Frank, this was a great read. Some dedication and commitment I must say. Imagine staying up all night and monitoring the whole thing.. and to fix it up with parts that you dont even know if they would work.
I remember getting one of those phone calls at 2AM: "Grab every vacuum cap you have, and do you have any ice maker tubing? Meet me at the tower..." Seems that the matching network at the local AM station burned down; there we were in the middle of the night, trying to cobble together something before the station went back on the air at daybreak.
We were just hoping that nobody called the cops about the three guys in the middle of the field with flashlights and torches...
That makeshift matcher in a garbage can held together until a more permanent setup was procured.
The competitor to the station in this story was in a converted house. The downstairs was the office, second story was AM and the top story was FM. When I worked after hours, I always felt that somebody was watching me.
I got a call from the chief that the automation was acting strangely, so I stopped by the station. At random times, a prerecorded message would announce, "At this time W*** concludes its broadcast day...." and then the National Anthem would play. It was very embarrassing for the station and for the chief.
I looked at the automation and could not find a problem. I was about to suggest an excorsim when I noticed the lights flicker. The chief told me that it was the air conditioner. I went out and bought a line voltage stabilizer (UPSs were not available at that time.) and the problem disappeared.
I still think the studio was haunted. A church bought the station and moved the studio to a new location!
This sure sounds like the AM/FM and TV station I started working at in 1988 until leaving to pursue a career in RF design in 1990.
But of course all broadcast facilities are run on a shoestring budget with no regards for the workers tasked with maintaining them.
I don't ever miss cleaning dead rats out of The blower fans of the University of Arizonas AM station in the middle of the desert during the August monsoons nor do I miss having to move the tarantulas off of the front door entry cement pad where they were trying to get out of the floods.
Similarly I do not miss working on their FM and TV transmitters at ther 8500 foot mountain location on the North side of Tucson in the winter, yes it does snow and it snows a lot in the mountains on the North side of Tucson.
Being that my mountain job was to baby sit the FM and TV transmitters on weekends and work on the dying Harris MW50 AM transmitter on weekdays, I certainly do not miss Opening up the FM and TV transmitters front door to look outside at 4 feet of fresh snow and seeing a 400 lb black bear warming itself at the front door whis is something that really gets your blood flowing.
Having to drive a 25 year old snow cat that had a dead battery with a date code of 1980 in the year 1988 just to get to the weekend job did not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling about being safe on a deserted 8500 foot mountain with only one road in and out and covered with 4 feet of snow, nope I don't miss it one bit.