(Left to right) Ralph Collier and Member R.A. Campbell
WFLN Studios, 8200 Ridge Avenue, Philadelphia
circa early seventies

Here's a photo of Ralph Collier (in front of the Ampex 350 reel to reel audio tape machine) and member R.A. Campbell in the WFLN editing booth at the studios at 8200 Ridge Avenue in Philadelphia. WFLN was the classical music station in this town for decades. It was owned by Raymond S. Green. He was our Person of the Year in 1976. He was this organization's second President and our second Chairman of the Board. He was a founding member of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia. His son, Raymond F. Green, is a current member and lives in Florida.

We asked member R.A. (Alan) Campbell to tell us a little about WFLN. He wrote:

I wish I had more photos of WFLN's interior from the late 1960's and early 1970's. The production studio or editing booth was the size of a large walk-in closet and housed two Ampex 350 consoles primarily for tape editing and mixing audio or transferring tapes.

The editing booth was not used for recording interviews or the like. Ralph Collier recorded his interviews on the scene and usually returned to the station late at night to edit and mix down his tapes to a five minute program played back the next morning. I first met him when I was working the evening shift. When announcer John Edwards died, I moved into the afternoon announcing shift and was introducing Ralph 'live from the Art Alliance.'

This major program was his noon show live from The Philadelphia Art Alliance. There was a small studio downtown behind the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul where Ralph would do live interviews. Ralph was always totally prepared for these broadcasts. He would watch the movie, see the show or read the book so he could converse with his guest with intimate knowledge of their involvement of the project they were discussing. For several years in addition to this live program he had other shorter programs on the air like his 'News, Views and Reviews' and a program called 'One Man's Opinion,' a commentary.

I might add that there was a larger studio at WFLN where studio guests were recorded. Member Taylor Grant's fifteen minute commentaries (sponsored by Philadelphia Gas Works) were recorded from there in the afternoons for playback at 4:30 and 6:30.

The AM-FM station produced the national broadcasts of The Philadelphia Orchestra. Magnetic Recorder Reproducing Company made the recordings. Jim Keeler, produced and hosted the series heard Sunday afternoons. In fact once assistant conductor William Smith called saying he and Mr. Ormandy (Eugene Ormandy was our Person of the Year in 1979) were listening to the broadcast in their office and wish the `stay level` monitor on the broadcast line could be turned off...as it sucked up all the quiet passages, which they found annoying. I referred them to chief engineer Tom Moyer.

In the late 1960's both AM and FM simulcasted and carried programs of NBC Radio. If the NBC program was dropped, the commercial matter had to be recorded and broadcast with in the hour. Frequently a fully sponsored program such as a sporting event was not aired but resulted in an hour of short musical selections with frequent and many times the same commercials repeated over and over. Listener reaction was understandably quite negative.

Delaware Valley radio listeners of the 1950's may recall hearing the voice of member Al Barclay for many years on WJBR out of Wilmington, Del. As a youngster living in Drexel Hill, PA, I recall hearing him there, then after on WFLN where he worked for the rest of his life. He said he used the name Barclay, as his real name, Bressler, was too German for post WWII listeners.

Station engineer Tom Moyer was a technical wizard and fanatic about new trends in broadcasting, stereo, microphones and transmissions. Frequently in the studio there would be a new turntable, stylus, cartridge or technical gizmo he was testing for some electronic company.

In the early days you could hear two voices on each shift. Daytime announcer would read news live and record a reel to reel of commercials, ids and music announcements for use by evening announcer. At night the live announcer would read news and play taped liners of daytime announcer. He would record a liner tape for use the next day by daytime announcer. Thus there were two distinct WFLN announcer voices on duty all the time.

Announcer Ken Orr
WFLN Studios, 8200 Ridge Avenue, Philadelphia
circa early seventies

John Edwards was the daytime music host of WFLN in the 1960's. He was also a familiar frequently heard announcer 'in the booth' at "Channel Ten, Philadelphia". He was a great friend of WCAU-TV news anchor John Facenda, who paid an unusual tribute to Edwards on the channel 10 newscast on the day that John Edwards passed away in 1970.

What young broadcaster would not want to emulate Ralph Collier. Good voice...always well tailored and doing interviews of celebrities ...attending opening events, etc. Philadelphian's first heard him in the 1950's on WCAU's Hi Neighbor program and later on his daily WFLN lunchtime broadcasts from The Art Alliance and 'Views and Reviews' features. Heard him in his later years on the WWFM classical network out of Trenton, NJ.

Legendary pioneer broadcaster-newsman and curmudgeon Taylor Grant would arrive daily at 3:30 pm to record his commentaries (usually engineered by Al Barclay) sponsored by The Philadelphia Gas Company. Playback was at 4:30 and 6:30 PM. He had a terrific sense of humor and a loyal following of listeners who tuned in to see who in politics he would be skewering from the news of that day.

If you watched the Phillies or A's games on TV in the 1950's you may remember a slick skinny kid selling Tastykakes. The young Frank Carter was broadcasting 'live' from Scheib Park. He was also an early WFLN announcer and had a rather rocky relationship with the station. Somewhat self absorbed and opinionated personal positions that led to frequent dismissals. In the late 1960's he was doing a 'new releases' hour on Saturday mornings, sponsored by Sam Goody's Record stores. It was good to hear him in his later years on WRTI.

By the way, member Ed Cunningham was on the WFLN staff in the late 1960's and early 70s. He joined WHYY where he became an institution. And Ken Orr and I worked together briefly playing classical music overnight on WPBS and were working together later at WFLN.

From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Photos originally donated by Broadcast Pioneers member R.A. Campbell
© 2013, Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
All Rights Reserved

The e-mail address of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia is pioneers@broadcastpioneers.com