Seriously Collecting Broadcasting’s Big Iron

Some of us collect postage stamps; others coins or perhaps matchbooks. There are a few individuals who collect vacuum tubes. However, one Ohioan has set a somewhat loftier goal: amassing a collection of broadcast-type radio transmitters.

Gerry Moersdorf (KC8ZUL) began rounding up such transmitters more than 15 years ago, uprooting them from their former workspaces and hauling them back to a large warehouse-type building in a Columbus, Ohio, suburb.

Moersdorf is quite selective, though; not just any broadcast transmitter will do. He’s especially partial to representative examples from the likes of Collins, Gates, RCA and Western Electric — companies that once supplied transmitters for the majority of U.S. radio stations — and they must be vacuum tube-powered “big iron.” He has no interest whatsoever in the compact solid-state high-efficiency pipsqueaks from the last several decades.

“My motto is never operate a transmitter that can’t kill you if it falls over,” said Moersdorf, a former software engineer, who created and sold off a couple of successful computer-related businesses before devoting his energies to rescuing broadcast rigs.

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