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Storms, Floods, and a Crutch Antenna: KFJC’s 1962 Technical Difficulties

Cynthia Lombard   10/17/2019  

1962 was quite a year at KFJC. While it joined the National Association of Educational Broadcasters (NAEB), providing the station with up to 10 hours of programming from other colleges; the station was also beset by technical challenges.

In May, corrosion on the station’s antenna necessitated an emergency fix and the crafty station engineer, Douglas Gardner, came up with a creative solution. As a “stop gap measure,” he grabbed an old crutch and attached it to the antenna mast as part of a makeshift antenna. The San Jose Mercury reported that broadcasts had been spotty following the Christmas break and KFJC “…was virtually shut down until Gardner devised the crutch antenna.”

1962 San Jose Mercury clipping in Foothill-DeAnza Historic Archives

Back in the early 1960s, KFJC had a very short broadcasting year, going off the air for the summer after Memorial Day in May. Although the faulty antenna was rebuilt and installed by students in early October, disaster struck again when a big storm hit the transmitter site. KFJC’s planned debut the following week (an airing of a faculty discussion of “The Iceman Cometh”) was not meant to be.

Foothill Sentinel 1962 reports on storm aftermath at KFJC. From Foothill-DeAnza Historic Archives

Not only was the antenna atop Black Mountain destroyed, but the campus studio was also flooded. While awaiting a new antenna, KFJCers plodded along, recording programming for future broadcasts. Based on reports the following year, it does not appear that KFJC was able to resume broadcasts for the remainder of the 1962-1963 academic year.

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