Friday, November 4, 2016

Long Distance

I have a desktop computer, a laptop computer, a smart phone, an internet radio from the C. Crane catalog (amazing appliance) and an Amazon Echo (another amazing appliance).

It's safe to say I can pretty much listen to any radio station in the country at any time.

Yet, I really enjoy getting in my car late at night or early in the morning, going to the AM band, and hitting the "scan" button to see what distant stations I can pull in.    AM signals bounce off the ionosphere at night, enabling them to travel great distances.

It was a lot more fun years ago, when AM radio stations possessed more individuality.  Now, you can hear the loon talking about UFO's and the end of the world on dozens of stations.  The all sports networks take up a lot of space.  Like overnight TV, many radio stations devote time to infomercials.

Still, there is the occasional oasis of good radio.

For some reason, WBBM 780 in Chicago booms in to the Scranton area like the tower is in the middle of Courthouse Square.  There's an old saying in the business that if a station sounds good at 9 AM on a Sunday, it's a quality operation.  Expand that in to the middle of the night.  WBBM is an all news station that sounds good when there isn't much news going on.

The top of the hour news on WLW 700 in Cincinnati and KDKA 1020 in Pittsburgh is also very good.

There is a whole hobby dedicated to long distance listening, or DXing.  I was never that dedicated, just fascinated, especially as a kid with a bedroom portable radio.  I really think that was a factor in career choice.