KUSP Radio History
Looking across the Bay (1973-1974)

                   By the fall of 1972, the staff and volunteers of KUSP had found that the station was just not quite able to reach everyone who wanted to hear it. As inexpensive as ten watts from downtown was to operate, just wasn't going to do for the long term, at least if KUSP wanted to reach more than a few hundred people. Engineer Randy, along with David Freedman, began looking for a location in Santa Cruz County where they could place the ten-watt transmitter and get the coverage required, without the huge expense of a new transmitter. Randy cooked up the idea of locating the transmitter and a new, highly directional antenna on Ben Lomond Mountain, quite near the same location used by "Teleprompter", the local cable company to receive Bay Area television for cable customers in Santa Cruz.
When KUSP filed for this location in March of 1973, "Teleprompter" hired an expensive engineering firm in Washington and filed a formal objection to the little application. This was the first time any cable company had ever filed a formal objection to an FM application, and the FCC was left with a big mess. Teleprompter had no real technical grounds for objecting to the application, but made up some pretty interesting charts and graphs to back up the claims. The ace in the hole for them was the FCC Commissioners themselves, some of whom were personal friends of the owners of Teleprompter. Needless to say, the application sat with no action until later that summer, when it was scheduled for a hearing. KUSP was informed it would cost about $12,000 to defend the application initially, with no guarantee of success.

                    About that time, Don Mussell mentioned his friend Ken Warren to David. Ken was the engineer who had built a TV and FM station in Monterey, and the mountain they had placed their transmitter on was quite good for FM (real high elevation). It was found that the Santa Cruz Sheriff transmitter was also up there, because the mountain looked into Santa Cruz County better than anything in the county itself. An agreement was quickly drafted, and a new application was prepared for the FCC to specify Mt. Toro as the transmitter site.

                    The application was granted for Mt. Toro in less than 30 days. KUSP was taken completely by surprise by the swiftness of FCC action, mostly because it normally took at least 30 days to recognize the filing of such a thing, much less grant it.

                    So we had finally received the permit to make KUSP a very large station. Now all we needed to do was pay for the equipment and build it. It's the little details that matter so much. Now, we had a couple of folks who promised to come through with some cash to help with the power increase, but when it came down to the real thing, the thought of coming up with $20,000 scared them off. KUSP had to make some hard choices. After all, with a budget of $12,000 a year, we were not in the best of positions to go out and borrow the money.

                    But, we found a willing company called Collins, located in Dallas, Texas. They made transmitters, sold antennas and coax, microwave systems and just about everything one would need to put a big station together. And they were willing to finance the whole deal. We only had one question for the folks at Collins: Where do we sign?

Putting the pieces all Together

                    We started the process of planning the installation, and ordered the equipment. A transmitter, antenna, coax, remote control, and studio-transmitter link. Then the folks at Moseley called to give us the news. They were willing to sell us the STL equipment, but their engineers felt that what we had in mind would never work. We had to link our studios on the beach in Santa Cruz to a mountain just 37 miles away. And over half of the 37 miles was over the salt air ( and atmospheric inversions) of the Monterey Bay. It had never been done before, and the folks at Moseley doubted it could be done successfully. Well, what's a little distance between friends? We crossed our fingers and told them to send the stuff to us.

May 17, 1974

                    We hooked up the antenna at Mt. Toro to the STL receiver and there was KUSP! Luck was working in our favor that week. We began the difficult task of hanging the shiny, new antenna up at the 165 foot level of the KMST-TV tower. Don Mussell and Dr. Richard Adler (of the Naval Postgraduate School) strapped on their climing belts and set to work. It was about 40 degrees that morning, and it did not warm much past 50 degrees that afternoon. We managed to get one of the three antenna bays up, and our volunteers and helpers all said it was time to quit. Don and Dick had some of the best views of anyone on the central coast that afternoon. The snow pack on the Sierras some 120 miles away was clearly visible from the top of the tower.

                    We came back the next Saturday (May 25, 1974) and got everything else put up in place. At 5:49 PM, we hit the switch, put a test tone on to be sure it was working, and then the sounds of Rich Wills playing a recording of Duke Ellington (in honor of his birthday and his death a year earlier) covered the Monterey Bay area at 88.9 mhz. We had done it!

Move on to the 1975 Technical History Page

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