Tuesday, October 18, 2011




For those who worked in radio in the 60s and 70s before deregulation, “The Ticket” was one of the most important thing you needed. “The Ticket” was the nickname for the FCC Third Class License required to be a broadcaster or failing that, being allowed to be left alone in a broadcast station. . There were 3 testing elements in it and the most complicated was the dreaded “Element 9”. If you were extremely non gifted in Math like I was, (I was told I had the lowest Math percentile in the entrance exams in the Scranton Diocese) Element 9 was downright scary. But I decided I wanted “The Ticket”. After attending Career Academy of Broadcasting in Washington D.C. in the summer of ’72 (Joey Shaver signed me up in February of that year) I took the test in October in Washington D.c. A bored bureaucrat took my information and I began the test. It was all or nothing. If you passed all three sections, you got the license with an endorsement. If you failed Element 9 you got a provisional which was akin to having training wheels in a triathlon. When I handed in my test, the bored woman scored it and blankly told me I passed. Elated, I said, “I’m now a broadcaster” and she retorted, “And I’m Diana Ross”.
The Third Class License gave me the opportunity to work at station with transmitters. I could read the meters (theoretically) and be left alone. “The Ticket” came in handy at my stints at WPTS, WARD, WRKC FM, WVIA FM, and WKQV AM and FM. I never got to use the License at WARM but I did wind up broadcasting from the sainted and iconic WARM control room. That story in our next 590 Mighty Memory.


pat fadden said...

wow i hadnt thought of the licensing aspect of wrkc in a long time. and the dreaded element 9..that seemed to psyche everyone out. but for me it felt like such an accomplishment to have that license on the wall at wrkc. werent we the big shots!

pat fadden

Rockin' Rich Nordheim said...

What a flashback. What I went thru to get that. I'll start with another dinosaur. I got my Provisional License (the FCC's version of a Driver's Permit) in September 1976. That was good for 1 year then you took your 3rd Class License test. Fortunately the FCC from Buffalo (Nasty People) came to Wilkes-Barre twice a year (October and March) to administer the test. Now here the fun part. I took my first test in October 1977 in the old Social Security Building Downtown Wilkes-Barre. Believe it or not I passed Element 1 but flunked Element 2 and didn't even come close on Element 9. I then traveled to the Philadelphia FCC Office (Nicer People) on a snowy Monday in January 1978. I passed 1 and 2 but missed 9 by 1 question. Finally after finding every book on the 3rd Class Test I passed
Element 9 at the old Host Motel in Wilkes-Barre Township. Also passing the test that day were the immortal Bob Woody and new Luzerne County Judge Fred Pierantoni. Here a bit of trivia if you didn't pass Element 9 you got a blue license and when you passed 9 you got an endorsement. After all the hard work and struggle to pass the test the FCC did away with Element 9 late 1978. Then did away with the 3rd Class License by the early 80's. But at least I can say I passed the test.

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