WLTL FM 88.1

WLTL Celebrating 50 Years 1968 - 2018

WLTL Early History

By Terry Marsala

(March 2018 – all dates and numbers are approximate)

This history begins in LT’s Amateur (“HAM”) Radio Club, which was sponsored by LT Physics teacher Mr. Orville Warning. During the 1965-1966 school year Wayne Terrell and I were both Radio Club members and LT sophomores. Wayne Terrell was elected club president that year. We all loved radio and electronics.

Wayne, in particular, liked to think “outside of the box” and acted on his desire to broadcast music “DJ style” by building a low power AM transmitter (about 10 watts output.) He broadcast from his basement at his home in the Springdale section just south of south campus. The transmitter signal was loaded into his tri-band vertical amateur radio antenna on the roof. This ended several months later in the spring of 1966 when an upperclassman club member notified the FCC Chicago field office –

Meanwhile, I was also working with audio at LaGrange Bible Church on Sunday nights, especially during the live remote broadcast from the church on local radio station WTAQ (AM 1300, located where the Quarry shopping center is now.) Several men at the church ran the engineering side of the broadcast, including Mr. Robert A. Jones. Bob was a consulting engineer (Robert A. Jones, Consulting Engineers with offices on LaGrange Rd. just south of 47th Street.) He was a 1945 graduate of LT and one of only about 25 consulting engineers throughout the country specializing in radio and television broadcasting. We were in a sound proof booth during the church service and live broadcast, so we discussed audio and radio, including Wayne’s run in with the FCC and his desire to be on the radio. Bob suggested that the radio club members approach the LT administration and propose that LT apply for non-commercial educational 10 watt FM station. It was there that I first learned that the FCC had set aside the lower end of the FM band for just this type of station!

WLTL - Orville Warning - Wayne Terrell - Terry Marsala - Bob Jones

 

During the following Sunday nights we discussed costs and practical aspects. Meanwhile, I was carrying this information back to Wayne (and several other Radio Club members), and trying to “sell” the idea. After a little discussion, we decided to approach LT with our idea. We talked to Mr. Warning about how to do this, and then seven of us wrote the proposal to create what would become WLTL. (Original signers were Amateur Radio Club members, and included myself, Wayne, Gary Flynn, and Glen Shubert . I think the others included Bob Undine, Greg Schmidt, and Ed Curan.)

We proposed purchasing a used 10 watt FM transmitter, a mixing/control console, used turntables, and mostly other used equipment, with an expected budget of $2500. Mr. Warning pointed out the three rooms on the third floor of the Vaughn Building that had been designed as a broadcast station studio when the Vaughn Building was built in 1950-52. (Mr. Warning may have been the reason the rooms were included in the plans in the first place, but I’m not sure of this.) We proposed to finally use those rooms for their intended purpose.

We submitted the proposal to LT school superintendent Dr. Donald Reber at the end of September or early October, 1966. Dr. Reber was very supportive! I have no idea what happened at the school board level, but our proposal was approved!

I believe we had told Dr. Reber of the help we were receiving from Bob Jones and recommended his company, in any case, the school contracted with Bob Jones to prepare the detailed station construction permit application to submit to the FCC. At this time, commercial radio station applications typically took 2 to 2-1/2 years for approval but educational station approvals were only around 6 months. If I remember correctly, the application was about 50 to 70 pages long. LT submitted the application to the FCC in January 1967. The frequency applied for was 88.3 MHz.

Meanwhile, every Sunday night before and after those evening LaGrange Bible Church live broadcasts from 1966 right on through the time WLTL starting broadcasting, Bob Jones was answering questions and explaining to me (and thus to the other guys at LT–) everything we needed to do to put our station on the air.

During the 1966-67 school year Wayne and I and several other Radio Club members studied and obtained our Third Class Radio Telephone licenses with Broadcast Endorsement. At that time this license was required for anyone at the controls of the station. Also, an FM station required one engineer (who could be on contract) who held a Second Class Radio Telephone license or higher. Somewhere during 1966 or 1967 Wayne decided to take a correspondence course and passed both his Second and First Class Radio Telephone License exams with Radar Endorsement.

WLTL - Terry Marsala LT Class of 1968

During the spring 1967 waiting period not much happened, but during the 1967 summer school session Mr. Frank Stacey taught a radio broadcast speech class that resulted in a “15 minute” taped radio program called “Sounds of LT Summer ‘67” (or something close to that–) that aired each week that summer on WTAQ. WTAQ provided a loaner full track tape recorder, however, the speech class was not up on razor blade tape splicing and editing, so Wayne and I were asked to help with the production. We moved the production over to LaGrange Bible Church. The production of the actual 12 minutes of broadcast tape each week was intense, with the tape usually arriving at WTAQ about 15 to 30 minutes before the actual broadcast time!

On August 10, 1967 I received the call from Dr. Reber at my summer job saying that we had received notice that our station construction permit to build our station had been granted. (Date provided by WLTL Advisor Tom Baker/LT Annual Report. Thanks!) The next day I was issued the keys to the third floor Vaughn Building rooms. Gates Radio was contacted by LT’s purchasing agent, and LT purchased all new equipment from Gates Radio. The purchased equipment included:

  • Mono 10 watt FM transmitter
  • Non directional antenna
  • “Studioette” four channel mixing console
  • Two Gates Radio turntables
  • Two (?) full track tape recorders
  • Shure Brothers 556 Microphones
  • “On the Air” signs
  • Monitor Speakers
  • Emergency broadcast system monitor

Other materials such as audio and microphone jacks, wire, etc. were purchased from Newark Electronics (500 N. Pulaski in Chicago). The cabinetry was donated by WTAQ. One of the Chicago commercial stations donated an audio compressor. Another item that we “borrowed” for the station was a 10-1/2” reel-to-reel rack mount tape recorder that had been previously in the projection room in the balcony of the original north campus (now “Reber Center”) auditorium.

The original Vaughn Building rooms had been wired in 1952 for microphone lines, etc. with twist lock microphone connectors and wire that was not up to current standards. Wayne and I replaced all the original wiring in those rooms and added the monitor speaker and on-the-air light wiring.

LT spent quite a bit over the proposed budget the first year, probably spending over $7,500.

The equipment started arriving that fall and we began construction. The school custodial and maintenance staffs were not involved, and actually very tolerant of both our work and the after school and evening hours we were spending in north campus without any staff supervision. The antenna, coax line and transmitter were installed by an outside contractor.

Each time we needed help or approval for more materials or whatever, Dr. Reber made time for us in his schedule and approved our requests.

1968 LT Radio Station

For the 1967-68 school year, LT hired Mr. James Fisher to supervise both the new radio station and the audio visual aide volunteers. (Mr. Fisher spent most of his time at south campus, so we were largely on our own!) Most of the north campus AV volunteers became part of the general work and camaraderie at the station. Also, by signing up as AV aides during our study hall periods, we were able to work on WLTL instead. Bruce McCormick, Larry Skrine, Bill Wallace, Jerry Turner, Rick Morrissey and several others became involved. (Of the original Amateur Radio Club members that had submitted the proposal to the school board in the fall of 1966, only Wayne and I continued with the project.)

We chose the call sign WLTL as the best one for the station (WLTH was almost considered except that it was already in use in Indiana.) The application and notification process went smoothly and in November we had our call letters!

In the fall of 1967 we also formed the new radio station club. We wrote up a club “constitution”, announced the radio station club in the Lion and invited whoever was interested to apply. From that group of over a hundred applications we narrowed the members down to the first WLTL staff. Time was short, so there were no auditions (!). At the first meeting we went over the structure and general operation of our new station. Also, being a club, we had elections: Bruce McCormick was our first program director, Wayne Terrell was our chief engineer, and I was the first station manager. At this time Scott Meyer, Joel Preston, Marta Anderson and many others quickly became part of the early preparations and broadcast efforts.

The LT printing department provided us with our station log forms, stationary and etc.

We were also able to have the first station phone line installed. This was set up at the end of every school day by the school operator plugging our extension into the highest “hunt” outside phone line (otherwise multiple calls to our number would have rolled over to other lines going nowhere or ringing the phone in the custodian office in the main building basement.) LT had a real daytime operator and manual patch plug switch board located adjacent to the main office in those days!

In early December we were ready to turn on the transmitter and sent the FCC the necessary request to start transmitting. Around December 13, 1967 we received the FCC telegram and turned on the transmitter for the first time. Around January 5th or 8th, 1968 (again, not at all sure of these dates!) we announced our “official” broadcasting start with posters on both campuses. As I remember, the poster featured a mouse or dwarf character in long robe.

During the fall we started receiving promo records from the record companies. These, combined with personal record collections, provided the music for our DJ programing. Newscast material was provided by going over to WTAQ and bringing back wire service teleprinter copy. School activities and announcements were broadcast. Some students wrote and produced programs, but mostly I remember the music programs at that time. We did not have class instruction or an experienced advisor (or actually any advisor), so we were learning on the fly.

 

Sometime in December or January I assembled the actual station license application (which mainly re-used the information from the construction permit application, and was much shorter) with help from Bob Jones and LT submitted the application to the FCC. The actual license was granted sometime later.

In about February or March of 1968 I changed my personal focus to college and other interests and resigned as station manager. Marta Anderson was appointed station manager.

As an LT alumni and co-founder of WLTL, I am grateful to God for the privilege of being there at the beginning and being in the right place and time to know my friend Wayne Terrell (and all the others) and especially to have known the support and friendship of Robert A. Jones, Dr. Reber, and Mr. Warning. Back then, I do not think we had any thoughts that we were doing anything so significant that would affect so many other lives, win national awards and even start careers – and be here 50 years later!

WLTL Early History – © Terry Marsala 2018, All Rights Reserved v1.8a

 

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EARLY HISTORY of WLTL

as recalled by Scott R. Meyer, Class of 1969 April, 2018

1. THE RADIO SCENE IN THE 60’s

In the 1960’s, AM radio was still King. Most high school students (and younger kids as well) listened to Top 40 music on either WLS or their fierce competitor WCFL. WLS put out the weekly “Silver Dollar Survey” (renamed “WLS Hit Parade” in the late 60’s), a Top 40 list based on Chicagoland record sales. Many of us went every Friday to Pearson’s Music & Art in La Grange to get the new survey and buy the 45 rpm singles we liked.

To maintain a high number of songs-per-hour, and to make room for all the commercials and jingles, the Top 40 format was notorious for refusing to play any song longer than four minutes. As rock music became more diverse and complex in the late 60’s, longer cuts became commonplace. This led record producers to create “radio edits”— shortened versions of potential hit songs, in order to boost AM airplay and singles sales.

While FM had been around for a long time, there were few offerings for the younger listener. And most cars of the era just had AM radios (AM/FM was an optional upgrade). It would be well into the 70’s before FM Album Rock formats on stations like WXRT and WLUP began making serious inroads on the WLS and WCFL audience. Album Rock offered unedited longer cuts, deeper cuts, and more obscure artists.

The 1960’s, however, did see a huge increase in the number of non-commercial FM stations.

A. College Stations

By the late 60’s college stations were commonplace. Many of these stations originated as carrier-current AM operations, where the signal was carried over the electrical systems of dorms and other campus buildings. These stations were often later upgraded to non-commercial FM broadcast operations.

B. High School Stations

Many new non-commercial High School stations also popped up in the 60’s. The first in the Chicago area were in the northern suburbs. WMTH (90.5) at Maine Township High School in Park Ridge went on the air in 1959, while WNTH (88.1) at New Trier High School in Winnetka started in 1961. WLTL may have been the first in the western suburbs, but was soon followed by WHSD (88.5) at Hinsdale Central and WDGC (88.3) at Downers Grove High School.

C. Pirate Stations

Pirate radio was a popular hobby in the 1960’s. My friend Craig Conolly (LT ’69) had been a radio-head since grade school. He had operated a low power AM pirate station (“WVMS”) out of his bedroom for several years, using a Knight Kit transmitter. Although this was theoretically a legal transmitter when using the supplied antenna, you could easily upgrade it to pirate territory by adding a much longer antenna wire. Even so, the range was just a block or two, so your potential audience was limited to just the local neighborhood kids. Craig was inspired by an older friend, Mike Bafaro (LT ’63), who lived on his block, and also operated a pirate station. Mike went on to a long career as an engineer with Motorola. WLTL first Chief Engineer Wayne Terrell had also experimented with a pirate station, according to his 1968 Tabulae blurb. I understand that Wayne had designed and built his own transmitter. But I believe his experimentation abruptly ended with an unexpected visit from the FCC!

WLTL 1968 poster

2. ORIGINS of WLTL

Though it was well before my involvement, I understand that the spark that eventually resulted in WLTL came from the LT Amateur Radio Club, sponsored by physics teacher Mr. Orville Warning. Terry Marsala (LT ’68) and Wayne Terrell (LT ’68) were members of the Club in the 1965–66 school year. Terry was personally acquainted with Mr. Robert Jones, a local resident who was a broadcast radio consulting engineer. Bob Jones informed Terry of the availability of non-commercial licenses on the low end of the FM band. With help from Mr. Warning, Terry and several other Club members prepared a proposal to Dr. Reber and the School Board. The proposal was accepted (and funding was allocated), and Bob Jones was retained to prepare applications for the FCC construction permit and broadcast license. In the summer of 1967, Craig was taking a Speech class where the students produced a weekly radio show which was aired on WTAQ. Terry Marsala was also in that class, so Craig learned about the plans for the LT station. Craig suggested that we get our FCC Licenses in anticipation of the new station. We took the train down to the Government Printing Office Bookstore in the federal building and bought a study guide. A few weeks later we returned to sit for the examination. We both passed, and my Third Class Radio Telephone License (with Broadcast Endorsement) was issued just as the 1967–68 school year started. These licenses were phased-out due to deregulation in the 1980’s, and FCC licensing is no longer required for broadcast engineers.

3. WLTL ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING–Fall of 1967

Soon after the start of the 1967–68 school year, an organizational meeting for students interested in WLTL was held in the Auditorium (now the Reber Center—at the time, Dr. Reber was still our Superintendent!) The meeting stressed the need for participants to get FCC licenses, and announced plans to organize license study groups. At the end of the meeting, Craig and I went up front and pulled out our licenses. The organizers were impressed that we had obtained them on our own initiative, and we were soon accepted into the leadership circle.

WLTL’s first Station Manager was Terry Marsala (LT ’68). Later that school year, when he apparently had to pull back his time commitment, Marta Anderson (LT ’68) was appointed to replace him. Bruce McCormick (LT ’68) was our first Program Director. Wayne Terrell (LT ’68) was the first Chief Engineer. As I had expressed interest in the technical aspects of broadcasting, Wayne soon appointed me as his Assistant Chief Engineer.

4. FIRST FACULTY SPONSOR (1967–68)

James Fisher - LTHS Audiovisual Coordinator

WLTL’s first faculty sponsor was not exactly a faculty member. He was the Audiovisual (A-V) Coordinator in the Library Department, the staff guy responsible for issuing and maintaining the film projectors, filmstrip projectors, overhead and opaque projectors, phonographs, tape recorders and sundry other items of now-obsolete educational equipment. I barely remember him, but his name was Mr. James Fisher. I do remember that Mr. Fisher was very much a “hands-off” sponsor, and we rarely saw him up at the studios. This was fine with us. From the beginning, there was strong consensus that we should truly be a student-run operation.

Although the WLTL of today is a much larger and more complex operation, it’s great to see that they are still promoted as “Student-run”.

5. FACILITIES

WLTL occupied three rooms on the third floor of the Vaughan Building. The space had belonged to the Music Department. I had always thought that the space was designed as a recording studio, but have recently learned that the rooms were identified as “Radio Studios” on the original blueprints of the building, so someone (possibly Orville Warning?) had the foresight to anticipate a radio station as far back as 1952! All three rooms had acoustical treatments on the walls, consisting of perforated paneling over fiberglass insulation. The rooms also had some built-in microphone and audio cabling, with a patch panel in the Control Room.

The large studio had a high ceiling and three tall, arched-top windows (as can be seen directly above the Vaughan Building main entrance). The room was large enough to accommodate a small band or orchestra, and came with a grand piano! We rarely used this room to originate programming. This was primarily our meeting room, lounge and storage area.

The other two rooms were smaller, with lower ceilings. We used the center room as the Control Room, which housed the transmitter and the other equipment. The room had two large windows on opposite walls, which allowed viewing into the adjacent studios. The second small room was used as our principal DJ studio, and for music storage. By the fall of 1968, this room was named “The Sunshine Room.”

Our antenna tower was on the roof of the Vaughan Building, directly above the studios. I remember that the coax cable from the transmitter simply went out the window of the Control Room and up the wall of the building to the roof. WLTL’s tower remains in the same location today.

 

6. ON THE AIR–Winter of 1968

WLTL went on the air in the winter of 1968, broadcasting on a frequency of 88.3 MHz FM. According to an early promotional poster, broadcast hours were 2:30– 7:00 pm Monday-Thursday; 2:30–10:00 pm on Fridays; and noon–10:00 pm on Saturdays. So more than 35 hours of airtime per week, pretty ambitious for a brand-new operation. I really can’t remember how we filled all those hours. I do remember that we sometimes had to sign-off early due to lack of personnel, particularly on weekdays. The following year, we cut back to a more manageable schedule. Our programming was mostly DJ-format music, with some public interest and interview shows spotlighting LT clubs, activities, sports and the like. I believe we also filled in with some serialized educational programs. These shows were produced by colleges, and supplied on records or tape. All announcements, promos and station IDs were done live, as we didn’t have cartridge machines or other means of playing short recorded material. We had no budget for music, so our entire music library was donated or on-loan from participants. Some DJs brought their own music with them for each show. We played lots of Beatles, Stones and Doors—what is now called “Classic Rock” was the current music of the time. I recall numerous “road trips” to check our signal strength. While reception was good in La Grange, La Grange Park and most of Western Springs, it got pretty spotty in the southern reaches of District 204, south of Joliet Road.

WLTL Gates Studioette - Gates Turntable - Wollensak

7. ORIGINAL STUDIO EQUIPMENT

A. Gates Ten Watt Transmitter

This was a crystal-controlled vacuum tube FM transmitter. The front panel had a power switch and four analog meters: Audio level (VU meter, to avoid over- modulation); Final stage plate current; Final stage plate voltage; and RF output. Per FCC regulations, meter readings had to be taken and logged every half hour by the licensed engineer signed-on to the transmitter. Our first antenna was a single-bay dipole, so our Effective Radiated Power (ERP) was tiny. According to a Gates 1966 price list, the transmitter listed at $1,495.

 

B. Gates Studioette 4-channel Console

The console had four mixing channels: Channels 1 and 2 were for microphones; channels 3 and 4 were for multi-input use such as turntables and tapes. Each channel potentiometer had a key above to send the channel to either the “Audition” or “Program” bus. Program meant “on the air”, while Audition allowed monitoring with a speaker or headphones in order to cue records or tapes. The top row of switch keys directed different inputs to the various channels. All wiring on the back panel used exposed screw-terminals, including the 120 VAC power cord! I believe this model had all vacuum tube amplification. While solid-state amplification had been commercially available for several years, it was limited mostly to high-end electronics. List price for the console was $1,150 in 1966.

C. Two Gates Turntables

Essential equipment for music shows. The turntables had felt-topped platters to allow slip-cueing of records (the first skill to be mastered by a new engineer). 1966 list price was $429 each.

D. Tape Recorders

Our principal tape recorder was an Ampex 602. This was pretty much a broadcast-quality reel-to-reel machine, and I’m not sure how we acquired it. It was somewhat awkward to use in either the horizontal or vertical position— what we really needed was a slant-top rack panel. As we had no budget for such luxuries, I remember taking measurements and fashioning a rack in my basement—out of wood! I cut all the angled 2 x 4’s by hand with a miter box. Not being much of a woodworker, it was crude and wobbly but it did the job. We used the Ampex to master recorded shows, and for on-air playback.

We also had a few Wollensak recorders. These were popular utility machines, and were plentiful in the Music and A-V Departments as they were used to play tapes in classrooms. We used them to produce interviews and other content away from the studios.

E. Microphones

Our pride and joy was an RCA 77-DX ribbon microphone. First introduced in 1954, the 77-DX was considered a broadcast standard in the 50’s and 60’s, and was used extensively for newscasts and live radio dramas. Not sure where ours came from, either the Music Department or donated by WTAQ. We used it as our primary DJ microphone. Still prized for recording to this day, you can pick one up on eBay for about $1,500.

We also had an assortment of lesser microphones: Dynamic and condenser mics, probably by Shure and Electro-Voice.

F. Audio Limiter

Over-modulation is a major concern for FM broadcasting, as it can cause interference with adjacent channels. Accordingly, the “air” output of the console was passed through an audio limiter on the way to the transmitter.

G. CONELRAD Alert/Emergency Broadcast System Receiver

This was required equipment for all broadcast stations. CONELRAD was replaced by the Emergency Broadcast System in 1963, but our receiver was old and still said “CONELRAD” on the front panel.

The alert signal consisted of: Carrier OFF for 5 seconds; carrier ON for 5 seconds; carrier OFF for 5 seconds; carrier ON for 5 seconds, then a 1,000 Hz tone for 15 seconds; followed by an announcement.

Our receiver continuously monitored WGN-AM, the EBS lead station in the Chicago market. When WGN conducted a required weekly test, and their carrier left the air, a relay tripped in the receiver, turning on a speaker. Alerted by the tone, the engineer would listen to the announcement, then immediately repeat the test on WLTL. We had scripts of the required announcements hanging up in the Control Room. The receiver had a mechanical lever on the front panel to reset the relay and silence the speaker when the test was finished.

8. FIRST LIVE SPORTS COVERAGE

From the beginning, the sports-minded members of WLTL were eager to do live sports coverage. The problem was, we had no equipment to do remote broadcasts. But we did have a lot of microphone cable (I’m not sure where it came from, but we had a ton of it.) One weekend evening when there was a home basketball game in the Vaughan gym, we went for it. We daisy-chained many 25 and 50-foot mic cables together, ran it out in the hall from the control room, then down to the northeast stairwell, down three floors, and into the gym.

I don’t remember if we even had any kind of microphone preamp, but in any case, both the microphone channel and the master gain had to be “cranked to 11” to even hear the signal. And, of course, the play-by-play and color announcers had to share one microphone. While it marginally worked, we also had no means to communicate with the announcers, so we told them to assume they were always on the air, and to “just keep talking.” Up in the Control Room, we waited for lulls in the action to break in and perform the required Station IDs and other announcements.

So we pulled off our first live sports remote with one microphone and several hundred feet of extension cord!

 

9. “WE ARE:LT” FUNDRAISER

As we had no budget for music or supplies, we were always on the lookout for fundraising opportunities. We decided to produce a record commemorating The Class of 1969 that we could sell. Writing the copy was a group effort. The piece was narrated by John Swade (LT ’69) who had one of our best “radio voices”. I mastered it on the Ampex 602 reel-to-reel. For dramatic effect, the writers wanted to open with the North Campus clock tower chiming “8” (representing the start of the school day?). I guess 8 am or pm wasn’t convenient, so one afternoon I climbed into the clock tower and recorded the bells chiming “4”. I then duplicated the tape several times, and physically spliced two tapes to get 8 chimes. I remember several tries to get it right, and never really succeeded—you can clearly hear the jump cut between chimes 4 and 5. The master tape was sent to a recording company in Chicago, who cut a master record and pressed copies for us to sell. The record was 331/3 RPM on a 10 inch disk, smaller than a standard LP.

10. SECOND FACULTY SPONSOR (1968–69)

For the 1968–69 school year, WLTL got a new faculty sponsor. Miss Catherine Ott was a brand new English teacher, fresh out of college. She had been an English major and swimmer in college, but must have taken some communications classes and/or worked on a college station. I can only imagine that the administration saw her resume and said “We have the perfect assignment for you.” Having just enjoyed a year relatively free from faculty oversight and interference, we were understandably resistant to the many ideas she had for upping the quality and educational content of our programming. We were satisfied to just be a rock station. I think we gave her a pretty hard time, especially considering it was her first year teaching.

On balance, we did like her though, and although we might not have admitted it at the time, in retrospect I believe she left a lasting positive mark on the quality of our programming and the professionalism of the station.

WLTL Class of 1969 with Miss Ott

11. 1968–69 MANAGEMENT

I believe Joel Preston (LT ’70) was Station Manager in the 1968–69 school year. This was my senior year, and I was now Chief Engineer. I chose a bright sophomore, Phil Hejtmanek (LT ’71) as my Assistant Chief Engineer. Phil went on to a long career in engineering, ending up at CBS-TV in Chicago for 20 years. Phil is one of WLTL’s “featured alums”.

I was always impressed by the way we managed the station. While I suppose the leadership group was a clique of sorts, it was run as a meritocracy. If you were a good DJ, you got more air time, if you were a good engineer, you got more board time, but everyone who wanted to participate had a chance to do something, learn something, and get better at what they did. Seniority didn’t dominate (both Joel and Phil held leadership positions as Sophomores). Though we were mostly males, several women were active members, and some held leadership positions. I don’t remember any huge disagreements, in-fighting or personality conflicts. All the big decisions were made collaboratively. I think that’s rare for any student-run activity.

12. FREQUENCY CHANGE

During the 1968–69 school year, our Consulting Engineer was contacted by the FCC. Apparently our signal was interfering (or would be interfering) with a new non-commercial station in the area, and they wanted to reassign our frequency to 88.1 MHz. The other station may have been WHSD at Hinsdale Central, which I believe was starting up that year on 88.5 MHz (first adjacent channel). I recall that the other station paid to have our transmitter re-tuned, and we returned to the air on 88.1 MHz, where we remain today.

13. INTEGRATION WITH CURRICULUM

In my two years of involvement with WLTL, we were strictly an extra-curricular activity or club. Soon after my graduation (and perhaps as soon as the 1969–70 school year) LT began offering credit courses in broadcasting. Catherine Ott may have been involved in developing and teaching the curriculum, but I’m not really sure how long she remained at LT. I’m pleased to see that in the present day, LTHS continues to have robust academic offerings in the Media Arts.

14. FINAL THOUGHTS

The WLTL alumni questionnaire that was sent out this year included the question: “Best Memory of WLTL”. I responded, “I don’t know about my best WLTL memory, but WLTL is certainly the best memory of my high school career”. I’m surprised by how much I can remember about WLTL, when my memories of the rest of high school are spotty at best. Although I never pursued a career in broadcasting or engineering (though to this day I am still very technically- orientated), my WLTL experience has had a lasting positive impact on my life.

© 2018 Scott R. Meyer, All Rights Reserved v1.4

 

Sources

WLTL 50th Anniversary Yearbook (by Kim Praser, Class of 1996)

WLTL-FM 88.1

 

References

LTHS Lyons Township High School (yearbook, TAB, The Lion)

WLTL – fcc.gov

 

WLTL 50th Anniversary Documentary

 

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Wireless has received an impetus in the last few months through a growing public interest.

The radio club this year was given a real start by the sponsor, Mr. Howard.  He is a scientist of note and it is due mainly to his efforts that the Radio Club has become a flourishing organization.  The membership has grown under the presidency of Hebert Hoff, who, with Mr. Howard, did most of the work which resulted in the procuring of a receiving set for the high school.  LTHS can now compare in scientific as well as in physical and in literary advancement with any school in the country…

It is hoped that the radio club of ’22 has laid a foundation which will make for development of the radio club of ’23.

reprinted from EL TEE HI TABULAE (1922)

Note: The radio club 1922-1924, 1944-1967

 

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1957 “LT On The Air” WTAQ-AM 1300, a 15 minute program of school news, interviews and music by the Lyons Township High School’s experimental radio-speech class.  Mostly recorded, the program consisted of original student scripts.

VALLEY VOICES: A RADIO HISTORY (1996)

 

Also in 1957, W9MTJ was the clubs official ham radio station.  The LT radio club participated in world wide communications, studying morse code theories.

VALLEY VOICES: A RADIO HISTORY (1996)

 

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“Sounds Of Summer In 1967” produced by the LT summer speech course aired on WTAQ-AM 1300

VALLEY VOICES: A RADIO HISTORY (1996)

 

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The idea of an FM Radio Station was developed during the summer of 1966 by two students, Wayne Terrell and Terry Marsala who presented their ideas to Dr. Reber in October of that year.  Mr. Robert Jones, a consulting engineer of LaGrange, helped to fill out the application for a construction permit which was received on August 10, 1967, and at the end of October, the station was assigned the call letters WLTL.  During the following months, students built and wired the station, an endeavor which not only gave them an educational experience but also saved the school some construction costs.  The first regular broadcasting started on January 8, 1968.  After working out problems of programming and engineering and organizing tapes and some original productions, the station grew to “being on the air” six days a week, four hours per day, broadcasting educational informative, and entertaining programs.

The station staff is divided into two parts: the Program Staff, supervised by the Program Director; and the Engineering Staff, supervised by the Chief Engineer.  The entire staff is supervised by the Station Manager whose main duty is to coordinate the operation of the station with the operation of the school. Naturally, all of these students are under the supervision of a faculty sponsor.

The primary aim of WLTL is to provide the students of L.T. with an educational experience in the field of radio broadcasting, a goal which is apparently being met with success.

reprinted from THE 1968 LYONS TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL ANNUAL REPORT

 

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“WLTL heard again… WLTL (With Love To Listeners) is planning to air its first program Oct. 1 on a new frequency, 88.1.”

reprinted from THE LION September 26, 1968

Note: after rejection from the FCC, WDGC was granted a license to broadcast at 88.3MHz

 

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“WLTL receives network affiliation”

reprinted from THE LION October 7, 1971

Note: WLTL was given permission to rebroadcast news actualities and speeches, from WIND-AM 560 an affiliate of Westinghouse Broadcasting Co. between Fall 1971 through Spring 1976

 

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“Renovation aids WLTL… WLTL is undergoing changes this year, the major one being the moving of the studio to rm 9 nc.”

reprinted from THE LION September 29, 1976

Note: Off air over the Summer 1976 WLTL studios relocated to Room 9A in the North Campus Main Building next to Room 9, a classroom for radio management, radio production and more.

 

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1985 WLTL started broadcasting in stereo with 180 watts (directional)

 

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