of the people you worked with?

CS: Well, one of the exceptions to that rule was the transmitters. Gene Hornbeck was the transmitter supervisor, and he was responsible for both the AM, FM TV operations.

JF: Where was the transmitter? Where was the transmitter at the end of tower at that time for WHAS-Radio?

CS: Well, it's been on flat rock road at Eastwood since 1937.


JF: Are you fine? No problem at all. It's nothing. 1937, so did you do any of that? Did you go at this transmitter? Or that was basically Gene that did all that? Or did you go somewhere?

CS: I didn't get involved with the transmitter until quite a bit later.

JF: That I know. You were there when the tower went down. I know we'll talk-

CS: I was.

JF: ... about that a little bit later. So who are some of the other people you worked with on the radio side?

CS: Oh, let's see, we had a man named Charlie Newman who was a superb wiring man. He could build things that looked like they came out of the best factory. We would have cable runs where every single cable is just parallel with all the others-

JF: Wow.

CS: ... and just seems superb work. Larry Baysinger took care of a lot of the studio equipment and also did a lot of work going the TV stuff at that time. 11:00This was before portable videotape. He worked on a lot of the film cameras.

JF: Sure. I know. I know about that. Huh. Did you do any of the television? Did you own any television things?

CS: No. Very little of that.

JF: Basically radio?

CS: Yes.

JF: Any other bay, any other people you remember?

CS: Let's see. Harold Yarman was my immediate supervisor when I started there.

JF: I remember Harold. Yes.

CS: He was a wonderful man to work with.

JF: Yeah. Was Butch tuned or was he television base?

CS: No Butch was in radio at the time. He ran the controls for the noon news guests in particular. Sent me one of his specialties.

JF: I remember it was Norm Brown. Was it Norman? Was it...


CS: Norman Brown.

JF: Brown was in it. I remember him when I came at 73, a lot of those guys were still there and still doing some of that, that changed shortly after that, I think. Now let's talk about some of the changes ever caused when you first started, engineers were doing all of the production for newscast. When did that change?

CS: Well, that changed gradually. It seems like every time a union contract came up for renewal, basically there was an exchange of dollars for jurisdiction. So over time, the news people were able to do more and more of their recording and editing and whatever they needed to do without involvement of an engineer.

JF: Was that because of equipment changes or, I mean, was that aided by equipment changes, or was that just a contract negotiation?

CS: It was a combination. Portable recorders kept getting smaller and simpler. 13:00But I think the big driving force was the jurisdiction for dollars.

JF: Sure. Now let's talk about equipment just a minute. We talked about a tremendous change when you first went there, where they were doing audio tape, they were not doing the vital records, they passed that by that time.

CS: That's correct.

JF: I mean, yeah, they passed that. Okay. So with the reel-to-reel tape, what was the next progression after that reel-to-reel went to what?

CS: News people were doing more and more cassettes. It seems strange to think of obsolete technology as being new, but at that time it actually was.

JF: It was. Yeah. And that make them more portable, stick that little thing and go in. And on the air, guys were still playing records, I guess, guys and ladies were still playing [crosstalk].

CS: Well at that time, most of the records were being copied over onto tape cartridges. Those were actually played on the air.

JF: Do you remember when that started? I was trying to remember that. That had to be in the at least, mid-


CS: That would have been-

JF: ... `70s anyway.

CS: Well actually, tape cartridges became very big in the early `60s.

JF: Really?

CS: Yeah.

JF: I remember they were always there, but I didn't remember the time frame. What about some other personnel? Who were the station managers that you worked with?

CS: When I started, Hugh Barr was the station manager.

JF: It was interesting because Hugh was there, and we've talked with some other people about how he was carving out WHAS-Radio into an entity of its own, as opposed to being always tied to television or something. Were you part of that? I mean, helping with equipment and making studio choices and designs and things like that?

CS: That came a little bit later. In 1975, I moved from being an operations tech into engineering office. I became a second-string assistant chief engineer.

JF: Was Bill Hunter still there? Who was-

CS: Bill Hunter was there.


JF: Bill Hunter. Yeah.

CS: Bill Hunter developed cancer, and not too long after I moved into the engineering office and his primary assistant was Bill Bateson, and Bill Bateson and I took over the day-to-day operations.

JF: Do you do more television? Do you do radio? But Bill radio.

CS: Well, it was a combination thing. We did whatever needed to be done.

JF: Are you at FM also?

CS: Right.

JF: Now at that time, what was FM doing? Was FM was still doing the classical music at that time?

CS: When I started, WHAS FM was basically the Bingham's big stereo system.

JF: They played classic music.

CS: They played classical music from a automation system that was unlike 16:00anything that you would find today.

JF: Yeah. Okay. We're talking about the automation system on FM. Where was it? Where was it located in the building?

CS: There was a control room for one of the studios that the automation system was located in. And it was unlike anything you can imagine today. The music was on multiple reel-to-reel machines.

JF: Big ones. Big piece.

CS: Yeah. The commercials were also on reel-to-reel and the tape that was loaded on those had the oxide removed at intervals of one minute, creating little windows. And you would program with rotary switches, what commercials were going to come up and this machine would run through and a photocell would look for 17:00these windows in the tape, and it would run back and forth, and back and forth until it found the one it was looking for and queue up. And it-

JF: So a commercial or a piece of music or an aspect or whatever?

CS: It actually worked. But it was a-

JF: How did that come about? Is that something you all devised?

CS: No.

JF: Or did you buy that or?

CS: This was built by a company called Schaefer? I don't think any of the companies that were making automation equipment at that time have survived. At one point, somebody told me that we were dropping the classical music format and going all news, changing-

JF: At some point somebody told you that.

CS: Changing the call letters to WNNS. Let's see, I guess this was 1974.

JF: Sounds about right.

CS: Changing the call letters to WNNS and it would be, Louisville's only all news station.

JF: This was something that Bingham's would like. If they can't do the classical, they like the news.

CS: Right. And when I heard that, I said, "One year from today, we will be 18:00playing country music."

JF: Really? Now, why did you say that?

CS: Well, because the classical music station had been losing buckets of money, and I was confident the all news format, which is a very expensive format, was going to lose tubs of money. And it just made sense to me that-

JF: Country was a hot thing, right?

CS: ... country was on its way up. And that just made economic sense. And so sure enough along came WAMZ and it's been there ever since.

JF: It sure has going strong. How many studios were you responsible for then? You had an AM studio, an FM studio, a production studio.

CS: Yes. We had a studio that was reserved for talk programming primarily Milton Metz Show. So there were about a half dozen studios, various types.


JF: You probably designed and installed many of those. I would say, certainly over the years I know.

CS: Right. We changed, I think every one of them and I was involved in all those changes. In one of the production studios, we replaced the original General Electric mixing console with a multi-track console. We completely rebuilt the WHAS on-air studio for the WAMZ studio. Of course we were starting from scratch, that started off in the small room where the automation equipment had been, and then eventually moved into a very sizeable studio that had been used among other things for talk programming.

JF: That was a big studio. At one time, was that ever used for live bands or something? Had they done that in that dinner? They were not doing that probably when they came to that, were they.

CS: There was very little of that done in the Chestnut building, but it did have that capability.

JF: Yeah. You never worked over in the Courier-Journal building that...


CS: No.

JF: You had to go over there for all your employee stuff and everything.

CS: That's right.

JF: Let's backtrack just for a quick second to talk something about your association with the Bingham's. You have much association with the Bingham family, you worked for the cooperation.

CS: The biggest connection I had with them was right before the stations were sold. The Bingham family got interested in cell phones. This was back when cell phones were brand new.

JF: Big things. Yeah.

CS: And they saw that as something that could turn into something really big. And we're applying for licenses, for cellular operations in Lexington, Kentucky, Boca Raton Florida, I'm sorry, West Palm beach, Florida, and Austin, Texas. And 21:00even though I had absolutely no experience in this sort of thing, I wound up going out with a real estate specialist and getting lease options for tower sites. So I was traveling around the country doing that for-

JF: For the cell phone operation. Wow.

CS: For about a year or so.

JF: Whatever happened to that then?

CS: Well, when things really started cranking up, I don't know if they decided they were in over their head, or this was just with the upcoming sales, well the properties, they decided to get out of it and sold off everything they had done up to that point, including the lease options.

JF: Were you involved with the family? Mr. Bingham or Barry Jr. or any of the daughters or anything?


CS: Well, my only real association with Barry Jr. was that he had this really nice stereo receiver that he had bought, which was a pioneer brand. And it had this little quirk that anytime, if you turned it off and then for some reason or another decided to turn it back on immediately, it had this very complicated power supply, and it would blow a bunch of transistors in the power supply. And I repaired that for him a couple of times.

CS: And Eleanor Bingham at one point, I'm not sure I can tell you what year it was, was trying to put together a Kentucky news network. And this was before the days of satellite distribution and I spent some time working with her trying to put that together, but nothing really came of it because of the problems of trying to get programming to all the potential affiliates.


JF: Oh yeah. I actually vaguely remember, I think around the time that they were maybe selling the properties, were they doing a research project or something? Putting together an internet search or something? Were you involved with that at all?

CS: No, I was not.

JF: I was thinking of it like a research current items that they could provide for people. And so I'm not sure if you were involved with that or not, didn't know. So you were there in putting all these wonderful things together, and then some changes came, changes in ownership. What was that like? You were there when the Bingham's decided to sell, you went through that period. That was an uncertain period, wasn't it?

CS: Yeah. It definitely was.

JF: Let's see, this would've been about 1986, 87, somewhere around there.

CS: Right. There were a lot of rumors going around of who might potentially buy 24:00the radio properties. The-

JF: But they were definitely being split up and [inaudible].

CS: The FCC requirements at that time would let one owner by both the AM and FM, but the newspaper and TV properties would have to go to separate owners. And the most likely buyer for the radio properties appear to be Clear Channel Communications. And a lot of people were really nervous about that because they had heard stories that Clear Channel was not a very desirable employer, I guess, best way to put it.

JF: That's interesting because at that time, now they're huge today and have all of these, but at that time, they had a station in San Antonio I believe, and maybe one or two others.

CS: Yeah, just a very small number of stations.

JF: They were on out of San Antonio, Texas.

CS: Right.

JF: Did you have any feelings along that line? Anything you remember about?


CS: Well, the biggest thing I remember is that once the Clear Channel people, particularly Lowry Mays the CEO, once he learned that people were so concerned about that, he did his best to reassure everybody that they had nothing to worry about that I think as it turns out, there was one individual in the Clear Channel management that had pretty much created a bad image for the company and this person was reassigned or pretty much taken out of the picture. And as it turned out, Clear Channel was a really good company to work for.

JF: What do you remember about Lowry Mays? He was an interesting guy, wasn't he?


CS: He was, he didn't have a whole lot of background in radio, but I think he had pretty well immersed himself in it. He was, I think essentially an investment banker, but he knew how to run a company, And that is important. Somebody told me once upon a time that if you're looking for an employer, find one that knows how to make money, because if they don't, you'll never make more money.

JF: And he knew how to do that obviously.

CS: He did.

JF: I just remember his cowboy boots. I remember tall, lanky, Texan cowboy boots, but a very friendly guy. Years later I was in San Antonio, Texas, I had met him maybe once or twice, and of course they had all these people and I walked in, "I just was in town, I thought I'd stop in." And he's like, "Jack, how are you?" How he knew that I don't know, but he obviously knew who I was and I was very impressed with it.

CS: Yeah. Good.

JF: So let's talk about equipment for news people and for everybody really. We 27:00talked about some equipment changes, what impressed you most through the years. Did things get easier for you or more difficult because of equipment or make any difference?

CS: Well, one of the things that happened toward the end of the `70s and the early part of the `80s was the advent of AM stereo. And this was an interesting technology that apparently the consumers had very little interest in.

JF: Did it surprise you or were you...

CS: Well, not really, because there's not a whole lot of point in having stereo capability unless you're playing music. And at that time, the transition had already begun where AM radio is mostly talk. One of the good things that came 28:00out of that for us though, was that it required buying a whole lot of new equipment, and we had something that was badly in need of replacement. And so we got some shiny new toys to go along with it.

JF: How was that over the years? Was it ever a problem to get equipment at WHAS or was it different between the Binghams and Clear Channel? I mean, if you needed something to say, "Go get it." or how was that? Obviously you've changed studios a lot over the years that I was there.

CS: Well, the change to AM stereo came before Clear Channel. And one of the key factors in that is, we had a person who was acting as chief engineer, who was not really a technical person, Steve Steinberg, who had been the news director and vacancy opened up for chief engineer of the combined operations. And I say 29:00he wasn't a technical person. He was not a soldering iron and pliers technical person, but he knew technology. His biggest strength though, was that somehow or another, he was able to shake the money tree and get the funding-

JF: He worked a lot with equipment. Didn't they?

CS: There were a lot of changes happening, both with radio and TV. With radio it was the change to AM stereo, with TV, it was the early days of electronic news gathering. The trucks with their microwave antennas and the small cameras instead of the huge. Well, the biggest change was away from film and electronic cameras. And that was a very expensive time, but Steve was able to convince the Bingham's and the board and whoever necessary that this was something we had to 30:00do and they spent the money, and I think that was good for everybody.

JF: Well, one other thing comes to my mind, you were there. Of course, the speculation about the sale of the properties from the Bingham's to somebody. Do you remember what went through your mind when you, you knew it was coming, but the day you heard the announcement and everything, do you remember that or?

CS: Well, the history of the industry as a whole has been, that when a station is sold, there tends to be a mass housecleaning of people and new people brought in and I'm sure everyone was very nervous about whether their jobs were going to continue. Offhand I can't think of anyone who lost their job as a result of the sale though.

JF: Was Bob Scherer station manager then? Or who was station manager during that 31:00time? Or did he come right after Clear Channel? I'm trying to remember. Heber was there, and then was Bill Campbell there for a while?

CS: We had Bill Campbell and Sandy Gamblin-

JF: Sandy Gamblin.

CS: ... rapid succession, and then Bob Scheer took over. There were some problems that developed during the Bill Campbell and Sandy Gambling years.

JF: One being the loss of the contract with the UK basketball and football, and I'm sure others too, I think so. During that time, I remember very distinctly. It was in March or April in 1985, I was on the air, they hadn't hired Terry Meiners yet, and I was doing afternoons, so we'd run a four o'clock newscast. And Ken Schulz was in the middle of a weather forecast and we went off the air. There were big storms around, and a lady called our listened line said, "Did you 32:00know your transmitter is on the ground?" And I said, "Let me check on that." I think you might have been the first person I called. Talk about that a little bit. That day, and what that was like? It had to be a shock.

CS: We tried to go to the standby transmitter, that didn't work. So we sent Charlie Newman out to the transmitter site at Eastwood. He called me back and said, "The tower is on the ground." And this is a 650 foot tower.

JF: Flat on the ground.

CS: 10 foot for this, and it's still not clear whether it was hit by a tornado or what had happened, but it pretty much disintegrated. There were some buzzards that lived on the tower and they went down with the ship.


JF: Now this was a tower that reached out at night to at least 38 states all across the country.

CS: We had reception reports from all over the world. Well there are people in Scandinavia, primarily Finland and Sweden, who set up these huge antennas and just listen for distance stations. And we have a lot of reception reports from them.

JF: What went through your mind when Charlie called back and said, "Yes, it's on the ground." What went through your mind?

CS: That's probably the worst thing that can happen to a broadcast station. Even if you lose the tower it's, I'm sorry. If you lose a transmitter, a lot of stations have backup transmitters or it's a challenge with a 50,000 Watt transmitter, but it's possible one way or another to lay hands on another one, but trying to put another tower up is a very time consuming challenge. So that night, we had a short tower out there with a security camera on it, and we ran a long wiring antenna to that and-


JF: A long wire antenna meaning what?

CS: Oh, probably-

JF: Piece of wire?

CS: Yeah. So a piece of wire. And that got us, I guess you could say on the air, but I'm not sure how far we could be heard on that. Not very far, I'm sure. And then the next couple of days we erected, I think it was a 200 foot temporary tower and got back on the air to where we could at least be heard reasonably well around town. I guess it was Jefferson County police at a training center right next to the transmitter property where they do their high speed driving practice. There was a shooting range and we were able to make arrangements with 35:00them to put up a significant size tower.

CS: I think it was about a 400-foot tower if I'm remembering right. And we ran cable across our property, and theirs to get to it. And I got us back on the hour and back on the air while the real replacement tower was built, which took several months.

JF: Yeah. Wow. You had to supervise all that and get it [crosstalk].

CS: Chief engineer at the time for the combined operation was Bill Bratton. And that was primarily his responsibility, but I made a lot of trips out there-

JF: I'm sure you did.

CS: ... keeping an eye on things.

JF: Wow. Wow. That was a momentous time. Well, let's see. Well, several years after that, when did the move began, radio was separated from television at this time and ownership, they were still in the same building on Chestnut Street, but decided to move out. How did that happen?

CS: Well, at the time, the Clear Channel bought the stations, the FCC would only 36:00allow you to have one market, one AM and one FM, but then the rules started changing and they were allowing ownership of more and more stations.

JF: Oh, wow. That's right.

CS: And Clear Channel bought, well, eventually the count came to, I believe, eight stations.

JF: Here in this market.

CS: In the loyal market. Yes.

JF: AM and FM.

CS: Right. And we had operations in the WHAS TV building. There were three stations in the Marmaduke Building right next to the Seal Back Hotel on 4th Street. And then we had another station in DuPont Circle near Breckenridge Lane. And the Watterson.

JF: That increase your responsibilities that increase your staff, are you're 37:00still keeping the same number of people or?

CS: Engineering staff was still the same.

JF: Yeah. That's what I mean. Really?

CS: Yes.

JF: Do you remember who was on the staff? I was trying to remember some of the names and Larry Baysinger of course was there.

CS: Larry Baysinger, Wayne Phillips. Eventually Harry Sondheim.

JF: Oh yeah. Was Mark Steven Williams around then or was he-

CS: He came a little bit later.

JF: He was an announcer who also had some-

CS: Mark was the program director and practically the whole staff for WKJK.

JF: Was that one of the stations they bought or?

CS: Yes. That was 98.9, I believe. And he not only did the programming aspects of it, he did a lot of the technical work. He also was ham radio operator and his commercial FCC license. And there were some personnel consolidations and we were trying to figure out what they could do with Mark because he looked like he was going to be out of a job. And I said, "I'll take him."


JF: And he could work, [crosstalk].

CS: And he turned out to be... Yes. I think the fact that he had all these different hats that he had worn, a lot of broad experience made him a very valuable person. So I was very happy to see him join our engineering staff.

JF: You went on the decision to move to the building where they are now on, I guess it's radio driver, Bishop Lane. That was this huge old GE warehouse basically, where you went on the decision to acquire that building.

CS: I was.

JF: And you were okay with that. Did that-

CS: That was a very controversial time [inaudible].

JF: In what way?

CS: A lot of the staff, particularly the WHAS-Radio staff thought that from what we did, we needed to be downtown.


JF: Sales probably felt that. Some probably sales tempt too, or maybe on the [crosstalk].

CS: I think it's mostly with the biggest opposition to moving out of downtown, I think came from news.

JF: Oh sure.

CS: Because that's of course where the government center is. It's one of the hub of all the big things that happen. And there was the heritage of us being downtown for the whole existence of WHAS.

JF: And we need for people to stop in for interviews and things like that.

CS: So there's this one group that said we need to be downtown. There was another group that said, "Give me a parking place, and I don't care where we are."

JF: With these people [crosstalk]. Parking was a problem downtown.

CS: We looked at a lot of buildings and a lot of places and no one was able to come up with anything in the downtown area that really made sense for us.

JF: Can you talk about other places you looked at?

CS: There was a building near Slugger Field, there was one, let's see, I'm trying to think exactly where it was. One just west of downtown, I think going 40:00main street, there is a place that goes back to civil war days right at the end of Chestnut Street, where it runs into, I guess it's Baxter. There were at least a half dozen places that we checked into.

JF: Were you pleased with the final decision? Were you pleased with that?

CS: For the most part, yeah.

JF: Because that was a big blank canvas out there. A lot of space. What year was this, by the way? What year did this start to happen?

CS: Oh, let's see. Must have been around 1998.

JF: Okay. So you have this huge building. Didn't use all of the building by any means? There was a huge building, did they?

CS: We used about half of it. The back part of it was used by a video production 41:00company they did lighting, and sound, and staging of a [crosstalk].

JF: A different company not owned by Clear Channel Communication.

CS: So they retained their leased space and we pretty much tore out probably half of the existing space and remodeled it into studios and kept a lot of the office space that was already in place.

JF: From a technical standpoint, you looked at this, was there something that made you salivate and say, "Well, this is great. We're going to start from scratch." And you're thinking, "Oh my goodness, what are we getting into?" Or both.

CS: There was the thrill of being able to do a big project like this offset by the thought that this is going to be an awful lot of work.

JF: Because it's not just one station or two stations, it's eight stations now, plus, do you have the Kentucky news network at that time. And were you doing metro traffic at that time?


CS: That was later.

JF: That was later.

CS: And of course the challenge is, you have to keep all these stations on the air while you're doing the move.

JF: While you're doing that. Yeah. New equipment, new everything.

CS: We've got some new equipment, but for the most part, we were moving existing equipment.

JF: That was tricky.

CS: It was. Basically-

JF: How did you do that?

CS: Well basically, you had to take the, let's say you get a new equipment for one studio and that frees up some equipment that you can then use to put into a studio to move the next station into.

JF: Yeah. In different buildings, not going down the hall. This is different buildings. Before it was down the hall or something, but now you're in different buildings. A lot of hours then, put in hours and still basically the same staff. Wow.

CS: And this happened when the automation technology was changing too.

JF: So you were-

CS: So there were some things that we thought made sense that we not much more than got them installed and along came a change to-


JF: Like what? Can you give me an example?

CS: Well, out of all these stations, practically all these stations at that point, at the time of the move were running with, live on air people. And about that time was the transition to automation and to voice tracking.

JF: We're using computers before that point, we're doing a lot of computers. Not for on air use.

CS: No that's what I thought. Yeah.

JF: Did that go in, into the new place, the computers were on air use. Would that go in at the new place?

CS: I actually haven't, right after the move, we pretty much got settled in with the old stuff and then started changing over to the [crosstalk].

JF: Have a computer in the studio for the on air person and news people and everything was there. I mean, you could pull up, whether you'd have to go back and check a wire and the music, everything was on air.

CS: Right. And we had these multiple studios with people in them at the start. 44:00And then you can go in there now since practically everyone is voice tracking. So you can do a whole day's show and an hour or so [crosstalk].

JF: How does that work?

CS: Essentially you record your voice that you're going to put in, let's say between two songs.

JF: And you know you have a certain time frame for that.

CS: The equipment lets you listen to the tail end of the outgoing song and the start of the new ones, it's like you're doing it on the air, except you're just doing it into the computer equipment. And if it doesn't time out the way you want, you can just slide things around. It could come out just the way you want.

JF: Wow. Great change. Especially from that little bar, and the tape, and the razor blade.

CS: I was. Thanks of course. It's impacted the whole industry is that you can really do this from anywhere. You can have an announcer in California doing the 45:00voice strikes for a show in Louisville or in New York or anywhere.

JF: And not only that, evidently you can live host. I think sometimes when some of the hosts are gone talk show, I'll hear somebody, but they're actually in St. Louis or someplace, but they're doing it. And they've got access to us. Like they're sitting in Louisville with all the access because of the computer, the weather forecast, the tracking information, everything. It's amazing. You enjoy that? You like that change or that's just the way it is?

CS: It is what it is. I guess if you look at it from a business standpoint, it doesn't really make sense to have somebody who announces a record and then just sits there for three, excuse me for three to 10 minutes and then talks a little bit more, just let them do all their talking at once.

JF: Although that leads to something, I can remember. I'm sure it was this way for a long time, but while I was there and up until, just not too long ago, WHAS especially was always where the action was, where there was a final four, Wayne 46:00Perkey was broadcasting there, there was something going on. And it did a lot of that. So what challenge was that for you? Because you did a lot of that then.

CS: That's something I really enjoyed.

JF: Really?

CS: WHAS-Radio at that time was doing remotes that nobody else in town would even think about.

JF: In town and out of town. Yeah. Everywhere. We've broadcast from Ireland several years. We did that.

CS: We did that. Milton Metz did his show from Morocco one time.

JF: Did you go with him?

CS: No. I was trying to think how we actually did that when he didn't actually have an engineer with him. I think Doug McKelvin went with him and took care of the engineering. We did a lot of remotes around ball games. I know one year, I don't remember if it was Louisville or Kentucky, but one of them, and we follow 47:00both depending on who was doing well at the time. But I went with Terry Meiners to Salt Lake City for a tournament. And Terry did part of his show skiing down mountain side.

JF: Did you have to go with him on that?

CS: I was in the hotel. We had equivalent that tied into the phone lines to get programming [crosstalk].

JF: But you didn't go down the hill.

CS: Didn't go down the hill, but he was wearing a Marti portable transmitter and had a receiver. So he could hear a transmission from the hotel of what was going on in the studio. So he could do everything that he would do-

JF: Wow.

CS: ... in the studios while he was skiing down the mountain side.

JF: That's amazing. Now that changed a lot too though, in the years from the remote type equipment with the Marti's, and we have to go out and put a big antenna up to talk about the transition from that to where it is today. I guess 48:00doing things on cell phones and things now.

CS: Yeah. Well, just looking at ballgames when I started, if you were doing an out-of-town ballgame-

JF: Football or basketball?

CS: ... you had to contact AT&T and order in a program line, and you had to tell them exactly where it was going to be, exact start time and exact end time.

JF: And you paid for that for what? For the hour? By the mile? How did you pay for [crosstalk]?

CS: Combination of mileage and time that gradually gave way to some equipment made by comrades that would let you use a regular dial up phone. The-

JF: So you dial a phone but you'll still hook it to the phone line?

CS: Right. The first version of that used one phone line and sounded better than just a plain old phone line, but not a whole lot better. And then Comrex came out with some more equipment that actually used two phone lines for programming 49:00from the remote, back to the studios, and then a third line, so that you could hear the studio and that worked very nicely, but it's always a problem trying to find three phone lines that you could lay hands on. And I hate to order three phone lines-

JF: Sure, yeah.

CS: ... for short-term remote, but we were able to make that work a lot of places. For instance, we did Wayne Perkey show, we were traveling with Jerry Abramson, to a couple of Louisville sister cities, and did remotes from Montpellier, France and Meinz, Germany. And we did Wayne's Show from the Olympics in Barcelona.

JF: Wow.

CS: And we did a show also from La Plata Argentina, and I got to go on those trips. Which was-

JF: Wow, very nice.

CS: ... very nice. Then technology started shifting to ISVN lines, and Comrex 50:00built a product that would send digital audio over a regular phone line both directions. And those are still widely used. Any place you can get access to a dial tone in the world, basically you can do remote.

JF: Add a line or a wireless? Can you do that with a wireless? That's what you're saying, do it with your cell phone or?

CS: With that product, you have to have a phone line. There is a move now to being able to do programming through a cell phone or through the internet. Those still have some technical hurdles that haven't been completely conquered yet, but eventually we'll be, I'm sure.


JF: That reminds me, speaking of remotes, how many, Derby Day broadcast did you do? And Derby weeks I should say. It was a fun time, but that had to be it wasn't just Derby Day, Derby week, all the radio stations were involved in all of the activities, the balloon races, the steamboat races. How did that work?

CS: Well, the first Derby I worked, I was in the presentation stand from the 1973 Derby.

JF: Secretariat. Wow.

CS: And at that point, there were no portable wireless transmitters. Everything was wired to wherever you had a microphone. And we had several microphones out in the infield area and I controlled the mix for that, and then send it up to the press box for the final mix.

JF: Where did you run your lines? How did you know where the lines were out there and then you [inaudible]?

CS: Most of those were phone lines.

JF: So you'd have to run them over the track or anything.


CS: No those were dedicated lines. And then gradually, we got the portable capabilities and at the peak we had people all over the track giving reports.

JF: How many Marti's you'd have out there? Because we had a trade Marti's too, from some you have to use this and give it to somebody else.

CS: Yeah. I think typically we would have five Marti portables scattered around the track.

JF: Wow. By conflicting signals, was that a problem? Other people broadcasting [crosstalk].

CS: That was always a problem because the networks would bring in all their wireless equipment and people would bring in things at the last minute other news services. And it took a lot of filtering and antenna placement.

JF: So at the end of the day you enjoyed it, but you're glad to say, "I'm glad this day is over, or this week's over, these two weeks now."

CS: As time went on, we gradually picked up more and more events. As you were saying, we [crosstalk].

JF: Oh, the luncheons, you did a sports broadcast in the evening from dinners and things, yeah.

CS: We would always have someone, usually Wayne Perkey and the air balloon 53:00during the balloon race and at least two other people in balloons and then people on the ground. And we would have people on both of the boats during the boat race. We'd have someone run for the rose. I would put together a technical plan for Derby time. And then of course, this eventually expanded into Thunder Over Louisville too. A huge undertaking. The technical plan ran 50 pages or so. And when we got to that point, we would have a big staff meeting to do our planning. And I would start things off from an engineering standpoint, by saying, "All this equipment is mine. Nobody touches it without my permission."

JF: What did your plan consist of? You mean like, who got what equipment you're using, and what days it would be in that [crosstalk]. And that's a 50-page.

CS: Yeah. At a rundown of all the equipment where it was going to be who was 54:00using it when they had to be-

JF: Wow.

CS: ... where they needed to be.

JF: How long did it take you to put something like that together?

CS: Well, the first one was a real challenge, after that, I could just pretty much carry it over from one year to the next, but even then, when I had the last year's planned to work from, it was at least a week's worth of hard work to get it all updated.

JF: Sure.

CS: Figure it out.

JF: Yeah. They knew they have glitches along the way I'm sure with equipment, I'm sure that never happened, but Charlie, I can't go there.

CS: That's one of the things that I'm disappointed in the way things are going now that if we had a commercial remote, for instance, in the past, we'd set up 55:00the Marti equipment and have a studio quality feed from wherever we are. And there's big tendency now that that's too much trouble. We just take the cell phone out and call it in. And that works, but it sounds like you're doing it on a cell phone,

JF: Yeah. Different atmosphere, different philosophy, no question at all. Yeah. Were you involved technically with the Crusade for Children? Did that for a bunch of years I'm sure.

CS: The first couple of crusades I worked, I think it was the first two. We were still at memorial auditorium.

JF: Oh, yeah. Down.

CS: And for the third one, we moved to the WHAS TV building. And at that time, this was the transition between me being a union operations tech and moving into management. And I ran audio for a part of the crusade that year. And we at that 56:00time, well now, and starting at that time, we had the fire departments come into the basement and had refreshments for them, the place that they could hang out until time for them to go on the air, have this huge freight elevator that they would right up into the studio level. And there was [crosstalk].

JF: Did you operate that? Did you operate the [inaudible].

CS: Well nearby, there was a spiral stairway, and I saw people going up and down that spiral stairway because they didn't know how to operate the freight elevator. And I thought, "Somebody is going to get hurt here." So I hopped on the freight elevator and ran it. And I've been doing that ever since.

JF: Now, it's because you're a tradition there [inaudible]. Yes. How you've left WHAS but you still go back to the crusade and do this again. Yeah, oh, very good.

CS: Yeah. People who get involved with crusade, I think just to keep coming back 57:00as long as they can, it's-

JF: Crusades for Children. Yeah. So marvelous, local institutions are going to be a part of that. Yeah. Very good. Very good. So you came in 72 and when did you leave WHAS? What year?

CS: 2000.

JF: 2000. Yeah. Very good. Got 28 years.

CS: I stayed long enough to do one more Derby season and a crusade and went off to do other things.

JF: What have you been doing since then? I know you're still involved with things. What have you been doing since then?

CS: Well that summer, I had three jobs that lasted very briefly with companies that basically did sound for churches and auditoriums and that sort of thing. And then I got a call from people at Salem Radio. They were looking for a chief 58:00engineer, the call came from a young lady I knew who had worked at WHAS and was now working for Salem. And they ask if I would be interested in engineering for them. Why not? So I've been there ever since.

JF: About that, very good. And what do you do? Basically the same thing, just equipment.

CS: Right. I'm the one and only engineer. So anything that has wires connected to it is my bailiwick.

JF: Sounds like good gig, and it's a long way though, from that young boy and his dad's shop there. And would you have envisioned all this at that time? You couldn't know where you could envision?

CS: No. But I've enjoyed it.

JF: Sounds like it's been a good ride. Anything else you want to add about WHAS or any people or anything? Anybody particularly stand out in your mind?

CS: This is out of sequence for the things we've been talking with, but one of the people I thought was very instrumental in making WHAS a success, was Brench Boden, who's one of our producers. And Brench always said that our competition 59:00was not the other radio stations in town, because they weren't even attempting to do the sort of things that WHAS was doing. He said our competition was the TV stations. And particularly with the news products, I think he's exactly right.

JF: It is interesting because the television stations are doing now, what WHAS was doing from the mid `70s on, up into the `90s. Traffic, weather, local remote broadcast, all that sort of thing. That's a very interesting observation. Yeah.

CS: Yeah. One of the things that I was heavily involved in was snow closings.

JF: Oh, talk about that.

CS: I'm not sure exactly how we did this in the olden days, but anytime there 60:00was a snow that produced school and business closings-

JF: Five or six flakes, anyway.

CS: Right. We would read this long, long list.

JF: How did you accumulate that list, by the way?

CS: Well, at some point, I can't think of the year, we put a computer in the newsroom with a database. We sent out letters to all the schools and businesses and gave them a code and a phone number to call. They would call in, and we verify that they were authorized by the code number and we'd make an entry into the computer and about every 15 minutes or so, we print out a new list and take it on air studio. And the reading of the list would begin.


JF: And go on for 20 minutes.

CS: Yeah. And that worked pretty well for radio, but we were also giving a copy of this list to television. And once they got the list, they had to type this into their character generator. So it would appear on the screen. So TV was way behind radio in getting the closings on. And I guess since, as we just talked about radio and TV are big competitors, that was a problem for TV because they were getting fussed at, for being so slow on their closing reports. So equipment is available now that I think all the TV stations are using so that when the schools call in they're dialing right into the computer and the computer is linked to the character generator. So it eliminates all this time delay.


JF: [crosstalk]. Wow. Wow. Technology, it's good. It can be bad, but it's good. It's very, very good. Any special memory stand out for you in your years at WHAS? We talked about a lot of them, anything stand out in particular.

CS: [inaudible]. I think I do need...

JF: All right. Well, Charlie, anything else you want to add? We've talked about a lot of wide range of topics here, but we've got plenty of time.

CS: When I first started working at WHAS, I was living in Fern Creek and I usually rode the bus back and forth between Fern Creek and downtown. And on April 3rd, 1974, I just finished my shift and was waiting for the bus when this big storm blew through.

JF: Wow.

CS: And I didn't realize until the bus was going out Bardstown Road and got almost to Eastern Parkway, didn't realize how big that storm was. And you could look up ahead and see all these utility poles lying down in the street and wires 63:00everywhere. And the bus driver made some detours, eventually got me home. And by then we'd heard some about the tornado that had gone through and done all its devastation. But the biggest thing I remember about that evening was I walked out the front door into the yard and you didn't need a radio because everybody on the street had Milton Metz turned on and it was just everywhere.

JF: Wow. Wow. That is a memory. Sure. That was source for information. So many people, I remember that night that Milton was on, I was in the studio because everybody was there just trying to help do things. And I remember Milton was taking calls, at that time they didn't have a screener, I mean, they didn't know, not a computer screen, how you would watch, heard this voice said, "Hello, Milton, this is Wendell. And it was Wendell Ford the governor calling. On a first time basis with Milton Metz and saying, "We've got things under control 64:00over here." But it was just very, very intimate. And as you said, it went out everywhere. Everybody was listening. We talked with Milton about this, about this station of getting out so much at night.

JF: I remember one night, I don't know if you were still there at this time or not. But there was a hurricane in South Carolina and Milton took a call and it was this person who was in South Carolina in their basement and the local stations were off the air, but they were picking up Milton Metz on the radio, and he began to take calls. And people from there started calling in and saying, "Are you okay?" So in Louisville, Kentucky on WHAS, Milton was sitting there and coordinating calls from South Carolina and giving help. So that was the power of this station. That was the beauty of broadcast really. And you had a big part in putting all that together to make sure the equipment, the studios, were maintained and running properly.


JF: Well, Charlie sounds like it's been a good ride for you.

CS: It is.

JF: And who knows what's going to come ahead. Well, thanks for taking the time to share with us today.

CS: My pleasure.

JF: Okay.