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Recollections of Frank Deedrick

(Editor's note: Frank supplied much more material than shown in this recollection and all of it has been incorporated into the site's pages, mostly the WCM page and its subpages. Many thanks, Frank)

Here's some detail on the ORCO/Midland relationship and ownership. When the station was purchased from Gartman it was sold to Midland. In fact, it was separately incorporated as WCM, Radio Pittsburgh, Inc. This was a division of Midland. As was The Ohio River Co. So actually, ORCO never owned WCM, Midland did. In fact, for them to Incorporate in PA with this name, Merlin Pitts and I had to turn this corporate name over to them. Merlin and I had incorporated to buy the station so this corporate name already existed.

This actually gets much more confusing when you throw in Eastern Gas & Fuel and Eastern enterprises, Midland's parents, but Midland owned the station and ORCO was a customer. I hope I haven't made this more confusing. Incidentally, one of the boat Captains that was a big help in getting Midland to buy the station was Captain Joseph McKee. (Editor's note: Maybe a very distant relative, as my McKee ancestors came from W. PA>)

Here's a little "follow-up" on a couple of the WCM operators: ----- Art Ruben K3GE went from inland to the high seas. Art got his 1st Radio- telegraph and signed on ships until I lost track of him. He worked mostly containers from Elizabeth NJ to ports in Europe. He also worked coasters in Africa and super-tankers all over the world. When Art was on long voyages we set up schedules on the seldom used 12 and 16 MHz marine freqs. WCM was assigned them but they were seldom used. I talked to Art all over the world, Pacific , Indian Oceans and Middle East using that 17 Element Log periodic that went up to 30 MHz. Last heard from Arty was in Jacksonville Fla. ----- Tim Orman worked for Gartman and Midland. Tim had his first phone and was a good tech. Midland had a program for college reimbursement and Tim worked the night watch and went to The University of Pgh. during the day. He got his degree in Electrical Engineering this way. Last heard he was a EE with Westinghouse in Columbia Md.

I didn't realize that there was so little info on WGK. Since WGK was an RCA station its tech setup on AM was very similar to WCM. I have a few names of WGK personnel: --- "Smitty," Clayton Smith was operator and Mgr for RCA and Gartman. --- Another operator was Tony Hogue. In fact he transferred from WGK to WCM but didn't stay too long. I think he went back to St. Louis. --- Also somewhere in there the station was owned by Gartman and later by Charlie Soroka. WGK was located in Granite City, Ill. It seems like Gartman may have moved it there from East St. Louis. .

When I worked at WCM my "hobby" was visiting towboats. I especially liked the petroleum boats. My favorites were M/V Peggy Downey (WC5644) and Capn. Fred Downey Sr., M/V Jane T (WD9646) Capn. Bill Jackson Jr., M/v Franklin Pierce ( WM5338), Capn. W.P Jackson Sr., M/V Frank B Durant W?????), Capn. Whitney Vizier. These were all southern boats that brought petro products from the LA/Texas oil fields to W. Penna. They would drop barges off for unloading at various terminals near Pgh. and would leave a tankerman with the barge and the boat and the rest of the tow would continue on Northward. When the boat got to its final destination it would unload the last barges. Often they would be at this place a day or so, so this is where I would hop on. Great food and really nice people. Lots of times I would stop down river and pickup their tankermen when they were finished and drive them to the boat. This was always appreciated.

Looking back when I think of a boat I usually can remember it's call letters. I guess because this is how we called them and also had to put call sign and/name on all paperwork. I have started a call letter list for the boats. Every time one pops into my head I try to jot it down. I got this way when Bill Stephanik and I worked together. We played a game trying to stump each other on call letters. Needless to say the job of a marine radio op can be very boring at times.

I'm working on some pictures (If I can find em) mostly towboats. Will let you know. Also, I'm trying to contact Bill Stephanik who was an operator and manager for both RCA and Gartman. Bill was into photography and I'm sure has some pictures. I'll either get them from Bill or have him forward them to you directly.

It was fun remembering some good times and great people

Frank Deedrick, K3SQP --- Mid-2006

Reconstruct the E-Mail address fandj-at-juno-dot-com

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