Starting Radio Sangley, US Naval Station Sangley Point

By Louis McClure Snr

US Naval Station Sangley Point aerial view.

I was sent TDY to the Naval Air Station, at Sangley Point, across the bay from Manila.

I was teaching technicians in communications, radar, and sonar equipment. There were many families living on or near the Sangley Point station, and they had no radio except Philippine stations. So, in conversation with the Special Services Officer, we decided to build a “carrier current” transmitter and broadcast music and news on the station. We used salvage parts from the electronics lab, and built a carrier-current transmitter.

For those who are technically inclined, it was a simple 807 output tube, high-level modulated by a pair of 6L6’s in P-P. the output was approximately 15 watts. It was self-excited, and the Hartley oscillator was not very stable. Anyway, this was an advantage, as we were searching for a spot on the band where we would not interfere with Philippine stations (or vice versa!)

Carrier current does not require a transmitter license, but it is limited to a certain signal level at a certain distance from the power lines which are used as the “antenna.” Transformers usually kill most of the excitation, anyway. So, at no cost to the Special Services section, we built the little transmitter.

The Special Services were located in a Quonsett-type hutt, near the center of the building. The electric meter was located at the end of the building, and the power was supplied to the center of the building by use of old-fashined ball and knob insulators, on top of the building. I merely placed a transmitting mica condenser across the line at the meter, and then built a loading coil to load the line on top of the Quonsett hut. Boy, did we ever get out!

We were constantly receiving telephone requests from Manila, about 7 miles across the bay, and from Subic Bay, about 35 airline miles from Sangley! It was radiating like crazy. It took a while to find a spot on the dial to “place” the signal, but we eventually found one. The Hartley self-excited (and unstable) generator really was an asset in that case!

We had to have a 45-RPM player, as 45-RPM records were popular then, as well as 16-RPM. So, they spent $14.00 in the Navy Exchang e for a 45-RPM changer, and that was the only expense they encountered! But the DJ who they had on the station at that time would scream “Don’t touch that dial!! Wait just a minute and we’ll drift back into you!!

When I left Sangley Point for the Cont. US, it was still blasting away. I don’t think you’ll find it listed on any “official” radio logs, though!

Sangley Point Naval Radio Station backgrounds this Corsair floatplane over Cavite Navy Yard c.1930
© US Naval Historical Center

Louis McClure Snr writes to us:

“After 3 years in the Army Air Force, serving in Australia, New Guinea, and Japan, I was discharged in January, l946.

I attended Central Technical Institute, in Kansas City, Mo, and received my 1st Class Radiotelephone license in March, l949. I also attended Pathfinder School of Radio Announcing, in Kansas City, graduating in January, l950. I worked in broadcast radio several months, until joining RCA as a field engineer in late 1950. I got tired of working for peanuts in broadcasting.

In 1950-56, I was a field engineer for RCA. I was on contract to the Navy Department, Bureau of Aeronautics, in Washington, D. C. I was assigned to the Naval Aviation Electronics Service Unit, (NAESU) at the Naval Receiving Station, in Washington, D.C. I normally operated solo, moving from one facility to another on military orders. I worked for RCA Service Co. During this time, I was assigned to the Naval Aviation Electronics Service Unit. I traveled throughout the US and Pacific areas assisting squadrons with electronics problems in naval aircraft.”

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

US Naval Station Sangley Point has a longer radio history as well, because a Naval Radio Station was located there several decades earlier.

If you enjoyed this article, you’ll also enjoy ‘KTLG Radio Sangley’ which details how this small station grew into a firm base favorite and includes images and audio.

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