This is the Automation Section of
The Broadcast Archive

Maintained by:
Barry Mishkind - The Eclectic Engineer
Last Update 5/15/21

Once upon a time, everything on radio was live. 

Eventually, there was a need to put programs on when there was no staff. Timers and relays were used to switch audio and start tape machines.

Over the years, especially to fill the long overnight hours, complex automation systems were developed. Some stations were automated all day long. Some of them filled an entire room - or more.

Today, most stations use a computer to do scheduling and playout.

Automation Systems

Click on pictures for larger view.

More pictures are welcome - to show more about these key pieces of gear which made radio in the 60's-90's much more vibrant and exciting. Can you help?

MacKenzie

Louis G. MacKenzie built his "repeater" in 1955. Using endless loops of tape, he could have any number of audio cuts ready to be used as needed. 

MacKenzie Repeater 500 - 1955

Rack mounted, they could be stacked in groups of five for as many audio cuts as needed. Very popular in Hollywood for television and film production.

MacKenzie Repeater APR-20 -

MaCarTa and SMC / Sono Mag Corp.
Bloomington, IN

Edison Moulic Moulic Specialites Co. founded MaCarTa, Sono Mag with his son, Bill.

Sono Mag was for Sound on Magnetic Tape.

The original MaCarTa was made to be a "music machine" for businesses.

ESP-2   circa 1987

 
  248 - Carousel
  250 - Carousel - These were OEM'd to Gates as well as being used by SMC
   350 - Carousel - These were OEM'd to Gates as well as being used by SMC
Gates Radio
Quincy, IL

Gates got into studio automation in 1957 with the "Auto Station."      

Auto Station - 1957

Nite-Watch - 1960 
This one used a pair of Seaburg 50s to provide the music!

G-824 Carousel - 1973

Gates Carousel

Gates 55 

Critereon 855 - 1973

   International Good Music
Based in Bellingham, WA

A major syndicator of music and then

IGM 770
KCBS-FM ... Used a Digital Equipment Corporation PDP8 minicomputer with iron-core memory 
  IGM Simplimation

IGM 500  

IGM 600 - 1970

IGM Basic A 
an 8085 microcomputer and FSK logging.
Originally designed by Sentry Systems and sold to IGM.

WKBC, Stoney Owen

IGM MC 
a 286 PC communicating to switcher unit

WKBC, Stoney Owen

InstaCart 48 slots! (48 heads and rollers to clean!!!)

Primarily used in automation systems, it was also employed by some stations with "aggressive formats."

  GoCart -

Since "carousel" was copyrighted by SMC, IGM used "GoCart"

- ITC
International Tapetronics Corp

1K - 1977 - a concept product. Only one was built. It lived as aa automated telephone library system at the University of Wisconsin, Madison for about 10 years. Technology moved too fast - and this Z-80 based machine was obsolete almost as soon as it was designed.

750 - Playback deck   1975

850 - Playback deck   1978
Schafer 

One of the more famous of all the automation systems - the name became synonymous with automation.  In 1956 Paul Schafer developed an automation system using reel-to-reel machines, even for commercials - where the emulsion was wiped clean and counted, so it could be set to the number selected by the numbered knobs. (Of course, there are a lot of stories about machines losing count and littering a studio with thousands of tiny pieces of tape.)
 

   

800T  (pictured KTAR-FM)

  

901  

 

903
  1200

7000    

KLCB, Libby, MT

AudioFile The Cetec/Schaefer cart machine

KLCB, Libby, MT

Continental Electronics
Dallas, TX

 

ProLog

Autogram

Veteran Dallas engineer Ernie Ankele and his wife DeLores started Autogram to produce an automation system after Continental discontinued their Pro-Log Automation line. (It seems like Autogram = Automated Programming or some such variation.)

Autogram Automation

 

Broadcast Electronics

In 19xx, Broadcast Electronics was formed to manufacture the Spotmaster brand. Quite a few announcers who got their start in the 1960s remember the distinctive lever, used to engage the cartridge. 

 

Control 16X
  AudioVault
    
   

Harris
Quincy, IL

System 90 - 1976

System 9000 - 1980
 
   
 
     
    
  
 

Thanks to many others for sharing their pictures.