KQIV 106.7 FM - Lake Oswego, Oregon - KQ4 Rockin' in Quad



Webmaster & KQ4 Jock / sometime
Music Dir.

Larry Scott


Spiritual Advisor, Historian & KQ4
Chief Engineer / Jock

J. R. Miller

Web www.rockininquad.com


Joel "J. R." Miller
Chief Engineer / Jock
(posted 23 SEP 04)

1- Before KQ4     2- Rockin' in Quad?
3- Downhill slide     4- End game     5- KQ4 cars
6- KOIN Towers Collapse


On September 15, 1972, as Chief Engineer of KQIV, I had the distinct privilege of pressing the buttons that put our station on the air. But, exactly how was it I was fortunate enough to be there for that big event?

Before KQ4

Radio has always fascinated me. I must have inherited the "gene" from my father, who was a radio operator in Europe with the Headquarters of the 274th Regiment, 70th Infantry Division, during World War II. I still have fond memories of shortwave listening with my dad at an early age in front of a big Zenith console. The warm glow of its vacuum tubes, the crackle of the static, and the wavy sounding voices and music from all around the world are unforgettable.

Shortwave listening led to AM-band DX’ing. And then, following a brief foray into the nutty world of the Citizens Band, I got my Novice Amateur Radio license in 1968 as a junior at Tigard (Oregon) High School. I liked Ham Radio so much, in just a few months I qualified for an Advanced Class license. Soon afterward, I earned my FCC First Class Radio Telephone Operator License.

Owing to my interest in the technical aspects of radio, I set as an educational goal a degree in Electronics Engineering. However, after a short stint at Oregon State University, and realizing that slide rules and calculus classes were not really my cup of tea, I enrolled in Keith Allen’s broadcasting program at Portland Community College (PCC) early in 1971. “Maybe I can be a DJ or a news guy,” I thought. The new PCC campus at Mount Sylvania in southwest Portland had recently opened, and because some of the buildings were still under construction, we held our classes in a trailer. While at PCC, I was Chief Engineer, a DJ and news reader for our campus station, KPCC (650 AM).

I got my first paying job in radio in the spring of 1971. On the recommendation of Keith Allen, KPOK (1330 AM) program director Vern Mueller hired me to work a few hours five nights a week screening calls on the "Nite Line" talk show with Dick Klinger and later with former KATU Channel 2 newsman Bill Bartholomew. KPOK news director Neal Penland was even considering a fill-in news reader job for me. Yes, radio is what I wanted to do in life!

Rockin’ in Quad?

In the fall of 1971, I was honored to be included in a small group of Keith Allen's students who were recruited by entrepreneur Walter J.M. Kraus to help build a new FM station in Lake Oswego, Oregon. He was looking for affordable employees in the form of eager, young students.

Mr. Kraus had made his name by filling in part of the wetlands near the Pony Slough in North Bend, Oregon, and developing the famous Pony Village shopping center on the reclaimed land. He also founded Oregon Coast Broadcasters in 1960, and put KRAF (1470 AM) on the air from Reedsport, Oregon, on June 2, 1961 (click here for larger view of letterhead). He sold the station to his General Manager, Gless Connoy, in 1966.

In 1969, after taking up residence in Lake Oswego, Mr. Kraus decided that his well-heeled neighbors (and his wife) would enjoy a classical music, opera and news station. “Music for the Oswego set," as Mr. Kraus liked to say.

Eventually, however, Mr. Kraus was talked out of the classical format and was convinced to hit the air with a hybrid rock/folk/blues/jazz station.

In the fall of 1971, Willamette Broadcasting Company owner Walter Kraus and other staff members met with James Gabbert of KIOI (K-101) in San Francisco and returned to Lake Oswego very excited. K-101 had successfully transmitted true four-channel audio for the first time on a single FM station using Quadraplex, a process invented by Lou Dorren. The FCC was concerned, however, with certain technical issues that had to be resolved before it would give Quadraplex its blessing.

KQIV had hoped to be the first station in the Portland market to utilize Quadraplex. Despite ongoing delays in FCC approval, outdoor billboards announcing the station's arrival blanketed the Portland area and proudly proclaimed "Credibility is back. KQ4 Quadraphonic FM 107."

About a month before KQIV's on-air debut, the FCC released a Public Notice that took the wind out of our sails, if only temporarily.

During the spring and summer of 1972 construction of the studio and transmitter facilities designed by consulting engineer Bob McClanathan continued.

The Lake Oswego Elks lodge (now a church) on SW Stafford Road was about two years old when our headquarters were constructed there (see The Studios page). Walter Kraus was a longtime member of the Elks, and he convinced them to let us frame-in the building’s unused mezzanine. Mr. Kraus had numerous Elks brothers in the construction trades and got a good deal by having some of them do the work.

The transmitter was located high atop Outlook, between Oregon City and Carver, on a postage stamp-sized piece of property purchased from Pacific Northwest Bell, next door to their microwave repeater (see Xmitter & Tower page). Its location met FCC criteria for station separation and for adequately serving the city of license, Lake Oswego.

The concrete block transmitter house was constructed by contractor C.G. Ferry. After some stubborn rock had been dynamited out, the concrete piers for the tower base and guy anchors were poured. Larry Sibley and V. G. Duvall, Jr. of Utility Tower Company drove their boom truck and flatbed trailer out from Oklahoma City with our 200-foot Type 380 tower. They erected the tower and put up our Jampro JSCP 8-bay Penetrator side-mounted antenna along with the transmission line. Bob McClanathan and I installed the American Electronic Laboratories (AEL) FM-25KD transmitter and associated equipment. During our time working at the transmitter site, Bob and I became regulars at Mumpy’s Tavern in Carver. Their great hamburgers sure kept our strength up.

Back at the Elks lodge, the on-air and production booths were practically identical (see The Studios page). Most everything performed pretty well, but the two Langevin consoles became troublesome. Designed more for use in recording studios, when exposed to our heavy-duty radio environment their slider pots often failed and they suffered from chronic module-to-chassis "connectoritis." The reel-to-reel recorders were originally from Otari but after a couple of years of very hard use they were replaced with Scully units. Russco made the turntables, the cartridge players were International Tapetronics Corporation (ITC) 3D triple-deckers, and the microphones were Electro-Voice RE15’s.

And, while our listeners were at the mercy of whatever quad format our albums were encoded in at that moment, the on-air personalities enjoyed quad sound in the booths with some pretty nice monitor systems. Each consisted of a Marantz receiver feeding a Sansui QS-1 quad synthesizer which fed two Marantz high-powered stereo amps powering four Advent speakers.

The Downhill Slide

Soon after KQIV went on the air on September 15, 1972, enjoying a very promising beginning, staff turnover started rearing its ugly head. So many individuals came and went, sometimes it was hard to keep track.

Mother Nature became a factor, too.

On the evening of Thursday, January 11, 1973, the Portland area was hit by an ice storm, resulting in treacherous driving conditions, numerous traffic accidents, and hospitals in the area reporting standing-room-only situations. A glaze of up to 3/4-inches covered most everything as the night progressed. I received a call from the studios informing me that our transmitter was off the air. That was bad news. Considering the grim scene out my window, did I really want to try driving the ten miles from Lake Oswego to Outlook to see what was going on?

Well, duty called and out I went to begin my journey. Everything was going pretty smoothly, and by the time I started up out of Park Place on Forsythe Road I could hear a weak signal from the exciter. That was encouraging because I knew the transmitter building still had power. (There was no back-up generator.) After a great deal of slipping and sliding, I finally reached Outlook Road and tried to drive up to the transmitter but my car couldn't get any traction. So, I just parked where I ended up, stepped out of the car and instantly slipped and fell on my butt. "Boy, this is a lot of fun," I thought! I took off my shoes and walked the couple of blocks up to our building in my stocking feet. A surreal sight awaited me. Huge icicles hung from the guy cables and equally angry looking spires jutted up from the ground. It was cold, dark and eerie.

Once inside the transmitter building, everything appeared all right, except that the final amplifier had kicked-off. I twisted the power pot all the way down and fired up the final. As I slowly increased the output power, at about 15 kilowatts all heck broke loose, with severe arcing and a blast that sounded like a shotgun going off in an outhouse. I peeled myself off the wall and tried it again. There was another deafening boom. Then I happened to notice that the recently refilled dry nitrogen tank that pressurized the transmission line was empty! Obviously, the antenna had a hole in it. "Just great!" So, I gently brought the power up to about 5kw. It held OK, so at least we had some signal on the air. I then “enjoyed” my very slippery trip back home.

KQIV continued to transmit at reduced power for a few days and once the weather improved, a tower man went up and discovered that the deicer pigtails had arced and burned holes in a few bays of the antenna. Patches were installed over the holes and we were then able to re-pressurize the line and get back up to full power. The transmitter had suffered a bit, too. Warren Burtis, an AEL field engineer, came out from Pennsylvania and spent a couple of days cleaning up arc damage, replacing tubes, and testing.

Although the antenna was repaired following the big ice storm, if KQ4 was going to successfully compete in the Portland market and have any chance of surviving, something had to be done to improve reception in the greater Portland area. Moving the transmitter to Mt. Scott in southeast Portland was often mentioned as a good solution, but a relocation was infeasible due to the station's rapidly tightening financial condition.

During the temporary leave of engineer Bob McClanathan to pursue other projects, Norm Herman came aboard as a consultant in the summer of 1973 and performed an antenna pattern study. Herman's findings led him to convince management that the best fix would be to trade in the old antenna for a new one. The replacement would be specified with beam tilt and null fill options, hopefully which would improve reception. A new radiator would also rid the facility of the troublesome electrical and mechanical damage the old one had sustained. The replacement Jampro JSCP-8  was ordered in August, and shipped in late-September, 1973.

KQIV celebrated its first anniversary on September 15, 1973. The talent lineup at the time included: Steve O'Shea, 6-10am; Mike Sakellarides, 10am-2pm; Norman Flint, 2-6pm; Jeff Clarke, 6-10pm; Larry Scott, 10pm-2am; Joe Collins, 2-6am; Program Director Jim LaFawn, Weekends, and Joel "J.R." Miller, Weekends (spinning the tunes and doing wee-hours maintenance).

Meanwhile, the big day had arrived. The old antenna would be removed and the new one installed, hopefully all in one very long day’s work. The entire staff arrived at the transmitter site very early on that cool, overcast October day. Everyone pitched in to make the antenna change-out happen on schedule. Upon resuming transmission, reports are that reception in some areas had marginally improved. Unfortunately, however, the new antenna also suffered some damage with the arrival of the new winter.

The End Game

Yes, there were tough times at KQIV, with staff turnover, tight finances and equipment problems. But some very good things happened, too. In my case, I got to know a wonderful lady named Marty, who lived next door to Faith, a former KQ4 jock. Marty often visited with Faith at the station and, before long, I got to know Marty pretty well. Soon, we were dating. Then, in November of 1973, Marty and I got married, and we still are.

In February of 1974, Bob McClanathan, our consulting engineer, took some time off and turned over the watch to Don Wilkinson, Project Engineer at Portland’s KATU television. Don and I were working late one night performing some equipment tests and he asked me if I had ever considered getting into television. He knew the financial situation at KQ4 was terrible and he wanted to help me out. Don told me there was a videotape editor job open at KATU and he wondered if I would be interested in it. As much as I hated to leave, I just knew I couldn’t pass up this great opportunity. Happily, I’ve enjoyed my position at KATU now for over thirty years.


Additional thought:  (posted 27 SEP 04)

The KQIV cars!

In 1971, when the format was still being planned as classical/opera/poetry, image was everything. KQIV would appeal to the well-to-do, upscale listener. And, Walter Kraus had the requisite rides for that image.

Several months before the station went on the air, however, it was decided that KQIV was instead going to be a progressive rocker. Walter determined that what he really needed now was a daily driver that would reflect the station's new persona as "radio for the common people."

Unbelievably, he found just what he was looking for in my metallic green 1963 Chevy II 100-Series 2-door sedan (pictured at left). I inherited the Chevy II from my dear aunt who lived only a block from the beach in Newport, Oregon. The salty ocean air certainly had taken somewhat of a toll on the car, but it still ran fairly well. So, Walter told me he'd buy me a new company car if I would give him the Chevy II. Well, that sounded like a pretty fair deal to me!

Soon, the old rust-bucket would spend some time out at International Collision Repair on Southeast Stark Street in Portland for some extensive body repairs and a fresh paint job in white. Hey, that little car looked great when they got done with it! A local sign company applied big KQ4 logos on the doors. Folks knew to look out as Walter, fat cigar in hand, buzzed around the area in his little KQ4-Mobile. The custom license plates on that car read "KQIV 2."

Now that Walter had his car, it was my turn to take him up on his offer and pick out a new ride for myself. The car that wore the original custom plates "KQIV" was my brand-new 1973 Dodge Coronet 4-door sedan in metallic blue (pictured at left - click for larger view). In October of 1972, I stopped by Jack Livingston (now Ron Tonkin) Dodge in Gladstone, selected exactly what I wanted and placed the order. I was told that my car probably would arrive sometime around Thanksgiving. For the next several weeks, I was like a little kid waiting for Christmas. My first new car was being built! On Thanksgiving morning, I headed out for my daily transmitter inspection in the little pickup I had been borrowing when I decided, just for kicks, to drive by Livingston Dodge to see if, by chance, my car had arrived. The dealership was closed for the holiday, so I looked all over but didn't find anything. One last check around in the back lot and, to my amazement, there it was! My new Dodge! I was so excited! But, of course, I would have to be patient and wait another day or so to drive it home. Soon, the Coronet bristled with my Ham radio and scanner antennas, and even a spotlight. It fit my somewhat conservative nature - a relatively short-haired, clean-shaven techy type. Staffers and visitors often rolled their eyes when they spotted the KQIV "police cruiser" parked at the station! "What's with that car?" Our Elks Lodge brothers liked it, though! Walter kept bugging me about letting him have the "KQIV" license plates to put on his Chevy II, so I soon gave them up and put plates with my Amateur Radio call letters on my new car.

By the way, General Manager Jack Malone drove a red 1970 Porsche 914 with custom plates "KQ4."

And, that's what I remember about the early cars of KQIV.


Additional thought:  (posted 30 DEC 04)

If you’re going to come down, please wait till I’m gone!

Thinking back to that big ice storm in January 1973, as I was attempting to get the KQIV transmitter back on the air, I’m reminded of the mental snapshots I kept seeing that night.

On Saturday, February 27, 1971, at 1:18am, Mount Hood Radio & Television Broadcasting Corp. lost two of their giant transmission towers in the west hills of Portland due to heavy icing and wind gusts; the 1000’ main tower for KOIN-TV & KOIN-FM (built in 1963), and the 700’ auxiliary (originally the main tower, constructed in 1954).

A few days later, I visited the KOIN transmitter site on SW Barnes Road near Skyline Boulevard. As I looked around, bewildered by the heaps of twisted steel lying in the snow, I took some photographs and spoke with Lloyd Street, the engineer on duty the night of the collapses. Fortunately, he was uninjured as the huge falling towers damaged part of the transmitter building.

My photographs appear below.  For larger views, select the yellow "click".

The Mount Hood Radio & TV towers in 1970 as seen from the Sunset Highway. Left to right: the 1000' main for KOIN-TV & KOIN-FM, the 700' auxiliary, and the two 545' KOIN-AM towers.   click

The KOIN-TV/KOIN-FM main and auxiliary towers in 1970.    click



Looking straight up the 1000' KOIN-TV/KOIN-FM main tower.  click

Tarps cover the damaged portion of the KOIN transmitter building while the destroyed towers lie on the ground to the right.  click


Portions of the downed KOIN towers litter the hillside in twisted heaps.  click

In the background, children play in the snow as a once proud KOIN sentinel lies contorted and silent, defeated by Mother Nature.  click


Additional photographs (below) of the aftermath of the
1971 KOIN transmission towers collapse from the files of the late
William "Bill" Vandermay - W7ZZ,  founding Chief Engineer of KATU Channel 2.




An auxiliary tower, which had been taken down in the 1960's, was
reassembled on its original base.  Just nine days after the collapse of its two main
transmission towers in 1971, KOIN-TV returned to the air with this temporary setup.



Where's Joel now?



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