WDNC TRANSMITTER

WDNCtransmitter_SRox.jpgForestHills_1951_USGSTopo.pngForestHills_1940_WDNC_RadioTower.png

WDNC TRANSMITTER

Durham
NC
Built in
1939
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

Comments

  • Submitted by Brian Fletcher on Monday, October 24, 2011 - 12:55am

    Durham's first radio station, WDNC actually began ints life in Wilmington as WRBT and later WRAM. In 1934, the station was purchased by Mayor W.F. Carr and several investors dismayed at the fact that Durham--then North Carolina's third-largest city--had no radio station of its own. In February of 1934, WRAM signed off in Wilmington and its equipment was delivered to the Bull City by truck, where it would be set up on the top floor of the Washington Duke Hotel downtown, where the station was rechristened as CBS affiliate WDNC at 1500 on the dial with 100 watts from a long-wire antenna strung between two steel towers atop the hotel.

    The Herald-Sun newspapers bought WDNC in 1936, and the station's studios moved to the newspaper building, next door to the hotel at 138 East Chapel Hill Street. WDNC increased its power to 250 watts in 1938, likely the same time the Forest Hills transmitter site seen here was activated.

    In 1941, the feedral government required many of the nation's radio stations to move channels in an international agreement with Canada and Mexico called NARBA. This had WDNC move to 1490 on the dial.

    WDNC's last broadcast from this site came on February 28th, 1948. On the next day--Leap Day--WDNC fired up their current three-tower directional array on Shocoree Drive off Interstate 85 in western Durham, complete with a coveted low AM frequency, 620 AM, and a powerful 5,000-watt daytime and 1,000 watts nighttime signal.

    Leap Day 1948 is arguably the biggest day in the Bull City's broadcasting history. In addition to WDNC's big power boost and frequency switch, two new stations hit the airwaves that day: WSSB (now WDUR), which took the now-vacated 1490 dial position and WDNC-FM 105.1 (now WDCG "G-105"), which signed on from an antenna on the easternmost of the new WDNC towers.

    Sadly, the studios for all three stations are now in Raleigh.

  • Submitted by Andrew Edmonds. on Monday, February 6, 2012 - 11:39am

    Based on the 1940 Farm Service Agency aerial imagery of Durham (available here, grid number 6B-85), it appears that the transmitter was located closer to present day Wilshire Drive than to Roxboro Street.  It was likely situated roughly toward the rear of the parcel boundary separating 2203 from 2207 Wilshire, which are the two parcels to the southeast of the house with the oval swimming pool in the back yard.

    I wonder if those residents have ever found anything interested in the ground while gardening!

  • Submitted by Andrew Edmonds. on Thursday, April 26, 2012 - 1:15pm

    Casey Herbert of Beverly Drive added this remembrance:

    I remember WSSB on the top of the hill where Wilshire now is. I watched as the tower swayed in a large storm as my folks house at 46 Beverly was under construction. I vividly remember standing in what would become the front door and aligning my line of sight with the tower and the door framing and was amazed at how much the tower moved.

    You could alway hear WSSB on our house phones.

    You could also hear WSSB on at least one toaster we had. The windings of the toaster's heater wire were just right to the frequency of the AM signal they transmitted.

    I finally remember when the station was demolished and other kids and I played with hundreds if not thousands of LPs and 45s like frisbees on that big undeveloped hillside.

  • Submitted by jim on Friday, April 11, 2014 - 5:55pm

    There was a DJ at WSSB for many years named Charlie Cook. He was known as "Country Boy" on the radio and he used a voice and vocabulary that is hard to describe if you never heard it. He was funny and well loved in the area. A friend I worked with took me to the studio once and I can't remember where it was but I remember going down a steep hill to the small building which looked a lot like the photo here of WDNC. Charlie was on the air as we walked in and I expected him to speak to us in the same voice. I was really surprised when he turned off the mic and spoke to us in a voice any English professor would praise. He passed away just a few years ago, I don't know when his show went off the air. He would talk about his wife and he said her name was LunaBelle, but he always called her Luna-tic on the show. He was a great guy.
    I know this is an old post here that I just read. It would probably be well received if Gary could find any info on the old WSSB and the Country Boy. I'm sure there are a lot of people that remember him.

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Last updated

  • Fri, 04/11/2014 - 3:58pm by gary

Comments

Durham
NC
Built in
1939
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

WDNCtransmitter_SRox.jpg

(Robby Delius)

In the comments below, Brian Fletcher referenced that this radio tower was used by WSSB beginning on Leap Day, 1948.  You can see these call letters on the 1951 USGS topoquad.  The tower is circled.  Also notice that Beverly Drive in Forest Hills does not yet exist, although a structure (likely a farm house) is shown on the hillside.

ForestHills_1951_USGSTopo.png

The radio tower was accessed from Summit Street to the west.  That access road is gone, replaced by the subdivided lots of the Forest Hills neighborhood.  Here's a close-up of the area with contemporary parcel boundaries (and street names) overlaying a 1940 aerial photograph.  The radio tower is circled in yellow.

ForestHills_1940_WDNC_RadioTower.png

 

Comments

Durham's first radio station, WDNC actually began ints life in Wilmington as WRBT and later WRAM. In 1934, the station was purchased by Mayor W.F. Carr and several investors dismayed at the fact that Durham--then North Carolina's third-largest city--had no radio station of its own. In February of 1934, WRAM signed off in Wilmington and its equipment was delivered to the Bull City by truck, where it would be set up on the top floor of the Washington Duke Hotel downtown, where the station was rechristened as CBS affiliate WDNC at 1500 on the dial with 100 watts from a long-wire antenna strung between two steel towers atop the hotel.

The Herald-Sun newspapers bought WDNC in 1936, and the station's studios moved to the newspaper building, next door to the hotel at 138 East Chapel Hill Street. WDNC increased its power to 250 watts in 1938, likely the same time the Forest Hills transmitter site seen here was activated.

In 1941, the feedral government required many of the nation's radio stations to move channels in an international agreement with Canada and Mexico called NARBA. This had WDNC move to 1490 on the dial.

WDNC's last broadcast from this site came on February 28th, 1948. On the next day--Leap Day--WDNC fired up their current three-tower directional array on Shocoree Drive off Interstate 85 in western Durham, complete with a coveted low AM frequency, 620 AM, and a powerful 5,000-watt daytime and 1,000 watts nighttime signal.

Leap Day 1948 is arguably the biggest day in the Bull City's broadcasting history. In addition to WDNC's big power boost and frequency switch, two new stations hit the airwaves that day: WSSB (now WDUR), which took the now-vacated 1490 dial position and WDNC-FM 105.1 (now WDCG "G-105"), which signed on from an antenna on the easternmost of the new WDNC towers.

Sadly, the studios for all three stations are now in Raleigh.

Based on the 1940 Farm Service Agency aerial imagery of Durham (available here, grid number 6B-85), it appears that the transmitter was located closer to present day Wilshire Drive than to Roxboro Street.  It was likely situated roughly toward the rear of the parcel boundary separating 2203 from 2207 Wilshire, which are the two parcels to the southeast of the house with the oval swimming pool in the back yard.

I wonder if those residents have ever found anything interested in the ground while gardening!

Casey Herbert of Beverly Drive added this remembrance:

I remember WSSB on the top of the hill where Wilshire now is. I watched as the tower swayed in a large storm as my folks house at 46 Beverly was under construction. I vividly remember standing in what would become the front door and aligning my line of sight with the tower and the door framing and was amazed at how much the tower moved.

You could alway hear WSSB on our house phones.

You could also hear WSSB on at least one toaster we had. The windings of the toaster's heater wire were just right to the frequency of the AM signal they transmitted.

I finally remember when the station was demolished and other kids and I played with hundreds if not thousands of LPs and 45s like frisbees on that big undeveloped hillside.

There was a DJ at WSSB for many years named Charlie Cook. He was known as "Country Boy" on the radio and he used a voice and vocabulary that is hard to describe if you never heard it. He was funny and well loved in the area. A friend I worked with took me to the studio once and I can't remember where it was but I remember going down a steep hill to the small building which looked a lot like the photo here of WDNC. Charlie was on the air as we walked in and I expected him to speak to us in the same voice. I was really surprised when he turned off the mic and spoke to us in a voice any English professor would praise. He passed away just a few years ago, I don't know when his show went off the air. He would talk about his wife and he said her name was LunaBelle, but he always called her Luna-tic on the show. He was a great guy.
I know this is an old post here that I just read. It would probably be well received if Gary could find any info on the old WSSB and the Country Boy. I'm sure there are a lot of people that remember him.

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