Newcomb Weisenberger Remembers KFI 

Newcomb Weisenberger worked in KFI's engineering department for 33 years from 1947 until his retirement in 1980.

During his tenure - from Earle C. Anthony's time until after the station was sold to Cox Communications -. Newcomb saw many changes in the powerhouse station. He shares his memories with us. 

You can email Newcomb here
last updated 1/1/11

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By NewcombWeisenberger

KFI gave me the Maas organ console from Studio B, The pipes from the pipe room, the turbine from the basement And just three days to remove it!


You might be offended if a truckload of pipe organ was dumped on your driveway! Yet, each part is a handmade work of art.  This story details the life and times of this Mass-Rowe pipe organ, how it was made, how it speaks and what happened to it.


I think that KFI valued this organ at $5,000.  But, it needed to be re-leathered. (This need has spelled the demise of many theater organs.)

Each keyboard note multiplied by the number of ranks of pipe, (=100s) required the replacement of the leather part of its air valve.  Much like the condition of an old, leather bound Bible, the cover of which is stiff, cracked and breaking away.

This organ played a major part in Conquest, a KFI production, A Joy Forever with Howard Culver and Bob Mitchell and the theme and mood music of live KFI programs throughout the years of live music.


Where will the organ be installed? The console itself will dominate the furniture of a room. It is the mass of pipes that must be dealt with.  (This is one reason a Radio Station or Theater disposes of the pipe organ.)  If moved into a home a guest room or equivalent space must be used.

Mr. Henry Pope, NBC’s staff organ and piano man also kept KFI’s grand pianos in tune.  I first met him in Studio A, doing just that.  Thus, we were friends before I needed his skills myself.  Henry told me much of what I will say here: The George Wright story, Where this organ came from and he made my introduction to L.A. ’s pipe maker Mr. Holtzinger.


The best place I could think of was our little Colonial Church in Garden Grove ’s Euclid Park .  But would the people want it?  They were using a Hammond Electronic organ.

I invited the Music Committee and the Pastor to visit KFI.  The music director demonstrated the organ and I taped the session.  Everyone was enthusiastic and eager to move.  I had already decided that the organ would move, to the Church or to our family room.

 Several volunteers added themselves and a small truck to the project.  The pipes can be lifted and carried to the Vermont curb, without tools or much effort.  I found it difficult to keep passers by, from blowing into the pipes! 

 Pipes are as varied as the sounds produced.  Wood flutes range from 8 feet to several inches in length and in diameter from a foot to a pencil size.  The bass Diapason were even larger.

 KFI was most anxious that the console be removed from studio B.  That became the first load for Will Miller’s little truck.

 We were disconnecting the cable from the console, one wire of hundreds was sticking out and Mr. Pope just reached out and broke it off! He said, “That will be a dead note.”

I thought I might never find its place again!  Not only this wire but also the bundle of wire that reached to each and every pipe.


Bill Hogansen, Music Director of Garden Grove High School took the blue console to his home.  He and his wife Jeanne refinished the, old at the time, wooden case and at the proper time returned it to the Church.  The KFI organ console and its bench were then white with natural wood trim like the pews in the Sanctuary.


The KFI pipe room opened with a single passage doorway.  The only other opening was the sound port into studio B.  The pipes were passed through with little effort also smaller units like the Tremolo, the swell shutters and several smaller  chests.


We were then left with the single, largest piece.  This was a cluster of small chests and pipe racks mounted on their common base.  We measured carefully and the assembly would pass through the empty sound port into the studio.  The port is shoulder high, a rectangular opening sized for a close fit.  We didn’t want to damage the organ or the studio B wall.


We lifted together and balanced the unit half way into the studio and held it there!  The sound effects cart was parked close by.  It was a standup unit that equaled the height of the sound port!

There was no one to help us as we moved the last of the organ through the port and re-balanced it on the sound truck!   We had needed two crews, so as to be inside the pipe room and in the studio at the same time!

 The KFI sound truck, much like a gurney in a hospital, wheeled its discharged patient thru the halls and lobby out to the Vermont curb and to a new life.

 This was day Three.  Studio B was now clear for its conversion into two news studios.

No papers were signed, the contract was verbal but years later KFI asked me what finally happened to their organ.

 A pipe organ is all about wind……. The wind turbine was still in the KFI basement!



 Will Miller, officially retired, kept other people’s lawns groomed.  His small pickup truck was equipped with a step bumper. A small metal platform was welded midway from the ground to the truck bed in height and was large enough to carry a power mower.  The truck had already made several trips to Garden Grove with organ parts.  This was to be the last trip and this was the heaviest load of all!

 Now, two of us have parked this truck in the alley behind KFI’s studios.  We have an all metal, hand dolly made for moving heavy machinery.

 We removed the connections, floor bolts and the outboard DC generator.  Two of us can just pry the motor / turbine and its base off the floor and roll it to the base of the stairs

 I remember standing, there, looking up the single flight of metal treads to the light coming in from the alley. What ever we did, we couldn’t make one mistake! Danger was involved at each movement.

My helper stood with his back to the stairs holding the two handles of the dolly.  He steered and balanced the overhanging load and would pull it across each tread as I pried it up each riser!  It was necessary for me to work in front of and under the load!

I had a block of wood and a lever of wood. I used these to pry the heavy axel up to the next tread.  When the wheels could feel the stair tread, the other man would pull the dolly across to the next riser and balance it there while I moved the pry stuff up one more level.  (Like life, working together, taking one step at a time we reached the alley level!)   Our sense of winning faded when we looked at the truck. There was no way we could load it!  We would do well to reach the step.  That we did.  After all, it was just one more step.  We had chain to secure the load, which over hung the step.

It was not until we reached the freeway that we realized that there was to be more trouble with this trip.  The heavy load placed behind the rear wheels nearly balanced the rest of the truck and us! 

There was barely enough weight to steer!  Small faults in the paving below us sent our front end up off the road.  I gripped the steering wheel, holding its position to be correct when we would touch down again. (I had seen clown cars at the circus.)  This was no fun.  At slower speeds and on smoother streets we came home safely.


Mr. Henry Pope is a key figure in this story.  That it happened at all.  That it was successful!  He made this proposal.  He would come to our church and survey the move -in site.  When we were ready, he would return and re-voice the organ for this building, all for $100. (I think he wanted to see it happen.)  He had seen this organ before it came to KFI and would see it again here with me.

This small four rank Mass-Rowe had been made for a Los Angeles Mortuary Chapel.  Mr. Pope had, had to ‘let it out* for use in studio B and now would ‘let it out’ again (as far as possible) for our small (200 seat) Sanctuary.  This was a small organ for a small church and importantly, a small organ for us to move.

This church has two pulpits, a ranked choir facing the congregation and a small, rear balcony. There is a Baptistery behind and above the Choir.


The pipe room is BOTH, a part of the Pipe Organ and a part of the building.

There was no room in the building.

There is another building, Crosby Hall, behind the church building.  The Baptistery is actually outside, built between the two structures.  Henry suggests that we build the pipe room in the attic of the adjacent building.  This allows the port to come in above the Baptistery. We, (Now there are volunteer carpenters and lathers), framed a part of that attic to equal the size of the original pipe room at KFI.

The organ port will serve the congregation well.  But, Henry recommends that we bring down large air ducts at about 45 degrees, on both sides of the Baptistery with the two ports opening just behind and over the choir.

 This was a good idea, as the choir needs to sing with the organ.  The congregation will hear the blend of both.

These large ducts were about four feet in cross section, taking up all the space between the existing walls.  This would picture, two-playground slides back to back.  I say that because I had to add cleats to keep from sliding down these air chutes. The cleats are probably still in place and seldom used.

 As we closed up the back wall, we made a removable ‘door’ without hinges. Large enough to easily accept the organ.

We used double framing and lathed this ‘door’ separately.  When the organ was in place the wall section was closed with a few spikes left partly un-driven.

We provided a pipe room door for access from the attic.  This was the KFI door to the old pipe room and the key is the KFI key still.


The church hired an electrician to bring in 220VAC service and a start switch for the organist’s use.  The turbine was set on the roof of a one-story office building adjacent to the Sanctuary.  The overload and disconnect boxes were roughed-in there for the motor.

I shopped for salvage, air conditioning, ducts and a sheet-iron shroud to protect the Turbine.  It was quite a project to fit a long run of wind line to replace that left in the walls of KFI. All damage, joints and seams had to be soldered airtight.

 Before the organ was connected, I turned on the blower to cool the attic pipe room.  Soon the overload tripped off.  The motor was working too hard!  (A turbine works easier into a load.)  The more obstruction in the line the less power is used.

 We brought all the connecting wind lines with us from KFI.  These were of different sizes and condition.  The tin pipe had been cut, patched and refitted twice already.  This was now the early 50s and plastic pipe was available.  The schedule 80 and above was rated for steam.  I hoped that it would serve as wind line.  It DID! 

 I found that it was easy to fit.  It didn’t leak or hiss at the joints.  Fittings were available for removable joints.  I ran plastic line to the console, the wind chests, and the swell shutters.  The steam flanges were overkill but would make maintenance a lot easier

  I made another update in the DC power supply for the organ switching.  I bought a small battery charger from Pep Boys, I think. It worked fine, replacing the rotary generator that came with the organ.  The little amp meter moved as the organist used the keys. No one would see it!  I placed a large capacitor across the line; just to be sure, the DC was smooth.  I used a relay to turn the charger on with the organ air.  (It is now common practice to use such a rectifier.) 


The wind line to the console must be flexible.  The console needs to be moved in and out of place for service and cleaning.  I found clear plastic flex tubing of the right size.  There was a problem of flattening at bends.  I wound on a spiral of wire spring that kept the cross section round and open.


The electrical cable was still connected to the pipes.  At KFI, the cable was disconnected from the console.  There was excess cable coiled from its previous installation.  This reached nicely for us too.

The console wiring was fanned out for the separate ranks and for the separate manuals.  It was a matter of sorting out the pipe/key connections in each group. 

 With wind in the chest, we clipped the next ascending key to the next ascending pipe wire.  One would hold down a dead key with a wedge and fish for the proper wire, using the pipe sound as proof of the selection.  As this work is done, the choice of wires lessens.  Also, there is some, position, memory in the wiring harness. The work is not unpleasant and goes faster than one might think.  Soon we could play an octave that sounded right.

 As this work was being done, the Hammond was used in service while it was parked outside its proper place.


We had to open three large holes in the wall behind the choir. Two were for the choir and high in the center, the horizontal rectangle would be fitted with the swell shutters.

 Proper cloth grilles covered these ports.  Much later, the swell port was enlarged and fitted with a new, more professional, Gothic grille.  This looked and sounded better.

 Note: Re-leathering of the organ was done after the pipes were positioned in their racks and otherwise ready to be voiced and tuned.  The pipes could be ‘spoken’ although not ready for use.


Mr. Pope made his second trip to Garden Grove prepared to Voice this Maas one more time.  It had been months since we had installed the organ and more or less lived in the hot summer, attic. He looked over the new assembly of the old parts and seemed to be satisfied.

Each pipe stands on one lead toe, like a spinning, dancer. The convex shape is bored to pass air from the hole where it stands. It supports the pipe and positions it nearly air- tight over its wind chest. (The pipes are held by gravity and can be lifted and replaced by hand.)

 ‘Voicing’ has two meanings.  The pipe is voiced when made.  The individual quality of tone comes from that voicing.  Its maker marks the pipe’s lip where the air meets the edge. (It is all about EDGE TONE.) Think about water spilling over an edge.

The shape, size and spacing of these small (v) shaped ‘nicks’ are unique to the pipe maker and can be recognized!  Musicians can hear the difference.

 The second and most common meaning of voicing is the adjustment of loudness at a given pressure.  We do this by adjusting the amount of air passing through the lead toe.

Mr. Pope carried a set of small metal cones. When these were tapped over the toe, the opening would shrink and the voice would diminish. In this case, all our pipes would be ‘let out’ to speak more loudly. His knife would carve the soft lead hole to pass more air.\

As this Maas organ moved from a chapel to KFI studio B and again to our Church, the passages were successively enlarged.  Skill and experience is needed to balance pipe to pipe and rank to rank, so as to cause all to speak with an even response.


As we watch a trombonist r- e- a- c- h for a bass note, we expect a pipe to be longer for a bass sound too.  The organ tuner adjusts the length of a given pipe by making it act longer or shorter.  If he cuts it off, the pitch is higher forever. He can add a collar, that makes it longer, and tap it down to raise the pitch correctly.  Some of these bass pipes had cut edges. Two slices, several inches apart.  This separated metal was rolled down like a sardine can for several inches.  It was tuned in that manner, and could be changed.

 Stopped pipes (with ends closed with stoppers) are tuned by moving the plugs up and down in the pipe.  These, many times stopped flutes, speak as if they were twice as long.  A six foot stopped flute sounds like a twelve, foot pipe.

 Combination pipes with reeds use a wire control to adjust the vibrating reed. 

The tuner working in the loft may have a key holder at the console.  This person’s assignment is to hold down the key while the tuner works with that particular pipe.  The lone note sounding in the empty sanctuary varies in pitch as the tuner’s ear is satisfied.  He will compare it with other notes close by or chord members.  He listens for a difference frequency or beat between the notes.  As the pipe comes into tune, the beat will stop or very nearly so.


The tuner’s ear is practiced or he may have been born with “An ear for Music.”  I have met people in the radio studio, usually young girls, with “perfect pitch”.  This means, if one strikes a piano key, she can name it at C#.  Or you may ask her to sing (A) flat.  When you strike that key, it will be in tune with her voice!   This is a natural talent.

 I too can, ”play by ear.” That is: When I hear an actual musical sound, or an imagined one, my fingers sub-consciously, place themselves on the proper keys.  Also, before I strike several keys together, I know what they will sound like.  When I am ‘off key’, I can hear the difference and know how to correct it.  I cannot name the key that a song is written in, but can play it in several other keys.  (This is called transposing.)  I don’t mean that I can do this well or upon demand! Nor can I sing with it.                            (Our present church organist sings with the congregation.  She is really singing to the organ.)

We are now at the point where we can speak of ‘Tempered tuning’

If I, as an engineer, measured the frequency of several notes and tuned them with my oscilloscope, they would sound unpleasant!  Should you view a set of tubular chimes, they are usually hung left to right. The longest is at the left and each is progressively shorter to the right.  Notice that their lower ends do NOT form a common slope. (The longer ones are a little too long.)  The organ pipe tuner includes this human variation as he adjusts the pipes. 

 This ‘tempering’ is also true of the height of Radio towers at radio frequencies (It reminds me of refraction at the juncture of air/water, In this case it is steel/ air.)

 Temperature affects pipe pitch and tuning.  We want the air in the pipes to be the same as the air in the Sanctuary. All instruments must be retuned for the conditions around them.  Warmer air usually raises the pitch. But, the temperature of the air, standing in the pipe, also changes the organ pipe’s pitch.

 A good tuner is not necessarily a good musician! Nor is the pipe maker who makes the organ possible.  These and other skills must be shared for us to enjoy the result.


A church member bought a new rank of pipes as a memorial. (The KFI studio organ had no small voice to sound behind prayer.) We needed a soft tone that would cover the (not so quiet) sounds but not be competitive to vocal prayer.

 Mr. Pope sent me to see his friend, Mr. Holtzinger in Los Angeles .  Most of what follows is from contact with this short, German looking man.  He had a few complete organs in his building, also many parts of organs inside and out in the sun.  I wasn’t an organ customer, but he offered me a nice, newer, little organ from a military school, chapel for $4,000.  It would move easily and was easy to maintain.

 I did buy, for my friend, a rank of small Dulciana for $150.  Mr.Holtzinger placed a few of these one-foot, pipes in a test rack in his yard. (They looked like tiny Diapasons.) They were so small that they fell into the holes and rode up and down with the valves!  They didn’t sound like much, outdoors.  They weren’t supposed to.  I was the only customer.  We talked shop, his shop.

  “ Pipe metal is a combination of lead and tin.  The tin forms the spots on the metal.  We can tell from the size of the spots how the pipe will sound.  The pipe-maker melts this mixture.  Here is a slab of stone or marble-like stone, as a tabletop.  Canvas is spread on the slab. The molten, metal is poured and spread out in one cooling piece.  The fabric is not burned, as the stone has taken out the heat. The sheet of metal is cut, rolled on mandrels for sizing pipes and the long seam soldered, shut.”  He showed me a new metal pipe still bearing the textured pattern of canvas.

These pipes can be crushed in your hands or bent out of shape.  With care, they do not rust or corrode and keep their shape and appearance.

”Pipe parts are given human names, Mouth, lips, beard and languid. They are voiced and are said to speak. Our Maas had a rank of Vox Humana.  It used tuned reeds as vocal cords in tapered metal pipes.  These were designed to mimic the human voice.

Mystery, no church organist would use that rank!  This made the little organ even smaller!

Organs make other sounds than music. Some sounds are unwanted hisses, clunks, thumps and sighs and the worst is a ‘stuck open note’ that won’t stop.  These are called ciphers.  These come from faults like debris caught under the lip of a valve. They show up after work has been done or the organ moved.

There is another pipe sound that is characteristic of pipes.  Called chiff, caused by the in-rush of wind when the key is pressed and the pipe begins to speak.  (Like the chuffing of a steam-train as exhaust is vented into its stack and the engine starts to move) but, it is much more subtle.


This is a modified air chest. It is a well built, air tight, wooden box with a wind line in and out of it. Some hold valves and ports for standing pipes. Some are provided with a bellows top that extends upwards when air is admitted.  A pleated leather collar attaches the floating lid.  This is weighted to press down against the air.  The constant changing balance of air pressure against gravity, gives stability to the wind pressure. This is changing as the pipes are keyed. (The tone of a speaking pipe will waver if the wind pressure changes).  (A radio engineer sees this as a filter capacitor)

 With this much understood, this set up receives another modification to become a Tremolo.  Again, the engineer recognizes this as a self excited audio oscillator used as a modulator.  This unit is like the pressure regulator mentioned above, but with these differences:

It now has tension springs aiding the weights on the lid in holding the top down against the air.  A tablet on the console allows the organist to open and close a valve on this lid.  When ‘on’ this small adjustable, valve vents pressure from the box. The Tremolo valve operates so as to trigger itself. (As a doorbell turns itself on and off with each strike, the Tremolo switches air with the movement of the box lid)

 The result is that the tremolo will pulse up and down until the organist stops its motion.  Instead of a being a stabilizer of pressure, it now shakes the whole organ! All pipes on this wind line will emit a modulation of their own tone.

 The purpose of the Tremolo is to produce a Vibrato that can be adjusted as to speed and depth.  I doubt that many tuners know the relationship of forces involved when adjusting the tension of the springs, the weights on the lid, the bleed valve, against each other and the desired depth and speed of the vibrato. *  I know that there is a relationship of static and dynamic weights, air pressure and vented air. There is an interaction that requires resetting other adjustments if any one adjustment is made! 

 * A comparison can be made to tuning a modulated radio transmitter to frequency and adjusting plate reactance to a coupled load.

When we moved this organ, it was necessary to add metal weights to the Tremolo.  These were improvised by breaking pieces of a large cast iron gear from a cement mixer!  These were bored and attached so as to ride up and down with each cycle.

  The organist and I knelt at this tremolo in the loft and finally set the percent of modulation and vibrato speed to her liking.  (Her only tablet, control was off and on!)  The organ Tremolo was a breathing thing and seemed very much alive in our hands.


Their building was near Forest Lawn in LA.  It had a second story loft.  Employees came outside to go up the stairs.  It smelled both good and bad.  Odors of fresh cut wood and strong glue.  It was a clean but an untidy place with wood shavings drifting on the floors.

 I found the people helpful and knowledgeable too.  Many years are on all of us now and only Rowe of the partnership carries on in this generation. The business now is of modern Chime towers for churches and town clocks that are real time keepers attuned to the stars for accuracy.

 Note: Those who wish to end this story without more detail may move to the last page.

The following detail is brief and incomplete.  Those more interested are invited to visit a choice of some 40,000 web sites.  Direct your search engine to the American Guild of Organists.  Some of the sites will let you listen to the various stops.


The Maas , wooden console was Early Modern, with the geometric detailing, of the 30s.  The arched organ bench spanned the pedal board and swell control. Tablets of organ stops formed a single row across and above the, two manual, keyboard.

 The key action was electro-pneumatic. A wind line was brought down to the console to power keying and switching.  Organists appreciated the ease of the action. This is unlike Tracker organs that use mechanical coupling. As ranks are added to Trackers, the key becomes, increasingly, more, difficult to press.  (Sometimes, requiring the organist to rise from the bench to weigh both hands on the keys.)

 Pneumatic relays were operated by a single tab. They switched whole ranks of pipes.  These were small bellows of leather that were moved by air.

 A one and ½ horsepower electric motor drove a multiple vane air turbine.  This was a high pressure, organ using seven to nine inches on the manometer. (Adding or removing vanes could adjust pressure.  This same shaft turned a self-excited DC generator. This low voltage (like a series doorbell circuit), .was wired from each pipe to each key and tab. There were hundreds of these simple circuits.

The electric switches were simple open phosphor bronze springs mounted into small. Slotted, wooden, blocks glued into place. Each key moved five of these springs. The action was also self-cleaning

Selecting ranks and mixtures

Without organ stops, all the ranks would play full organ, all the time.

The organist stops all ranks with the marked tablets.  The key is closing five ranks but the organist decides how many and which will play.

 In addition to the standing pipes, tablet stops provide mixtures of pipes to sound from a given key. (Like a duet of voices singing together, Or several together, marked Choir)

 Swell Control

Small organs like this Maas can’t afford to have any exposed pipes.  Most small auditoriums show only decorative, non-speaking, exposed pipes.  Swell has no control over exposed pipes.  These usually are trumpets, only used for fan fare, sometimes mounted horizontally, tword the audience.)

 I have seen, in large Cathedrals, a single figure of an angel with a trumpet. (A speaking pipe)  Also exposed wheels of bells and rotating clack boards, that make a buzzing sound

Theater organs have numerous sound effect devises that can be operated from the console. Such as, thunder, horse hooves, whistles, gunshots etc.

 The swell control operates shutters over the organ port from the pipe chamber.  These several vertical panels can be positioned separately in closed, partial or fully open positions.  The separate bellows are controlled by the position of the swell pedal at the organist’s feet.  This is the volume control other than the number of pipes speaking.

The organist can also use the Sforzando pedal.  As this is depressed, more and more stops open more and more ranks until the full organ speaks.

(The loudness of a pipe is set when the pipe is voiced)

 The swell shutters remain open when the organ is off.  This is to allow room temp air to circulate into the pipe room.  Hot air, standing in the pipes makes them go sharp and out of tune.


This is the pipe room where the pipe sounds are mixed before moving through the swell shutters into the auditorium.  The wall must not add to or alter the pipe sounds.  The walls are smooth, and sturdy to avoid vibrations of their own.  It is unpleasant to stand in the pipe room.  It sounds more like a calliope.  One hears the separate pipes speaking raucously.

 Pipes are imitators

Pipes are made to speak like other instruments.  The organ is meant to sound like an orchestra. The tonal range from the smallest flute to sounds that are, all the ear can bear.

The organ is a composite of many musical instruments and   for centuries has attempted to bring them to the control of one musician.

 I am reminded of a bell-choir. It stands before us, with a bell in each hand. Together, they play the scale. Each ringer is told when to ring by the director who actually makes the music.

 Catherine, the Great, of Russia had groups of peasants that blew one horn each.  Each   horn produced but one tone of the scale, like one bell

 One might think of the pipe organ being like that.  Each pipe is but one voice, each rank is but one instrument. We crowd the pipe room with all these little ‘people’ perhaps, 400 or more. They only sing when directed.  They cannot sing but one note at but one level of sound.

All the other details of connections, controls and shaped wind are just the complications of making it all happen.

As organ pipes imitate instruments, Electronic organs imitate pipe organs!

 I was speaking with an organist who had never played a pipe organ.  She had been put- off while reading the tablets of this small MAAS .  My explanation was that the Diapason tab was the real pipe. The electronic settings of the Hammond were to simulate an organ pipe. The mixture tabs were preset stops. It was actually easier to play.  It was like driving someone else’s car. She did it quite well.

 For several months of Sunday’s, I sat where I could quickly move to the organ loft.  I kept the several keys to open the way. Ciphers** happen and will seldom stop by themselves. The organist is helpless and the lone persistent note disturbs the congregation!

Once within the loft I moved tword the sound, lifted the pipe from its place and set the toe to one side of the hole.  (The wind is still escaping but the pipe is silent.)

**Cipher, Cypher is the unwanted and continuous speaking of a pipe caused by a fault in the system.


Briefly, this valve operates like the ‘servo’ style valves we find controlling heating gas and lawn sprinklers.  The valve is kept shut by the service pressure, bearing on a diaphragm. This is a flexible leather disk, separating two chambers. As the pressure in the chambers shifts, the diaphragm is pressed against, or away from, an opening that controls the flow to the pipe.  A very small, bleeder valve in the chamber of the valve allows the pressure to change the diaphragm position.  This trip valve can be moved with a very small effort to control a high, pressure flow.

 The Maas uses a small dc coil to lift a dime sized metal slug. This, until lifted, closes the bleeder valve.

This diaphragm is the leather disk that holds the pallet in position and moves with air to  ‘key’ the pipe. (The same air power that opens the valve also shuts it.)


 There are suppliers of Organ leather.  It comes in irregular shapes and several weights.  We used the old leather to pattern the replacements.  We cleaned the valve area and glued the new circular patch in place over the hole in the chest. We left enough slack, leather so as to allow the pallet to move .up and down.  It is another simple operation.  It is just that there are so many to do!

  We hired the repair of the swell shutter pouches. They looked like Bee Smoker bellows, in white leather. The pneumatics (pouches) in the organ console, were mostly in good condition. (When standing by the organ, we can hear the little puffs as the organist moves a tab and the pouch fills. 

 The Sunday came when the Hammond had been moved to the Social Hall, and the Mass sat in its place to the right of the pulpit.  It was in tune and sounded pretty good, but, not like I had heard it played in studio B.  No one complained.  Actually, everyone was pleased but the Hammond , organist. I worried about all the things that we might have done wrong.


About a year later, my daughter was married in this small, white, Colonial church.  She and I walked that center isle together!  The Maas sounded the wedding march.  Bob Mitchell was at the old Maas Console again.  The organ never sounded better. There was nothing wrong with the installation, the pipes, the pipe room, the wind lines, or the turbine.  It had been a success, after- all


Now, many years and many brides have moved to the voice of our old Maas organ.  

 Studio B and most everyone, who was there, is gone.  Bob Mitchell and I have survived and remember, when, with the voice of Howard Culver and the voices of the Maas we built A STAIRWAY TO THE STARS. Originating, from KFI’s, Studio B, The program was, and remains,


The year is now 2005.

As a young man, I was pleased to receive KFI’s gift of this pipe organ.  I am pleased that I in turn ‘gave it away’.  Not really away, just to another home, the Little White Church in Euclid Park .

It was this sharing with others that yielded so many dividends.  Here, our pipe organ was maintained by professionals and played by professionals. Year after year, the pipe voices were heard and felt in Sunday morning worship. And on sunny afternoons, I could play it myself, to the empty Sanctuary.

A new and larger pipe organ has replaced the little Maas .  But some of the old, voices remain. Mixed with the new pipes, are the old ones that spoke in KFI’s studio B


"Whenever Mr. Anthony calls …"

The story of KFI's Two Chief Engineers
By Newcomb Weisenbeger

Earle C. Anthony was sometimes called E.C., although the old transmitter men were asked to call him Boss, rather than Mr. Anthony.

Mr. Anthony was a hands-on man, closely watching over his radio stations. The owner of KFI - billed as the "country's most powerful station" - and KECA, was very much attached to his stations. It was reported that when NBC repeatedly tried to buy KFI, he responded by saying, "I wouldn't sell my wife. Why would I sell KFI?"

Anthony paid attention to everything: the people, the equipment, and the programming. He was interested in the antennas and signal strength, and called in from time to time to question what he heard or what he did not hear. He could call at any time, from his home, from a train headed eastward, or on a boat in the Pacific Ocean. He wanted the audience to get the very best programming possible.


When E.C. needed a Chief Engineer for KFI, he hired Curtis W. Mason. He also hired Pete Dilts and Carl Sturdy as transmitter operators.

Several months into the operation E.C. called in to his CE for some technical answer and was told that Mr. Mason was "out to lunch." Let us just say that was not the answer Anthony - a millionaire, when a million dollars meant something - wanted to hear.

It was then that he also hired Hedley L. Blatterman as co-CE. As you can imagine, having two Chief Engineers was highly unusual. I found them there in 1947 - and on through the next twenty-five years. They shared an office, a telephone, and a secretary. EC only made this stipulation: "The C.E.s will not lunch together."


Untold is how they accommodated to this situation, each other, and the seemingly unstructured assignment.

It so played out that the two stations KFI and KECA could each use one of the two Chief Engineers. When one was at a transmitter, the other would often be at the studio. And between them, the engineering department was covered all the time - except on Sunday.

Of course, if you really stop and think about it, the real Chief Engineer of KFI was Earle C. Anthony himself.

This example of compulsive action and practicality was pure E.C. Anthony. Most engineers think of things, but E.C. acted on his ideas and had the backing to make them happen. He was correct in enough of his impulsiveness to be successful in a number of disciplines. When the Packard business passed through maturity, his "toy"- Radio KFI - was able to carry the financial load for both!

(This article appeared in the December 2006 issue of Radio Guide Magazine.)

"L&B - A KFI Epilog"

The Last Chapter
By Newcomb Weisenbeger

The year is now 2008.  Most all of us are gone.  Only a trace is left of 141 North Vermont and the KFI / KECA studios that were once home to Lohman & Barkley. But ” fond memories linger on.” One is this autograph.

You may have noticed, L&B have signed: "To our favorite Engineer, Jane Wyman.” They would say this on the air, as just another inside joke. I can still see them laughing in my mind.

My Treasure Shelf holds several feet of discolored folders. Crowded with old disks and flaking tapes that still hold ‘living’ voices we had learned to love. “Just a few special, seconds from here and there.” 

We share these samples of when” Work was Fun” When Political Correctness could be laughed off.  When an employee could be called Hitler on KFI, live!


Most of the L&B characters were based on real people. I always felt it was an honor to have been made one of their imaginary people!

The team of Lohman & Barkley that came to KFI so long ago, never left as a team.  They left one at a time!  Over-powering change came to each of us and to KFI and its audience.  KFI had once declared that if either man called in sick, “both were sick!”  But when their program was no longer fun for them, KFI attempted to use new partners for Al. That was after Roger had left the team.

One such ‘match’ was made with Al and Gary Owens of “Laugh In” fame.  Later, Big Al moved on too.  We would hear about one or the other working in the area at various times and places, but not together ever again.  Then, at last, we learned of the passing of Al and Roger. It seemed to be too soon and too close together.

 Al Lohman, adjusting earphones.  New Partner, Gary Owens

I last saw the Lohman and Barkley Team at the KFI Ardmore studios.  I had retired after 33 years at KFI. A year later I returned to visit. They were on the air working in a small studio with engineer Bob DeMont. Bob came out of the mixer booth, to advise me that they were going to purposefully ignore me, as a joke. (Bob was thinking that I might feel bad.) Meanwhile, while busy with the program, they were going to the trouble of doing an off air ‘bit’ just for me!  (Sadly, no tape of this has survived.)


Some thought that the W Eva Snider character was Al’s Alter Ego.  She was the imaginary Poetry Lady, the most politically incorrect, thoughtless, blunt and over bearing of all the characters. It was Al’s voice. Al called her, W. She, over time, had been married to most of the imaginary staff. W was the a "character" in the truest sense. When all of the other imaginary staff was being considerate, W, for example might greet a pet owner who walked in, by saying: ”Your cat’s dead!”

The timing and impact were perfect.  I am remembering it now.

That is Al Lohman’s invention.  I think that, to some extent, Al had to be W. or that W, was Al.  I don’t think Al should have been expected to be like the neat, punctual, displined, and perfectly scheduled Roger Barkley.

I think later the W character took on a wider role that was too real for the partnership. What was fun for us was not fun for them to live and work with day by day. Al Lohman, in and out of the W character, eventually had compromised both the imaginary W character and Roger Barkley his real life partner.


The birth, life, and end of the L&B Team is typical and could have been predicted. Neither of these men should be faulted for their break-up, as painful as it was. The talent and character that brought them together and made them a success, was the very same formulae that tore them apart.

Before, and all through Radio, Comedy couples have left examples of success with failures in their team life. Lists of talents; As inventive, spontaneous, explosive, undisciplined, interactive, quick witted, expressive, plus stage presence, have all had two faces. The masks of the theatre. One laughing, the other in tears.  Think of the painted clown with a tear in his eye.

 Lohman and Barkley, together on KFI, had us laughing about a dead cat and Lone Ranger’s dead horse.

 (TONTO)    “Good News, No steam on mirror
 (LONE)                            “No, that Bad News.”

It is appropriate to laugh again (L&B would be pleased).

The winning team required the diverse pair. Diverse in body, in mind, in character. Their success came from the dramatic tension between them.  A fine line is drawn between life on and off the radio stage. The team struggles to keep both alive.

That is why we cheered them on and, then, felt our loss when we knew it was really over.

“Our Thank You & Good Bye” (All voices are L&B)


We wish to express our thanks to Newcomb Weisenberger for sharing his memories and pictures with us. Long retired from KFI, Newcomb resides in Signal Hill (Long Beach), California. He is pictured here with his late wife, Alma. They were married for 70 years, until her death in May 2009.