Category Archives: Radio News & Commentary

Rush Limbaugh Diagnosed with Advanced Lung Cancer

April 9, 2020

Rush Limbaugh just announced on his radio show that he has been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. He told his listeners that he hopes to be back on Thursday, February 6th, but would likely be absent on some days due to ongoing treatments.

As Rush finished his Monday show, he said “Every day I’m not here, I’ll be thinking about you and missing you. Thank you very much.”

More on this story as it develops. Prayers for Rush and his family.

104.1 FM Ames/Des Moines Resurrects “EZ” as KOEZ

April 9, 2020

My friend Jon Ellis reports on Northpine this morning that Saga Communications’ KMYR has changed call letters to KOEZ. This corresponds with a positioning change from “More 104.1” to “104.1 EZ FM.” Ironically enough, this brings 104.1 back to the 1980s when they were KEZT “EZ104”, playing a Beautiful Music format, aka “A Softer Place to Be.”

I’m curious as to why Saga didn’t just resurrect the KEZT call letters? Because they were used for so many years in the Ames/Des Moines market, I’m guessing there would be immediate name recognition. In any case, 104.1 has come full circle as KOEZ, now playing lighter music for easier listening.

By the way, the KOEZ call letters were last used by 92.3 Newton/Wichita, Kansas. They gave up the calls in 2000 after flipping to Adult Contemporary as KMXW “Mix 92.3”

WFLI AM-1070 Chattanooga “The Big Jet FLI”

April 9, 2020

As most of my regular readers know, I am a HUGE fan of the Classic Top 40 format. It’s what I grew up with, listening to radio as a kid in the 1970s and early 80s. The roots of this format trace back to the early 1990s when select stations began playing “The Greatest Hits of the Seventies.” A few years later, “and Eighties” was added to their positioning statement. In some cases, they didn’t want to mention the 80s. Instead, their tag line became “Seventies and More” with “more” signifying the addition of 80s music. Later still, most of these evolved into “Classic Hits” stations. Some were great, others were okay, and some were just plain awful. The latest and greatest entry into the genre is Chattanooga’s WFLI-AM 1070 aka “The Big Jet FLI.”

Back in the 1990s, I worked for with several stations that did variations of the Classic Hits/Classic Top 40/70s Oldies format. Each had some of the necessary elements, but none had the full package.

One of these stations was Star 104.7 (WSSS-FM) in Charlotte. We had a full 100,000 watt FM signal, great facilities, and some very talented people. Unfortunately, our hands were tied by corporate ownership, consultants, and focus groups. The same “carefully selected and researched” 300 songs were played over and over again. Very little personality was allowed beyond the liner cards. After the first few books, the ratings tanked. No surprise.

In Orlando, we had the opposite problem. WOTS-AM 1220 did an authentic recreation of 1970s AM Top 40 radio. Terry Mason (my boss) was a big believer in personality radio. He gave us the freedom to have fun on the air. The problem was that we were licensed for just 1,000 watts days and a ridiculous 110 watts at night. If you were more than a few miles from the WOTS transmitter, XEB in Mexico City would clobber us with their 100,000 watts!

When I jocked in Minneapolis, I hosted a Saturday night 70s show on WTCX-FM 105.1. This was 1993, just as the 70s format was starting to catch hold. At this time, nobody else in the market was playing those songs. It worked! We had callers. We had sponsors. Just as it was taking off, our owner decided to sell the place. Everyone got the boot and the frequency became home to Alternative REV 105 aka Revolution Radio. Game over.

Licensed to Lookout Mountain, WFLI has the whole enchilada. They use their original calls. They operate on their original frequency. They even broadcast from the original building where it all began in February, 1961! I love their sweepers which include actual aircheck clips from the original FLI jocks! One of these talented folks is still there today, doing afternoons. Congratulations, Gene Lovin! It’s obvious from the first listen that these guys absolutely LOVE what they do! In an age of satellite delivery and voice-tracked stations, you just don’t hear this very often anymore.

The Big Jet FLI’s music is dead-on. All hits. No filler. Not the same burned out songs that everyone else plays. Their processing is perfect for this format. When you listen to the online stream, you get the actual AM air signal. Not a lifeless, hollow sound from the output of a computer. Their engineers have done an amazing job recreating that authentic Top 40 “sound” of the era. To anyone who doesn’t believe AM radio can sound great, lend your ears to this station’s feed!

Of course, having a 50,000 watt signal doesn’t hurt, either! In recent months, WFLI has added FM translator W249BR on 97.7 which covers the immediate Chattanooga metro area.

If that’s not enough, they have turned the entire facility into a museum! The National Top 40 Hall of Fame & Radio Museum offers tours to the public on a regular basis. It’s a great way to get the full experience of how Tennessee radio was back in the golden age of Top 40.

WFLI has become my go-to station, owning the first preset on my phone. If you own or manage an automated jukebox, this should be your inspiration. It is the best example around of what a great Classic Top 40 station can and should sound like. Give them a listen on TuneIn when you have a chance. Thank you, Big Jet FLI, for doing justice to this format!

Happy 72nd Birthday to KXXX in Colby, Kansas

April 9, 2020

Drew’s Radio Site would like to wish a Happy 72nd Birthday to KXXX-AM 790 in Colby, Kansas. KXXX was the original radio station in northwest Kansas, signing on for the first time July 13, 1947. KXXX-FM 100.3 (later KQLS and then KRDQ) was added in 1970. Both stations are currently owned by Rocking M Media, LLC.

KXXX enjoys a huge daytime coverage area. I have personally received them on my car radio in Colorado Springs, Wichita, Topeka, and Lincoln. Those 5,000 watts on 790 travel a long way because the tower is anchored in some of the most conductive soil in the world! Country music, farm news, and agricultural information has been their format for as long as I can remember. “The Mighty 7-90” is one of few remaining heritage AM stations that’s still playing music and making money in 2019. Happy Birthday, KXXX!

The First Radio Firing & Unemployment Benefits

April 9, 2020

One of my radio friends contacted me yesterday. She had just been fired and needed advice as to what she should do next. Those of us who are seasoned vets know that being fired is just a regular part of the business. As one of my favorite PDs in Iowa told me, “You ain’t no real broadcaster until you’ve been fired at least 3 times!” My friend is new to this business, however. She’s only been in radio for a few years. This is her first termination. Naturally, she’s panicked, emotional, and wondering what she did wrong.

Because this is radio, the station is contesting her eligibility for unemployment benefits. This also comes with the territory. Out of all the times I was fired in radio (there were several), I can only think of two times when management didn’t attempt to deny my claim. In one case, the station had been sold and the entire airstaff was let go. There were zero grounds for contention there, especially since the owner apparently failed to pay state unemployment taxes on my behalf. I learned about this when I went to apply for benefits. That was a fun day. In the other case, management didn’t bother to contest because the program director who had fired me was himself terminated for cause shortly thereafter. Trying to explain that to the Division of Labor might have become a bit messy.

In every other instance, the station attempted to deny my benefits. Some would stretch the truth while others would outright lie in order to stop me from collecting what was rightfully mine. My favorite was a Florida entity which claimed “theft of station equipment” as grounds for my dismissal. The item in question was a frequency spectrum analyzer which the chief engineer had reported missing. It was later returned, but damaged. I had no use for this piece of equipment. However, our weekend jock who just happened to be operating a pirate FM station in his spare time found it a very useful tool in the calibration of his illicit transmitter. It was my word against theirs. My benefits were denied.

Why do radio station owners/managers routinely contest legitimate unemployment benefit claims by their former employees? The first reason is money. In most states, the employer’s unemployment insurance premium is determined in part by their claims history. The more claims, the more they pay. So there is an incentive to contest all claims against the station, valid or otherwise. The other reason is ego. The radio industry is full of egomaniacs. Some of them eventually end up in the GM chair. If the disgruntled former employee has an axe to grind, it becomes a grudge match. Management/ownership knows the unemployment benefit process better than the average jock who has just been terminated. Within the state system, there are a limited number of appeals available for denial of benefits. Once the appeals process is exhausted, the ex-employee has 2 options: drop their claim or hire an attorney and pursue civil litigation against the company. How many unemployed radio folks have the resources to do this? Very few. Management/ownership knows this, so they use the process to their advantage.

Back to my newly-fired friend: I told her to hang in there. “It’s not you, it’s the business.” She’s quite talented as well as extremely good at asserting and promoting herself. Despite the extremely tight job market for air talent today, I don’t think she’ll have any problem finding another job. Consider it a blessing to be out of a bad situation. I’ve always said “Why would you want to work for someone who doesn’t want you working for them?” She’ll be fine. If you’re reading this and happen to be in the same situation, things will work out for you also. Again, “It’s not you. It’s the business.”

R.I.P., 95.5 PLJ: WPLJ New York City 1971-2019

April 9, 2020

As I write this, I am listening to the final hours of PLJ. At 7:00PM local time, this institution of New York radio will fall silent. Over the past 48 years, it has been known under many different monikers to millions of listeners: 95 WPLJ, 95.5 WPLJ, WPLJ 95.5, Power 95, and of course, “Mojo Radio.”

Because I’m not a New Yorker, it is not possible for me to appreciate PLJ as I would if I were a local. However, as a 16 year radio broadcaster, I certainly feel a great loss as this heritage station goes dark. I felt the same way on May 10, 1982 when WABC Musicradio 77 stopped the music and transitioned to a Talk format. Ironically, WPLJ is WABC’s AM station. From 1953 until 1971, 95.5 was WABC-FM.

Tomorrow, this frequency will become New York City’s home to Educational Media Foundation’s K-Love, a contemporary Christian station. As the final hours wind down on 95.5, be sure to give them a listen. This is truly radio history in the making. Enjoy it while it lasts.

R.I.P., PLJ. It was good knowin’ ya.

John Records Landecker National Radio Hall of Fame

April 9, 2020

This past Sunday, John Records Landecker was voted into the National Radio Hall of Fame. It was his first appearance on the ballot.

FINALLY, my all-time #1 radio idol gets the recognition he deserves. Across 38 states, gazillions of kids listened to JRL every night and said “I want to be on the radio like THAT GUY!” I was one of those kids. Largely because of John’s antics on The Big 89, I spent 16 years behind-the-mic.

As most of you know, I grew up in Minneapolis. In 1976, we had FOUR Top 40 stations: KDWB WYOO, WDGY, and KSTP. I believe we were the only market with 4. By 1978, we were down to one. WYOO sold and their FM became KDWB-FM. WDGY went country. KSTP was transitioning to a more “adult” approach by mellowing out the music and adding more talk. That left KDWB AM/FM. Under Doubleday, it was a very “safe” Top 40 with a strict liner card format. Even True Don Bleu was muzzled. I already knew I was going to be on radio “when I grew up” and needed inspiration beyond what was now available locally.

This is where John Records Landecker came into my life in a big, BIG way! When the sun went down, I’d tune in and listen to the master work his craft. I was amazed at how he would jingle out of every song, then talk PERFECTLY up the intro of the next record. I’d record his shows, listen back to the intros, then practice. I’d drop the needle on my record player and talk…again and again and again until I finally got it right. Then, I’d get on my “undocumented” pirate station and do my best to emulate him. This is how I learned to be a DJ.

“Boogie Check, Boogie Check, ooooooh, aaaaaah!” “Are YOU talkin’ to ME?” “Can I Get a Witness News!” Congratulations, John. This is a well-deserved honor that should have been given to you years ago. You’re the best!

Jimmy Reed of KDWB KRSI WDGY Passes Away at 80

April 9, 2020

Three days ago, James Arthur Rud passed away. Many of us knew him as “Jimmy Reed”, a Minneapolis/St. Paul DJ with a career spanning over 4 decades.

I started listening to radio when I was 3 years old. This was back in 1967. I heard many DJs, but there were two whom I quickly learned to recognize by name and voice. One was Twin Cities radio legend True Don Bleu. He spent 10 years at KDWB prior to his 1978 gig with KHJ in Los Angeles. The other was Jimmy Reed. Jimmy also worked for KDWB and then KRSI. By the time I knew his name, he was on WDGY. First on the evening show and then afternoons, Jimmy spent 15 years at WDGY. He even stayed on when Storz flipped the format from Rock to Country in September, 1977. WDGY going country was a BIG deal to us kids who had grown up with the station. Jimmy Reed could do it all. He also owned and operated Reed’s Pizza in Prior Lake.

Jimmy Reed’s obituary announcement from the Red Wing Republican Eagle can be found here. R.I.P, sir. You were an inspiration to countless kids like myself who grew up with Twin Cities radio in the 1970s. We heard you on WDGY and immediately knew what we wanted to be when we grew up.

Today is National Radio Day!

April 9, 2020

Happy National Radio Day, fellow Radio Geeks! How do we celebrate National Radio Day? Turn off the HDTV, get away from the Xbox, put your iPhone down, and listen to good ‘ol AM and FM terrestrial radio! For some of us, it’s been awhile since we’ve scanned the dial. You might be surprised what’s out there!

Because it always falls on August 20th, National Radio Day has special significance for me. It was on August 20, 1983 that I left home and began my multi-decade radio adventure. Packed up the U-Haul and headed west, young man, to KNAB AM/FM in Burlington, Colorado. For the princely sum of $750 per month, I worked 6 days a week doing a DJ show, news, sports, and production. I also shoveled snow, burned the trash, and occasionally washed the boss lady’s Lincoln Town Car. By the way, that $750/month was BEFORE taxes. I received a paycheck twice a month for $306. Would I do it again? Absolutely! The thrill of accomplishing my lifelong dream and getting on-the-air was worth 10 times my meager salary. Truth be told, I would have done it for free. Besides, when you’re 19 years old, all you need is enough money for a flophouse apartment, fast food, gas, and cheap beer. Mission accomplished!

National Radio Day only comes once a year, each August 20th. If you’d like some more ideas on how to get involved, check out the official website at

KSUG The Lake 101.9 Heber Springs Arkansas

April 9, 2020

Just wanted to give a quick shout-out to Ali and Joe Sugg who made their dream come true earlier this week. After months (years?) of hard work, Arkansas’ newest radio station became a reality on Monday, May 9, 2016. KSUG-FM, better known as “The Lake 101.9” serves the Heber Springs and Greers Ferry Lake area 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.

The format is Classic Hits. Effective radiated power is just 9,400 watts, but the antenna sits 1,268 feet above sea level. As you might guess, coverage is fantastic for a Class C3 FM. With a car radio or other sensitive receiver, KSUG’s signal is easily listenable 50+ miles from the transmitter.

The Lake 101.9 does not yet stream online, but that’s coming soon. In the meantime, if you happen to be in Central Arkansas, be sure to give this new station a listen. Here at Drew’s Radio Site, we LOVE it when local, independent owners put new radio stations on-the-air 🙂 Congratulations, Ali and Joe!

Prince Rogers Nelson, 1958-2016

April 9, 2020

Like most of you, I was first surprised and then horrified yesterday morning when I learned of the passing of Prince. He was only 57. Nobody expected or predicted this.

“Little Red Corvette” came out a few months before I began my first radio job. On the day I started my first CHR gig, “Purple Rain” was at it’s peak position of #2. The “Purple Rain” soundtrack was sitting at #1 on the album chart. Over the next 15 years, I would play a lot of his music on various stations across the country. Truly, he was a one-of-a-kind talent.

I was never a major Prince fan. Even so, I always felt a connection with him because we grew up less than 20 miles apart. As a baby DJ coming out of a Prince song, I would often say “Prince is great, isn’t he? Of course! Prince is from Minnesota!” I never met the man, nor have I ever been to First Avenue. I didn’t get the chance to see him perform live. Because of this, the “connection” is difficult for most to understand. But if you’re from Minnesota, you get it. Prince was one of us.

Mike Kronforst Passes Away at Age 71

April 9, 2020

Cue the intro to Elton John’s “Funeral for a Friend.”

Recently, a great broadcaster passed away. Michael Kronforst passed away at the age of 71. Mike was my Placement Director at Brown Institute in Minneapolis. 33 years ago, it was he who found my first radio job at KNAB AM/FM. During his 41.5 year tenure at Brown Institute/College, Mike helped literally thousands of students begin and advance their broadcasting careers. You can view his obituary notice here.

In 2009, Mike was inducted into the Pavek Museum’s Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame. Be sure to watch the video.

In addition to giving me my start in radio, Mike was a personal friend of mine. In recent years, we had reconnected on Facebook. Just like the rest of us, he enjoyed sharing old radio stories as well as talking about the future of the industry. Mike never missed a Conclave! He will be sorely missed. Thank you, Mr. Kronforst, for all you have given us over the years. Rest in peace, sir.

Charlie Tuna, Boss Jock Extraordinaire

April 9, 2020

As most of you know by now, legendary DJ Charlie Tuna passed away on Monday, February 19, 2016. He was 71. Charlie’s resume reads like a “who’s who” of legendary southern California radio stations: KHJ, KROQ, KIIS, and finally, KRTH. He also hosted shows for several other stations across the region.

Growing up in Minnesota, I had heard of Charlie Tuna but didn’t actually get to hear him live until 1982. For me, the highlight of family vacations in those days was getting to hear stations in other markets. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. Charlie was smooth and tight. I recognized his distinctive voice as soon as I heard it come out of my boombox speakers.

Charlie Tuna truly was one of radio’s greats. He will be missed. Thank you for all you have contributed to our industry over the years. R.I.P., sir.

Brown Institute College Closing After 69 Years

April 9, 2020

I learned yesterday that my alma mater is closing. Brown College in Mendota Heights, Minnesota (formerly Brown Institute of Minneapolis) will discontinue operations following a teach-out of existing classes. The roots of this heritage institution go back to 1946 when it was founded as American Institute of the Air. In 1954, the name was changed to Brown Institute. The school became Brown College in 2001, then Sanford-Brown College in 2014.

Back in the day, Brown Institute was the place to go if you wanted to pursue a career in broadcasting. Their instructors were top-notch. Under the direction of Mike Kronforst, Brown was able to achieve a student placement success rate of more than 95%. Over the years, literally tens of thousands of new radio and television broadcasters were able to find jobs after successfully completing their course of study at “The Voice Factory of the Midwest.” I personally enjoyed a successful 16 year career behind-the-mic after graduating on June 17, 1983.

I guess the demise of Brown shouldn’t surprise me. We all knew this day was coming. Due to corporate consolidation and resulting automation of radio stations, the number of available jobs in the industry has shrunk dramatically over the past 15 years. There just isn’t much demand for entry-level broadcast talent anymore. Still, it’s sad to see a school go down after 69 years. Especially when it’s the school you graduated from.

R.I.P., Brown College. You had a great run. On behalf of broadcasters around the world, I’d like to take this opportunity to say ‘thanks’ for the opportunities you made possible for us.

NO, it’s NOT Legal to Use Copyrighted Music in Commericals!

April 9, 2020

I’ve been a fan of Dan O’Day’s columns for many years. Dan tells it like it is. Recently, he wrote a column regarding the use of copyrighted music aka “popular songs” in commercials. Anyone who has worked in radio has a story to tell about the insistent salesperson who demands that a client’s favorite song be used in said client’s radio commercial. I personally have had this argument many times in many markets with many AEs, GMs, and PDs.

Typically, the sales rep will give you all kinds of excuses about why “this time it’s legal.” Reality: it’s nearly always a violation of copyright law. If you participate, YOU can be named as the defendant in a lawsuit. Dan’s comments should be required reading for anyone who does commercial production.

Radio Shack Store Closing Clearance Sales

April 9, 2020

Yes, I’m on a Radio Shack writing binge this week. Radio Shack’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy and subsequent closing of nearly 1,800 stores is a big deal. We’re talking about a company that has been around for more than 80 years. The silver lining in this cloud for us radio geeks of course are those glorious Radio Shack clearance sales!

Don’t expect the deals to be as good as they were 9 years ago when Radio Shack held their first round of store closings. In 2006, the company closed several underperforming stores in multiple states. I was able to purchase scanners, ham radios, antennas, rotors, masts, tripods, and several other items for as low as 20 cents on the dollar! This time, there is not nearly as much clearance merchandise to choose from. The reason is that Radio Shack does not carry nearly as many items as they used to. Over the years, they have been cutting back their inventory of radio equipment, focusing instead on cell phones/smartphones and accessories. Also, I’ve heard that many of the high dollar items are being shipped to stores that will remain open instead of being sold on clearance. Still, it’s worth your time to check stores in your area which are going out of business. At my local store, everything in the store is being sold at 60-80% off the original retail price. I was in yesterday and found a telescoping scanner antenna (the “good” one with the low VHF coil in the middle) for $6.00! There were also several rechargeable batteries/chargers, some cell phone accessories (no phones), plus a decent selection of clearance antenna mounting kits (tripods, chimney straps, etc.)

There are some deals to be found out there. A friend in Minnesota grabbed a Uniden Bearcat BCD396XLT for $100, brand new in the box! I’ve also heard of Grundig shortwave receivers being found at clearance prices. As always, the “good stuff” goes quickly, so get to Radio Shack and take advantage of their 2015 store closing clearance sales!

Radio Shack Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

April 9, 2020

We all knew it was coming. We just didn’t know when it would become official. Radio Shack has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after suffering through 11 straight quarterly losses.

Much has been made about the causes of Radio Shack’s demise. This has been covered extensively in other forums. Here, I’d like to focus on their glory days. As a child of the 1970s, there was no finer place on Earth than a Radio Shack store! My mom would drop me off at the front door. I would then spend hours looking at all the items and talking electronics with the salespeople. Of course, this was a time when Radio Shack salespeople actually knew something about electronics and mothers did not get reported to Child Protective Services for leaving their kid in a store unattended. I learned a lot about consumer electronics and radio this way.

I could spend all day writing about Radio Shack products that I have owned and loved over the years. These 4 were my favorites:



This wasn’t my first record player. My grandparents gave me a General Electric portable for Christmas when I was 4. Four years later, this was my first stereo. Also one of the first electronic devices that I purchased with my own money. I still remember proudly walking up to the counter with 32 mostly one dollar bills (sales tax was 4%), pointing at the stereo, and telling the guy behind the counter “I want one of THOSE!” It’s a rather unique design: one of only two phonographs I’ve ever seen with the tonearm located behind the platter instead of mounted on the right side.



8 days after I bought that little red stereo, I received this Archer Space Patrol Base Station for Christmas, 1972. Very soon thereafter, it became my favorite piece of electronic equipment. I already owned a pair of walkie-talkies, but they were nothing like this machine. For starters, it received all 23 CB channels. Unlike the cheap regenerative walkies, this baby had a sensitive superheterodyne receiver. Combined with a long antenna (about 5 feet), the Base Station allowed me to listen to all CBers in my area. Another advantage: the transmit crystal was in a socket instead of soldered to the board. This allowed me to easily switch out the supplied Channel 14 crystal and replace it with Channel 21 which was used by most of the CB stations closest to me. The external mic provided a quality sound. Using 6 “D” cell batteries gave this Archer an honest 100mW power output. I sounded like I was using a “real” CB radio, not a typical off-frequency kiddie walkie-talkie with crummy audio. Later, I constructed a crude 1/4 wave ground plane antenna by duct-taping wire to a bamboo fishing pole. Mounted it on the upstairs deck and ran wires along the railings for radials! I also increased the power output by using a 13.8VDC CB power supply as an “AC Adapter.” I used this for 3.5 years until finally saving enough to buy my first “real” CB in the summer of 1976. Best $30 that Santa Claus ever spent!



The Science Fair AM Broadcaster was introduced in 1974. Instantly, I wanted one! I’ll never forget the eager anticipation of putting the kit together, winding the coil, connecting the 9-volt battery, and then…the moment of truth…talking into the microphone as I slowly tuned my radio across the dial. Would it work? IT DID! IT WORKS, IT WORKS! I was the happiest kid on the planet as I “played DJ” for my family and the next-door neighbors. Shortly thereafter, I read some library books and learned how to modify this little transmitter for extended range. Eventually, I got it to transmit about a mile 😉



I got hooked on public service band monitoring when I was given a Wards Airline 6 band portable radio for my 9th birthday in 1973. Later, I messed around with crystal scanners. Also owned one of the earliest programmable scanners: the Tenelec MCP-1. (Anyone else remember those?) But the PRO-34 represented a quantum leap forward for me. Being used to 16 or 20 channel capacities, I thought TWO HUNDRED channels was simply amazing! The frequency coverage of this scanner was also amazing. It could hear EVERYTHING! I carried it everywhere for about 2 years until I foolishly set it on the roof of my car while I fumbled for my keys. You can guess what happened next. About 1 mile down the road, I realized what I had done. Of course I went back and looked everywhere, but my beloved PRO-34 was gone. Since I did not find it smashed along the road, I assume someone grabbed it before I had chance to come back and search. Replaced shortly thereafter by a Uniden Bearcat 200XLT.

As the song goes, “these are a few of my favorite things” from the heyday of Radio Shack. It has been a sad, slow demise for what was once a cutting edge technology company. The Shack may soon be a thing of the past. But we’ll always have the memories. If you’re lucky, you also have a few Realistic, Archer, Micronta, Science Fair, Space Patrol, Clarinette, Modulette, Supertape, Concertape, NOVA, Optimus, Mach Two, SELECTaCOM, SERVO-ROTOR, Chronomatic, Flavoradio, Patrolman, Jetstream, or Deskube products still in service around your house.

Is AM Radio Dead in 2014?

April 9, 2020

That was the question posed to the “I Love AM Radio” Facebook group yesterday. A lively discussion ensued, eliciting over 100 responses before the end of the day.

Many seem to feel that AM radio is doomed. Headed towards the ash heap of history, alongside spark gap transmitters and teletype machines. Others feel AM radio is still relevant in 2014 and needs to be given a new lease on life.

Here’s my two cents: “It depends.” If the AM station in question is simply churning out the same syndicated programming that can be heard in 12 other places on the dial, it’s doomed. If the station’s owners treat it as an afterthought: a poor red-haired stepchild to the 5 FMs in their cluster, it’s doomed. If nothing is done to improve the audio quality of the station, it’s doomed.

Contrary to popular belief, music can actually sound very good on AM radio IF the owners are willing to spend a little time and money. Anyone here remember the final “Musicradio” days of WLS/Chicago? They were broadcasting in AM stereo, utilizing the Motorola C-QUAM system. The audio was gorgeous. I was working in Garden City, Kansas at the time. At night, I would sit in the station vehicle and listen to Turi Ryder, amazed at the sound quality I was receiving from nearly 900 miles away. The best example I can recommend today is Ionia Michigan’s WION-AM 1430. Give ’em a listen when you have a chance and let me know what you think. Yes, that is the actual air signal that is being streamed! This is a small market, independently-owned station. They don’t have a million bucks to spend on engineering. Proving that it doesn’t take a huge budget or an army of engineers to make AM sound good!

Then, there’s the programming issue. In order for an AM station (or ANY station) to survive, it needs to provide compelling, innovative programming. Serve your local community! Give your listeners what they can’t get from a satellite syndicated corporate clone. If it’s good, they will listen. They will tell their friends. Some of their friends are potential advertisers. You get the picture. Make your AM station a facility worth listening to and you will have listeners. Pretty simple, really.

I grew up on AM radio. So of course, I’m somewhat sentimental about this and would hate to see it go by the wayside. But I firmly believe that with a bit of effort spent on programming and technical improvements, AM radio is most certainly still viable in 2014.

Dan Donovan (Blaine Harvey) aka “The Geezer” Dies

April 9, 2020

Dan Donovan passed away over Labor Day weekend. I grew up listening to Dan in the Twin Cities: first on KS95 (KSTP-FM 94.5) and then on KOOL 108 (KQQL-FM 107.9.) He was one of the best. Known as “The Geezer” or simply “The Geez” during his tenure on KOOL, Dan always performed a very energetic afternoon show. He was definitely an “old school” jock with tons of personality. As a kid who aspired to be on the radio when I grew up, Dan was one of my influences. I rarely missed “the Donovan Disaster.”

Prior to his arrival in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Dan worked at legendary AM Top 40 outlets WMEX-AM 1510 in Boston and WFIL-AM 560 in Philadelphia. He will be missed.

WHEO-AM 1270 Stuart, Virginia Signing Off for Good

April 9, 2020

Another independent hometown radio station bites the dust. WHEO-AM 1270 in Stuart, Virginia will be signing off permanently the end of this month. Patrick County will be losing it’s only radio station.

Reason? You guessed it: ad revenue has declined to the point where it is no longer feasible for the station to operate. WHEO has been on the air since 1959, providing local news and information. Sadly, 55 years of broadcasting will come to an abrupt end this coming Sunday.