Author Topic: Sat. night AM radio from WSM  (Read 303 times)

TC Chris

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Sat. night AM radio from WSM
« on: January 27, 2018, 07:30:31 PM »
It's a winter Saturday night, and WSM in Nashville is booming in over the 1937 Zenith--The Grand Ole Opry, broadcast live and over the air on a clear-channel station, that way it's supposed to be.

This is one of my first old radios.  It's the least original--my uncle built the box to hold the chassis.  Who knows what happened to its original deco cabinet.  This is a chassis 1004, from a 10S155 or 10S160 console. As a kid I got a library book and built a bass-reflex speaker enclosure, but it's stashed elsewhere right now so I knocked together a simple plywood open back infinite baffle box, aiming to be roughly the size of the radio's original.  It sounds surprisingly good on the "high fidelity" tone setting, with firm solid bass and highs as good as they're going to get on limited-bandwidth AM.

Chris Campbell

Bill

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Re: Sat. night AM radio from WSM
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2018, 06:40:54 PM »
Chris,

Sound is what counts but it is curious to wonder what happened to the original cabinet.  What number on the dial is WSM?

Bill

TC Chris

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Re: Sat. night AM radio from WSM
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2018, 07:07:21 PM »
WSM is 650 kHz.  The Opry has been on the air since 1925.  Another long-running Saturday broadcast tradition is the Metropolitan Opera broadcast from NYC, on the air since 1931.  I listen to 'em both.  On the radio!  I suppose we are lucky that streaming options exist, but for me there's something magic and rewarding about turning on the radio and plucking minuscule signals from the air.  In the car, at home, anywhere. 

I've always wondered what the story of the Zenith was, but my uncle died of a brain tumor in 1958, and he had the story. It was relegated to my grandparents' basement, from which I liberated it around maybe 1960 or so.  That means that it has been in my custody for 58 years, +/-. 

That Zenith is no slouch.  It uses P-P 6L6s in the outputs. 

Chris Campbell

Bill

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Re: Sat. night AM radio from WSM
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2018, 11:02:21 PM »
Chris,

I'll tune in and listen, well I'll try anyway.  Not sure I can get it but I'll try. 

Interesting about your Uncle.  My Dad died of a brain tumor in 1959.  There was a lot of that back then. 

The Zenith should sound great with the P/P 6L6's.

Bill

TC Chris

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Re: Sat. night AM radio from WSM
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2018, 12:08:54 AM »
The enemies of AM radio are noise-producing devices and bad antenna.  Noisy things are some wall-wart power supplies, some CF lamps, and computers close by.  For an antenna, string a wire perpendicular to a line from you to Nashville, as  long as you can manage.  Or build an AM loop (Google it and find a gazillion ideas).  I've got an AM loop sitting in the living room for a GE P780 portable, a classy early transistor effort. 

Chris

Motorola Minion

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Re: Sat. night AM radio from WSM
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2018, 02:57:13 PM »
Im not surprised it takes a 1930's era (Zenith no less) radio to pull in WSM clearly for you way up there. Not many of my radios pull in WSM every night but the 1947 Magnavox Berkeley gets it with a loop. These sets HAD to perform, before FM seemed to halt refinement of AM and SW receivers, this radio does.

I plan to move the Maggie upstate to the mountain-house due to this fact, where the only EMI is from electric farm fences. A 125 foot outdoor antenna will probably be added.
Tubes - Magical - Tubes

Dave

TC Chris

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Re: Sat. night AM radio from WSM
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2018, 08:07:00 PM »
Actually, the GE P780 portable from about 1958 is a hot performer, too.  It's quite famous.  Do a Google search and note how many sites show up. There used to be online interviews with the head of the engineering team about designing and building a high-performance portable, in terms of both AF and RF performance.  Now the links don't work (it's why I print interesting stuff on paper).  I could probably scan the articles if anybody takes a fancy to this cool radio. 

I'm not much of a fan of big companies generally, but in this case there was a mandate to build a high-quality consumer radio.  GE did it again later in their Superradios.  It's interesting to see that kind of motive, as opposed to pure profit-maximization.  We humans are contradictory species, and sometimes we do things for good reasons.  And at a lower quality point, GE also made their Musaphonic and Long-Distance tube table radios, slight enhancements of the AA5, aimed at sound and sensitivity a bit better than the run of the mill plastic radio.

Chris Campbell

ed from Baltimore

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Re: Sat. night AM radio from WSM
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2018, 09:54:36 AM »
        After years of leafing through boxes of late forties thru early sixties Photofacts that I would acquire every ten years or so, there would always be tons of standard 5 tube table radios or consoles that had chintzy table radio chassis put out by GE, RCA, Philco, Admiral, etc, and then suddenly every fiftieth radio or so was a really high class model with short wave, tuned RF amplier, maybe 2 IF stages, push pull audio with feedback, large multiple speakers, an extra well filtered AC power supply and on and on, until you go back and  double-check the brand name to make sure you didn't misread it as a Hallicrafters or Pilot.
      I have read that Ford didn't mind losing money on their Thunderbird or Chevrolet on the Caprice because they were intended as "flagship" models to bring customers into showrooms, and give the Biscayne purchasers a feeling of of hope that from a distance their car will look like a Caprice.
      Well, maybe the radio and phono makers decided to put out full featured models without worrying about making a profit or pricing for large production and then the salesman can steer you over to the standard stuff and convince you that all that design expertise of the fancy stuff filters down.  "I'll let you in on a trade secret....It's got the same chassis".
      I saw a Silvertone stereo model with a 6L6 Williamson circuit separate amplifier chassis with a giant output transformer, a preamp that was almost a duplicate of the Fisher model preamp, magnetic cartridge, and a FM tuner with extra limiter stages.
Even the underchassis wiring and layout seemed to have been built to the order of Fisher or Pilot---more terminal lugs, neater parts placement and wiring harnesses, maybe it was subcontracted out to Fisher or Pilot ?  You wouldn't see the difference on just the schematic, but a Photofact shows all.
           I would always separate out these Photofacts so they'd be easy to find again without wading through the standard stuff. Any console with a magneic preamp stage, a Webster or Garrard turntable, or unusual power amp circuits, like ultralinear taps, would also get separated.  How I wish I took a small box of the good Photofacts when I moved.
           
                                           ed from Baltimore 

electra225

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Re: Sat. night AM radio from WSM
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2018, 10:33:57 AM »
In MO, I am less than 700 miles from Nashville.  Sometimes, I can get WSM on a clock radio like it is being broadcast from my back porch.  Other times, not even my Hallicrafters SX-110 with a 100' antenna will bring it in.  I can get WWL or WLW more dependably.  I'm surprised that the Opry is still on.  All the good old stars are gone now.....


Jimmy Dickens was on the Opry until he was in his 90's.  He told the same joke almost every week....


"Honey, let's run upstairs and make love"


"Sorry, dear, but I cannot do both"........... :)
If it ain't broke, call me.  I can break it....

TC Chris

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Re: Sat. night AM radio from WSM
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2018, 12:23:37 PM »

Jimmy Dickens was on the Opry until he was in his 90's.  He told the same joke almost every week....


"Honey, let's run upstairs and make love"


"Sorry, dear, but I cannot do both"........... :)

He told the same jokes and I laughed each time I heard them.

Chris Campbell