KOMA Countdown Ahead of the World - 1960

The Mackenzie Model 500 Program Repeater.

Top 40 radio in the late 50s and early 60s was comprised of a lot of "exciting" production elements that were seamed together live. With AM radio and old style peak limiters, the technical quality of the production often suffered from attention when compared with today's standards necessary for use on FM. This clip is believed to be from around 1958 to 1960. The talent is unidentified. I can still visualize the plate current meters swinging upward on KOMA's 50,000 watt Western Electric transmitter when this production piece hit it.

This production piece was undoubtedly used on the Mackenzie Repeater as part of a news closing and lead-in to the next hour. All news production elements were assigned to the Mackenzie, as well as all jingles.

Mackenzie made a recorder for the cartridges, but KOMA did not own one. Instead, cuts were recorded on an Ampex 351 at 7.5 ips. The small strips of reflective tape that triggered the Mackenzie to stop were applied while the tape was still on the Ampex, then the cartridge was wound by hand, a very painstaking process. Cueing with this system of reflective tape was very precise and there was zero delay when a program element was called for from the Mackenzie. It was a dream come true in the era before cart machines.

Deane Johnson
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