The Yankee Network and its stations eventually ended up in the hands of RKO General, and in 1967 RKO flipped sleepy old WNAC to WRKO, an aggressive, high-energy top-40 signal.
Right around that same time, the transmitter site out in Burlington went through an upgrade, and the oldest equipment now found out there - aside from the self-supporting towers themselves, 395' for the center tower, 440' for the outer two) dates from that era.
In 1981, as the golden age of AM top 40 drew to a close, WRKO dropped the music and went talk - and flourished again as the home to voices such as Jerry Williams and Howie Carr, not to mention many seasons with the Red Sox.
With RKO's loss of its broadcast licenses in a double-billing scandal, WRKO ended up in the hands of Atlantic Ventures, a forerunner of American Radio Systems, which brought WRKO and WEEI under a common roof. ARS was sold to Infinity, which then had to spin off WRKO and WEEI (and what was then WEGQ 93.7) to Entercom, which has owned the stations since 1998.
Walk in the door of the transmitter building (which bore a big "WRKO" sign out front for many years, though a letter or two went missing later on and eventually the remaining pieces were removed; today, a lone "R" in a closet inside the building is the last remnant) and look to your left and you'll see the transmitter that carried WRKO through its top-40 era. How early is this Continental 317C? As chief engineer John Kennedy proudly points out, it's serial number 2!
Behind the 317C is some open storage space, and behind that a door leads to a room that was at one time to have been the transmitter room for WEEI, when Entercom was contemplating moving it from its current Needham site to a diplex on the WRKO towers. That never came to fruition, and now the room holds furniture that's in storage from a succession of studio moves among the various Entercom properties (including the front desk from WAAF's old Westborough studios!)
To the right of the 317C, in the center of the transmitter room, we see the phasor that was installed in 1967 when the site was rebuilt. (WNAC had used the same directional pattern day and night; in 1967, 680 went to DA-2 facilities, with a somewhat expanded day pattern.) At night, WRKO protects the primary occupant of 680, KNBR in San Francisco, and that means a deep null to the west-southwest. That wasn't a big deal in 1947 - or even in 1967 - when most of the population of the Boston market was still contained within Route 128 and the area around this transmitter site on Meadow Drive was, well, meadow. (It's still very quiet and peaceful down the rutted road that runs along the length of the widely-spaced array behind the transmitter building.) But today, WRKO's site is surrounded by one of the biggest shopping areas in New England and the suburbs of Boston sprawl far to the west of 128, far outside the coverage of 680's night signal.
To the right of the phasor sits WRKO's current main transmitter, a Harris DX50. A door to the left of the DX 50 leads down a hallway to the office area and, beyond it, a garage that's also used for storage.
Next week, we'll go up - and check out New England's most exciting rooftop!
Still haven't ordered? It's not too late - Tower Site Calendar 2004 is STILL AVAILABLE! If you haven't yet ordered, what are you waiting for? Click here for ordering information!