Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Microphone part 4

The word "dynamic" simply refers to the role of motion in the device. the word is poorly chosen simce many microphones function involves motion. But more specificly "dynamic" always refers to a moving-coil device. This usually refers to Plunger coil microphones but technically ribbon mics are also Dynamic mics. (more later)

The dynamic microphone was invented in 1877 twice. Once by Curttris and Redding working together in the United States and also by Ernst W. Siemens (pictured) working alone in Germany. It was , Siemens who obtained the patent on Jan. 20, 1874, and was granted patent No. 149,797 Apr. 14, 1874.

Both the American and German designs consisted of a small, light-weight, electrically-conducting coil of wire mechanically attached to the frustum of a light-weight, cone-shaped diaphragm that vibrated in sympathy with sound waves propagating through air. If the coil is moved by a diaphram, a voltage is induced in the coil. If a current flows through the coil, forces are exerted that cause the coil to move. The dynamic microphone has a lower noise or distortion level than that of the carbon microphone and required no power to operate.

But those were not usable mics. The first practical commercial dynamic microphone was the Western Electric 618-A introduced in the late 1920's. It was developed by Thuras and Wente at Bell Labs.

For the record, Siemens was considered the greatest inventor of his era. In 1879, Siemens demonstrated the first electric railway at the Berlin Trade Fair. Two years later the electric tramway near Berlin was built. His name is used as the unit of electrical conductance, the siemens.

The Microphone Part 3

The microphone is easy to forget. I forget that there's one built into my answering machine and my mp3 player. They all descend from one experimental microphone invented by Emile Berliner in 1876. but what's amazing is that the man that made this mic work had only a rudimentary understanding of electronics and no knowledge of physics.

Emile came to America from Germany in 1870. He did not go to work directly for Bell telephone. He actualy shoveled manure at a livery in washington D.C. While hosing off his shovel he often thought about the new technology of the wireless. He was a tinkerer. He got a part time job as lab assistant to one Dr. Fahlberg (the dude who discovered saccharine) .

He studied Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone. Bells phone consisted of two identical cases containing an electro-magnet and a diaphragm connected by an electrical circuit. Unfortunately , the message transmitted wasn’t very clear. The invention had a good receiver but a poor transmitter.

Emile thought he could do better. Working alone in his rooming house he fashioned a new type of microphone which he called a "loose-contact" transmitter. It was a type of microphone, which increased the volume of the transmitted voice. It was a type of carbon microphone that varied the contact pressure between two terminals as a sound pressed against the microphone. This was much better than the crude microphones before it. Great detailed history here:

He sold out to Bell immediately and hung up his shovel. Berliner worked for Bell Telephone in New York and then Boston from 1877 and became an American citizen 4 years later. He left in 1883 and returned to Washington and established himself as a private researcher.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Microphone Part 2

The first Microphone was the Carbon Microphone. The word "microphone" comes from the Greek word "micro", which means "small", and another greek word "phone" that means "voice". It first appeared in a dictionary in 1683 as "an instrument by which small sounds are intensified". In this era the word was meant the acoustical hearing devices such as the ear trumpets and megaphones of that era. While Wheatstone was the first to use it in the electrical context, the word predates everything.

David Hughes was born in London in 1831 and grew up in the United States. He like Wheatstone was a musician. Hughes became a professor of music at St. Joseph's College in Bardstown, Kentucky, in 1850. He also developed an interest in electrical engineering and brought his two main interests together when he began studying the transmission and amplification of sound. Also similar to Wheatstone, his introduction to electronics revolved around the Telegraph. In 1855, David Hughes received his first U.S. patent for a printer used with a telegraph instrument. In 1857, Hughes returned to London and took his work with him.

In 1878, Davie-boy invented the carbon mic. Hughes was working on a telephone receiver and found this loose contact in a simple circuit made of a battery and a telephone receiver. He noticed the loose contact created a situation where sounds in the receiver matched the vibrations on the diaphragm of the telephone mouthpiece.

What makes this interesting is that Bell, the inventor of the telephone hated the battery. Mr.Bell did not want to use battery power in his telephone system at all. Many of his his early phones had no batteries but had great difficulty in receivinng the weak signals. If he had succeeded, Hughes would never met that loose wire. So many tinkerers were working on this faintmness problem at roughly the same time. Emile Berliner had a loose-contact metal-to-metal transmitter. At the same time Hughes was wiggling 'carbon rods, a man named Blake was workign with carbon blocks and Mr. Hunnings was pressing forward with a carbon-granule design. Interesting that both Berliner and Hughes used the term "microphone" to describe their transmitters... (diagram from THEY RULE!)

So anyway there's Hughes wiggling that wire. He was wiggling it and thinking about the shortcomings of Edison's carbon telephone transmitter. It was here that he realized that the arrangement was causing variable electrical resistance. The variation in resistance was such that it produced an exact representation of the sound waves as to height, length and form. He published the results in 1878 but refused to patent it!

Well-honored in his own lifetime, Hughes was the recipient of many honors and awards including a Fellowship of the Royal Society, a Grand Gold Medal in 1867, the Royal Society gold Medal in 1885, and The Albert Gold Medal, Society of Arts in 1897. It's no surprise I've written about him before.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Microphone Part 1

In 1827, Sir Charles Wheatstone was the first person to coin the phrase "microphone." the microphone did not exist yet, but he thought it would be so he thre around the new term like it made him feel hip. ...actually he was a pretty clever guy microphones aside.

His father was a shoemaker, but its thought he was also a musician. There is little evidence for this except that Charles invented a keyed flue called the flute-harmonique at the age of 16. somebody was letting him at their record collection.. Even then he began thinking about how sound moved and how resonance worked. He recognised that sound is propagated by waves even if he described it as "undulations of the luminiferous ether." This was a pretty big deal.

For years he tinkered with lyres and flutes and eventually taking over his uncle Charles's musical instrument business at the age of 21. It was focused generally on woodwinds but also instrument sales and manufacture. It was here, now with his own workshop that his tinkering moved to typewriters, electromagnetic clocks, pitch measuring devices, and eventually the electric telegraph.

That luminous ether idea stuck with him though. He estimated that sound would travel 200 miles per second [pretty close right?] througha pair of rods. He had this weird idea that he could send the modulations with high velocity, and he hatched a plan to transmitting sound-signals to telegraph from London to Edinburgh. He called it a telephone. He didn't do it. He just thought about it alot. While working on it he devised a simple instrument for augmenting faint sounds, to which he gave the name of 'Microphone.' It consisted of two slender rods, which conveyed the mechanical vibrations to both ears. It did NOT provide amplification and had zero resemblance to David Hughe's Carbon Microphones (more this week) During his career he invented such disparate things as the concertina, the stereoscope and the Playfair Cipher (an encryption technique). He was knighted in 1868, and rightly so.

Picture from The Virtual Microphone Museum. Please visit them!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Fat Day

The Friday after Thanksgiving is the international holiday we call "Fat-Day." Sorry I am too fat to go to work and also too fat to blog.

See you Monday, I ate too much pie.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Stats

I am asked this question more than any other.
The FCC was kind enough to answer it yesterday.

As of Sept. 30, 2006
There were 13,793 radio stations on the air in the U.S.
4,751 were AM stations
6,252 were commercial FM stations
2,769 of them operated under educational licenses or noncommercial licenses.

Image stolen from this truly brilliant Advertising blog. Their radio articles are very solid, probably a radio man.

Monday, November 20, 2006

We Die at Dawn!

Gene Klavan was one-half of the 1960s morning radio show "Klavan and Finch." He died on April 8 2004 from complications of multiple myeloma. He was 79 and you've probably never heard of him.

Klavan actually launched his radio career at WTOP-TV in Washington D.C. It was the opposite of the normal media transition. He moved to New York in 1952 to join Dee Finch on the 1130 WNEW-AM morning show. Finch was the straight man to Klavan's wacy jokes. For the next 14 years, the duo improvised the popular four-hour program. Dee Finch retired in 1968, leaving Gene Klavan to do the AM Drive alone. He stuck with the solo act for another 9 years finally ditching WNEW for a gig at WOR-AM

He was voice of the afternoon drive time for another three years. Then he returned to WNEW for weekends in 1986. I do recommend reading his NY Times Obit. In his own way he was an early shock jock. It's tame by today's standards but his way of antagonizing his sponsors with his zany humor was considered risque at the time. It peaked when he threatened to fire a popular but fictional guest traffic reporter Trevor. WNEW was deluged with calls.

But Klavan only semi-retired. He hosted American Movie Classics on TNN and worked as a columnist for Newsday. In his career he found time to published two books: "We Die at Dawn" and "Turn That Damn Thing Off." We Die At Dawn is a cult classic among morning men, and required reading for those that have lived through the daily grind that is morning zoo. It's hard to find a readable copy for less than $100 these days.

There's an aircheck of gene here. Audio courtesy of You should visit them, they are truly an amazing.

Friday, November 17, 2006

New Links

New Links made the list:

Truth, Justice and Telecom Policy Blog:

Precipice Blog:

Don Barrett's

Underground Radio

Planning and zoning is a total headache. Those doddering town council types are always trying to protect us from the installation of small metal poles on top of already towering buildings. Why do these goobers hate antennas so much? before cable we had antennas on EVERY building that provided ANY housing and many that didn't. Well these same tards have problems with towers, tower shacks and well they want you to respect their authoritay!

So in California this extends to all extremes of silliness and good engineers have to go to greater and greater legnths to outsmart these needlessly intrusive regulations and still have functional hardware at the end of the build.

Above is pictured the transmitter building for KMLT, Thousand Oaks, CA. notice that you see nothing. That is because it's buried underground to satisfy the community's "Open Space" land-use regulation. Personally I am impressed. More pictures here.

*Jill FM logo from totally reccomend you visit their site. They are to LA what DCRTV is to the capital.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Antichrist of Radio

It's very timely today with Clear Channel having just been bought out. But it's not the first time that the radio giant changed hands or changed direction.

Randy Michaels was born as Benjamin Homel and calling him an entrepreneur is an understatment on the level of saying Idi Amin had a bad temper. He began his career as an on-air personality where he took the on-air name Randy Michaels. One thing is inarguable: He changed the face of radio FOREVER. Of course, many people will argue that it was for the worse. In fact he has been called "the Antichrist of Radio" For the record... it wasn't me who said it.

He is principally known for building the Jacor radio station group. While at Jacor he ruthlessly dominated four medium radio markets in the U.S. and bought up radio stations at a rapid pace. It was the begginning of the consolidation fad followed by the voice-tracking fad, and the conglomeration of live entertainment with radio. ...And for better or worse, it's his fault.

Before 1996 20 AMs and 20FMs, with 2 AMs and 2 FMs per market a radio chain could only be in ten markets. The limitation was severe, possibly too conservative. But when they loosened it, they didn't take it back a notch. They just cut it loose almost entirely. Jacor and Clear Channel (then still seperate entities) raced to consolidate. But Randy was .. randy about it. And then when the much smaller Jacor was bought by Clear Channel in June of 2000, Michaels and his Jacor cronies actually took over operation of Clear Channel.

As The Professor at WFMU said " He’s a high rolling wheeler-dealer motherfucker, and takes no prisoners." Interview here:

He also revolutionized independant promotions. He woke up one morning and decided that having the promotions money filtered [laundered] through independant promoters was a waste. he came up with a legal way for the checks to go straight to the CC offices in San Antonio. The cash never even stopped at the individual radio staitons. It went straight to corporate. Without going into the details, I'll just quote him "As long as they pay the money I’m going to take it. If they don’t want to pay the money, that’s fine. They all believe that money is really important to us. Every dollar is nice to have, but I will tell you that given the cash flow that Clear Channel Radio is going to generate this year, the record label money won’t change our percentage profit at all."

Randy Michaels was forcibly ousted from his position as CEO at Clear Channel in 2002. Since he was the biggest insatiable power junkie in media, he went right back to radio. He acquired syndication rights to a number of talk radio programs including The Ed Schultz Show.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

AMRAD: the only station in Boston

The Boston newspapers wrote very little about radio until 1922. So much of the history of AMRAD and 1XE, relies on oral histories and letters of former staff. In as much please under stand that at least some of their official history is fish-tale. Behind it all is Harold J. Power, a life-time radio geek. He ran an ameteur station out of his home at the age of 10 all driven by an obsession with the work of Marconi.

The American Radio and Research Corporation, or AMRAD, was founded in 1915 Harold J. Power. AMRAD was the epicenter of radio innovation in both broadcast and manufacture in Boston prior to 1922. Harold was a Tufts alumnus and negotiated with the Univeristy to get some land to use for their radio experiments. It was there ton the Tufts campus they built a 300+ foot tall tower and founded 1XE. Their call latters were later changed to WGI and on the manufacturing side AMRAD also manufactured parts for both domestic and military radio.

What mystifies me is that WBZ is generally thought of as the first boston radio station, one that followed immediately after KDKA. Westinghouse owned both KDKA and WBZ and I guess they had the publicity budget. WBZ began operating in Springfield in September of 1921 and didn't officially do any broadcasting from Boston till late February of 1924. That makes them not the first, or at least not the first in Boston.

In 1917, AMRAD received a license for station 1XE, and experimental broadcasts began on a fairly regular basis that same year. That beats WBZ by 7 years. Granted these were not always radio programes. Some broadcasts were morse code practice, but 1XE was on air almost daily.

AMRAD kept running partially through funding from the receivers they made for the military. This continued in 1918, when all amateur stations were shut down by the government. It was thsi core buisness that kept the staff together until 1918 when they were allowed to go back on air. 1XE's volunteer staff came back to the microphone. Local radio fans, Tufts students,
musicians and theatre, even political figures saw the benefit of being on the new station.

In early February of 1922, 1XE officially became WGI. Although at times it was confused with the bigger and more powerful station WGY in Schenectady, the station kept the WGI call letters but emphasised their AMRAD connection wherever possible. But financial problems mounted in late 1923 and the station was off the air due to equipment failure many times. Staff began to leave for other newer more powerful local stations.

In February of 1925, WGI changed its call letters to WARC and began to dayshare with religious station (calls unknown?) April of 1925, with no announcement, WARC simply vanished, there was no announcement and they did not notify the commerce department. Tufts took their building back. The weak WGI transmitter was taken apart and sold. And whereever it's parts were used reception was terrible. Its poor manufacture curse stations such as WBET and they too went bankrupt.

The WARC calls reside in Meadville, PA on the Allegheny College station these days but the WGI calls remain extinct.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Darian O'Toole takes a nap

Radio can be a lonely job. The nights can be late the days can start early and they can run long blending into one long tiresome day. Coffee is a popular substance in radioland and though it's less often discussed so is dexadrine and a number of other over-the-counter stimulants. But still, sometimes the one manning the mic nods off.

It's a capital offense in radioland. Thou shalt not takes nap. So when Darian O'Toole started snoozing, it was no wonder that KIFR canned her. It might have something to do with her rambling incoherently and then nodding off while the mic was on. ...damn I'd love a tape of that.

Free FM is a brave new brand and it was only launched by Infinity to try desperately to maintain some of the TSL and QSL they had with Howard Stern. The King of All Media, had solid numbers after all these decades and they were committed to a certain drop off, but not an actual nod off.
They were so peeved they erased all references to O'Toole on the Free FM website overnight. PD Ken Kohl came stonewalled it saying only "I'm not free to discuss personnel issues," He politely avioded addressing the accusations of her painkiller "problem" and her supposed time in rehab.

O'Toole who is a Frisco residenty by way of Canada has been fired from some killer gigs, in New York and in San Francisco before. On she put up a petitian to "bring back Darian. Nothing came of it apparently. She continues to maintain her blog here:

Monday, November 13, 2006

Three Letter Callsigns

A three letter Callsign is pretty hard for the average listener to detect. Very frequently it's indistinuishable from the "shortened" call sign other stations may use with it's branding. Dropping the K or W is not part of a legal ID but is still commonplace. WHCN calls itself HCN... etc.

But at one time it was the 4-letter calls that were uncommon. The flood of broadcasting service authorizations that began in December of 1921 overloaded the "recycling" three-letter calls. Before the FRC hit that wall they managed to assign three-letter callsigns to about 200 broadcasters.

There are less than 70 remaining in use today. These are virtually all heritage calls. the list includes KYW-AM Philladelphia, KUT Ausin, WRR Dallas, WSM-AM& FM Nashville, KOA Denver and others.

They've been dwindling. As Barry Mishkind explained "As of January 1, 1932 there were 93 three-letter calls, all on the AM band (FM and TV stations didn't exist yet). Over the next 74 years the number of three-letter calls have declined by 36 on the AM band, from 93 to 57 However, of the 36 calls which have disappeared from the AM band, 12 still live on as FM or TV stations so counting all bands the current number of surviving unique three-letter calls is now 69 . " What he's pointing out there is the preservation of heritage calls in markets by parking them on FM and TV sticks. Was the heritage branding was reused to help the transition of viewers & listerners over to the new mediums? perhaps.
He continues "Since 1932, 24 calls have completely disappeared from the airwaves. Three calls disappeared due to station deletions--WNJ, WOQ and WOS, while the other 21, are gone due to call changes and station consolidations: WFI, KTM, KVL, WPG, WLB, KLS, KPO, KQW, KLX, WOV, KTW, KOL, KMO, KXA, KRE, WHN, KWK, KSO, KOH, KYA and WOW"

The interesting movement lately has been the FCC's tolerance for the movement and reassigmnet of old 3-character calls to the AM band. On 07/01/2005 WCMS in Norfolk returned the WGH calls to the market. WRTH St. Louis became WIL in 06/29/2005 and in 03/15/2000 Los Angeles KKHJ became KLA.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Radio Preachers Part 4!

It's the mystery of the vanishing donations! He begs for money. Gulible guilty people send it to him and mysteriously it vanishes. Where did it go? Did he steal it? Did the post man bury it in the woods? did the money ever exist in the first place? Nobody seems to know. I do know that The Bible Answer Man Broadcast can be heard in all 48 contiguous states Canada and the Phillipines. This includes WAVA in D.C., KCCV Kansas City, WFIL-AM Philly, KKMS-AM Minneapolis and 570 WMCA-AM in NYC. He is everywhere.

Hank Hanegraaff, a radio personality known as the "Bible Answer Man," said that for three months, envelopes addressed to his ministry's post office box in Rancho Santa Margarita, California were routed to a local business. That company, Hanegraaff said, tossed the letters in the trash... EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE FULL OF CASH.

Hanegraaff said that the mix-up may have resulted in the loss of "hundreds of thousands of dollars" because it happened during the last three months of the year, when the ministry traditionally receives 17% of its nearly $8 million in annual donations.

U.S. Postal Service officials said they are not aware of any major problems with mail delivered to Hanegraaff's Christian Research Institute, and that no manager at the Rancho Santa Margarita branch had spoken with ministry officials. "Nobody knows about this," said Richard Maher, U.S. Postal Service spokesman for Southern California. I.E. they never complained that the got no mail for three months...

In 2002 the Christian Research Institute ran a deficit of $560,000 according to their own tax records. He earned $280,000 in salary and allowances in 2002, and his wife, Kathy, received $111,000. Hanegraaff has been criticized for his spending habits including his board-approved 2003 Lexus sports car...

In 1994 CRI accused the Hankster of numerous ethical lapses, financial theft, tax fraud, and a shocking list of other criminal activities including violation of the federal racketeering act. The suit was clsoed in 1995 under mediation.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Radio Preachers Part 3

The FCC hates Dr. Gene Scott.
I've had harsh words in the past for religious radio stations. Usually my problem is their satillite-fed content and utter lack of localism. It's the same problem I have with certain large commercial owners that have the same problem. But Dr. Scott was local. He was the pastor of the Los Angeles U. Cathedral. He was big on UHF TV and huge on short-wave. I remember that WHCT-TV 18, used to do 24 hours a day of the Doctor from a tower in Avon Connecticut years ago.

His biggest outlet was KKLA-FM When the FCC accused Scott of stealing from his tax-exempt ministry he gave them the finger and let his license lapse. Scott had been buying show ponies for his ranch with the money and the FCC saw that as suspect. Salem took it over and

But Dr. Scott was local. He was the pastor of the Los Angeles U. Cathedral. You may know him from his public-access program that was eclecticly unpredictable. Involving wiffle bats, his indiana Jones hat, frothing at the mouth, prolific cursing, playing saxophone, X-ray glasses.. and his charming habit of blowing his nose on camera. It was like Carrot Top as a Preacher. It's both fascinating and frightening.

In 1983, in the middle of his 30-year career, the FCC stripped Scott of 15 million dollars worth of broadcast stations. His response was to form the FCC Monkey band, a clip of which you can download on this post by The Professor at WFMU.

Dr. Scott was very direct in his request for money. He oftentimes would punish his viewers by refusing to talk until a certain amount of money was sent in. It was comedic. He would say the most outrageous things in his bully like demands for people to give up their money. You were definitely going to hell if you didn't give and your place in heaven was largely a determination of how much you gave.

Wild lefty article here about radio preachers at the link. If thinking offends you, don't click Here.

Radio Preachers part 2

Now that the election is over and the Democratic party has trampled the Republicans and taken both houses I feel a sense of civility and prosperity is in the air. [I GUESS HE DIDN'T REALLY HAVE THAT MANDATE FROM GOD HUH?] I feel calmer: Less inclined to get into a political rank... back to the business of radio trivia...

One of the most notable radio preachers was the one and only Rev. Carl McIntire. He died on March 19th, 2002 at the ripe old age of 95. During the peak of his popularity his program was carried on over 600 radio stations in the U.S. and Canada every week. Carl was popularly known as "'The P.T. Barnum of Fundamentalism" but his program "the 20th Century Reformation Hour" Pulled down over 34 million dollars in donations annually. Link

Rev. McIntire was what we now call a "fundie." Much like Rick Santorum he had a pretty strong interest in what goes on in other peoples bedrooms. Kind of like a peeping tom except he wants you to stop. He rallied against racial integration, Jews, Catholics, Communists, sex education, evolution, liberals, and even water fluoridation. Damn that Fluoride and those ungodly healthy teeth! But in his defense he also attacked religious groups such as the World Council of Churches and even denounced fellow radio preacher Oral Roberts. He was an even handed crank, I'll give him that.

In 1970, the FCC gave him the ultimate fairness doctrine spanking and took away his WXUR broadcast license. It was the flagship station, and housed the studio where his weekly "20th Century Reformation Hour" radio program originated. The Feds accused him of "consistently violating the fairness doctrine." Carl had mortgaged Faith Seminary for $425,000 to buy WXUR-AM & WXUR‑FM in Media PA. Needless to say, it hurt his feelings.

The FCC did not act alone. In fact his license renewal was opposed by many of the groups he'd spent years attacking. This includes but is not limited to: the Greater Philadelphia Council of Churches, the New Jersey Council of Churches, the American Jewish Congress, the Anti‑Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, the Catholic Community Relations Council, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the AFL‑CIO. He pissed off everybody. He appealed, and even the The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals told him he was a rude prick and to find a new job. (they said it nicer than that) WXUR was forced off air on July 6, 1973.

This would hardly be notable except that McIntire then started an unlicensed pirate radio station on a boat off the coast of New Jersey! A radio man, a pastor and a pirate. You gotta love that. He took some of those millions of dollars in donations and bought a boat. A big boat, a 140 foot minesweeper, the Oceanic; and turned it into a floating broadcast station. He anchored it twelve miles out to sea, in international waters and crossed his fingers. More here.

McIntire began broad­casting at 1160 kHz on the AM dial off Cape May, New Jersey with a 10,000 watt transmitter. He also armed the ship with a cache of rifles in­tended to ward off "Soviet Communists." His broadcasts, while amusing, were also interfering with other LICENSED radio stations. These included 1170 WHLW-AM and even the distant 1100 KSL-AM in Salt Lake City, UT. Many filed complaints with the FCC. McIntire voluntarily closed down without any gunfire.
McIntire intended to just change frequencies, but the FCC obtained a temporary injunction halting further pirate transmissions from the Columbus. But how could that stop him.. he's a pirate in international waters.... Well, McIntire was not a lawyer. He had overlooked an international agreement made in Geneva and ratified by the U.S. Congress in 1961.

Article 7, Section 1 of the International Telecommunications Convention prohibits the unlicensed broadcasts by American ships anywhere. section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934, (Act), 47 U.S.C. Sec. 301, affords the FCC direct regulatory power over any craft of US registry.

Carl went a little nutty and claimed the CIA framed him. But here at his peak of lunacy he began to seem very appealing to some congressmen. Representative John E. Hunt, Republican of New Jersey, and Representative John R. Rarick, Republican of Louisiana, introduced bills to force the FCC to renew WXUR's license. The District Court still handed down a permanent injunction. He relinquished the Columbus, and its equipment in the face of a tax suit by the state of NJ. , Cape May officials billed McIntire for nearly $550,000 total in taxes and interest.

Believe it or not, he's still rolling today. His show is still on the air but he still can't own or operate a radio station.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Don't you have something to do today?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Radio Preachers part 1

Three names never before combined in one sentence: Bob Larson, Geraldo Rivera and Jesus.

I first heard of Bob Larsen from world-renowned mega-prick Glen Benton, singer of the death metal band Deicide. At the time Glen was leveling physical threats against Bob. Somthing silly about branding inverted crosses on his ass or something. Bob retorts days later on air with silliness about holy armor and the virility of Jesus or some crap. I wish I kew how that started.

Bob Larson, was once described by a critic as "the Geraldo Rivera of Jesus radio." That's because he is:
A.The host of a christian talk program
B. A meglomaniac attention-whore with a overgrown moustache.
(just kidding, it's really more of a beard than a moustache.)

His program is Talk Back with Bob Larson was launched back in the Regan era. It's a Christian talk radio program heard throughout the United States and Canada. His prime obsessions are centered around debunking science, attacking NASA and in general trying to disregard the last century of technology and medicine. He's the kind of primate that makes the other monkeys look bad. He's type of guy that sneaks on to your school board and tries to get the word evolution scrubbed from Biology text books. (Don't laugh. It's happened in some states) He's been heard on major market outlets like KVTT in Dallas, 760 WCHP-AM Champlain & Montreal QC, WFTL Ft. Lauderdale, and 1280 KXEG-AM Phoenix. His monistry of course is based in Denver. after a breif absence he returned to the air in 2004.

On another interesting note, Bob claims that NASA has "made the late Carl Sagan the patron saint of the search for life on other planets. Our space program is driven by occult inspiration, not scientific investigation." Yes, he actually said that. He accuses NASA of being a federally funded satanic organization. Oy vey. He also performs an on-the-air exorcism to protect us from the evil hoards of Samhain on Halloween. Good job Bob, keep those naughty naughty satanic astronauts at bay. But like most radio evangelists, his career has been continually marred by the perpetual pitfalls of infidelity, embezzling, tax evasion et. al. nothing new here.

In 1993 Larson appeared as a guest on Ft. Lauderdale radio station WFTL, denouncing death-metal bands like Slayer and others as "posers" who are merely in it for the money. But when host Pat Stevens asked him whether he was in the ministry for the money, he indignantly said that he was "insulted" that she would even ask that question... Of course he always closes with a request for your pledges.

It was that line that spurred a mild-mannered CPA to call in and tear him to bits.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Migration of Talk Radio

In the 1980s talk radio programming began to move from FM to AM. Today the AM dial is largely talk and younger people tend to think of it as all-talk. Which for us more "experienced" radio men seems kind of silly. Talk moved to AM because music sounded better on FM. Music on FM took off, pushing out the talk programming. It left FM to skew demographically (in general) for younger listeners.

So twenty five years later we see three trends in talk.

1. Ratings are down. (duh)
2. It's moving back to FM
3. It's wildly conservative, politically. (I promise not to be rude)

In Phoenix recently Bonneville moved 620 KTAR-AM to the FM dial. they bought KKFR from Emmis to do it. But previous success is what propelled the plan forward. In Washington D.C. their FM simulcast of WTOP-AM was a ratings winner. Then in Salt Lake City they made a similar move with KSL-AM. Their programming is strong, the listenership is there, but it's moving. The AM dial is slowly, almost imperceptibly draining. And the youngest listeners aren't interested in radio AT ALL... which is terrifying to some of us.

Those same younger listeners that have been listening to the FM dial for music programming are now older. They're older and entering the age bracket where we'd expect more talk format listener ship and we're not seeing the growth from this generation. The reason is that they don't listen to AM. They like the programming, and in fact NPR has been very happy to scoop them up, but if Mohammed won't go to the mountain...

Currently the primary approcah seems to be to add FM simulcasters. Buy a workable FM signal over the metro, adjust branding statments slightly and try to keep the current listeners and add yonger ones. The long-term problem with a demo that skews old is that they die. You need to continually transition in new listeners. With ciggarettes they call them "replacement smokers" but talk radio, while addictive rarely kills. The above pic is from a killer Orlando Weekly article on this here. The big gap in talk radio is not just between left and right. The gap is also between men and women. Older, conservative men listen to AM talk. While younger, more liberal men (like me) listen to FM talk. Notice the "older" factor here in the demo relating to the replacement-smokers theory above...

And Talk radio listener ship isn't 100% testosterone. Dr. Laura and a handful of other advice-type programs do score with middle-aged women, and NPR scores some high-income women as well. The truth is that most American women listen to the radio just for music. So where does this leave talk radio?

It leaves it trying to keep it's older core audience but also trying to reinvest itself in the low end of its demo. It's smart, and it's going to work. The downside is that Air America is still competing with NPR and losing. But that's been said and said and said. Logo on left stolen from Tom Paine, another funny lefty bastard.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The EBS Authenticator Word List

Thirty Five years ago, in 1963 the Emergency Broadcast System (E.B.S.) was still relatively new and the cold war was just starting to roll. Virtually every radio and TV station had a teletype machine from which came the Associated Press.

It was a slow peice of crap. It ran at 50 baud, about 66 words per minute, that's slightly over six characters per second at full speed. These puppies were replaced by 1200-baud "high speed" dot matrix printers in about 1978.) The paper rolls in a teletype machine did't come from Office Max. They were supplied by the wire service. It was usually light yellow or beige and came on a thick roll about 8½ inches wide. The thick cylinder-o-peper weighed about four pounds. And it only lasted about a day.

The machine printed all the time because of the slow print speed and was always warm to the touch. But the smell is the memorable part for me. The fragrance was a mixture of lubricating oil and ink like the inside of an old electric cash register.

But unlike the cash register, changing the ribbon or the paper meant losing information forever. This was before PC's .. it had no memory at all. Why am I telling you this?

At every station, somewhere close to the teletype machine, there was an envelope containing the Authenticator Words for activation of the E.B.S. The list was a pointless security measure, even more so than random bag checks. For them to be used illegitamately woudl first require a fake message to come across the teletype, which is unlikely. But if they did, the sender would likely have a superior level of access to the man receiving the teletype. i.e. they already have the Authenticator Words .

As usual there is some killer stuff at Old Radio: