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WAD - Port Washington, WI

B & W photo of operator at the control board of radio station WAD in 1963This Ship-to-Shore station served the bulk-carriers and freighters (& Lake Michigan car ferries?) on the Great lakes from the west shore of Lake Michigan.  I personally know very little about it, but remember hearing it a few times though I could not remember its call letters until my mind was refreshed by some old documentation. 

The June 30, 1939 FCC Annual Report indicates that WAD's initial license had been granted during the past 12 months.  Frequency allocations above 3 MHz were approved during the FCC fiscal year that ended June 30, 1941.

WAD was really located about 7 miles south of Port Washington, in Grafton, WI.

The photo above, taken in May 1963, was provided by John Hankwitz whose family utilized the services of WAD many times from their
Lake Michigan powerboat during
 the 1950s and 60s.

Map showing the location of WAD at 149 Lake Shore Rd. in Grafton,WI

       WAD's Location (Above) and  Station Building (Right)
Photo of the exterior of WAD's brick station building

View of the WAD operating position
Michael Martin at the WAD Operator's Desk
View of the WAD operating position
James Leveraus at the WAD Operator's Desk

Following are  comments by Michael C. Martin who provided the color photos on this page:

One day in the 60’s  I was driving south of Port Washington, WI and noticed several short AM Vertical Towers and the brick building at the end of a mile-long, rutted gravel driveway.  When I pulled up for a quick look-see I found that it was WAD, a station that I had listened to on a BC-348 since my youth.  The operator welcomed me with an open door. I think it was July at that time as all the windows were open (No Air Conditioning).  

As I recall, the building faced south, and the HF antennas were west of the building and consisted of several tower verticals.  The VHF Antennas were pole mounted East of the building.

The inside of the station consisted of a room with the operator’s desk with the transmitters at the side, and a  smaller room behind the back of the transmitters which had a rack of VHF and Telco interface gear, a few service tools and several Teletype machines for receiving the weather reports.

The operator’s desk had several desk-mounted racks including a rack panel of several single-channel receivers.  A Super Pro General Coverage receiver also served as backup.  Another rack had the telephone interconnect panel with dials and a phone patches.  High on the side wall there was a panel of RF preamps for the receivers as I recall.  Behind the chair was a GE VHF station cabinet. 

I believe that the place was mostly heated in the winter by the transmitters with a small oil space heater for the really cold nights.

In later years the on-site, 24-Hr watch was reduced and the VHF equipment moved to an outdoor GE cabinet mounted on a telephone pole supporting a VHF antenna.  By that time the VHF channels were being remotely controlled from Lorain, OH.

When it was announced that Lorain was suspending all HF operation and moving to a remotely controlled VHF network I knew the handwriting was on the wall for this wonderful piece of radio history.  I stopped there several other times in the 70’s. The operator on watch would always welcome the company.  Each time my stay stretched into a four-hour visit with all the stories of Great Lakes events over the years.

Jim Leveraus and I took the pictures on this page during the last visit in February 1975, shortly before WAD was decommissioned.

I have always wondered what they did with all the decommissioned equipment. I hope it was stored. Working together for all the years, I am sure all the operators on land and ship knew each other well.  
Sadly, ending an era like this must have ended a way of life for many of them.

Photo of the WAD transmitters
       Above - Michael Martin with the WAD Transmitter Bank


Right - James Leveraus with WAD's VHF and Telco Gear
Photo of other gear in the WAD building


The WMI page provides more information about Lorain Electronics, the owner of this station.

Here's a link to an off-site story about WAD communicating with the sinking Carl D. Bradley in 1958.

The start of a WAD Crew page
Albert E. Klopp W0QXI (SK) Operator <1945
Wilbert Klopp  W9OFM  (SK) Operator <1960s - 197?
Carroll Peabody W8ADK (SK) Operator/Technician ?
Vic & Elmer Ash (brothers) Operators 1960s?

Can anyone contribute more information about this station?