MAY 1967

WACI Spells Wacky

If you don't have anything to do this week, why not build and run your own radio station? It can be done. SP4 Thomas H. Hunter did it at Fifth Army Headquarters, Chicago before the move to Fort Sheridan, Illinois.

Hunter, a radio maintenance man in the Post Signal Office, built and operates radio station WACI. You won't find it listed on the program page of the newspaper, but listeners in the barracks are familiar with the distinctive sounds of WACI.

Broadcasts originate from Hunter's room and are carried to a transmitter in the barracks by a leased telephone line.

The power of the transmitter is just one-tenth of a watt, so the listening area is limited to the barracks building.

Under a special low power provision in the regulations of the Federal Communications Commission, Hunter can operate without a license as long as he limits his transmitting power to its present level and doesn't interfere with commercial stations. He broadcasts at 1200 on the AM dial. Announcers, SGT William Cline, Support Detachment, and SP5 Jack Harry, Information Office, Fifth Army Headquarters, assist him.

As its name might imply, radio WACI (pronounced "wacky") does not take itself too seriously. But its owner is a most serious young man when it comes to broadcasting.

All the equipment was designed and put together from piles of spare parts that Hunter accumulated during his electronic tinkering. The cost of the equipment from commercial sources would be at least $3,000. Hunter put it together for about $500.

The portable broadcast studio consists of two turntables, two tape recorders, two microphones, a transmitter and a 6-position console. This last piece is the heart of the system. With it Hunter mixes, blends and coordinates voice, records and tapes into a fast-paced program of music and humor.

WACI's audience grows each day. Its programming leans toward rock-and-roll, including the old favorites of years ago, and rhythm and blues. Monologue and some refreshingly different ads for some refreshingly nonexistent products are sprinkled throughout.

Broadcast hours vary. During the day there is background music. Evenings and weekends listeners get a unique blend of platters and chatter. Requests from the barracks are relayed to Hunter's room by a direct phone line.

Hunter's knowledge of radio and electronics is self-taught. In high school he recorded performances at local schools. He attended Carnegie Tech for one year, then went to work as a recording engineer for a studio in Pittsburgh. In 1965 he started his own recording business near Pittsburgh before entering the Army.

Before finding a job in the Army mated to his talents, Hunter took advanced individual training as a cook and then was sent to Fort Riley, Kansas, where he ran a popular vest-pocket station similar, but smaller than the one here. He came to Fifth Army Headquarters as an MP, but was soon reassigned to his present job.