WFPG-TV ATLANTIC CITY,
UHF CHANNEL 46
by FRED WEBER President of WFPG-TV
and BLAIR THRON Vice-President and Director of Operations
(from RCA Broadcast News - March/April 1953)
(the site and building now houses WMID and WSAX)
(see current pictures on Jim Hawkin's pages)
WFPG-TV South Jersey's first television station-went on the air December
21, 1952, at the
"World's Finest Playground," Atlantic City, New Jersey-the first to operate with a commercial
UHF transmitter (RCA 1-KW).
The venture was one of pioneering for several reasons: There was no
of operating experience with commercially-built UHF television transmitters. Nevertheless,
our early transmitter problems were quickly brought under control once all technical and
engineering adjustments were completed. Naturally, the eyes of many were focused upon
WFPG-TV since it was a "pioneer" station.
Our potential audience in Atlantic City had earlier invested generously
in VHF receivers and
super deluxe antenna systems in order to receive barely perceptible pictures from distant
metropolitan areas. Local dealers and nearby distributors with inventories of VHF receivers
and very few UHF receivers were not prone at first to give UHF its deserved measure of
enthusiasm. In looking back, we now realize that the VHF receiver owners and dealers were
not thoroughly educated in advance as to exactly what they should do to properly "pick-up"
WFPG-TV's UHF signal, The question of what kind of an antenna to use and how to orient the
antenna should be completely answered ahead of time in all UHF markets. UHF television,
as such, is an exact science and it has already been proved by RCA through several years of
successful transmission at Bridgeport, Connecticut and at KPTV, Portland, Oregon. However,
UHF requires that certain types of antenna equipment be used to obtain the finest results.
Such antenna equipment is, in many cases, simpler and less expensive than some complex,
high gain VHF antennas.
It is not costly to convert an existing VHF receiver and the small expense
of doing so is amply
repaid by entertainment value that heretofore was impossible to attain. WFPG-TV's audience
was quick to recognize this as soon as the facts were known. That high-quality pictures could
be received by proper receiver installations was fully substantiated by measurements taken in
the Atlantic City area. Such field strength measurements showed that in the city's business section,
signal levels range from 7800 to 16,000 microvolts per meter with a 30-foot high antenna-well
above the 2000 microvolt per meter signal level needed for snow-free pictures and also above
the FCC estimated 5000 microvolt per meter signal strength required for Grade "A" coverage.
Proof of high-quality pictures can be seen day-after-day in the local stores. Where good installations
have been made, owners of older VHF receivers and newer UHF sets are enjoying better television
than ever before. WFPG-TV has urged present-set owners and non-set owners alike to check with
local dealers, distributors and manufacturers for intelligent and helpful answers to their questions.
WFPG-TV's programming is supplied from all four major networks - NBC,
and Du Mont. WFPG's southern New Jersey station covers a four-county area in Atlantic,
Cape May, Ocean and Cumberland Counties. WFPG-TV has now proved that the population
of Atlantic City and surrounding areas will be served by one of television's finest UHF stations,
and with "more-than-adequate" signal strength.
Description of Installation
Our construction permit was granted October 30, 1952 and just 52 days
later at 8: 15 P.M.
WFPG-TV had test pattern and sound on the air.
At 8:00 o'clock on the morning of our grant, our construction began.
This included a cinderblock
and concrete addition to our original AM-FM plant, rearrangement of existing equipment to
accommodate the TV gear, installation of wire ducts in the old concrete floor of the original building,
increased power load requirements, and, of course, the complete installation of the TTU-1B
transmitter, TC-4A console. TK-20C film camera, two TP-16D film projectors, automatic slide
projector, etc., and the usual sync generator, and five racks of associated audio-video gear.
Our big problem was to rearrange our original plant to house the transmitter,
console and racks.
We had two reasons for this arrangement. First, our AM engineer would be available to take
over some of the TV operating duties and second, installation of our more complex equipment
could be accomplished while the addition to the building was under construction.
The new building houses the film room, with space for expansion, announcer
office for programs and film handling, engineering office, film store room and heater room.
A large hall was provided which also is used for our regular disc and tape recording facilities,
moved from our old building.
Since our TV operation must necessarily be located at our present AM
plant, considerable attention
was given the probability of R-F interference. We completely shielded our film room with copper
netting, soldered along all seams and carried to ground with a 6-inch copper strap. Very careful attention
was given to proper grounding of wire shields at receiving ends, etc., lead was used for all a-c wiring,
all wire was shielded, cotton braid, to eliminate "ground loops" as far as practical, but R-F was still
present to some extent. Finally, specials shields were installed around the input circuits and preamplifiers
of the film camera, stabilizing amplifiers, monoscope, etc. Special attention was given to good ground
connections to the various shields, covers and doors, ground straps used across hinges, etc. A-C
power leads and B plus leads were filtered at "receiving" points Little by little the R-F was reduced
and now is virtually eliminated. The RCA Service Co. did excellent work on this problem, resulting in
The problem of the filterplexer was solved by ceiling mounting. A movable
sling of angle iron
was used to hang the unit allowing some slight alignment for the 3 1/2-inch coax line plumbing
operation. Dry nitrogen at a pressure of 20 pounds from an automatic regulator is fed to the
filterplexer. The unit itself has a set valve holding the pressure to a maximum of 15 pounds-the
The line from the filterplexer to antenna is pressurized at 8 pounds
by means of an automatic
dry air pump. Our line incidentally is excellent, requiring the pump to operate approximately
5 minutes in 24 hours.
Since this was the first installation of a TFU-24B UHF antenna on an
FM Pylon, a special
pedestal had to be fabricated adapting the UHF antenna base to the Pylon top flange. In
addition, a means of bringing out the line at the TV antenna base and down the outside
of the FM Pylon had to be provided. The pedestal was provided with a slot in the side to
permit entrance of the transmission line and made high enough to permit use of a 90' meter
elbow to join with the antenna harness in the base of the TFU-24B. Two special 17-inch
flanged sections of line were made up in advance to permit extension of the line horizontally
beyond the Pylon flanges and back again to the tower center below the Pylon. In order to
handle the line suspension on the Pylon, four 12-inch angle iron brackets were mounted on
the Pylon flange bolts to support the spring hangers along the "back" of the Pylon.
Before setting the gin-pole and rigging, it was necessary to shunt feed
our tower, since
erection had to be accomplished without AM shut down and being a series feed base
insulated tower, means had to be provided to permit the hoisting cables to cross base
insulators. This worked out quite well with very little difficulty being experienced with
our AM operation.
The TFU-24B antenna was lifted from the truck and placed on two specially
high wooden horses upon arrival, to permit measurements to be made free of ground effects
to make certain no damage had been done in transit. Before lifting, the antenna was fitted
with its beacon and pedestal. A special section of 5-inch line was made up to adopt the teflon
anchor in the base to a 90' meter elbow-and these units were installed on the ground. A large
loop of copper tubing was installed over the beacon and fastened to the beacon mounting bolts.
A similar loop was used in the original beacon installation as a possible protection against
lightning. Judging from the condition of the old loop it had apparently received many direct hits,
but we had never suffered a damaged beacon or lost a lamp due to lightning, even though the
tower had been struck heavily many times. The only difficulty in mounting the antenna was due
to high winds on the morning it was planned to hoist, resulting in a delay until after lunch, when
the wind eased off. When the antenna was finally at the top, it was found impossible to swing it
vertical due to the step bolts digging into the gin pole and as darkness had fallen it was decided
to lash it down in a horizontal position, resting on the Pylon top until the next morning. A guard
was posted at the winch truck overnight to prevent tampering and, although fortunately the night
was clear and calm, a rather uneasy few hours followed, especially for the men on duty at our
regular AM operation, some 400 feet below and directly beneath the suspended TFU-24B.
However, the next morning the antenna was mounted without mishap and the transmission line
installed without any particular problems.
Installation of the rack equipment, switching console and projection
equipment went right along in
the midst of the builders, dodging flying chunks of concrete as the floor was broken up for the new
ducts and trying to keep plaster and cement dust out of the equipment plus sand blown in through
temporary barricades, where a wall was torn out. Since a definite on air date had been determined,
no time could be wasted-and none was. As soon as a roof was on and glass in the windows of the new
building, the film equipment was set up with the exception of the projector heads. These were kept
cased until the film room was finished and thoroughly cleaned.
The construction was in good shape by the time the filterplexer and
transmitter arrived. A near
catastrophe developed when we learned the filterplexer, which was already on its way from
Camden, exceeded the dimensions of its base upon which we had planned, due to the spheres
extending considerably beyond on each side.
A quick examination of our door dimensions indicated that we were in
trouble. A crew was
immediately turned loose on one of our metal sash windows in the transmitter room, the sash
removed and the filterplexer lifted in on arrival.
The TTU-1B transmitter was the last piece of major equipment to arrive.
Our transmitter was
the first to go out of the doors at Camden and was brought the 55 miles by special truck with
a State Police escort, arriving at approximately 6:00 P.M. Friday, December 19th. Everything
was in readiness. A crew of movers stood by to unload the units and carry them in, all wiring
was run to the transmitter location. RCA Service Co. engineers Duncan, McKenna and Tom
Dearing were at hand to supervise the installation and tune up. Early Saturday morning the line
plumbing to the filterplexer was completed and the transmitter was ready to fire up.
The RCA Transmitter Section and Service Co. worked around the clock
with our own
personnel. Finally, at 8:15 P.M. Sunday, December 21st -just 52 days after commencement
of construction, WFPG-TV went on the air with visual test pattern and aural tone. At 10:45 P.M.
the same evening, a one hour commercial film was run, with regular programming including
shows from all four TV networks, NBC, CBS, ABC and DuMont, scheduled to begin the
After only three months of operation WFPG-TV is on the air 91 hours
a week, including
58 hours of programming of which 37 1/4 hours are NBC and CBS and 33 hours of test-pattern.
Only 1 1/2 hours nightly after 7:30 P.M. remain unfilled by network programming. Full daytime
as well as night-time programming is planned, beginning in May, including a complete baseball
schedule. We are affiliated with all four networks, our primary affiliation being NBC.
Network service involves five microwave "hops" from Philadelphia, making the temporary
use of State fire towers and the Ritz Hotel here in Atlantic City.
Real credit is due all those involved. Space does not permit individual
mention of all concerned,
but we certainly must express appreciation to those who worked around the clock and did
such a fine job, Especially to our own crew, Earle Godfrey, plant supervisor, Jim Lafferty
and Joe Roberts of our TV staff, and Brad Lippincott, our projectionist - to Radio Towers Co. who
handled the erection of the antenna - to J. Vaughn Mathis, architects and builders, for their
cooperation in supplying us with a building in record time and last, but far from least, the
many people at RCA in the Sales, Engineering and Service groups, who kept equipment
and parts rolling in, supplied information and advice wherever possible, gave up lots of sleep
and even their Thanksgiving turkey to help WFPG-TV make good its promised "on-air" date.
Click to see actual programming from WFPG-TV !