Building Radio Musical

In early 1964, while browsing the stores and sights in Quito's colonial downtown, I spotted a store with a radio transmitter in the window. I went in to see it, and the proprietor, Ing. Al Horvath, saw me peering into the innards of a 1,000 watt radio transmitter with uncommon interest and curiosity.  
Carlos Guarderas Barba in  2005.
Carlos managed Ing. Horvath's business
Somewhat amazed about my interest in a transmitter (I looked every bit of 17... or less), I explained my several years of "work" in radio. Horvath confessed that he had built the transmitter hoping to sell it to someone, bundled with a license his son in law, Carlos Guarderas had obtained for a new AM in Quito (where there were already about 40 other AM's).   Unfortunately, no one wanted that frequency: 570 AM. In Ecuador, stations did not use towers, preferring instead to use long-wires hung between tall wooden poles. Of course, a low frequency would not tune easily in to such a short antenna, and so this channel was available... for a price of U$S250 dollars (I had to buy the transmitter I had been admiring, too. And the tower. And the ATU... there was a catch of kinds.).
My late father had been an investment banker and managed money all his life so most of my birthday and Christmas presents were shares of stock, not Roy Rogers 6-Gun sets. From that beginning, I had saved and invested since I was in the QSL card business, and had a little stashed away. I decided that a city of 700,000 with nearly 40 operating stations badly needed one more.

Francisco Aguirre Gómez of ORC
I bought the transmitter equipment from Ing. Horvath, and headed to Mexico to buy jingles from Organización Radio Centro and Francisco Aguirre Jr. At the same time, I established contacts with the major Mexican record labels to receive new releases, since Ecuador produced nearly no pop music records. Peerless, RCA, Musart, Gamma, Orfeón, and Columbia all were happy to hear about the first pop music station in Ecuador.

Larry Cervon managed Gates Radio Company in Quincy, Illinois. I purchased all the studio equipment from Gates during a visit to Quincy in July of 1964. The former Gates factory was on this street in Quincy, with the Mississippi River at the end.

In September, 1964, we were ready to put the tower up. The transmitter site was on a flat hilltop to the NE of Quito which we happily found had nice conductivity because it was very loamy and less rocky than other areas of town. Quito lies along a long sequence of valley areas in the high Andes.
Here are a series of photos of the construction of the transmitter site
for Quito's new HCRM1, Radio Musical, on 570 AM.
The transmitter site before any construction in late August of 1964. The city of Quito lies below the site, which was over 10,000 feet AMSL. The view is form the Northeast, looking over the central and northern part of the city.
Plowing the furrows for the 120 ground wires that will be buried under the earth... 8000 meters of copper wire or enough to lay a single strand from the site to downtown Quito.
The "caseta" or transmitter building was prefabricated, and sported a very
handsome pure asbestos roof.

The land is plowed in preparation for the laying of 8,000 meters of ground wire.
Construction begins with the transmitter building, prefabricated by a local carpenter. 
Note the land freshly plowed and turned to make burying of radials easier. 5 miles of copper was buried for the ground system. At the time, other stations simply buried an old car radiator as a ground!
A nice hole is ready for the tower base to be poured and then cement is poured in it and cures in its wooden form; bolts to hold the tower base are protected by a cloth cover.
Below, Ing. Al Horvath looks at the form for the tower base prior to pouring concrete.
Ing. Horvath surveys the base and the frame for the doghouse (antenna tuning unit)- The interesting scaffolding had a purpose: the tower was erected top section first and winched upwards, with new sections being added to the bottom. A crew of farmers manually held guy wires and ropes as the tower rose.

The first and topmost section is assembled; other sections lie to the right.
Note the beacons and lightening rods on the tower.

This old truck carried the winch that pulled the tower upwards using the wooden scaffold as a gin pole.

Seen from the scaffold, here the tower is part way up, and still not tensioned properly. There is, in fact, a pronounced lean at the top.

"Towering" over Quito from the suburban area of Bellavista, HCRM1 looked to have a huge tower. In fact, it was only 100 meters high, with enormous top-loading to work on 570.

The first cart machines in Ecuador were at Radio Musical. It also had the first solid state audio chain (Audimax and Volumax).

Click on the picture for a higher resolution view of the studio.
The station was located in this building on Avenida Colón and Ave. Amazonas in the more modern northern part of Quito for its first 3 years. The signs above and below the second floor say, "Núcleo Radión" which was the name for the growing station cluster after Canal Tropical-805 was added in 1966.

The ugly SAAB car was mine, being my first experience in trade deals (three-for-one, anyone?). It got me to the transmitter and was safer than the Vespa I had used for the first year on the air.