Wednesday, December 25, 2019

A Look Back at KENC 1620 AM

"..I've been involved in radio since I was a young man at the age of 7 or 8. Always listening. I'd take a radio to bed with me, hide it under the covers and listen 'till I fell asleep everynight. It was my window to the world.." - Ken Cartwright

I don't know Ken Cartwright, though I did have a few brief interactions with him back when the 'Community Radio USA' forums were still around. But from my current research, a rather clear impression emerges of him as a very talented and very friendly, but stubborn soul, who has eagerly sought out community involvement all his life, who never hesitates to speak his mind, and will a fight if he believes he's right. That is one of the things that makes the story of KENC so beautiful. The other thing is that he excelled in successfully establishing KENC as a top-notch community station. Despite it's eventual downfall (for lack of a better word, as it really wasn't a failure), KENC remains to be the most successful and famous part 15 community station in history, exceeding the success of even the long running and still in operation Radio Sausalito.

Ken did EVERYTHING right and remains to be what every part 15 community broadcaster should strive for. He did everything right, that is, except interpret the term "ground lead" correctly (anyone who's been in the hobby a long time, knows that practically everyone was misinterpreting 15.219 back then!). Anyway, a couple nights ago wrote this detailed chronically ordered summary of the KENC station, with the sources of research from over 20 publications, equaling even more individual articles (most of which were Oregon based), as well as information gathered from numerous forums, such as Hobby Broadcaster, Radio Discussions, Part15US, Antique Radio Forum, PDXRadio, what little is left of the KENC site archive, a few other miscellaneous sources.. Intended to fine-tune this a bit before posting, but that might result in me never posting! So decided to post now, as is. There's not much in ways of links below, but I intend to add some later (should have already).. for due credits, and to demonstrate it's accuracy.

It's pretty in depth, only problem is I'm not much of a writer, nevertheless I believe the following is a very accurate story about KENC, a story not told in it's entirety anywhere else. So next time the subject of KENC comes up and a newcomer ask (as they invariably do) "Who's KENC??", you can direct them to this page. I tried to go easy on actual quotes, there's a few, but not excessive. It's not a short read, I inserted bold capital letter headings to break it up.


Early 1950s:
" ..I built little crystal radio sets all the time.. ..It took me about a month to build a transmitter and antenna.. ..One afternoon.. Mom stuck her head in the door and said there was someone there to talk to me. In stepped Mr FCC from Buffalo, NY... ..he cut the wires holding my homemade antenna and threw it to the ground.. he took my transmitter and tucked it in a cardboard box to take with him.. ..He then explained the issue with the FCC, the law, the consequences, etc. He warned me to never do this again or he'd be back.... -Ken Cartwright [Read full story here]

Ken Cartwright on bass during last broadcast KENC 1620 AM
Ken Cartwright has been a musician all his life. As a young child, he sang with his two sisters as his mother played piano. He learned to play the accordion, clarinet and cello, and was bass player in his grandfathers band which played every weekend at Azel Holly’s fiddle shop. At 10, he began with guitar. He continued to play all his instruments through high school, but his guitar he continued playing throughout his life.

He went on to serve in Navy, later became a private contractor for the government, but admits, “I politically couldn’t keep my mouth shut, and I wanted to do what I wanted to do.”

Fast forward a few years, and he's an apprentice at a music shop in LA; “No pay, but lots and lots of learning.”. He soon was building and repairing stringed instruments as a career, and moved to Coos Bay to open his own shop, which he called 'Cartwright Music',  he eventually moved the shop to Salem Oregon, and then again to Stayton Oregon in 1999.
In 2007, Ken bought an old commercial building on 3rd Ave that had been built in 1908, he says it's haunted by friendly ghost. It had at one time been a brothel, an automotive garage, and a variety of other shops. Now it was going to be a music shop. Ken remodeled and later added more windows for the upstairs. Finally he moved his music shop from it's Ida Street location to his newly remodeled  3rd Ave building.


Early August 2007, Ken Cartwright announces his plans to open a radio station in Stayton, The Stayton Journal was first to report it on August 9, soon after several other Oregon publications reported about it as well.

Ken spent the rest of the month setting up his station; installed a transmitter on his roof (a Hamilton AM1000), performed test runs, and discovered the transmitter "can cover from Highway 22 to about the south edge of town." (about 2 miles or so). He began meeting with city officials in Stayton, Aumsville, and Sublimity, looking to secure locations, as well as donations for the $1,000 a per install transmitters..

He set up the studio, gathered his country and bluegrass music library together for automation, and began preparing resources for local news, with segments devoted to Stayton and Regis high schools; traffic reports, interviews with local officials, readying the phonelines for call-in guest, made room for a marketplace time devoted to buying, selling and trading; all of which would intersect with large blocks of music. Soon he was ready for the official launch of KENC RADIO 1620 AM...


Precisely at 6:30 AM, as Ken looked out his large storefront window onto the sidewalk and street, just before the rising sun, KENC 1620AM hits the airwaves for the first time. Stayton's population was about 1700, those in range (and awake!) tuned in to listen to their new community stations launch.

“It is 6:52 in the morning, as we continue on with music.  Our featured artist this morning is Marty Stuart, on AM 1620, KENC.  Good morning...   ...There may be some fog as you head up the canyon if you’re going towards Mehama or Lyons.  So be aware, turn your headlights on.  Watch out for the deer, they’re out there this morning...   ...Part of the program this morning is made possible by you, our KENC listeners.  And a grant from Jensen Kreitzer. Jensen Kreitzer in downtown Stayton is your hometown store…..."

In the weeks and months to come KENC received high praise in many publications such as The Salem News, Stayton Press, The Oregonian, Our Town, Oregon Public Broadcasting, and others. It was well received by the community.

"Cartwright’s project isn’t technically a radio station, at least not in the legal sense.  He’s taking advantage of an FCC rule that allows anyone to set up a very low power AM transmitter. KENC broadcasts with a whopping 100 milliwatts of power.  That’s one-tenth of a watt. In other words, the average trucker can reach more people with a CB radio.  But Cartwright knows a good chunk of Stayton’s 7300 people are listening.  They stop and tell him at the grocery and post office...  ..“You know I’ve had a drive-by mooning, already.”


During 2008 KENC expanded it's reach by moving the transmitter from the roof to his newly installed 40 foot metal tower erected directly behind the building. He also installed two more transmitters (Rangemasters) around the area; one on a metal roof above the bleachers by the control room of the Stayton High School football stadium, the other on top a 100ft water tower located across Highway 22, in Stayton's sister city, Sublimity. The transmitters were gps synchronized and utilized Barix boxes (according to one source).
Click to enlarge map.
Any kinks there might have been in the beginning had been completely worked out, KENC was now a high quality broadcast as good or better than most full-fledged LP non-profit community radio stations. KENC also operated as part of the Stayton Community Food Bank, with the station donating 20% of any earnings to the nonprofit organization.
It's reported he moved the studio to his upstairs bedroom, (unclear why, I suspect a secondary makeshift studio was created upstairs, but the primary studio remained at storefront perhaps?) and the first floor remained as a concert hall which also housed Cartwright's Music Repair shop.
Every weekday from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. Ken does the news along with a play by play of the sunrise. Throughout the rest of the day his three volunteer disc jockeys take over. One reads book excerpts, another, who's a prison guard plays New Age and acoustic music. The third features folk and blues music. Community updates are announced throughout the day. (Not sure how having a rotating crew of DJs in his bedroom played out!). On Saturdays, Ken hosts "Tradio," where locals call-in to alert about garage sale offerings. Stayton High School football games are broadcasts live. The station also streams live 24/7 on the Internet, where it's heard in 30 countries and all states but North Dakota.


In early May 2009, Ken fell deftly ill and had to have surgery to remove a busted gall bladder brought on from pneumonia which was also affecting his pancreas. The surgery resulted in a staph infection, which was treated with high doses of antibiotics. His recovery was slow, and since he had no medical insurance, he was facing some very heavy medical bills that he couldn't cover. To his surprise, townspeople came out of the woodwork to help him. Benefits were held at the Star [bar?], and again at the Station Community Center to raise funds to cover the medical bills.

“The level of friendship I’ve developed over the years goes far beyond what I thought it was,” Cartwright said, humbled by all the attention and support. “Lots of friends came out of the woodwork willing to help me, and I’m eternally grateful.. ..I’ve done things all my life for other people, but never in my wildest dreams would I consider they’d do this for me!”


Jan Castillo was at those fund raisers. Ken and Jan had known each other for 15 years and often performed together in bluegrass festivals. Both were divorced and in their 60's. At the second fundraiser, Ken asked Castillo to marry him. Jan didn't hesitate in saying yes. "I've always had a little spark," says Castillo, "for the way he walks -- for how he carries himself. He's a man with a mission, He's kind to people, patient and so community-minded."

To avoid expenses, Ken suggest, "Why not just do the service online on the radio station?", and that's exactly what they did. The announcements for the first-ever radio wedding were reported in both The Oregonian and Our Town publications..

FCC Agent Bihn Nguyen read the Oregonian paper, and three days later showed up at the newlyweds front door.. "Talk about spoiling the wedding party."


(Not issued until November 5, 2009) NOTICE OF UNLICENSED OPERATION Case Number: EB-09-PO-0056
"..On October 20, 2009, an agent from this office confirmed.. signals on frequency 1620 kHz were emanating from 429 N. Third Avenue, Stayton, Oregon.. ..The field strength of the signal on frequency 1620  kHz was measured at 4000 microvolts per meter (uV/m ) at 137 meters,.. ..the agent observed that the vertical whip antenna used by the station was approximately 3 meters long, however, the referenced antenna's ground lead was attached to an unshielded radiating metal tower in which the height of the tower measured at approximately 40 feet long.. --Binh Nguyen, Resident Agent

-[Note that's 270 times the expected power measured at 4-1/2 times the distance]-

"FCC inspector Binh Nguyen declared.. exceeded the three meters maximum allowable length per FCC code.
“That’s his interpretation,” Cartwright said, “the code does not say that.”

"In an interview this week, Nguyen said he hasn't a clue how many low-power radio stations broadcast from basements or bedrooms around Oregon. Unlike Cartwright's community-focused station, hobbyists.. keep such low profiles the FCC doesn't know about them. We only inspect," he said, "if something surfaces in front of us or if we have a complaint.. ..Unlicensed, low-power stations are legal, but those who operate them must adhere to strict regulations regarding broadcast power, transmitter strength, antennas and such.. ..KENC can be heard over three transmitters, each of which covers 10 to 12 blocks in Stayton and neighboring Sublimity. That's too far.. ..To operate a station," he said, "you must comply with the federal standard." The FCC says the station is allowed a signal strength that carries just over 98 feet.."

That reference to 98 feet had to be due to a misconception by the reporter, and not something that Nguyen had actually said. There is absolutely no such rule stipulating -or even indicating- a 15.219 signal strength of just over 98 feet. In fact it is specifically stated there is no field strength limit associated with it whatsoever. I suspect the reporter had read something pertaining to Part 15 FM regulations and quoted from that.

Cartwright said he knew the rules and believed he was operating legally. "Then we have this happen, here comes this 500-pound gorilla from the federal government..."


During a face to face visit, Agent Nguyen cited to Ken "a chapter in the FCC guide that we were not aware of" (presumably the FCC's Field Agents manual) giving KENC the choice for the transmitter to be either elevated with no ground, or to have it grounded at a height of no more than 3 feet. (other reports relating to a conversation between Senator Wydens office and the FCC actually suggested up to a 3 meter ground lead.. if these reports are accurate is another matter, however, up to a 3 meter ground lead would correspond with 50 years of established use of Part 15AM by Department of the Interior, as well as present day ISS installs, ie: national and state parks, historic sites, marinas etc. with their pole/post mount part 15 installs).

It's interesting that no such options addressed anywhere in the rules, yet it's highly unlikely an agent "playing hardball", as Nguyen was, would ever suggest it if not true, thus giving more weight to the theory it is stated within the redacted portions of the field agents manual released years ago after FOIA request (which Ken says the agent had read aloud to him). But, without an unredacted copy in hand, it's only a speculative deduction.


During November and December, Nguyen came to Stayton three times to meet with Ken attempting assistance in making his 3rd Ave install compliant.
"He was trying to get me to comply with ..15.209, ..I told him I disagreed with his interpretation and would not accept it.. I insisted that rule did not come under part 15.219.. ..I told him I heard him loud and clear but did not agree with him... ..I said, "so, if i bring the transmitter/antenna down off the 40' tower and keep it within 3 feet of the ground, that would be OK?" He said "Yes".
I said, "If I left it up on the tower and cut the ground off and retuned, that would be OK?" He thought about that for a minute and said "Yes".."

Ken removed the ground wire from the elevated transmitter, this resulted in a decrease in range, but Ken considered it was still operating with a satisfactory reach..


Nguyen deemed the elevated transmitter at the stadium which was grounded to the "ungrounded metal roof" as compliant. It's also worth noting that at no time did Nguyen or any FCC official express any concern about KENC using call letters, nor for employing multiple transmitters to expand range. (I only mention this because sometimes the use of call letters and synchronizing transmitters is questioned amongst forum discussions about it's actual legality; Use of vanity part 15 call letters is seemingly discouraged but not specifically prohibited by the rules. As for multiple transmitter, there is nothing in the rules prohibiting it either, nor has there has ever been a citation issued for doing so. Also the Rangemaster is FCC Certified with multi-transmitter link capability. But the bottom line, and deciding factor is that OEC document FCC 89-103A1 clearly states multiple part 15 transmitters may be used "for the purpose of extending transmission range or for extending the area of coverage" " (See paragraphs 136 and 137).


The primary argument was that Nguyen seemed to be forcing Ken to apply to 15.209 field strength, despite the fact the Rangemaster AMT1000 is FCC Certified to operate under 15.219. If this what was Nguyen was actually doing however, is up to interpretation.


In the days following the NOUO, news about the citation appeared in The Oregonian, Popular Communications, Radio & Television Business Report, Statesman Journal, and others. Somehow a misconception that part 15 AM stations are limited to a range of 98 feet are again reported, some of articles also incorrectly reported KENC was a FM station. Plus a curious mention that "A summary of the regulations stretches over 31 single-spaced pages".. Not sure what that refers to (the aforementioned 32 page field agents manual perhaps??), but the rules relating to operating part 15 AM would easily fit on a single page. But anyway, suffice to say some of the reporters apparently were not very diligent on some basic research for accuracy before publishing.

Meanwhile Ken is stressing "It is imperative that we keep the station on the air…"


Although KENC was cited on only one location, he chose to cease broadcasting on all 3 locations effective November 21, 2009 at 5:00 PM PST until he can get the issue resolved, but continues the internet stream. Ken commented, ".Knowing that the FCC would be back to see if we complied I assumed that the other two transmitters would be the next targets. Why they weren't cited on his first visit is a mystery to me... Kenc"


Ken Cartwright writes his congressmen, Rep. Kurt Schraeder, and Sen. Ron Wyden for help, and filed a freedom of information act to find out who filed the complaint (he did not trust Nguyens claim of becoming aware of the station only by reading the news article), He also contacted an attorney in Washington, as well as Ken Hamilton, the manufacturer, who has began designing a ground lead filter for the system. Stayton Mayor Gerry Aboud also offered his assistance. Several locals wrote the FCC objecting to the closure of the station. There's also a rumor circulating that KENC is suing the FCC, but appears was nothing more than just that; a rumor.

Meanwhile, Ken, who considered the agent as incorrect for requiring compliance with 15.209, continues his efforts in expanding KENC to nearby Aumsville, and puts a full page paid advertisement in their newspaper requesting donations to install additional transmitters for their area.. Nothing became of it, presumably because his current FCC problems were already well known throughout the area.


Katy Muldoon from the Oregonian, while doing a follow up story, called the FCC in DC and mentioned Nguyens advice about the disconnect on the ground as an option. The FCC responded; "We are very familiar with the KENC issue and we are concerned about the advice given to him about disconnecting his ground. If there was a lightning strike on the antenna, and equipment, buildings or god forbid a human injury, there could be problems"


Ken had already been eyeing the AM station KCKX which was for sale and licensed to the area, but the $350,000 price was out of his reach. So he began watching the progress of HR 1147, Local Community Radio Act of 2009, intended to make it easier to obtain a FM license. Ken says, "My concern now is that if I try to apply for a LPFM, the citation will strike against me"


December 7, 2009 - Statesman Journal
Stayton low-power AM broadcaster Ken Cartwright said he is planning to return to the airwaves today, starting with his morning newscast at 6:30 a.m. That's despite a notice of unlicensed operation from the Federal Communications Commission for transmitting too much power for his type of station. The issue is still open, FCC officials said. "Until I get an official notice to cease and desist by a certain date, I'm going to exercise my freedom of speech and go back on air to serve the community with radio," Cartwright said. Cartwright said he will appeal if the FCC reaches a decision that is not in his favor. He said he also is meeting with staffers from Sen. Ron Wyden's office on Tuesday.

The late Ermi Roos had listened to that broadcast and describes what he heard:
"I listened to most of Ken Cartwright’s return to the air today. He only briefly mentioned his problem with the FCC; but, despite his quiet demeanor, he was defiant.. ..He says, in effect, that the rules are vague, and he requires clarification of the rules from the FCC to show that he is, in fact, violating Part 15. His next scheduled live broadcast will be tomorrow morning. We’ll have to see how this all turns out."


On December 15, 2009 Ken issues a press release:
"The FCC inspector..[Nguyen] called and said that based on advise from legal consul for the FCC, If I would send them an affidavit certifying that our transmitters were tuned to 100 milliwatts and our ground and antenna were of legal attachment they would dismiss this action against KENC... It's because many of you have written to both the FCC and senator Wyden that this action has happened... I need to make a couple of little changes to our primary transmitter here at the shop... they also will not hold us to comply with the silly field strength meter rule of part 15.209... No Field strength meter ruling means my range for the station can be what is as long as I comply with the 100 Milliwatt part, which we have always done... I guess the civic lesson here is when you believe that you are right and fight for it, you will prevail.. I know that the pressure we put on the FCC with our reactions to this abuse of power had everything to do with it. My heartfelt thanks to you all and Merry Christmas.. Ken Cartwright"

On December 22, Ken writes a response to the FCC, stating his plans to install a filter (also referred to as a "RF Choke") and reconnect the antenna's ground lead in order to resume operation with the same antenna and ground configuration. (although he actually waited over a month to do so).


This clearly was not as much of a victory as Ken was perceiving it to be. Agent Nguyen wasn't saying anything different than what he had been saying all along. In light of all the supposed "pressure" the FCC received on the matter, the agent was simply giving Ken a courtesy call on what to do to become compliant. The part 15 community in general also responded to the announcement as exciting news.. Nobody seemed to realize there was absolutely nothing in the FCCs response to the issue that was any different than before.


I've not yet been able to retrieve an archived copy of the response from Wydens office, so again relying on Ermi Roos account of it at the time on December 17, 2009:
"On his website, Ken Cartwright posted a message to him from a staffer of Sen. Wyden. The message does not make a lot of sense. What I deciphered from the message is that the matter has been turned over to the OET staff for evaluation; that Ken does not have to meet BOTH 15.219 and 15.209, and that a 3 m ground lead is acceptable. (Maybe what was meant is 3 feet, which was mentioned previously, not three meters). Most important, there was no mention of the 40 foot tower. This causes me to think that this matter has not been settled yet."

In the first week of February, 2010 Ken installed Hamilton's first generation ground filter on his 40ft tower install.


(Issued April 8, 2010 to Ken Cartwright)
".. On March 23, 2010, an agent from this office confirmed.. radio signals on frequency 1620 kHz were emanating from an AM transmitter installed on top of a metal water reservoir tower located near an address of 390 SE Church, Sublimity, Oregon.. ..The field strength.. was measured at 1400 microvolts per meter (uV/m ) at 30 meters from the base of the water reservoir tower,.. ..Another exception,. ..Specifically, Section 15.219(b).. ..the agent observed that the approximate length of the vertical whip antenna and the ground lead used by the station was 3 meters, however, the referenced antenna was attached to an unshielded radiating metal water reservoir tower and the height of the metal water reservoir tower measured approximately 100 feet (31.2 meters)....


(Issued April 8, 2010 to City of Sublimity)
On March 23, 2010, an agent from this office confirmed.. signals on frequency 1620 kHz were emanating from an AM transmitter installed on top of a metal water reservoir tower located near an address of 390 SE Church, Sublimity, Oregon 97385. Public records list you as the owner of the referenced water reservoir tower.. ..measured at 1400 microvolts per meter (uV/m ) at 30 meters from the base of the water reservoir tower, which exceeded the maximum permitted level.. ..This installation violated Section 15.219(b) of the Rules...

Also on March 23, Nguyen re-inspected and took field strength reading of the Stayton 40ft tower transmitter which Ken had installed a filter on...


In the following days Ken said in press releases: "..It's the same issue we had on our primary transmitter in downtown Stayton.. ..Because it's up on the tank, our alternative is to disconnect the ground completely or add a approved ground filter... we are not yet approved to use it.. meaning, that we will have to shut down both the main transmitter and the Sublimity transmitter until the FCC in Washington DC approves it, or not, and gives us a final approval..."


On July 8 Ken received an official response from the FCC concerning the filter:
"On March 23, 2010, this office re-inspected your AM transmitter, then operating with a filter (Rangemaster Model AM1000FIL) along with the associated antenna and ground configuration. This office made field strength measurements with and without the filter.. The field strength meter readings revealed no appreciable difference.. ..Consequently, it is apparent that the attachment of the filter to the transmitter and associated equipment does not limit the total length of the transmission line, antenna and ground to the three meters.. ..The FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology ("OET") also tested the devices and OET's results confirm the ineffectiveness of this configuration... You are hereby warned.. Resumed unauthorized operation of the radio transmitting equipment described herein may result in additional sanctions and potential forfeitures.
 Binh Nguyen, resident agent, Portland Resident Agent Office, western Region, Enforcement Bureau.


APRIL 13, 2010: "..We will continue to keep our station online at and we will keep the one transmitter at the Stayton High school operational, as it's not an issue, until such time as we have this resolved..."

Ken is appealing the FCC's findings. He also begins looking into using Community Internet Television for providing information for his community.


On June 10, Ken had to change his station name due to the FCC has assigning the call letters KENC to a licensed station in Colorado (KENC, 90.7 FM). Ken decides to avoid using letters that begin with a W or K for the new name, and On June 15 changes it to CCRN (stands for Canyon Community Radio Network). The very next day he reconsiders and changes it again to CKENC (not sure what that stood for). Oddly enough, thereafter Ken continues to refer to his station as KENC in press releases and in forums, it's unconfirmed if the actual broadcast continued to announce itself as KENC or not.


That same weekend, Ken reinstalls his transmitter by removing it from the 40' tower and put it back on top the building and attached it to a downstairs bathroom vent stack, which he utilized for it's new ground. It's not specified what he did at the Sublimity water tower install at that time, but an April issue of Our Town mentioned that Ken had discovered a loose ladder while checking his antenna, "which was then attached to the tower".. Indications are he had removed the transmitter entirely, if not in July, then certainly by May when the 1948 water tower had been totally dismantled. (Ken later posted a half hour time-lapse video of it being taken down over the course of several days).

On a side note, someone in the Antique Radio Forums name John mentioned: "What's really funny was when Ken asked me a couple years ago to go up the water tower and check on the transmitter. It's on the very top of the tank and some of the rungs welded to the tank are either loose of missing near the top! I declined."


Around this time Ken had began expressing his increasing discouragement in various forums and press releases, he felt that neither his Stayton community, nor other part 15 broadcasters were coming to his aid. One example was in the Yahoo Groups/LPAM discussions:
"It’s been three years since we went on the air and frankly I’m not sure if many in our community really care what we provide. This latest round with the FCC has really taken the wind out of our sails.. Makes me pause and want to rethink why I do this… Kenc”

In July, Ken begins indicating the possible sale of three Rangemasters and two Inovonics 222 Am processors..


Bill DeFelice, owner of, inspired by the KENC citations, filed an FIOA request for documents giving guidelines to FCC agents inspecting Part 15 installations. The request was denied, but revealed a relevant 22-page internal document existed. Theory has it the document may be the same which the agent had read aloud to Ken that allows a certain amount of lee-way in the ground lead length. Another FIO request had later resulted in a redacted version of a similar or same documents, but since most of it is blacked out, we really don't know if such an issue is addressed in it.


The October issue of Our Town reports: "..According to Cartwright, he has been interested in buying KCKX from owner Don Coss for the past three years, but that idea changed over the past three months to working together.. ...“Our studio will stream our broadcast on a dedicated circuit to the Woodburn studio for a redirect to the Stayton transmitter,” he added. “Both studios will use the same formats so it will be seamless to the listener.” ...Cartwright will discontinue broadcasting KENC on low-power AM, and broadcast part of the day from his studio over KCKX, which remain broadcasting from Woodburn.."

Ken announces he will cease broadcasting part 15 on October 18, 2010 (however there is a strong indications the part15 broadcast didn't cease until September 2011).


April 19, 2011, KENC issues a Press Release reporting he will no longer be broadcasting on KCKX AM 1460, due to a pending and a probable sale of the station. "A decision to continue streaming on KENC is forthcoming." Ken continued on  with his broadcast by presenting his bluegrass and classic country music program, "Ken 'til Ten" over KMUZ.


"On the last broadcast of KENC radio in Stayton, Oregon, on the 3rd of September, 2011. Ken Cartwright on Bass, Danny Lee Allison on Dobro, Clyde Clevenger on Mandolin, and starring Naltogethikki Clevenger on Guitar and Fake Banjo. Just for fun, and it was. Danny and I didn't know the tune so we faked it.
Watch it on YOUTUBE: Dixie Hoedown


Feb 18, 2014 - The Canyon Weekly Newsletter: KYAC RADIO SOON TO BE A REALITY IN MILL CITY
"Jan and Ken Cartwright have partnered with Satiam Hearts to Arts to put a FM community radio station on the air in Mill City. Their application with the FCC has been accepted, and they expect approval by the end of the year.."

And it was approved! Kens brand new LPFM station received it's the license just six months later on July 15, 2014 and is still going strong today.

I was not able to confirm if Ken sold any of his part 15 equipment or not, but did find where he had donated one of his barix boxes to KMUZ in June of 2014:
BARIX BOX RECEIVED! -The Wish List is One Item Smaller! This morning, Ken Cartwright, Music and Repair Shop in Stayton donated a near new Barix Extreamer 500 network En-Decoder. This device was used at KENC Community Radio to stream his signal via internet to KCKX for rebroadcast. This device will allow KMUZ to stream its signal to the transmitter and antenna. New they cost $530… Thanks Ken!

There's an cool and interesting side story to the Sublimity water tower, which I'll come back to later, but that concludes our story of KENC.. Like I said, it's downfall was not a failure, and as far as I'm concerned, KENC will live on forever.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

The Spirit of Christmas

Oh wow, the year is coming to a close and I haven't posted much of anything all summer, and summers gone. Don't know why, actually have quite a bit to say. Well, I'll get back to it, got some research to reveal here! But for now for a heads up on some seasonal programming..

Another day til December comes. It's the month to schedule the holiday spots each day. There's 30 of them, each is less than 120 seconds. Decembers episode-a-day:

The Spirit of Christmas with Lorne Greene (Yeah, the guy from Bonanza). I knew of these at least 15 years ago but forgot all about them until someone mentioned it over at HB recently. My favorite is "Newscast" (#11), it's reminiscent of a 'War of the Worlds' style, but made for the holiday season, as they all are.

There doesn't seem to be much information about this series on the internet. Scott Snailham, who owns the only original tapes known to exist, explains it was produced at a studio in Canada and intended for a one-time syndicated run through December of 1979. After it's run Scott saved the studio distributed reels from being erased (for re-use) at the station he worked at. Sometime later he began sharing copies on the web. Then two years ago remastered them, and continues to share them freely to whoever is interested.

"..All the files here are sourced from the original radio station reel dub masters, not off air broadcasts. Each show includes the intro plus the body of the program which can run between :90 secs and 2 minutes and are now remastered as of december 2017 to improve audio quality and are 320kbps mp3 files..."

He explains he does not own the copyright, but considers them public domain and has been openly sharing them for 20 years without issue. I notice from the picture there's one track is he hasn't shared, track 31, the "Promo Cut". I might just contact him and ask that he include it too, I'd like to have it as well!

On a side note Scott Snailham is the creator/producer of "Cheeze Pleeze", a long running program originally airing on college stations (it's in our list of free programming choices). He's produced over 800 shows so far, which are very unique and enjoyable. You can try the Radio4all site, or if you prefer it as a podcast then subscribe to them HERE. I think it's also available at the internet archive.
And make note: " week, we start a "Cheeze Pleeze Christmas… ", So there's another holiday programming option. If you intend to air them then you should contact him, one, so you can directly download, and if for no other reason, then simply as an appreciation gesture. His take on the manner:
"..US Part 15's are welcome. we have a number of canadian LPFM's and college stations and have been on KWSS for years on sunday mornings.  Our show is basically "the wacky warped and weird" every week with two hosts riding around in a van playing cheesy music that has a Dr Demento feel. 30 mins show weekly via mp3 download off our site. Please email us direct for download details for stations as we like to know who is running us, but that's the only thing we really require.   the FAQ also has a quite a bit of info also....part in character and the facts of the content.

Scott also provides a selection of 1940's commercials sourced from his private collection of acetate disc which are worthy of downloading. 1940s Commercials They sound to be excellent quality.
Includes: Weston Soda Biscuits (catchy tune!) Aunt Jemina Pancake Flour (cool!), Wings Cigarettes, Bromo Seltzer, Lifebuoy (several of them, they're hilarious!), Airwick, Luxur Paint, Canadian Red Cross Society (I particularly liked that one), Canada during Wartime (also interesting), and several others.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Legal No Power LEGO Radio Station

"..There's a Lego set for almost anything you can imagine -- but not a radio station. One man wants to change that..." - KWY News Radio 1060

Help him do it at LEGO IDEAS site by submitting your support, it cost you nothing..

WLGO (get it?) in downtown LEGOLAND.

Matt McNeely submitted this representation February 19 and already has over 400 supporters (I'm #403).. 1,000 supports are required before it goes before the "Lego Review Board" for manufacturing..

"Set comes with 1 DJ minfigure, movable microphone, radio console, speakers, computer monitors, cool radio equipment and hours of fun!"

It doesn't specify how many parts it will consist of, but looking through the comments there's a lot of enthusiasm for it from broadcasters requesting that he add a few turntables, to which Matt replied:

"The deign I’m currently working on is a vintage studio, complete with turntables and cart machines."

One commenter made an excellent suggestion:
"I'm in! And if you could have blocks with our own call letters, that would be cool, too!"
I couldn't agree more, then all we'd need would be a miniature Rangemaster, Procaster, or even an ISS InfoSpot by the outer wall, or an IAM Talking House inside!.. yeah.

"Radio has always been a passion for Maneely, the operations manager and production director at Martz Communications in Malone, New York. His grandfather was on the air for more than 30 years in the same studios where Maneely now works. He also grew up with Legos..."
"So, using Lego Digital Designer software, he created a computer rendering of a plastic brick-constructed radio studio, and posted it to the Lego Ideas Site. Now, Maneely's looking for votes."

Let's get it done! Get over there and vote for it! It cost you nothing to support. It's simple and quick; create an account (just enter email and create password, they'll send conformation code) then you click the "Support Button" and your finished!
These would be great paraphernalia for our station studios!

Read the full article at KYW News Radio: 'You're listening to WLGO:' campaign promotes creation of Lego radio station where you can also listen to their broadcasted promotion for it.

Be sure to visit the LEGO IDEAS site to submit your support for this LEGO Radio Station..

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Retro Radio 1490 AM

Here's another part 15 station I came across about a year ago and have been meaning to feature. The  Montana State University's School of Film and Photography had  posted "Small Town Documentary:
 The Candy Shop
 It's about.. you guessed it, a candy store located on a main street in the small town of Red Lodge, Montana.

Of note; Red Lodge Montana is right there in the same vicinity of Butte, Billings, and especially Yellowstone.. Which so happens to be the primary locations directly involved with the creation and implication of the first Part 15 whip and mast type transmitters in the late 1960s and their expansion beginning in the 1970s. It was around these areas the initial rise of wide spread part 15AM use across the continental U.S. originated- In fact, that research is what indirectly led me to stumble across his part 15 station in Montana to begin with!
But let's get back to the present..
In that article it talks about the candy shop, but also mentions the following about the owner:
"..Interestingly, Mike also runs his own AM radio station: “Retro Radio” (1490AM), out of his office in the back of the store. It began when he purchased some old radios for the antique shop, and he realized there really wasn’t anything to be played on them. Now a huge hobby, Mike runs adobe software to organize his music and even makes his own jingles that are reminiscent of retro radio stations of years past. Mike in his office, otherwise known as Retro Radio headquarters. The station’s reach is within the town of Red Lodge and plays a little bit of everything from a classic era, including big band, country, rock, lounge, etc..." --Small Town Documentary: The Candy Shop
Well this intrigued me cause I knew it had to be part 15, so I googled but found no radio station website for it, but did find the Red Lodge Candy Europium main site:, but no mention of the station. Also went to their Facebook page and found that it made no mention of the station either!...
The 'Small Town Documentary' article above had been published in June of 2017.. Could it be the station no longer existed?  This "Retro Radio AM" station, if still operating, is only a local attraction of his town (naturally), but with no online presence at all to find out more. Perhaps I'll just ask..

On February 7, (2018) I used Facebook messenger to make a brief inquiry about the station:

I'm curious about your "Retro Radio" station. I'm a bit of a "part 15 AM" enthusiast, which is what I suspect your station is, and I'd like to hear a little bit of what your doing, I can't find a webpage for your station - Just curious. Hope to hear from you..

The next day received a response from someone only identifying himself as the "tech guy":

"Hi Richard- I hired on for Mike Majerus as his tech guy for his stores, Montana Candy Emporium and Red Lodge Antique Mall and Gun Room. Mike has a career history in broadcasting, and that AM station is a low-powered computer automated system in the back of the candy store. We are going to get it streaming online, as well as get web pages back up and going for the stores, that's why they brought me on. It will probably be a couple months until everything is up and going, partly due to Mike's schedule and traveling. Thank you for asking about it, I think it's pretty cool myself."
I was happy to have received a reply. Ok, so I discovered Mike, the station owner was a veteran career broadcaster who now owned an candy store, an antique shop and gun shop, but the message really didn't reveal much I didn't know, but at least indicating it still in operation with plans expanding to the internet soon.
I browsed through the town of Red Lodge other websites looking for another mention.. Found one at The Cruiser Racer Car Show and Nostalgic Drag Races site which showed Retro Radio AM 1490 as one of their 2018 sponsors, then from there, via the internet archive I found Retro Radio had also been a sponsor in 2016 and 2017, but not in 2015 (although the candy shop did). This led me to surmise the station probably began in 2016..
It was an interesting find, but as time passed forgot about them, until when in late November noticed a post on their Facebook from a couple months prior (I seldom go to Facebook):
"Our radio station website is now up Please enjoy!".
Someone replied that it was great and if it would be broadcasting from towers, to which he replied: "you can listen to it anywhere anytime now. It's on the above website, and the Montana Candy Emporium Website, and the Red Lodge Antique Mall website. And it's still broadcasting low power in the downtown Red Lodge area.". 
Upon contacting him again via email he also replied to me:
 "..the station has been up and streaming consistently. We play it all day in both retail stores every day. We have tested them across all types of devices including Apple, Windows, and Android. It does stream and broadcast 24 hours a day, 7 days a week..."

From that point on I found myself tuning into his station quite frequently. It has a vast mix of music and genres with vintage commercials and movie clips inserted here and there.. it's cool. When I had first began listening it was the holiday season, so there was rather consistent, though not constant Christmas music going on, just enough to keep the spirit without it getting monotonous. I like the way he's doing his programming. I still tune in on an almost daily basis. You should really check it out. You can play it right from their website page: , but I prefer using the free and elegant Radyo app, in which case this link: Radyo Retro Radio Link will load the station in the player.
Bill Defelice of commented: "Definitely well executed and the programming certainly doesn't make it easy to tune out. It's obvious they've taken care in their programming choices."  HB member Dave Richards mentioned: "Sounds like a neat station! - and 20 minutes later, I'm still listening. I recommend any readers of this thread to have a listen too. Very enjoyable station."
I had several rather sporadic email correspondences with the station but never really knew who I was talking to. Then a few days before Christmas received an email from Dave Hurst, Manager, Red Lodge Antique Mall: (Dave holding the giant gun, and Mike in cowboy hat):
"Our employee Shannon has been corresponding with you regarding our part 15 AM station. He has a computer, electronics & office equipment background, and has been very enthusiastic about learning the automation and other aspects of broadcasting. Looks like he has addressed your technical questions, but I wanted to give you some of the background information about the station's origins.
I have a background in the commercial radio broadcasting industry, having worked for many media groups in Salt Lake City and Denver, as well as smaller Montana markets. Mostly management positions such as Program Director, Music director but I  Also, traveling the country in a 40 foot mobile rig doing on-site event radio coverage was part of my experience with a production company. Celebrity talent field management was also in my job description, so interviews with professional sports athletes, TV personalities, race drivers, movie actors, politicians and the like was all part of the day to day duty.
We more recently put the Part 15 station on the air in Red Lodge so that we would have a close, local signal to show that vintage radios we have for sale in the Antique Mall are fully functional. Weak AM signals from Billings stations that barley come through on 1940's era (or earlier) tube radios could leave the impression with a potential buyer that the unit does not work properly.
The automated studio in our candy store is less than a block away.. Obviously we have world wide reach now that we added modern streaming, as you have discovered. But the 10 to 15 antique radios we have for sale at any given time in the store still need a traditional AM broadcast signal to show that they are operational. We found an estate source of a long time collector/restorer of radios from the 1920's on up, who had been that kind of hobbyist for over 50 years.
We bought over 200 radios from his family, so that was the basis for creating the Retro Radio Part 15 station here. Since older radios only go up to a dial position of 1500, we chose the available 1490 so that you can easily run the knob up to the top and back it down just a bit to find our signal quickly.

That, in a nutshell is our origin story."
I found it a bit difficult to maintain communications with him, but he did send several pictures. Also found out he broadcast with a premium certified part 15 transmitter; the Chez Radio Procaster.  I'm glad to have across Retro Radio 1490 AM, and enjoyed his story as I do his station. 
I suspect there's more part 15 stations out there than we know of, those who never visit forums, nor have an online presence at all.. and it is those, like this one, I attempt to seek out. Mostly because I just like to see how they're using their stations. Retro Radio is creative with their music station. It's high on my favorites list for sure.
Don't forget to tune them in.. If you don't fancy what's playing, either give it time or come back later, it'll grab ya!