This is the Automation Section of
The Broadcast Archive

Maintained by:
Barry Mishkind - The Eclectic Engineer
Last Update 2/16/13

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, many stations use a computer.

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?


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 -
Gates Radio

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

Auto Station - 1957

Nite-Watch - 1960 


Gates 55 

Gates Carousel

IGM - International Good Music

Based in Bellingham, WA



ITC - International Tapetronics Corporation

750 - Automation Playback deck  


850 - Automation Playback deck  

Perhaps the most famous of all the automation systems.  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.

800T  (pictured KTAR-FM)






KLCB, Libby, MT

AudioFile The Cetec/Schaefer cart machine

KLCB, Libby, MT

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. 









IGM - International Good Music

Based in Bellingham, WA

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

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







   350 - Carousel 




Thanks to many others for sharing their pictures.