The WABC Gates Console in 1966
Thanks to both Richard Silverberg and Bill Epperhart for this contribution!
Richard Silverberg wrote " I worked for WABC as an engineer from 1965 through the end of 1970. During those six years I did Dan Ingram's show many times (of course he was my favorite). I also worked with HOA, Cousin Brucie, Ron Lundy and Bob Lewis (Bob and I became friends, actually). Enclosed is a picture of me in front of the brand new Gates console, working with Dan Ingram, taken from the next studio. This was a publicity shot that the Gates people were going to use in their ads (I don't know if they ever did). I 'm not sure when this shot was taken -- we moved to the 6th Ave. studios August 8, 1966, so I expect it was taken that fall, but I'm not certain."
This shot shows Richard on the left working with Dan Ingram on the right.
I forwarded Richard's picture to our favorite WABC engineer, Bill Epperhart, who came through with a terrific description of what else is visible in this picture and a description of how this board differs from the one he describes in the Bill Epperhart section of this website.
"That's a very interesting shot. As you point out, obviously a commercial photo session for use in promoting the board. Everything looks so clean it's probably sterile. And Dan and Richard in suits and ties!!!!! Picture Father Knows Best sitting around the house on a Saturday morning in a suit. As Howard (Cosell) said..."It's a simple radio show, it ain't a one hour television spectacular!
"What's really neat about the picture is that it shoots through 4 rooms. That's the 8B console looking into 8A, looking into 8N, looking through a door at someone in the newsroom. The rack of equipment above, and to the left of, Richard's head in 8N is the Transmitter Remote Control Panel. To the left of that rack is one of the two Reel-to-Reel Ampex Tape Machines Richard could control remotely.
"These consoles had been replaced by 1971. 8A was first. I don't know exactly when, but would guess 1969 or '70. The shot of Chuck Leonard that Jonathan sent you was circa 1968 and had the old board in it. 8B was in the process of a rebuild in '71 when I got there. In fact, it had a lot of ground loop problems and they had to bring in Wayne from Lodi to get it straightened out. Because 8B was used primarily for production and secondarily as an on air back up, the new console was not identical to the one in 8A.
"Here are the main differences between the old and new 8A consoles:
1. The new console added more monitoring controls.
2. The two Ampex Reel-to-Reel Remote Controls (Stop, Rewind, Fast Forward, Play and Record buttons) in the upper left and right corners were removed because they were just too dangerous for remote operation. They didn't start putting speed sensing microprocessors in tape machines until the early '80's. If you had a 10" reel of tape in rewind at full tilt and hit the stop button, it would be the equivalent of standing on a non ABS brake pedal at 70 mph. You would end up with tape all over the room. The new console moved the Start and Stop buttons directly above the Tape Faders and eliminated everything else.
3. They also added multiple input selectors to the nemo (utility) channels for more flexibility.
4. The most important improvement was the faders. The old ones caught dirt, food, etc, and became noisy when they were moved. The new ones were sealed and contained a conductive plastic that eliminated the problem. A major technological advance.
"There was a hinge running along the bottom of the console so you could open it up by pulling one of the knobs at the top. The amplifiers were inside and the console itself was a brushed aluminum plate. I don't know how many of these were sold to other radio stations. Never saw one anywhere else."
Jon Wolfert added some additional observations about this picture:
"Let me add one more observation to those of Bill Epperhart:
"About midway between Richard and Dan, to the right of where you can see into the newsroom, there are four wire "baskets" mounted on the wall. Three of them are holding papers, and one is holding a tape.
"The top basket held a sheet called "WABC Basics". It was just a reminder to say things like "Chime Time" and "W-A-B-C-Degrees".
"The next basket held the week's current playlist. Each jock grabbed a fresh copy at the start of his shift, so he could keep track of what he played during his show. It contained title, artist, timings, superhit survey ranking, cart #, etc.
"The third basket held the current jingle playlist with the cart number, name and length of each jingle in the rack.
"And the bottom basket... This held the infamous "emergency studio evacuation" tape. Although there were many comments about it only being used during a nuclear attack or national disaster, I think it was also intended to be used in case of a fire or other problem that would force evacuation of the building. I never heard the tape, but one of the engineers who helped make it once told me (quite seriously) "I hope I never have to hear it again"."
Thanks to both Bill and Jon for these "inside" descriptions!
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