TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: 'K' v. 'W' Television Station Callsigns

Re: 'K' v. 'W' Television Station Callsigns

Robert Bonomi (
Tue, 26 Oct 2004 06:10:20 +0000

In article <>, J Kelly
<> wrote:

> On Sun, 24 Oct 2004 01:18:22 +0000,
> (Robert Bonomi) wrote:

>> WOI-TV was in operation _long_ before 'Iowa Public Television' came
>> into existence. In point of fact, WOI-TV was the _first_ TV station
>> in the state broadcasting on a regular schedule.

> WOI was in fact on way before Iowa Public Television. IPTV began in
> 1969 when the State Educational Radio and Television Facility Board
> purchased KDPS-TV (Des Moines Public Schools) Channel 11 in Des Moines
> and changed the callsign to KDIN-TV. The network was known as Iowa
> Educational Broadcasting Network (IEBN). Seven other stations
> followed over the next 8 years, and one more was added in 2003 when
> they acquired channel 36 in Davenport. In 1976 the name was changed
> to Iowa Public Broadcasting Network, and was changed to Iowa Public
> Television in 1982.

The first expansion was the addition of Channel 12 (KIIN TV), in Iowa

By circa 1975, there were KDIN, KIIN, and at least 7 UHF 'repeater'
stations across the state. With a decent directional antenna,
virtually every place in the state was within reception range of one
of the transmitters.

The 'repeater' stations were very high-tech (for their day),
*automated*, systems. A high-gain channel-11 antenna pointed towards
Des Moines, coupled to a carrier-operated-relay, that triggered the
transmitter into operation. If KDIN was on the air, the repeater
stations came up, and rebroadcast the signal; when KDIN shut down for
the night, the repeaters turned themselves off, too.

Well, *MOST* of the time. Late one night, in the fall of 1973 (74?),
I was DX hunting with my little B&W, *rabbit-ears*only* TV, in my
apartment on the outskirts of downtown Des Moines. Here is this
*snowy* picture on channel 11 -- old gangster movie. Took quite a
while for a call-sign to come by WQXI. Just for grins, I _called_ the
station, to let them know they had a viewer "way out in Iowa". This
got to be a _very_ strange phone converation. The station
_chief_engineer_ was working the night shift that night, and actually
answered the phone, =himself=. He got *real* upset, and asked me
_exactly_ what I'm seeing, what kind of a monstrosity I'm using for an
antenna, *exactly* where I am, etc., etc. The more detail I provided
in answer to the questions, the _more_upset_ he was getting.

Finally, we get through the panic, and he explains -- several weeks
previously, 'skip' conditions had been 'just right', and their signal
had been hitting Iowa with enough signal strength to *trigger* some of
the IEBN repeaters. Most notably the one in northwest Iowa, from
who's 'viewpoint', Atlanta was nearly in a straight line with Des

This led to an incredible stack of paperwork, to mollify the FCC.
Here was 'retransmission'/'rebroadcasting' of a commercial TV station,
*without* the permission/consent of the originating station. Here was
_commercial_ content on an 'educational TV' repeater channel. etc.,
etc., ad nauseum. Oh yeah, those remote 'repeater' stations were
automated enough that they did _not_ have an 'engineer on duty' at the
transmitter site. The 'local' engineer had remote monitoring gear at
his house, or wherever. Note: this was *monitoring* capability,
_only_. He did *not* have anything like a 'kill switch' for the
transmitter -- could *not* shut it down, except from on-site
brute-force controls, if the master station (or what the hardware
*thought* was the master station :) was 'on the air'.

As a result of _that_ 'design stupidity', the "problem" recurred
_again_ the next night. And several following nights. Which made the
paperwork swamp *MUCH* worse. Now it wasn't a _single_ 'inadvertent'
error, but a repeated pattern of "illegal" behavior.

He had just finished up (i.e., a day or two previously) _his_ stack of
paper- work related to the problem,
*believing*it*to*be*finally*resolved*, and was relaxing as things got
back to normal -- and this phone call comes in from IOWA, where
somebody is seeing his station, *AGAIN*(!!) In that light, the
'upset' was quite understandable -- and he _did_ relax considerably
when it was established that I _was_ watching on channel *11* -- not
on some repeater output frequency.

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