April 2021

Greetings to All

I hope everyone is well. The light is getting a little brighter at the end of the tunnel. Governor Ivey just lifted the mask order this week; however Birmingham Mayor Woodfin and the City Council extended the mask order for the city of Birmingham through May 24. We were recently informed by our Alabama Power representative their tentative date to officially reopen the headquarters building, the museum and our shop is July 6, 2021. We were told that date could slide either way depending on conditions.

Donations have continued. We just received a large donation from Cindy Simons, the widow of member Dr. Lynn Simons, who pass away a few months ago. The donated items are mainly relatively new, first class amateur radio equipment, microphones and periphery items or antique items in excellent shape. I expect many of the items will be available to members in future auctions or hamfests. We also received a donation of miscellaneous radio and electronic items from the family of member James Deese.

We also recently receives a donation of an item related to the WSGN Sky Castle, The display medium of this item is in the works and will appear at the shop shortly, as an addition to our WSGN/Joe Dentici/Russ Knight deejay booth area. More on WSGN Sky Castle later in this newsletter.

Since the cloud of the virus may be lifting in a few months, the executive committee is considering some long deferred events for the Society. We are envisioning some type of official grand reopening of the shop, with a work day to straighten up the building after its long dormancy and a planning session for some new projects. We may even have a catered BBQ lunch. It has also been proposed to plan a restart of our Legends event or plan a joint event with the local records clubs. The planning is early at this stage and the events will only occur when they can be done safely for all our members and guest. Come join the early planning. We need ideas.

That all for now!

See you at the shop…when we can?


Oh, and don’t forget Society dues are due as of January 1, 2021. See the AHRS website under the Membership tab for details on new ways to pay your dues. Thanks to all who have already paid their dues.

Quote of the Month

“I gave up on being smart when I got old.”

Frank Roberts, AHRS

“A knob, a knob. My kingdom for a knob.”

(With apologies to Willie Shakespeare. “Richard III”, 1594)

Submitted by Tom Desaulniers, Formerly of Leeds, AL

I got this really neat Philco radio from the last auction and knew it had bad knobs.  I figured it would be no problem finding something that would work.  I found out differently when I pulled to knobs off and saw that they were the kind that have a long shaft going into the cabinet to reach the actual control shafts.

OK.  So off to E-Bay I went looking for something similar.  I couldn’t find anything close and what were out there were apparently made of solid gold or platinum from the prices.  Hmmmm.  What WILL I DO?

I remembered that I have a good ham/friend out here who has a 3-D printer, plenty of time, patience and pity for an old-timer who pleaded insanity and asked for help.  He pointed me to a web site called “Thing-a-verse” or something like that.  Turns out to be actually “thingyiverse.com.”

Man, they have drawings and pictures of anything you could imagine even in your worse dream.  I did a search on their site for knobs and found more than I could behold.  I found one and Pat printed it out.  Actually, his printer does 4 at a time.  The first ones were HUGE.  So he scaled it down and tried again.  Still too big.  Another scale and then they were too small.  Finally we decided to try a diameter in millimeters.  Perfect.  24 mm.  Just right.

Now the work began.  I had to get rid of the outside part without ruining the shaft part.  So I sawed off the outside part.  Then put the shaft part in the lathe and turn it to a smooth, round end.  Next, I put the knobs in the lathe and used an end mill to bore a nice, true hole in the center to just the right depth to make the assembly the correct length.  A little epoxy and my bench vice held then in the right position till the epoxy cured.

The original knobs were sort of a beige color but the orange plastic Pat used to print them doesn’t look too bad.  The dial backplane and lettering on the front of the cabinet are a gold color, so I painted them gold.  I have some gold spray paint but no beige.  And I’m a cheapskate, so gold it may be.  But, hey, it’s my radio and I can have them any color I want.  Maybe puce or pomegranate.  Who knows?

Tom Desaulniers / K4VIZ

Links to All Knob the Photographs (cut & Paste)


WSGN - Sky Castle - Birmingham, Alabama

Submitted by Steven Westbrook

The Sky Castle was an elevated, glass enclosed, broadcast deejay booth used by WSGN-AM in the mid-to-late 1950s to promote the new rock and roll sound and their station. Young people could come, sit in their cars, listen to the broadcast, make record request, order food and enjoy life. A telephone handset mounted to the outer wall allowed teens to make requests directly. Loudspeakers mounted outside the booth allowed those in the area to hear the broadcast without their radio.

The popular station posted its roster of "Good Guys" deejays in the booth to take requests from listeners at the popular cruising site. Deejays working in Sky Castle, included Tommy Charles, Doug Layton, Jim Lucas, Neal Miller, and Duke Rumore. Ben McKinnon was the station general manager. The night shift at the Sky Castle was not the most desirable shift, but the deejays still had a lot of fun.

The original Sky Castle was located next to the station in the Southern Life and Health Insurance building at 2318 7thAvenue South. Later the Sky Castle moved down the street behind Eli’s Drive In at 2830 7th Avenue South. The restaurant's name was expanded to "Eli's Sky Castle Drive-In" to reinforce the brand. The restaurant was sold to Ed Salem in 1958.

Salem’s was not as supportive of the effect of the studio on his business, as his lot was continuously filled with young people just parking and listening to the radio from their cars instead of ordering food. The station agreed to relocate. A second  "Sky Castle" was built at the Hickory Hut BBQ in Five Points West Shopping Center. The promotion was ended in the late 1950s or early 1960s.

The Sky Castle Bistro Lounge on 7th Avenue South inspired by the old Sky Castle deejay booth and was located at the same address as Eli’s Drive-In and Sky Castle. The restaurant / bar recently rebranded and the owners donated Sky Castle related items to the Society.

Eli’s Drive-In Restaurant & Sky Castle on 7thAvenue, South. (Photograph courtesy of Tim Hollis’ Pop Culture Museum, Dora, Alabama)

Sky Castle on 7th Avenue, South at night (Photograph courtesy of Tim Hollis’ Pop Culture Museum, Dora, Alabama)

Sky Castle at Five Points West Shopping Center (Photograph courtesy of Tim Hollis’ Pop Culture Museum, Dora, Alabama)


Tribute the Sky Castle at the Sky Castle Bistro Lounge by Black Design Architecture


Sky Castle Bistro Lounge located on the same spot as the original Eli’s Drive-In & Sky Castle

Technology Can Be Older Than You Think

Submitted by Harry Butler

Carefully read this December 1940 magazine ad for a Philco console radio

Saturday meetings have been discontinued due to the coronavirus.

We meet every Saturday (unless a Holiday weekend) at 9:00 a.m., at the one-story AHRS Shop at the corner of 8th Avenue North and 18th Street, (1801 8th Avenue North, Birmingham, AL 35203). Birmingham, AL 35203). Use the rear (Southeast) entrance.

Tuesday meetings have been discontinued due to the corona virus.

The Shop is open on Tuesdays at 9:00 a.m. until around 11:30 a.m. Note that parking can be a problem on Tuesdays, so you may have to find street parking occasionally.

Regular meetings have been discontinued due to the coronavirus.

We meet on the fourth Monday night of each month, too, at 7:00 p.m. Please come join us!

Classes have been moved to ZOOM online due the coronavirus. Check your email for information.

One more great benefit from becoming a member of AHRS--free Electronic classes!

Classes are taught the first Saturday of each month (except when something special is taking place, then we agree on what Saturday).

We start from the beginning Ohms Law, inductors, resistor and Capacitors color codes, as well as what each component does within the radio circuits. We also teach how to use test equipment used in the repairing of radios. We teach troubleshooting radio troubles, as well as how to read a radio diagram. There are coil winding classes, and one-on-one repair help. Come join these classes!

Membership dues are $25 a year, payable beginning in January. If you have questions about your dues, you can contact Treasurer Mike Woodruff at 205-823-7204. Dues can be mailed to AHRS at P.O. Box 131418, Birmingham AL 35213.

Be sure and check out our website at https/www.alabamahistoricalradiosociety.org, which has copies of all newsletters from 2006 to the present (click on News), videos, photo galleries, museum, Old Time Radio columns, Projects, Reading Rooms, Archives, and Contact Information

President – Dave Johnson

(205) 999—7178


Vice President – Steven Westbrook



Recording Secretary – Richard, “Wag”, Waquespack



Treasurer – Mike Woodruff



Boyd Bailey, member and Instructor 334 412-6996


Website – David Lake


Web Address:


E-mail Address:


Newsletter – Jim Rogers