Saturday, April 28, 2007

First UHF TV In Ohio

While we call this blog "Cleveland Classic Media". Our scope of interest is the entire NorthEast Ohio region..from Ashtabula to Sandusky to Wooster/Mansfield South to Dover/New Philadephia and of course, Akron, Canton and Youngstown. In the next few articles we will share a little about early UHF in Ohio, specifically the Youngstown market. As with most television markets, the first Television stations in Youngstown were operated by companies that already were established media players in the market..The Youngstown Vindicator/WFMJ Radio and Warren P. Williamson of WKBN Radio. I would like to use vintage Youngstown Vindicator articles to give an idea of how things were covered at the time.


Equipment Shipped for WFMJ and WKBN from Camden, N.J.

Transmitters for Youngstown Television Stations WFMJ and WKBN left Camden, NJ in moving vans at 6 o'clock Wednesday Afternoon and were expected to arrive in this city between 6 and 7 o'clock New Years Morning.

The transmitters were designed and manufactured by the Radio Corporation of America and are the first Ultra High Frequency transmitters to be shipped into Ohio. Each transmitter will deliver 1,000 watts of power. Each was designed specifically for the channel on which it is to broadcast. WKBN will be on Channel 27 and WFMJ on 73. Because of a device which steps up the power actually put into the transmitters, effective radiated power up to 26 kilowatts is produced. No transmitters proudcing more power (than 1,000 watts) have yet been manufactured. it is hoped that 10 Kilowatt transmitters will be available by the end of 1953. Both Youngstown stations have placed orders for them and will increase the territory they will cover as soon as they are delivered.

Some time will be required to install and test the transmitters. Network programs will not be received here until the American Telephone and Telegraph company completes its new substation in Southern Boulevard. This is not expected before Feb. 1.

Tower is Erected

In order to be on the air as soon as possible, WFMJ-TV has erected a 335-Foot tower at its site on Mabel St. opposite Bennett School. WFMJ placed an order for a 1000-foot tower with Truscon Steel Co. many months ago. Defense Orders have delayed completion of this, but it is expected to be completed in the Spring of 1953. The antenna of this tower will mark the highest point in Ohio.

Shipment of WFMJ's transmitter has come five years and one week after application for a television license was filed by the Vindicator, owner of WFMJ-TV. The application, which was the first to be filed by a Youngstown station, was forwarded to the Federal Communications Commission Dec. 26, 1947. The "freeze" resulting from the FCC's study of Color Television and the need of a new broadcasting band soon after that. Meanwhile, Youngstowners discovered they could bring in pictures from Cleveland and Pittsburgh, a fact which had not been forseen, as the stations on the first, or Very High Frequency were not expected to go out more than 40 miles.

Article from page one of the Youngstown Vindicator, Thursday, January 1, 1953.

A couple of comments..It seemed obvious even as early as 1947 that there would be problems with introducing television to the whole country. You would think the FCC would have done a lot more study before trying to launch a national tv service. Also..More study would have made the FCC realize that Cleveland or Pittsburgh VHF would hit Youngstown.

Thanks to the Youngstown/Mahoning County Public Library for their assistance. In subsequent articles, I will focus on the first on-air days of WKBN and WFMJ.

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