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November 11th, 2005

Crazy AM Strength

When you think “AM radio,” you probably associate it with weak signals, crappy talk radio that’s not good enough for FM, and international music serving a local audience that’s not represented on FM radio. But a few weeks ago while driving in a rainstorm, my wife and I flipped on AM radio in Virginia to get a traffic report.

After we got the report, I kept going through the channels to see what else came in. I don’t know what it is about AM radio, but its signal can carry insane distances, and this certainly proved true on that night. I came about 1060 AM and immediately recognized the style of the news radio — it was KYW 1060 in Philadelphia. Sure enough, they started giving traffic and weather reports for the South Jersey area.

I moved a little further up the dial and was really surprised to hear advertisements for local New York businesses. Apparently, the signal was really travelling that night.

But to top the night off, we landed on a station that was broadcasting from Ottawa.

Ottawa!

In these days where one can tune in thousands of stations from around the globe online, it may not seem like a big deal, but it’s still kind of cool to accidentally stumble upon a very remote station while running through your AM dial. It lets you feel like you’re driving in an Ottawa rainstorm instead of just a Virginia rainstorm.

Posted in Television, Movies, and Music

FROM: jk
DATE: Friday November 11, 2005 -- 11:01:56 am
I know! I had a longer commute last year and at night I could get WCBS 880 from NYC. Amazing. Yet the local AM oldies station cannot be heard here after the sun goes down....



FROM: Paul
DATE: Friday November 11, 2005 -- 11:07:27 am
I know that I was able to get Chicago radio stations out near the Illinois/Iowa border - that's pretty good. AM is killer for signal strength and, of course, polka music.



FROM: Joe Revees
DATE: Friday November 11, 2005 -- 12:17:19 pm
More than you wanted to know here:

http://www.fcc.gov/mb/audio/bickel/daytime.html

It has to do with our friend, the ionosphere...

Best I ever got was a station in Montreal from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.



FROM: Max Moritz
DATE: Friday November 11, 2005 -- 1:40:17 pm
Used to be you could get a lot of Cuban stations on the east coast but all you can get now is 570 which has Spanish talk along with a time signal. It must be annoying to listen to. I use time standard stations on 60khz, 3330 khz (CHU Canada), 5mghz, and 10 mhz (Ft. Collins and Hawaii on the same freq) to go to sleep. But talk and time. Gawd! Love Ontario stations' weather. It is always worse than where I am at so I know things could be worse. During the late eighties I had a night job and Larry King was all over the am. He is Jewish and so few people listened to him that every fifth call was from an anti-Semite. Wolfman Jack used to be on a super power Mexican am. Legend has it that it could be heard in Russia and the Russians taped him for students learning American English.



FROM: COD
DATE: Friday November 11, 2005 -- 2:08:04 pm
When I lived in Atlanta I could regularly listen to Purdue basketball games on an AM station in Ft Wayne, IN. I also remember as a kid in FL that I couuld pull in WGN-AM from Chicago quite well some nights.

There is a whole subculture of AM geeks that track what distant stations they can pull in. I stumbled into their message boards a couple of years ago when I was researching what AM/FM portable radio to buy.

Radio Tuner quality has apparently gone way way downhill over the years. I ended up buying a GE Super Radio 3, which is probably the best tuner you can get for under $50.



FROM: Steve A.
DATE: Friday November 11, 2005 -- 2:13:14 pm

I worked in radio communications for many years. When I was living in Scotland I could routinely pull in AM stations from Brazil.


As a kid I had an unfinished basement room. I kept track of all the frequencies and callsigns on my wall near my bed. Many years later I went back, that room still hadn't been finished and all those stations were still listed.


Thanks for the memories. BTW, shortwave and ham radios are still big sellers on eBay




FROM: Maria
DATE: Friday November 11, 2005 -- 4:12:31 pm
My dad used to always listen to an AM news station out of Los Angeles, and we live in Montana. They make the news a lot more interesting in LA!



FROM: Joseph
DATE: Sunday November 13, 2005 -- 12:21:27 am
Growing up in Cleveland, I was always able to hear Boston AM radio at night. I never wanted to move to Boston because what other city has such bad traffic that traffic broadcasts were still directing evening rush hour commuters home at 3am? Long live the BIG DIG!



FROM: LOVED RADIO AS A KID
DATE: Sunday November 13, 2005 -- 10:46:54 am
AM IS HOW A KID HEARD BASEBALL AND WOULD BECOME A FAN OF A TEAM..
YEARS AGO YOU COULD LISTEN TO RADIO ALL OVER THE COUNTRY LIVING IN THE EAST AT NIGHT..FT WAYNE (WOWO) DETROIT/WINDSDOR..(CKLW..ST LOUIS,(KMOX} PITTSBURG (KDKA) BOSTON (WBZ)..CLEVLAND (WWWE)..LISTENED TO PETE FRANKLIN THERE..MANY NEW YORK.STATIONS THERE USED TO BE ALOT OF FREQUINCYS THAT ONLY WAS ON ONE STATION..NOT ANYMORE..ALSO MOST AM RADIOS ARE NOT AS GOOD ANYMORE UNLESS YOU PAY $200. FOR A GRUNDIG OR SONETHING LIKE THAT NOW..



FROM: Aanen
DATE: Friday November 18, 2005 -- 1:02:02 pm
When my family was in Germany, my dad and I used to listen to Norwegian radio on the shortwave. Sometimes we can get it at home. In mich, I can get the airtraffic controllers for the local airport.

We aslo talked about AM radio in my sattlite communication class, but I don't remember much from that class



FROM: Aanen
DATE: Friday November 18, 2005 -- 1:02:02 pm
When my family was in Germany, my dad and I used to listen to Norwegian radio on the shortwave. Sometimes we can get it at home. In mich, I can get the airtraffic controllers for the local airport.

We aslo talked about AM radio in my sattlite communication class, but I don't remember much from that class



FROM: Merle [E-Mail]
DATE: Saturday November 19, 2005 -- 3:12:42 pm
Weak signals? No. As I recall, AM can't go through as many things, but it bounces better. (yeah, that's how it was explained to me when I was six, and the explanation stuck).

During tornado season, when the cloud cover was low, I could often pick up stations several hundred miles away...



FROM: Steve A.
DATE: Saturday December 17, 2005 -- 7:43:41 pm

I was driving home from work tonight (north central to northeastern NC)and after hearing my CD finish I turned on the radio to AM. While letting the scan run from bottom 550kHz to top 1700kHz, I heard two different Philly stations, one from DC, three in Ohio, two NYC, one from GA, one in French (I never did hear where) and one Spanish and that could have been from anywhere.



As an old morse operator, we used to jokening say, "There is no intelligent life above 30MHz."



Hopefully we'll never lose broadcast radio.



Ciao,



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