KHOG

By Allen Thompson

Last update: 08-May-96. This page, like everything else on THE WEB, is under construction.

At one time or another I called this page A Brief History of KHOG. Instead, I think I'll call it a random collection of things from that bootleg station I once worked for. Whatever you want to call it, read on for interesting tidbits about Oregon's most outrageous pirate radio station.

Hog Calls

The station was shut down in January of 1984 and I've misplaced about half of my KHOG recordings over the years. Here are a few that remain. More will follow (and you can cancel your subscription at any time.)

Hog Empire (360k bytes)
Our flagship station ID. Bill McFadden speaks over the Empire Theme from the Star Wars movies.
Olson (50k bytes)
KHOG announcer Marc Olson gives the station positioning statement. This sample was lifted from an air shift that Marc and I did together for KHOG-AM. Marc also mentioned the AM frequency (840 kHz), so that had to be edited out for use when the station moved to FM. You will hear a small "glitch" at that spot. ...or, perhaps I yelled out something completely incoherent and that had to be edited out. I can't remember for sure.
I created the echo effect by mixing the playback signal from a three-head open reel machine with the live material while it was recording. At the time, analog reverb units were expensive and the few digital effects in existence were priced in the stratosphere.

KHOG in the Media

In November of 1995, some of my cohorts and I were featured on the Radio Guy segment of The TV Set on Portland Cable Access.

[picture of us handsome dudes]

From left to right, Jim "The Radio Guy" Wrathall, Pirate Bill, Pirate Allen, and Pirate Barry.

Confessions of a Former Pirate

What follows is a reprint of a story Bill McFadden (our beloved General Manager, Engineer and DJ) wrote for Panaxis's Experimental Broadcaster's Newsletter (EBN) in 1986. He has updated it with information [in brackets] that was either new or was too sensitive at the time to print.


Excerpt from Experimental Broadcaster's Newsletter (Vol. 3, No. 1)

STATION(s) OF THE MONTH....... #3 KNPR-AM, KHOG-AM, KHOG-FM, KCUF-FM. (Confessions of a former "Pirate")

Dear EBN,

I got my start in 1978 when I was a sophomore in high school. My first transmitter was a 4 transistor job that had about a 100 Ft range.

It wasn't much but it got me hooked quick. I soon built a second AM transmitter using 3 tubes, a 12AX7 and 2-50C5's. Its range was about a mile.

I was fortunate to get practical experience also at our school station, KBPS (1450 kHz), which also complemented my electronics training.

In 1980 I began attending our State College [Oregon State]. Like most freshman I lived in a dormitory [McNary Hall]. It didn't take long to realize that the floor I lived on (known as "Hog City" or the "Hog Empire") [6th floor] was really wild 'n crazy. Seemed like a good place for a radio station. On went the transmitter. We decided to call the station KHOG for obvious reasons. It was an instant success.

We got this really funny guy down the hall to be a DJ. He'd never done anything like it before, but he was a natural. We set up a request line and the phone was ringing off the hook. And, for some reason, the pretty coeds started hanging around "station headquarters"!! We signed-off at Midnight by playing the Imperial Death March from "The Empire Strikes Back" sound track. Our T-shirts emphasized the theme with the following logo:

[picture of pig wearing Darth Vader helmet,
text reads 'KHOG 840 AM - VOICE OF THE EMPIRE']

We went through three transmitters that year. Our second transmitter, built by a friend and I, used a 6DQ6 tube with a crystal. It was modulated by an audio amplifier through a 70 volt line transformer connected in series with the tube's plate voltage supply. Later my friend needed his 1 MHz crystal back (belonged to his computer) so we went back to 840 kHz after finding a new crystal. Our last transmitter was a hybrid containing IC's, transistors, and tubes (tubes reign supreme).

The following year wasn't as successful because most of the good people were kicked out of the dorm for being too rowdy. Fall of 1981 marked a turning point however as we moved to FM stereo. My transmitter was a Stellatron FX-20, with an output of 20 mW it got out about 1/3 mile. I tried all kinds of schemes to boost the output power but none of them worked. It would be a few years before I knew enough about RF design to design my own VHF amplifiers.

In addition to the low output power I also had a frequency drift. One day I read a construction article in RADIO-ELECTRONICS about a "Frequency Synthesized RF Signal Generator". A light bulb went on in my head "why can't I do this for my FM transmitter?". It took most of 1982 to work out the bugs but I did it. What an improvement! Crystal controlled accuracy and 0.1 MHz resolution using BCD thumbwheel switches. This was living!

The next major improvement was in early 1983 with the addition of a power amplifier. I used a MOTOROLA MHW-592 module to get a 2 watt output. This increased the station's range to a 5 mile radius (coverage of the whole town [Corvallis, OR]). Later I changed to a Panaxis FMA-2000 (lots of adjustments, but it seemed to give me a bit more power - in part because I increased the supply voltage to 15 volts instead of 12.) The addition of a Panaxis RFI filter prior to my 1/4 wave ground-plane antenna improved matching and increased range further. I was in an apartment now [Londonderry Apt. #1, 9th & Adams] with no place for an antenna. A friend next door put it on top of his house (100 feet of buried cable.) We painted it black so it would be hard to see. The FCC would never know!

In the summer of 1983 I started building a mixer with TL074 op-amps. It has 17 stereo inputs, six pots, and three stereo mixing buses (audition, pgm, cue). It wasn't finished until the end of that year.

On December 9, 1983 KHOG helped out with a dance at my old dorm. Everyone brought records to my apartment. We broadcast to the dance two blocks away. The phone was tied up all evening with requests. The people would tell our "DJ" at the dance what they wanted, he would relay it to us on the phone. The dancers couldn't tell their music was being broadcast to them from a remote location!

After Christmas break and on the air again for about 10 days, I received a visit from the FCC. I was in the shower so my roommates answered the door. By the time I got there they had already hidden the transmitter but forgot the amplifier, which I hid immediately. I went to greet my visitor in the next room. He was wearing a trench coat...(give me a break!). He asked to see the transmitter, so I showed him the 20 mW unit. He didn't believe that was all there was to it and wanted to see the antenna, how did he know where to find me? Someone must have turned me in. In any case, he let me off with a warning and didn't take the equipment. After he left I realized the date .... January 13th, 1984 ...FRIDAY the 13th.

We came to the conclusion that we were "identified" by our telephone ring. Just as we were signing off [after the dance] the phone rang...and was picked up by the microphone. Instant confirmation that the station was located at the same place as the phone!

So there I was, not supposed to go on the air, and several years of work put into it. I decided no one was getting the last laugh on me... I turned my transmitter into a senior project and got 8 hours of college credit (straight "A"'s no less).

The station was off the air for 8 months until August, 1984, when a friend of mine offered to start it up again. We agreed in writing that it would be HIS responsibility, and would be located at his house. The station was renamed KCUF by the new owner but the equipment was being rented from me. When I moved from the area I took the transmitter with me. KCUF has since obtained another transmitter and is still on the air at 90.3 MHz. [No longer on the air, but operated until at least 1990.]

In June, 1985, I graduated with a BS in electrical engineering. I am now working for Tektronix designing test and measurement equipment for TV stations (still hooked on broadcasting!).

Two friends and I have formed TBA Productions for the purpose of starting a cable FM station. Our initial problems were lack of space on the cable for stereo, and then our proposal to use their text-only bulletin board channel brought a polite refusal a week later.

A major problem is the cost of phone lines ... $120.00/month for one 8 kHz line; $350.00/month for a pair of 15 kHz lines. [Cable station was never realized, but TBA productions lives on as a low-budget hobby recording studio.]

My "Pirate" days are over so you can sign me:

Sincerely, Bill McFadden


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