William B. Ogden Radio School





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Submitted by
Name: Derek R. Waring
From: Modesto
E-mail: drwaringdrd@gmail.com
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I want to extend a very big THANK YOU to Webmaster, Bob for taking the time to restore the William B. Ogden Guestbook. It takes an incredible amount of work to maintain the Radio Museum site let alone clean up after vandals. Your efforts do not go unappreciated Bob. I hope that those of you who did post to the original guestbook will take the time re post. This Guestbook is a tribute to a wonderful man and the excellent people who worked with him.

I attended Ogden's Radio Operational Engineering School (ROES) during the summer of 1969. I left Modesto headed for Huntington Beach in a silver Plymouth Roadrunner with Mike Novak to take the first step toward forging a career in radio broadcasting. We had no idea what we were getting into! It didn't take long to realize that this was serious stuff and Mr. Ogden was a serious guy! He was devoted to his job and dedicated to seeing to it that his students were successful. Anyone who attended ROES I'm sure agrees that Mr. Ogden approached his job with a 'tough love' attitude. He maintained the tough guy image pretty well but occasionally he would slip and the compassionate side of him would come busting through. All of the ROES staff members were surrogate parents, counselors and friends. If not for their continuous encouragement and support many folks would have abandoned the field of broadcasting quite early in the process.

Lifelong friends and memories were made at ROES. I was sitting in the classroom when the first man walked on the moon. I also took my first plane ride while attending ROES. Our pilot was another student named Denny. The passengers were me, Mike Novak and Mark Holste. A memorable trip in that the plane's door that Mike was sitting next to flew open while we were in flight and the landing was, should I say, less than spot on. We bounced down the runway for quite a distance because Denny thought we were closer to the ground than we actually were when he set 'er down. I think we all did laundry that night, if you know what I mean! Come to find out Denny had just gotten his license before coming to ROES.

The ROES building was located at the end of the runway of the small airport. On more than one occasion a plane came pretty darn close to clipping the building. We would watch the plane coming our way and pray that it would get the altitude needed to get over the building. Quite exciting times to say the least.

I still have contact with some of the friends that I met at ROES. In fact Bob Lang and I get together once a month with other local radio folks for lunch. I also still have contact with Mark Holste who is at KMJ in Fresno. Mike Novak is now with KLOV.We were all very fortunate to have had the opportunity to get to know Mr. Ogden and to have benefited from his passion to teach others. He and his dedicated staff truly made a difference in many people's lives and in the field of broadcasting throughout the country.
Added: February 26, 2012


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Steve Randall
From: Seattle, WA
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In 1970 there were several avenues to obtaining a FCC First Class Radio Telephone License.
You could go to college or a university and study electronic engineering for years. Maybe, even after all that, fail the test, for reasons I will explain later, or you could enroll in one of the many ticket mills or technical schools.

These were the main players in 1970:
1. Don Martin Hollyweird, CA
2. Elkins many locations
3. Bates Technical College, Tacoma WA.
4. The Bill Wade School of Radio & Television in Hollyweird and San Diego, CA

But if you absolutely HAD to get that First ticket there was the William B. Ogden Radio Operational Engineering School in Huntington Beach, Ca. THIS was THE place.
The FCC First Class Radio Telephone (First Phone) examination was a very difficult test and required many hours of study to pass. Ogdens was established in 1946 in Burbank, offering a standard course of study lasting over a period of several months. However, at the request of broadcasters, and to meet the high demand for first class licensed operators, owner Bill Ogden converted his standard to a concentrated course (cram course) of 6-8 weeks, 12-16 hours a day, seven days a week.

Ogdens provided a dormitory where all of us slept. The whole idea of Ogdens was serious with one and one goal only, to pass the FCC First Class, because there were many like me that had a job waiting for us IF we got that damn license. What helped me and most of the class adjust to the regimental atmosphere of Ogdens was that a good deal of us were veterans and were comfortable in bunk beds and a dormitory type setting. These were accommodations a monk would find challenging.

At Ogdens there was no BSing, no horsing around, no radios playing the hits, no TVs, no pool tables, no books or magazines. Nothing but study, lectures and tests, tests and more tests. Ogden cared zip about disc jockeys or the few from Bell Telephone or Southern Pacific Railroad who were there primarily for the FCC second needed for microwave maintenance or some such thing but the majority of the students were wannabe disc jockeys.

Bill Ogden was an ex-prison guard at Alcatraz discharged for cruelty. OK, a little humor there but for those who went to the school they would understand my humor on the subject of Mr. William B. Ogden. Here is one example of Bills teaching method.

The typical day was 12 hours, seven days a week, 6-8 weeks. After all this theory and testing some of us were so tired we dozed off in the middle of his teaching of vacuum tubes, transistors, amplifiers, receivers, direct current, electricity, magnetism, rectifiers, power supply, mathematics, rules and FCC regulations and on and on. If Bill saw a student nodding off he would whip out a blackboard eraser and fire that sucker right at him. The intended missile did the trick and suddenly Mr. Sleepy Head was instantly awake and ready to resume the torture ..ahh lecture. I can honestly say I never dozed in class.

Ogden started the class by explaining how a superheterodyne receiver worksHUH? WHAT?
What is this? I know how a radio works. You turn it on it plays. You turn it off, it stops playing. Now, give me my First Class license and let me out of here!

The tests came in three parts. There was the Third ticket which most of us had, then the * * * of all the tests in my opinion, the second class test and the finally the first class test. Many questions on the test strained the brain and made no sense what so ever. I cant give an accurate example of one of those questions after all these years but here is an illustration:
If 2+ 2 =4 then what is 4-2? FCC answer3.
If you want to pass the test then you better mark 3 as your answer. Knowing these roadblock questions ahead of time helped get you the ticket and a much better chance of a job than the slob who had no clue as to what was to befall him. Books and college classes didnt teach the FCC WAY of taking the test. The class size generally ran 35-50 per class and most all were as serious about passing the test as I was.

Bruce Chandler (K-EARTH 101) and I have remained friends all these years despite him talking me into leaving KDON Salinas/Monterey for KMEN San Bernardino another story for another time. Bruce was a smart dude and graduated a little over a week earlier than I. But that was alright, I wasnt going to take the FCC 1st test until every fiber of my being was prepared because I had to get that confounded license. My preordained future in radio was riding on it and worse, if I didnt pass the test my wife would have killed me for being gone so long, (nearly two months).

But after all this pain and anguish, ole Bill really did care about all of us passing the First test and we all deepDEEP down loved him despite all he put us through. When I went to take the FCC second class and the FCC First class tests, at the federal building in Los Angeles, in a room full of test takers from other schools, I was the first one finished. I laughed to myself how easy it was because of William B Ogden.

Earning that license put you in a very select group. When you met another jock who had a First no matter his talent, and to most of us the others jock you worked with always sucked, you did have some respect for them nevertheless. As Jason Remington, a Bates Technical College graduate, my good friend and brother loon said to me recently, those that passed the exam and got the 1st Class ticket DESERVED IT. That was a * * * load of information, study and book learning. I was walking on a cloud for days after I got my 1st.
I cant say it any better than that.

So if you are reading this and you got yourself that 1st ticket then step up to the plate and share the story.

Steve Randall
February 2012

(Courtesy of Sea-Tac Radio.com


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Memories of Bill, Tally, Thora, Jim and Major and the R.O.E.S. - Class of June, 1957 Bill Ogden had to be a genius because he filled my aptitude-free head with enough knowledge to pass his diabolically merciless first class license exam before turning me loose to take the FCC’s; by comparison a much simpler one which I gratefully nailed on my first try. Aside from his intellect and unique teaching skills, Bill was a great guy; sometimes drill sergeant-like on the outside but a genuinely caring one-man cheering section for all his students on the inside. I was a starry-eyed disc jockey-wannabe with the ink still wet on my BA in Radio-TV from San Francisco State. In those days, having a first phone rather than a third opened a lot more control room doors to job seekers. Those six weeks in Burbank were virtually all-consuming with study. I do, however, remember two breaks from the grind. Several from our class spent a Saturday or Sunday at Disneyland and one weekend I flew home for some much-needed R&R. Around my fourth or fifth week, I auditioned by telephone and was offered the morning gig at brand new KPER 1290 in garlic-redolent Gilroy. With my newly earned first ticket in hand, and having a few days until I had to report for work, I took my time driving back to Northern California. On the way, I stopped at every radio station in sight mostly just to look around, gape and appear to all in attendance to be the young greenhorn that I was. What was truly surprising was the number of job offers made to me during those visits. I had committed to the Gilroy offer and so I turned down the others, some of which were quite tempting. Although I was reluctant to say no to a few of them, I figured it was too soon in my career to be saddled with a reputation as a flake. There’d be plenty of time for that later on. On the bright side, just being asked was a great ego boost and confidence builder. Whenever I think back on those 42 brain-taxing days in beautiful not-quite-downtown Burbank, and I do so fondly, for some inconceivable reason, two disparate things jog my memory. One is “Searchin’” by The Coasters, which I can’t help but hum, whistle or just grunt. I guess it must have been popular back then. The other was the combination diner, drive-in and dive on West Olive Avenue where they dispensed enough grease on one cheeseburger to equal a week’s supply at your average Jiffy Lube, which is probably where I would have wound up, had it not been for Bill and my highly coveted first class ticket. All good wishes, Norm Hankoff AKA Norm Hanley

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-Name: Neil Ross
From: Manhattan Beach, California

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This piece was originally written for an LA radio website in answer to the question: Where were you when you heard about the Kennedy assassination? In my case the answer was 1150 West Olive in Burbank - The Ogden School.

After getting my First Class License I worked twenty plus years in radio with stops at KGMB in Honolulu, KCBQ San Diego, KYA San Francisco and finally 710 KMPC Los Angeles. Then I left radio for voice-overs.

I went back to 1150 West Olive in 2008 for a recording session. What a strange feeling to stand, forty five years later, in a studio where the classroom had been. I told the guys at the studio a little bit of the history of their building. Then I told them this story.

On the morning of November 22, 1963 I was seated in class at the William B. Ogden Radio Operational Engineering School at 1150 West Olive in Burbank, California. The school was what was known in those days as a ticket mill. It existed solely for the purpose of cramming enough knowledge into the empty heads of aspiring disc-jockeys to allow them to pass the FCC First Class License exam. A test which was infamous for its difficulty, frequently defeating even MIT graduates.

In those days most medium market radio stations were combo - meaning the DJ would also be responsible for transmitter readings. Any station that was directional, or over ten thousand watts, had to have someone with a first phone (as it was commonly known) on duty at all times. Major market stations had transmitter engineers, low powered small market stations usually didn't require a first class operator. But in the medium markets the first phone was nearly always mandatory. A jock without one simply couldn't move up. We'd love to hire you but we had to go with a guy with a first phone he ain't half the talent you are, but he's got the ticket.

I only had to hear that a few times before I started making inquiries about the best way to acquire that ticket. Without exception the old pro's told me: Go to Ogden's. William B. (Bill) Ogden was one of the most unforgettable people I ever met. Put five or six Ogden grads in a room together and they can talk about him for hours. An irascible, chain smoking little firebrand of a man with a razor sharp wit and a dazzling intellect, he was a true auto-didact.

I don't believe he even finished High School. He certainly had no College. All he knew was gleaned from courses he took in the Army in World War Two and his own voracious reading, yet his brilliant teaching methods led to offers from prestigious Universities throughout the land. He spurned them all. He didn't want to be second guessed by third rate administrators. That's why he started his own school.

He answered to no one except, perhaps, for his wife, Tally, who ran the school office. He was more than a match for a class full of radio geeks. Many a student crossed verbal swords with him. All came away bloodied. Except perhaps, a friend of mine who told me he once got Bill so angry that as he (Ogden) was screaming at him, his false teeth flew out and landed at my friends feet.

Wordlessly my friend retrieved Bill's teeth and handed them back to him and class quietly resumed. My friend didn't consider that a victory more like a draw. Standing at the front of the class for hours at a stretch, chain smoking and gobbling throat drops.

Ogden would hold forth on the arcane intricacies of electronics and when he sensed the group was approaching overload, would effortlessly segue into fascinating tales of his Army experiences. Those who needed sleep would put their heads down on their desks and ask the guy next to them to wake them up when he gets back to teaching. The rest would stay awake and listen, fascinated. Ogden didn't mind if people slept during his stories. He knew they needed the sleep.

Classes went seven days a week from AM until at least midnight with one hour for lunch two hours for dinner. Ogden ordered people never to work past two AM, it screws you up for the next day. No s---, Bill.

Ogden could read people like no one else I've ever met and he knew how to handle just about everybody. The cocky ones he would systematically beat down until they started to take the test seriously. The timid ones he would build up into world beaters. If he sensed you were starting to hate him he would use that.

Many a student went down to the FCC and aced the test just to show that little * * * that they could do it. Once they passed, Ogden's beaming face would tell them that no one was happier than he and that they'd just been punked by the master manipulator.

The school slogan was: Accomplishment of the difficult tends to show what men are. By the time Ogden got through with you the truth of that saying was self evident. The six weeks I spent in his school were more intense than anything else I have ever experienced - including U.S. Navy boot camp.

And then there was the assassination. Before I get to that I have to explain one more thing about Ogden. He was perennially at war with the FCC. He was the kind of guy who hated any kind of bureaucracy to begin with, and he was particularly enraged by the FCC. He considered their tests to be worthless and their treatment of the people who came in to take them high handed to say the least.

He directed most of his rage toward the man who ran the L.A. office of the FCC J. Lee Smith. I have no idea if it was deserved or not, but hardly a day in class would go by without Ogden regaling us with some story or other of J. Lee Smith's alleged perfidy.

Suffice it to say that when I finally made it down to the local FCC office to take the test, I figured I'd see a guy in a red suit with pointy ears and a tail and that would be J. Lee Smith.

On the morning of November 22nd, 1963 around eleven AM we were at our desks doing independent study. Ogden was back in his office resting up for the next tirade. A student strode to the front of the class He was one of those guys who endlessly tries to be funny and usually fails. He cleared his throat and said: May I have your attention please. We thought he was going for humor.

There were groans and cries of sitdown, shut up, eat me, give it a rest etc. He plowed on. The President has just been shot. Now we were really incensed. Hey man, that ain't funny!! Sit down a..hole etc. He continued: No! It's true!! Ogden has it on the radio in his office.

We trooped to the back of the school and stood in Odgen's doorway. No one had the guts to actually go in his office without an invitation and he didn't proffer one. Ogden was seated at his desk staring into the middle distance the way one does when one is listening, really listening to the radio. We stood outside and listened too. It took about an hour.

The bulletins went from shots fired to shots fired near the motorcade to shots fired at the President to President wounded, President gravely wounded, President taken to Parkland Hospital, priest summoned to administer last rites and finally, numbingly, horribly, unbelievably President Kennedy was dead.

And then Bill Ogden did an amazing thing. Imagine the moment. Some of us (me included) are less than a week away from going down to take the First Class test. As Ogden had told us often -the timing was critical. You were required to know so much to get through the test that you could only hold it all in your head for about forty eight hours, then you'd start to lose it. (Ogden administered his own test before he'd let you go down. 1200 questions. Get more than 25 wrong and he wouldn't let you go.) He had to build you up to a peak and time it to happen just before you tested.

We're at the critical point and the President has just been shot. To the agonizing emotional pain of that add the practical questions. Will the FCC be open next week? Will the FCC even exist next week? Hell, will the damn country even exist next week? Who can study under these conditions? Yet we had to and Ogden knew it.

He snapped off the radio, stood up and faced us. There was a long deafening silence and then Ogden yelled, Well, they got Kennedy, but they didn't get J. Lee Smith. Get back in there!!! That's what he said, word for word. I can still hear his voice forty five years later. He said a lot more which I don't remember but, thanks to his passionate pep talk, eventually we did get back in there and while a nation mourned, we continued to hit the books.

We felt like * * * for doing it but as Bill told us, there wasn't a damn thing we could do about the situation except not let it beat us. And it didn't.

The middle of the next week the FCC reopened and the group that was scheduled to take the test (me included) took it and every one of us passed. A month or so later I turned nineteen.

A couple of weeks before that driving around Burbank, I heard my first Beatle record. Casey Kasem played it on KRLA. I turned to my new friend Larry Huffman (we had met at Ogden's and are friends to this day) and said: No way, man. Never happen. These English guys just don't know how to rock! (Even then I had my finger unerringly on the pulse of the public.)

In January, First Class License (signed by J. Lee Smith) in hand, I headed off to a new radio job in Idaho. Kennedy was dead. The Beatles were born. The sixties were kicking into high gear. I found the country of Viet Nam popping up in more and more newscasts that I ripped and read, little suspecting that a few years later I would be there.

The next decade was going to be a very rough ride. I like to think my experience at Ogden's helped prepare me for it. Like the man said: Accomplishment of the difficult tends to show what men are.

Added: January 31, 2012


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Comments:
Hey Vern,
I was in that class and had math trouble and returned in Feb. after the Holidays and got my 2nd and 1st in March of '71. Bill met me late at night when I got back there and gave me a test the next morning and wouldn't let me study for it and threatened anyone who helped me from my new class...I "ACED" it...He was right...It was right there in my head all the time and I had to finally let it out...R.I.P., Bill, Tally and Thora...What a life-lesson.


Added: September 6, 2015
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I'm a December 8, 1970, Ogden ROES graduate. I was between enlistments in the US Army, when I attended ROES. I first enlisted in the US Army in 1962, when I was 17. I retired finally in 2005, with over 41 years of honorable service, retiring with the enlisted rank and grade of Command Sergeant Major, E-9. After I graduated from ROES, I went back into the US Army, where I also got my RADAR Endorsement. Because of my "First Ticket" and RADAR endorsement, the Army sent me to every electonics school they had. They also sent me to Raytheon, to learn about the Army's Firefinder, Quick-Look & Guardrail, RADAR systems, then finally the Patriot Missile System, which I deployed with to Saudi Arabia, during the 1990-91, First Gulf War.

I credit all my military success in electronics, to Bill, Tally and Thora. I remember Bill telling when I passed the 3rd and 2nd Class FCC tests, my first time down to the FCC, in L.A., but failed the 1st class FCC test twice, that: "I was such a "STUPPO" that I was the kind of guy who could narrow FCC multiple choice anawers down from 4 to 2 choices, then always be counted on to pick the wrong answer every time". That's funny now, but it wasn't back in 1970. I only got through ROES with Bill's special type of encouragement and sympathy, if you get my meaning....lol. I also remenber his Mu-Lu Hu-Lu formula for antenna harmonics.

My best wishes to the Ogden family and to ALL my former classmates of the December 8, 1970, Ogden ROES class.

Sincerely,
Vern C. Wigley
CSM, USA, (Ret.)
Dundee, OR


Added: August 31, 2015
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I am really surprised and thrilled to encounter this website!
I attended ROES in Fall of 1951. I have fond memories of the frantic
scramble to earn our First Phone. It was a really small class.
I was 17 and just out of high school.
I used that ticket to get through College and wound up in in northern California and southern Oregon in the early days of small market TV.
I worked at KWEI in Weiser,Ida., KVAL in Albany Ore., KIEM radio and TV in Eureka and
KOTI-TV and KBES-TV in so. Oregon.
I am now a retired pharmacist and on the verge of getting my General Ham license.
If anyone else from those days is still extant, I would enjoy hearing.


Added: August 21, 2015
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My family, loved them so. Miss them always. Great memories of growing up with them by my side. So much love in each of them.

Added: April 16, 2015
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from bellingham , washington left oggens with my first dec. 1967

Added: April 9, 2015
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Hello,
I attended O.R.O.E.S. in late '68, and graduated class of January '69. In the Jan. '69 class pic, I'm the guy in the top row all the way to the right on the end. I was only 18 at the time and became the youngest "comboman" in NH history. I became very ill in late spring of that year and after recovery I continued as an engineer only. I am now retired (disabled)to FL for the last 7 years. My greatest memory was the tiny donut at the corner where I spent many class breaks stuffing my face in a hurry. The "boss" could be a strict ruler and I praised him for that.
Thanks,
Frank Doll


Added: March 8, 2015
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