I started working at KCPR in 1969, when KCPR was running about 2 watts with the GE Phasitron transmitter. My first on time on the air was about 11pm during Steve Stagnaro's shift. As I recall, my big break into radio was saying "What is Trash?" Steve had just played a song by the band Trash. After this astounding start in broadcasting, I went to San Francisco over the 1969 Christmas break and got my FCC First Phone (with radar endorsement). I then started doing some engineering work for KCPR and also did some news.
News consisted of riding to the SLO Police department on my Schwinn Varsity and reviewing the police log. I then went to KSLY (downstairs at Marsh & Osos) and got wire copy from the (Teletype model 15) wire service machine. Heading back to KCPR, I put together the 11:45pm news.
Tuesday nights, as I recall, the SAC (ASI Student Affairs Council, not the Strategic Air Command) held its meetings. I'd drag a cart with a big black box on it to the meetings. The big black box was a communications transmitter (Motorola or GE, I don't remember which). Every hour or so, I'd give the breaking SAC news on KCPR.
I also ended up doing some DJ work on air.
The KSLY connection proved important. In June of 1970, KSLY had an opening for a chief engineer. They hired me part time to keep them on the air, do the daily inspections of their Gates BC-250T transmitter, etc. Marty Hijmans had been working the Sunday night shift at KUHL (Santa Maria) and was leaving for the summer. So, I was hired to do the Sunday night shift at KUHL. KSLY was paying me $2.50 per hour. KUHL paid me $3.00 per hour since they needed that First Phone license for directional operation at night.
During the summer of 1970, Craig Hines, Herb Hoffman, and I lived in an apartment on Stenner Street. I set up my ham station in the living room (rack full of equipment plus a Teletype). I worked on air at KSLY overnights. On Sunday nights, I worked at KUHL from 6pm until midnight, then worked at KSLY from 1am until 6am. I did my Poly homework between 6 and 9 am, then went to school from 9am until 3pm. I TRIED to sleep from 3pm until 11pm, then back to KSLY for overnight. Quite a summer!
While at KSLY, we increased the power from 250 Watts to 1,000 Watts (1kW sign on). The transmitter was a Bauer 707 that Marti Hijmans and I built as a kit in the owners' (Homer and Ginny Odom) garage. This replaced the Gates BC-250T. We installed the new transmitter at the top of the hill (0 Higuera) overlooking the old site. The old site is now the Chumash Village mobile home park.
Homer and Ginny then bought the old KATY-FM. We took the antenna down from the roof of Hathaway Motors, the VW dealership on Monterey Street. The old ITA transmitter was donated to KCPR while the Bauer FM transmitter KATY had used was traded in to AEL for a new transmitter. The Bauer sat in our garage on Sandercock Street for several years. AEL eventually gave it to KCPR. We put the old KATY-FM on the air as KUNA with the new AEL transmitter in a new building on Cuesta Peak.
The studio was still under the Santa Barbara Savings and Loan building at the corner of Marsh and Osos Streets. We installed a Broadcast Products AR-2000 automation system to play "beautiful music." This system had six Revox reel to reel decks playing music and six cartridge carousels to play commercials. A little after the installation, SLO flooded. Though the studio did not fill with water, a fair amount of water leaked in. We spent a fair amount of time cleaning up and rewiring the studio. Everything worked again! Finally, we moved the studio to an old ranch house between the new and old transmitter sites. That house is now, I believe, the club house in a condo development. On air was in a back bedroom. Production was in a front bedroom. The automation sat in the dining room along with the Traffic department (Terry Traffic). The FM production room sat in a pump house out back. Engineering (my office) was in the back of the garage. Sales was in the front of the garage.
Over the next several years, I ended up doing various engineering jobs for most of the stations in the county. In 1974, Frank Calabrese, Eric Dausman, Len Filomeo, Gerry Franke, Rick Smith, and I started Hallikainen And Friends. We started as a station technical services company. Every Friday night, we had a crew that went north, covering the SLO through Paso Robles stations, and another crew that went south covering Arroyo Grande, Santa Maria, and Lompoc. After a few years of this, we started to design and manufacture equipment for radio and TV stations. Our best selling product (the TVA series of audio mixers for TV stations) was designed by Eric Dausman and Gerry Franke. One year, at the NAB convention, Len Filomeo dragged a guy into our booth and forced him to look at the TVA. He turned out to be from the Navy Broadcast Service. The US Navy went on to buy tons of those mixers to put in pre-fab TV stations that were put on ships. I designed various other products for H&F. Finally, by 1995, everyone who had founded H&F but me had gone on to "real jobs." We sold the assets of H&F to Dove Systems. I designed most of the products Dove now sells.
While at H&F, I started writing for Radio World newspaper about FCC Rules. This led to a couple books for the National Association of Broadcasts. My latest writing is the chapter on transmitter control systems in the NAB Engineering Handbook. My interest in FCC rules is carried over to my website devoted to the rules (http://www.hallikainen.com). Also along the way, I started teaching electronics at Cuesta College. I've been teaching there about 25 years now. In January 2007, I teach analog circuits (theory of the Happy Op Amp).
In June of 2007, I moved across the street from Dove to USL. I'm part of a small engineering department (about 6 people) that designs products for the cinema industry. I concentrate on microcontroller hardware and software for the products and am starting to get into FPGA design.