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By Dave Hughes

Here's WMAL's 630 AM, 5,000-watt transmitter building on Greentree Road in Bethesda. WMAL's transmission facility, including its tower array, is located just outside the Capital Beltway (I-495), near where it intersects with I-270. Pictures and descriptions are courtesy of Chris Roth. This page is graphics intensive and may take a few minutes to load.


The entrance to the WMAL Greentree Road transmitter site.....


The "M" to WMAL that was on a Springfield office building for years.....


More of the letters.... I think we can make out an "L" and "W" here.....


This is the transmitter that was in service from 1973 until recently.....


This is WMAL’s new transmitter..... It is a 10kw rig, even though MAL is only a 5kw radio station.....


This is what makes WMAL’s audio sound so good.....


In a room to the left of the transmitter - is an old graveyard of equipment.....


More old equipment in the same room.....


This is the old EBS system for WMAL, which they are still required to maintain. Just about every station used to have one of these.....


This is the production room. It now houses old equipment from years gone by.....


This is another shot of the production room.....


Another pic of the production room, from the "control room".....


This is the old WMAL “Skyhawk 630” 2 way radio system. I can name several people, myself included, that never want to see that thing again.....


From the art deco days, these beautiful fixtures are still on the ceiling.....


A studio monitor from the control room.....


A shot from where the engineer would sit, facing the on air talent studio.....


This is where the show producer sat. You can see from where the clock was, the walls were actually white at one time....


This is the famous Harden and Weaver clock, the picture taken from the studio where they sat. This room now houses equipment for Channel 7.....


I’ve never seen this one before – it is on the door going into the talent studio.....


This is where the old wire service machine was. Now, more equipment.....


Let's go down the hall…..


This was an alarm system that alerted the engineer whenever someone drove up the driveway - namely the chief engineer.....


Ahh, yes. Just like Grandma’s house.....


This was the room that used to supply WMAL’s engineers with industrial sized gob of “spread cheese” and crackers. MMM MMM good.


Down we go – let's go downstairs into the basement.....


A brochure for WMAL AM/FM in the WMAL FM programming office.....


These are some nice sketches on the wall of the FM programming office.....


The WMAL, FM 107.3 office.....


Located 2 doors down from the FM office, this now houses old pictures and old WMAL AM and FM TV commercials on video.....


This is the room that used to contain the WMAL programming department.....


An old piece of equipment on an old, unused workbench.....


This is the old controller form the tower lights, original from when M.A. Leese owned the station.....


On the left of the bench, there is a door, and behind it is another half door. This is what is inside of it.....


A note on the janitor's closet, from when WMAL actually used these facilities for studios and programming. It is signed by the former manager.....


Just lost in time, floor pads, and bottles of babo. Lockers - old lockers - belonging to engineers or air talent, I don’t know.....


Look what someone has left behind for 30 years or so... yummy! And that’s the end of the tour.....

Addendum..... Scott Fybush provided these pictures of the WMAL transmitter building and tower array. He says they were taken in 1996.....


We recently received these messages:

Enjoyed the TX tours of WMAL and WTOP. Chris Roth did a nice job, but there are a few gaps in the WMAL captions. I worked at WMAL from 1950 till 1993. I was in the engineering dept. and was with TV all of this time. The Evening Star newspaper owned the WMAL/AM/FM/TV operation from the early 30's until it was sold to Allbritton in 1975. The M. A. Leese optical company was long gone when the Greentree Rd. facility was built. Greentree Rd. was an AM transmitter only, manned by engineers with First Class FCC tickets. No production studios : just make sure those four big antennas were phased properly so that the nulls protected St.. Louis; Providence, RI and Havana, Cuba. The studios were downtown at the TransLux bldg. at 14th and NewYork Ave. NW along with WRC the NBC owned and operated station. NBC people did all the studio work for WMAL as long as it was at TransLux. When WMAL-TV moved their studio from 1625 K St. NW to 4461 Conn. Ave. NW in early 1951, they provided a nice radio studio facility for the first time. This lasted for about 10 years until an economy drive put the studios out on Greentree Rd. That's about where the picture tour of WMAL begins. By the way, that shot of the note to the cleaning people, signed YATES was Harold Yates. We shared an office for a few years and that guy knew the Greentree operation like the back of his hand. and so to bed. Milt Wishard (Octber 13, 2001)

Chris Roth: Thank you for the pix of the WMAL transmitter site as it is today. Certainly a far cry (and sad statement) from years past, when it was truly up-and-running and a special place to visit. My father, Jim Hall, went to work for WMAL in 1958. He became good friends with Frank Harden and Jack Weaver, several years before they would be a team. At the time, they were "staff announcers," filling shifts with no particular involvement past that. After my father left for Mutual in 1960 or so, he stayed friends with them; as a kid, it was a special treat to get up VERY early on a Saturday morning and make the trek to Greentree Road to see them. Of course, no trip to the transmitter at THAT hour would be complete without a stop at the Bethesda Community Store. At 5:30 AM, even on Saturdays, there were fresh-made sandwiches (wrapped in wax paper--the Old-Fashioned Loaf lunchmeat comes to mind) and just about anything else you wanted. Even though the AM programming originated from Greentree Road, for years, news and the FM were in Channel 7's studios. Anyone remember the Capricorn? I remember my dad and I getting to the end of Greentree and crossing the bridge over the Beltway that led to the transmitter building. What an aura! Then, to go in the studio and see Frank and Jack; awestruck at age 9. Off-mic, Harden and Weaver would tell some of the greatest jokes of all time. They would tell the stories during commercials, so it would take a while. Finally, they (usually Frank) would deliver the punch line JUST AS THE MIC LIGHT CAME ON. Thus, you'd be reduced to peeing in your pants while they'd give the time and point for the next commercial. Or, even worse, you'd have to stifle yourself while they read live copy. Brutal. But, the most fun any kid with the radio bug could have. On the weekends, the AM site was deserted except for the air talent and board ops, so you had a chance to explore. What a great building. Sad it's now just one big closet. One more thing: If anyone at WMAL can get me two of those "discarded" JBL 4311 monitors I see in the pictures, I'll make it worth your while. /sean hall (October 13, 2001)