By Newcomb Weisenberger

Earl C. Anthony was born on December 18, 1880. In 1897 he built a working electric car. Becoming interested in radio, he constructed a 50 watt transmitter on a breadboard and begain broadcasting as KFI on April 16, 1922. His primary business was as a California Packard distributor which was located at Wilshire and LaBrea in Los Angeles.

Among his "claims to fame" were that the first Neon sign in Los Angeles was erected on the roof of the Packard showroom, and that he "invented" the chevron emblem used at his service station and this emblem was later used on Standard Oil's Chevron stations.

His main interest, though, was in KFI (and later KECA which he purchased in 1929). He also built one of the first post-war TV stations, KFI-TV, channel 9, and if memory serves me, this was one of the earliest to begin color programming. KFI-TV became KHJ-TV later. Earl C. Anthony died in 1962.— Editor.

Earl C. Anthony
Earl C. Anthony's voice

We are looking back through more than fifty years. I am Mr. Anthony's youngest engineer and a temporary one at that. Mr. Anthony is gray already and my flattop is still dark.

Mr. (Mac) McDonald, Studio Engineering Supervisor, is looking at my Operator's license. He reads a total of five years experience at KGFW and KMA. Mac. Is shaking his head in disappointment but hires me temporarily anyway. KFI Vacation relief takes six months and he needs three new men.

I am pleased to work at a "big" station, where there is enough money to buy new tubes when they are needed and to hire real announcers! KFI has a maintenance department too. We are paid if we need to work at night!

KFI has colored stripes along the halls that, when followed, take you from the lobby to the various studios, Blue for B and Coral for C.

We engineers are responsible for one program at a time. It is a new thing for me to switch from place to place, sharing the program channel as it moves through the studio complex during the day.

Each of our mixers has a copy of the Blue Danube waltz. This is to be played on the air, whenever Mr. Anthony asks for it. It is his favorite.

The circular, main lobby wall opens for the telephone switchboard. Its position allows Thelma, our receptionist, to see the people as they come in from Vermont. A small red light on her board indicates when Mr. Anthony is not to be disturbed by calls. A ship's lantern hangs over his office door. No one knocks when it is lighted! Here now in 2001 the same lantern burns in my office. I still feel that it is his.

Mr. Anthony has a car phone. I know of no other person with a car phone. Sometimes Mr. Anthony parks on 141 North Vermont Avenue—KFI's address—and calls in, just for the fun of it.

He has just built TV Channel 9, next door south and our shop has removed the cabinet from a small Emerson TV and has installed it behind the front seat of his car. He is driven by his own chauffeur.

Mr. Anthony is very interested in Palm Springs. He loves the calliope and provides one for the City's street parade. He arranges for KFI to cover the parade live.

One Sunday morning he was listening from Palm Springs while we're operating our 5,000-watt stand-by transmitter. He calls master control. Dick Bull answers. Master Control (M.C.) is a very busy place and E.C.A. wants to know why the KFI signal strength is so low. Dick hurriedly says," It's too technical to explain." Some twenty minutes later I passed through M.C. again and Dick is saying," Yes Mr. Anthony."

Later Dick tells me that Mr. Anthony had recited the whole story of how he was an engineer too and had built he first transmitter himself!

Master Control is located at a hub of doorways leading to the various studios. Engineers can quickly move through to the various mixers. Here too is a men's room. (It will be years before KFI hires a female engineer.)

There are times when M.C. cuts away from NBC to substitute California commercials. This requires close monitoring of cues. I ask Thelma to hold calls and lock the door to the main hall. One of these times there was knocking on the door. When I can open it, there stands Mr. Anthony with a small tour of his own! "Why is this door locked?" "I am trying to stop traffic through here." He understands. He and his group didn't interfere with the program cut away.>/p>

I don't think that he had his own private rail car. Mr. Anthony did put his floor model RCA radio receiver in a lounge car. Our shop men strung an outside antenna for it.

Mr. Anthony is an engineer and I think, understands and favors us. He does things that I would do if KFI were my station. He tried out new things from the very beginning. He made an electric car and drove it.

When Standard Oil bought his service stations in L.A. they kept his colors. Even today.

Earl C. Anthony's Home-Made Transmitter

Pat Bishop told the story of Mr. Anthony buying two of the first 50-watt tubes from RCA and hand carrying them home. In the 1920's, many listeners hand built their own radio receivers. These had the parts screwed to a wooden breadboard. The coils were wound by hand. Earl C. Anthony built his first KFI transmitter the same way. Over the years it was taken apart and the parts used for other things. For the 1972 anniversary, Mr. Blatterman, Chief Engineer, posted a memo on our bulletin board, requesting the return of all the missing parts especially the hot wire ammeter. The board is reassembled and is put on display again.

KFI's signal is strong out over the ocean. One of Mr. Anthony's staff has a yacht. There were sails to Hawaii and he wrote his song. "Oh Coral Isle." That is said to be the reason that C is called Coral. Studio E is called Emerald.

When Cox Broadcasting bought KFI, I had the opportunity to visit Mr. Anthony's office. It is like an attic full of memories. He kept an upright piano, a Grandfather clock and gifts from his Boy Scout Troop. He didn't keep his old transmitter but here is an old 20's battery powered Western Electric receiver and a Magnavox tin horn speaker.

Earl C. Anthony's office

Here is his private viewing window. Uncovered, it looks out to the auditorium studio with views of the stage.

Earl C. Anthony's office

The Western Electric Receiver in Earl C. Anthony's office

Yearly E.C.A. sponsors his Scout troop to a hiking trip into the mountains. Our engineer Harry Parker, on his own time I think, goes on the hike. He carries a heavy pack-transmitter—KA 4711—to keep contact with the hikers. At a prearranged place, ice cream treats are air dropped to the troop. We carried short reports of the troops progress that were broadcast over KFI.

Mr. Anthony made some personal recordings, greetings to his family, very formal in style. "This is Earl C. Anthony speaking."

Mr. Anthony is gone and I am sorting over his things, before strangers throw them out. I am thinking that someone else will be throwing out what I have saved, and it will be the same stuff: John Charles Tomas, Souza and McArthur's farewell speech!

Mr. Anthony looked lonely. He was spared the tragedy of  his son's death. His estate went to his Alma Mater and other educators. Like Henry Ford, he was paternalistic, treated his employees perhaps better than did their Unions.

His namesake station, KECA, had to be de-vested, when the F.C.C. ruled against the ownership of two stations in the same market. His was the smallest corporation to own a T.V. channel (9).

I saw the Vermont sidewalk filled with strikers, (his own employees included). It was too soon for T.V. to make money. It was only finding its market. He sold KFI TV 9 soon after the talent strike. The personal events of thirty three years at KFI, have made me glad to have been Mr. Anthony's engineer, and not to have traded places with Mr. Anthony himself.