In the early 1920s your great-grandparents may have listened to WBT on a rig like this. Radio was still just a hobby mainly for the curious and technically adept.

One of a Kind | Auld Lang Genny

The Old Generator

We loved what it did for us, but hated it for being such a nuisance. We dragged the heavy old thing around for decades, to provide the power we needed for remote shoots. It was very noisy—think a half dozen leaf blowers—and had to be positioned a good distance away from the action, and sometimes hidden, behind a building or a grove of trees. And just at the most inopportune moment, it would run out of fuel.

Where is it now? John McCorkle, one-time engineer and salesman at Jefferson Productions, ran across it by coincidence, "sitting behind a radio station in Burlington, NC. It had just been serviced and I was told it was 'working perfectly.' It’s at least 40 years old and I think it is being held together by the rust."

"The guy I talked to said it was there when he came, so he didn’t know how or where they got it. But it runs two radio stations and one transmitter out of that building!"

Courtesy John McCorkle

A reader writes:

Now, if we can just find the "stakebody!" I learned everything I know about towing and backing up trailers (which isn't much) from that rotten generator. I can't remember how many times I saw Virgil Torrence in the rearview mirror with cigarette in mouth, giving me alternate circular arm motions, as I attempted to back that generator into the parking space near the shop. He would nearly fall down laughing every time I jackknifed it.

That picture is something out of the Twilight Zone. I'm not going anywhere NEAR Burlington. That thing is haunted!

Elmer Hilker '72-'83