By Matt McGuigan
Before enlisting in the Army in 1952 I had done some commercial broadcasting at a local radio station here at home, so, naturally, I was drawn to the AFRS station there at Sangley.
After Basic training and Army Clerk school training I was sent to the 29th Engineer Base Topographic Battalion stationed at Camp Cavite across town from Sangley PT NAS. The 29th Engineers was a non-combat Engineer outfit assigned to what was called “A Post Hostilities Mapping Project.” During WW two there were no maps or charts of the Islands and the US government said that were we ever to go back they wanted complete maps and charts of all the Islands. We had companies of surveyors and boatmen. The boatmen operated large freight ships on which the surveyors lived while at work around the Islands. Camp Cavite was their base of operations. I was assigned to Personnel and later to I & E (Information and Education).
I would, of course, listen to Radio Sangley, as it was then called, on the radio at night and weekends. One day I went over to the Naval Air Station and poked around at the radio station. It was only a small room in what was called the movie exchange building. Here is a picture of the Radio station end of the quonset hut. It was across the street from the Administration Building.
The manager at the time was a tall, lanky Texas fellow named James R.(Tex) Gough. He was from Austin, TX. The station was only on the air in the evenings then from about 4:30 till about 10PM. The equipment was very primitive. It consisted of a Bogen Public Address system amplifier and two “antique” type variable speed turntables on a make shift plywood desk. The transmitter at that time was what was called a “Bastardized” aircraft transmitter converted to operate (with a variable frequency oscillator) at 1300 KC. The antenna was a long wire that ran from the top of the quonset hut to the top of a nearby water tower.
I have also included a picture of the little control room we used when I began to work on my off duty hours– evenings and weekends. I would go over to the station evenings and weekends since they told me it was easier to get volunteers from the Army, like me, than to get sailors assigned to the Station.
After working like that for a number of weeks, Tex (the station manager) got word from AFRS in Los Angeles that they were going to send us Forty Five thousand dollars worth of brand new commercial broadcast equipment. It was to include a Gates Speech input console (which you can see in the picture), three commercial-style broadcast turntables, microphones, a Stancil/Hoffman rack mounted tape recorder, and a magnacorde tape recorder. Also, they were sending microphones and two Hammerlund Super Pro model 600 Shortwave receivers. We also were to get equipment racks to mount the stuff. They said the broadcast transmitter was to come later.
We took the station off the air for perhaps a month after the gear arrived aboard a ship in Manila. We took a stake body truck over there to get it and bring it back to Sangley. In the meantime Tex asked me if I would like to move over to Sangley and work full time with them at the station if it could be arranged. I said I sure would.
He and someone else came over to Camp Cavite and got an appointment with our Base Commander, and proceeded to explain to him how I had been working with them on my off duty hours for weeks, and now they were promised all this new gear and they planned to be on the air full time, and that it would be nice if the Army could be represented there. The officer-in-charge of the I & E section where I worked was consulted, and he then asked the two other guys I was working with if they could get by without me.
They said they believed they could and I was given a special pass to let me travel freely between the two bases. Tex came over with a pickup truck and moved all my gear over to the Special Services section at Sangley. I spent the rest of my hitch there at Sangley, only going back to the Army base once a month to get paid.
While the Station was off the air we greeted the arrival of the new broadcast gear like it was Christmas Morning, un-crating the gear on the front lawn there. It was then someone got the idea to use call letters. They had contacted AFRS in Los Angeles and asked their permission and they replied that they did not encourage the use of call letters but if we wanted them we could use them with the permission of the Base communications officer. Tex took up the matter with him and we agreed to use KTLG. He said it was Okay with him. Work proceeded furiously on expanding our part of the Movie exchange building with the help of a filipino civilian carpenter.
Glass was appropriated for the windows and the studios and control room laid out. At the time they were building a new EM club on the base and tearing down the old one. We got the celotex sound proofing squares from that to re-use in our studios and control room. We had the help of the Chief Engineer from Clark AFB whose name was Allan Dieterle (Dee-terr-lee). He stayed with us for a couple of weeks to supervise the installation of all the gear. The original Chief engineer at KTLG was named L. E. (Lee) Faust, but he was later replaced by one Jack Permes (PER-MEES).
Needless to say the work was finally completed and a dedicatory program was obtained from AFRS headquaters in Los Angeles. We had a grand opening one evening when we went back on the air opening of course with the special dedicatory program.
The time I spent there working with the great crew at KTLG is among my most pleasant of memories. I treasure the pictures, copy of the dedicatory program and other things I have among my most valued possessions.
Listen to the official opening of KTLG Radio Sangley.
© Matt McGuigan Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation.
Author Matt McGuigan formerly worked at KTLG Radio Sangley.
Jim [Tex] Gough writes to us:
Just took a look at your wonderful site. I do need to clear up one thing however. I was stationed at NAS Sangley Point in the PI in 1951. The Special Services officer, Lt. Ray Novelli called me in and asked if I had any radio experience. I said “yeah” and he instructed me to build a carrier current radio station in a quonset hut across from the Administration Bldg. I found someone who could build a transmitter and we scrounged up enough equipment to go on the air shortly afterward. I was the one who built and managed Radio Sangley for it’s first two years of operation. I also was the one who got AFRS approval to use the call sign KTLG. I hired Matt McGuigan who did the nice article but have no knowledge of the man who claims to have been there in the beginning.
Jim Gough..retired advertising executive, Austin, Texas
January 30 2012
This story was originally contributed to U. S. Naval Station Sangley Point which we recommend for readers wanting to know more about the USNS at Sangley Point, Philippines 1898-1971 and life for those who lived and worked around the base. The site is maintained by Loren Stiegelmar. This content is not to be reused in any format without permission from Loren Stiegelmar
If you enjoyed this article, you’ll also enjoy ‘Starting Radio Sangley’ by Louis McClure Snr.