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Thanks! Your suggestion worked. That saved me a couple sleepless nights. I was literally inspecting kernel code to see what the problem could be.
gnome-alsamixer isn't installed by default apparently. The Rec check box is what did the trick. I had been using alsamixer did not see its equivalent. Also, apparently the older webcam may be broken in hw or in kernel.
Your link enlightened me to amixer ... to do what I did in gnome-alsamixer, its
amixer -c 1 sset 'Mic' toggle.
Though, scratching my head a bit as to why google didnt give me much help on this one ... oh well, others may benefit from my ignorance now.