June 2021

Songs On The Radio

If a driver of a standard automobile were to see a NASCAR race car, he could tell it was an automobile. However, he would notice many things that were different on it than what he had at home. A similar comparison could be made with turntables. Someone with a good home turntable would know what a broadcast turntable did. He might even be able to figure out how to operate it, but he would recognize that a broadcast turntable was a different animal from a home turntable.

The following video shows what an old broadcast turntable looks like. Before you play the video, look at the picture. The turntable has a 45 on it. Looking closely, you can see that the 45 is in a recessed area of the platter. That recess also includes a large spindle for 45’s in the center. The raised outer area of the platter is where an album would rest. Above the recessed 45 spindle is the standard spindle for albums.

The platters were very heavy and were driven by a rubber roller that transferred power from a high-torque motor. That motor allowed the turntable to come up to speed in about one-quarter of a turn at 33, one-third of a turn at 45. The shaft from the motor had three levels on it to provide the three different speeds. The speed control lever also had one or more neutral positions available that allowed the platter to be turned by hand.

Unlike the way the person who made the video would cue a record, I would put the turntable in to neutral. That allowed me to quickly cue up a 45 — literally in less than five seconds once the 45 was on the platter.

Tour of a broadcast turntable.

You Don’t Make Sense

I somehow managed to find myself in the Honor Society in the spring of the seventh grade. As a treat, the group took a cruise on Washington State’s Puget Sound. It was a lovely spring evening. Everyone packed their own dinner, usually the same sort of thing they would have packed for a lunch at school. A radio played, tuned to Seattle’s big Top 40 station, KJR. In a coincidence that still seems to be appropriate, I heard Crystal Blue Persuasion by Tommy James and the Shondells for the first time that night on the cruise.

What a night to hear this for the first time.

Later in the evening four people I knew, fellow seventh graders, were sitting at a table on the lower deck. Karen and Allan sat on one side, Roxanne and Everett sat on the other. The pairings seemed odd to me. Roxanne was cute — enough, but Karen probably was causing the plastic upholstery to blister. I guess Allan was OK, but Everett was tall and the kind of guy the girls would swoon over — he went on to become a doctor.

As I observed the two couples, cuddling up about as much as seventh graders could get away with in May, 1969, I could not help but notice that Karen was paying attention to Everett and Everett was paying attention to Karen. What was going on might, in terms of international diplomacy, be referred to as political manoeuvring. Roxanne and Allan were merely the tools being used by Everett and Karen.