Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Toyko Rose on NHK Radio

Tokyo Rose...is a myth: Iva Toguri, was one woman who like many other women broadcast Japanese propaganda to Allied troops. She was never referred to as Rose or Tokyo Rose. On air she used the name Orphan Ann, an takoff of the American character Orphan Annie. Tokyo Rose was a name given by the Allies to the various female Japanese broadcasters on NHK. Since WWII it has been used almost exclusively in reference to Ms. D'Aquino.

NHK had been created in 1926 and was modeled after the BBC. Before WWII it was a perfectly mudane news radio service. In November 1941, the Japanese Army nationalized it. The newly born propaganda machine was was shut down 4 yeras later immediately following the Emperor's concession speech in 1945.

The Japanese Imperial Army's 8th Section G-2 Psychological Warfare coordinated the national news agencies. (print and radio) Underneath that rather bureaucratic name, they were also Japan's primary generator of millitary propaganda. In early 1943, the Japanese Army developed facilities to monitor short-wave US radio broadcasts. They cherry picked this to assemble a program made primarly of bad news to run on Radio Tokyo NHK.

Iva was one of these DJs. The head of G-2, Major Tsuneishi decided to have his POWs broadcast a news program of such items to demoralize front-line U.S. troops. The show would be called the Zero Hour. The shows following came from the fact that it contained both popular jazz and content that had been censored from Allied news broadcasts. By November of that year they also added female announcers to further entire allied listening. You can hear recordings of her here: http://www.earthstation1.com/Tokyo_Rose.html

After the war, she was convicted of treason and imprisoned, released early for good behavior. She maintained her innocence, asserting that she had not said the words used to convict her, and that she had remained a loyal American. Though forced to broadcast to the troops, she claimed that she, with the help of American POWs assigned to the radio broadcasts, made herself and her words purposefully ridiculous. She had refused to give up her American citizenship, despite pressure and even punishment from the Japanese who forced her into the broadcasting role.

In the 1970s a public campaign brought to light the testimony of the POWs who worked with her and supported her story. The testimony of the witnesses against her was questioned. Eventually she was pardoned by President Gerald Ford.

*In a related but truly weird note, according to documents found in a 1974 Freedom of Information Act request the US Army Intelligence’s beleived (at least in 1944) that Amelia Earhart was Tokyo Rose.

Portsmouth pronounced Portsmuth

Nobody can spell in these coastal towns. They say one thing... then spell something else. There's only one station of interest based-in Portsmouth that's WSCA-LP an actual Low Power community station. Unlike their smooth jazz bretheren a couple hundred miles north, they actually program a variety of music in a block format but comfortably free-form within the individual shows. How retro.

But you can also hear the infamous 91.3 WUNH from Durham all over the city. So the local trendy hipsters have two totally differend places to get their indie rock. Interestingly enough, they scooped their calls just a few years before the University of New Haven went looking for a set. They ended up settling for the close WNHU calls.

...and oh yes they do have a wide assortmend of modish hipsters. Thankfully their presence in such numbers supports both good restaurants, coffee shops, record stores and bookstores. As you well know hipsters like to read books to impress their friends, keep obscure CDs in the car for the same reason and then have stimulating coversation on the aformentioned over a late night coffee. While I do mock them freely, I do frequent all the same jopints because I'm both a music and literature snob. let me caveat that: I'm not a real snob. I just have very exclusive bad taste.

It was damn cold again so I bought a tea and a pecan butterscotch cookie at Cere's Bakery. The cookies stayed in the car and the tea went with me everywhere to keep my hands warm. I really could just have used a cup of hotwater but for some reason I tossed in a tea bag called Stubby Jack? anyway it was on the top row beside the Darjeeling. I find tea interesting to read about but in general it tastes bad. I browsed at a record store called Bullmoose which was spectacular. Every music geek alive wants one of these in their town. They had a Blues section, and it actually had a Barbecue Bob CD on the rack. That says it all. [Hoyts Office Products down the street selling restored Royal uprigh typewriters was just icing.]

I returned home after a very long conversation, and more handwarming tea, catching a great blues show in about the same place on I-95 this time on 91.7 WHUS out of UCONN. They hit some tracks from the new John Hammond album, and totally avoided referencing his far superior album of Tom Waits covers, Wicked grin. Vinny, The host of American highway 61, didn't have much to say, but he never does.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Driving to points North

I drove across the New York metro and Connecticut Friday on the way to Portland Maine, and for the first time in a long time caught Marko's Punk Rock Jukebox on 90.1 WECS. It is without a doubt the finest punk rock radio program I've heard in America. It also boasts the most obscure playlists. Host Marko owns an enviable collection of punk vinyl from the peak of the era. I've been unimpressed with the last few year of talent from that station, but Marko has kept solid for several years now. Thankfully the station streams now and I can listen to his show from the comfort of my cubicle. Of course the format is .pls requires a slight modification of your windows mediaplayer. Basically you install this doohickey. McAfee confirms this is free off malware and adware.

Instead fo rocking the local Boston radio while on I-95 North I played the Officer May record and celebrated the most recent peak of local Boston music. [I did catch a bit of Selected Shorts btu that's its own post.] Nobody else likes Officer May so I was alone on this point. Of course this would place said peak in 2003 likely leaving me at odds with our friends at Exitfare but so it goes.

In Portland I listened to several hours of 88.3 WYAR. Its a nostalgia outlet with a real touch for deep catalog standards and at night some truly amazing country oldies. I heard some slide guitar artisans I'd never head of previously. I'd really been looking forward to hearding something on WMPG but they were running a really run of the miss electric blues program. I dig the blues but weak whiteboy blues are not moving to me. But Saturday morning they made up for it all with a freakish program of Cambodian music; gotta love that. I couldn't listen to anything except 93.1 WMGX "the Coast" in my hotel room as it was audible ON ALL FREQUENCIES! I don't blame them though.... intermod happens. but it is odd to get intermod like that 4 miles out. I was in South Portland at the time.

But being in South Portland, I was abel to hear America's only Smooth Jazz Low Power station. http://www.wjzp.org/ they use Jazz-like branding but it's smooth jazz ,trust me. I get nauseous immediately.

Things were exciting and with wind chill managed to dip below zero. I ended up springing for a hot lunch mid afternoon at Rosies. A little demi salad and a bowl of hot minestrone helped me recover from working outside.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

be right back.

I'm on the road for a few days. Updates at the top of the hour.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Mary Margaret McBride

The year was 1934 and Mary McBride was working a gig at WOR in New York City. Her on air name was Martha Deane, and she was the host of a daily women's-advice show. Her angle was as a kind and witty grandmother figure with a Missouri-drawl. It aired into 1940. Simultaneously she worked at the syndicate Newspaper Enterprise Associationas the women's page editor.

In 1937, she launched on the CBS radio network the first of a series of similar and successful shows, under her own name, as Mary Margaret McBride. She interviewed figures well known in the world of arts and entertainment, and politics. Topics discussed on her show included prostitution, unwed mothers, marriage in the modern world, and pioneering women. For women of that era it was an alternative to the afternoon radio soaps. It's success proved that women’s interests ranged beyond cleaning tips and recipes. She forged the very crucible from which Oprah and all the others proceeded.

A radical liberal for her time, she had African American guests as early as WWII. In the fall of 1948, she and NBC attempted to lure her across the street to debut on television, but wasn't interested.

She had a good deal at ABC, accepting advertising only for products she was prepared to endorse from her own experience, and turned down all tobacco or alcohol products. She eventually did cross the street to NBC in 1940 but still on the radio. Her NBC show in the 1940s had broad range of guests, from politicians to generals to movie stars. During the run of the program, she interviewed over 1200 people, including even then President Harry Truman. A little more than ten years later she branched out, picking up her own syndicated newspaper column for the Associated Press. She also wrote for such magazines as Cosmopolitan, The Saturday Evening Post, and Good Housekeeping. Amidst all this multitasking she even wote two books for teen girls.

As radio hosts do, her popularity waned and she appeared in smaller radio media markets. At the end of her life she was still broadcasting three times a week from the living room of her home in upstate New York. She died April 7, 1976. Click the header for an MP3.

In 1984 RKO General, Inc., donated the complete archives of WOR. The collection offers thousands of hours of programming but more importantly, the Mary Margaret McBride NBC Collection.http://www.coutant.org/mcbride.html

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Wind up Radio

We've all seen that Grundig you crank to keep running. the design was aped by other companies like Sony, Steepletone, Roberts, Eton and others. There are several models here. It's basically a sturdy emergency radio, really designed for the bomb-shelter types. It's got it's time and place, and for the most part that's appearances in apocalyptic movies. But this... this is much nerdier somehow.

This is a radio that generates its own power, just by cranking it up. It's called The Freeplay radio. It takes about sixty turns to give it a full charge. And you really are just winding up a spring. As the spring unwinds it runs a small generator providing about 3 volts to the device. The radio board is compatable for AM, FM and even short wave.

Features vary by model, but some models even have a solar panel as an alternate energy source. Their Devo Model is even DAB compatible. It's battery, when fully charged provides 25 hours playtime when fully charged. All in all, a fairly green product. ...Though some users complain about the gear noises.

Pulse Planet wrote them up, it's well worth the read: www.pulseplanet.com

CAVEAT EMPTOR: Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont! DuPont, the friendly neighbors that brought you such wonder products as Teflon, Nylon, and VX-nerve poison.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Chickenheart that ate Arch Oboler

Have you ever heard the Bill Cosby Routing on the Chicken heart that ate New York City? Its a joke.. but what many younger people dont realize.. is that it's a spoof of a real radio play by a man named Arch Oboler. In the golden age of radio, Arch Oboler was radio's king of horror and science fiction.

If you don't know what I'm talking about please visit the Blog of Mr. Snuh and download the audio of both Bill and Arch. We can all proceed on equal footing afterwards.

Oboler sold his very first radio scripts while still in his Chicago high school in the 1920s. He was prolific. While at the University of Chicago he cranked out more than fifty plays! His career in radio took off when he took over the NBC horror anthology Lights Out in 1936. The show was already a sensation because of creator Wyllis Cooper's dark and violent content. If anything, Oboler trumped him. http://www.bmonster.com/scifi5.html

Each episode of Lights Out began like this:
"This is Arch Oboler bringing you another of our series of stories of the unusual, and once again we caution you: These Lights Out stories are definitely not for the timid soul. So we tell you calmly and very sincerely, if you frighten easily, turn off your radio now. "

In 1939, Oboler started a second program Arch Oboler's Plays, which ran on the competitor CBS. He had felt restrained in the horror-only format of Lights out. Lewis Titterton gave him a shot to branch out. Here he wrote tragedy, comedy and of course.. more horror. But in Oboloers Plays the horror content was less horrific, more topical. The content was still horror, but much less gothic, often focusing on WWII in Europe. You can hear an episode here, and another here. Many of these plays are flat out anti-Nazi. As such, stars like Joan Crawford and Alla Nazimova begged to be casts. The program ran opposite the Jack Benny show which eventually killed it. arch Oboloers plays ended in March, 1940. But It re-appeared again on the Mutual network in 1945 as a summer series. It was re-done as re-issues into the early seventies with a much older Oboler introducing each episode.

By 1950 Oboler was called to Hollywood to do feature scripts for RKO. Oboler being Oboler this material was as ghastly as ever including the first post nuclear apocalyse film titled Five. He went on to do TV, write books, more screen plays, records and even a strange number of 3-D features. He died in 1987.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Reviews Are Up!

Next verse, same as the first.
Four new write ups at Stranded in Stereo

KK Rampage – Lies Deception and Tall-Tales
The Blue Van – Dear Independence
The Stabs – Dirt
Don Vito – II

Friday, January 19, 2007

POST # 400!

This is my 400th post. It's mad to think I've been writing about radio 5 days a week for over 2 years now, but it is certainly so. Click the header to read my very first post all those years ago.

I shall celebrate tonight with cold pizza, a day of no writing at all, a Tommy Johnson CD [1928-1929 complete recorded works] thatI just bought and perhaps a revisit of the House MD Season 2 Box set. If things go very well, my last batch of reviews may go up tomorrow for a weekend bonus.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

WLAF Murder Mystery

...and while we're on the topic of death by radio...

As any PD will tell you, when a reliable staffer dosen't show up on time.. something is very very wrong. For WLAF owner Bill Waddell it was the first time in 15 years that DJ Jerry Monday didn't show up for work. Mr. Monday and his wife were found dead in their home on december 5th 2005. Jerry was both the program director and morning man.

Thusday morning WLAF-AM 1450, was a Gospel-formatted Radio stationin the small town of La Follette north of Knoxville, TN. By Saturday one popular morning man was dead, in a murder-sucide. Jerry Monday at AM 1450 WLAF for more than a dozen years. Monday was on the air from 5 to 9 am. The long-running program was a call-in show called "The World Famous Trading Post."

Friends and co-workers described him as he was having marital problems. Previously he was also a weatherman on their local cable acess channel.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

KDND Radio Kills!

On one side I hate posting about current events in radio. on the other side I enjoy seeing new relevance in old posts. By now you've all heard about the woman who competed the KDND contest and died. Ironicly their brand name is "the End"

The goal of the contest was to see how much water a contestant could drink without going to the bathroom. As any kid who passed biology could tell you: water can kill you. So in fact a young lady, Jennifer Strange died of water intoxication.

If you've not read about it, I know you can purchase audio from the event from http://www.mediaguide.com

In remembering the base stupidity of the average morning DJ please revisit my STUPID DJ TRICKS series at the links below:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Patron Saint of Pirate Radio

There's a lot to be said about pirate radio. I've posted on it many times in the past on it and surely will do so many more. http://www.freeradio.org/images/primer.pdf Stephen Dunifer is the most brazen pirate in modern times. It's one thing to sit on 96.9 in San Diego for 5 years. It's another to put up a web site, do interviews and challenge the FCC to come get him. Stephen Dunifer is the founder of Free Radio Berkeley in Berkeley, California. Free Radio Berkeley, an unlicensed micropower pirate radio station, was involved in a protracted legal case with the Federal Communications Commission in the mid-1990s They were eventually acquitted of all charges, marking a major victory for micropower radio.

He calims: "We're not stealing anything. We'’re claiming something that's rightfully ours... It’'s always been our position that if enough people go on the air with their stations, the FCC will be overwhelmed and unable to respond.” Dunifer goes as far as to hold camps to teach peopel how to start and run pirate radio stations. Stephen Dunifer literally wrote the book on it, being the author of several books on the micropower movement. It's out of context, but he also said “The FCC can kiss my Bill of Rights.”

That' s balls right there. Over 185 pirate broadcasters received fines, cease and desist letters or had been raided by the by betwrrn January and September of 2005. This is an increase of at least 50% in 2 years! It's up from a total of 151 enforcement actions 2005 and a mere 92 in 2004. Clearly they are enforcing VERY aggressively under the Bush administration. but here is Stephen daring them for a bust that's usually considered inevitable.

The FCC spokesman David Fiske states "“We are completely complaint driven,” he said. “If there are more enforcement actions, that’’s because there have been more complaints.” Which sounds like a lie... because it is. Not every complain spurs an investigation, not every investigation spurrs a an enforement action and not every enforcement even garners a successful prosecution. the staff at the Enforement bureau has held stable at 333 people for years.

Dennis Wharton the spokesman for (NAB) National Association of Broadcasters, said “It’’s like whack a mole,” he said. “You knock it out in one place and it pops up somewhere else.” So despite increased enforement, even NAB feels a sense of hopelessness in the fight. So maybe Stephen is right?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Georgetown City Fire Department

105.7 WGEO fm replaced the earlier version of Georgetown Radio when the city owned WPKY-AM 886, a low power AM Radio Station.

During "non-emergency" times, the station continuously broadcasts tourist information and traffic conditions, highways, area history and city government. (Except in December when they broadcast bland holiday music like everyone else.) But when the City needs to get information out they simply go live reach their citizens instantly.

Its main purpose is to keep city residents informed in the case of disaster. After Hugo in 1989, it was very hard for City Residents to get information about help and assistance. During the 1996 Hurricane Season, two storms brushed our coast causing a full evacuation of the beaches and coastline. Miles of evacuating motorists clogged the highways and needed information. these catastrophic situations taught the cities emergency services that they needed a better way to reach their people. And what's more universal than radio?

The City of Georgetown, SC also brags that WGEO broadcasts "The most Comprehensive List of City Government Meetings and Events you can listen to in your car. " Nifty. I was more impressed with the emergency services myself.

FYI: the WPKY calls have wandered off to a random sports talker near Paducah in Princeton, Kentucky.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Radio Nostalgia Network

Go here now!
You have no excuse not to be listening to these podcasts.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


So mere weeks after starting that flickr account so readers coudl see random pictures of america, Flickr changes their policies to force users (even casual readers) to have a yahoo account. That is ass. Blogger itself now requires a gmail account to leave comments, which is also ass, but that's a much bigger (harder to solve) problem.

Photos have been moved to photobucket.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Amateur Radio Plates

This is brilliant. For anywhere from $40 to free a radio ham can get their calls on their license plate. The free structure varies wildy from state to state but is well-documented here by the charming nerds at ARRL.

It's free in Georgia, Alaska, North Dakota, Rhode Island. And the fee averages under ten bucks. Only Kentucky and Wyoming stand alone at thei high end and only New Hanpshire charges based on some weird book value equation.

To receive Amateur Radio plates, a copy of the operator's FCC Amateur Radio Operator's License must accompany the request, and the requestor must state that it is current. Upon revocation, abandonment, or transfer of the license, the plates must immediately be surrendered to the DMV or the transferee. Yadda yadda.

Its written about online everywhere but the best gallery I found was this one:

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Mae West too Hot for radio?

Way back in December of 1937, Edgar Bergan brought Mae West onto his Charlie McCarthy Radio Show top perform her "Adam and Eve" skit. How could this be exciting? Is this too trivial? No. It gets way better. Mae West rarely appeared on radio unless she was promoting one of her films. This was unique for that reason.. and one more.

In the 1930s Mae was already pretty famous for her bawdy double entendres. But the skit had been passed by the censor. But Ms. West sprikled a little mojo on the script reading when they took it live on December 12th. She gave new meaning to the lightly suggestive script.

The sketch starred West and Don Ameche as Adam and Eve in the Garden Of Eden. It was such a imbroglio that NBC President Lenox R. Lohr got a letter from the F.C.C. Chairman Frank McNinch. the uptight curmudgeon wrote the following:
"The admittedly objectionable character of these features is, in our opinion attributable to the lack of a proper conception of the high standards required for a broadcast program intended for reception in the homes, schools, automobiles, religious, social and economic institutions, as well as clubs, hotels, trains and other places, reaching in the aggregate a much larger number of people daily than any other means of communication and carrying its message to men, women and children of all ages."

Before the show was off the air, the NBC phones were ringing off the hooks. Letters poured in from all over denouncing the skit but the most ominous one was from the FCC, demanding a full electrical transcription of the show, a copy of the network's contract with the sponsor and the call letters of all stations that had carried the skit. To this end, six days after the broadcast, the general manager of the NBC station group banned any mention of Mae West’s name. She was gone, never to grace the airwaves again. Mae West was banned by the network for fifteen years, where it was taboo to even mention her name.  

But Mae didn't really give a damn. In 1927 she wrote and starred in a Broadway play titled "sex." Ticket sales were as amazing as you expect. But it was the 1920s so she was prosecuted on morals charges and, on April 19, 1927 she was sentenced to 10 days in jail for public obscenity. She's already done time, angry letters weren't going to slow her down, neither was an uptight curmudgeon in D.C. She went on to fame, fortune and continued to have her fun her way for another four decades. http://www.old-time.com/otrlogs2/charlie_mg.html

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Legal ID

I listen to a lot of radio and I rarely hear a legal ID. It's such a minor obligation, but nobody does it anymore. But Really Mr. radioman, "what a legal ID? " I'll use WTOS as the example.

There are only four ways that station can give a legal ID!
1. "WTOS, Skowhegan." That's the calls followed immediately by the city of license.
2. "WTOS, 105.1 on your dial, Skowhegan." That's the frequency or channel said between the calls and the city of license.
3. "WTOS, owned by Clear Channel Communications, Skowhegan." That's calls, owner and city of license.
4. "WTOS, owned by Clear Channel Communications, 105.1 on your dial Skowhegan" That's the ownership and the frequency are inserted between the calls and the city of license.

Despite the very narrow set of correct possibilities, Stations everywhere do it differently. KABL once got into trouble for ringing a rather loud cable-car bell so no one could hear the word "Oakland" in their legal ID. At WFLA in Tampa runs a legit ID in a jingle every hour on the hour. In Providence Rhode Island, WHJJ-AM, used ot have a similar jingle for their legal ID then they tradded it out for an all-girl chorus singing the call letters followed by a low male voice dropping the city of license almost inaudibly

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Presidential Radio Address

We all heard George W. Bush say the word "Internets" on the national news. It was not an impressive moment, but my dad's not so great with computers either. ...And to that point, American presidents have been very slow to take to new technology. While most of you know, the first licensed radio broadcast was on KDKA-AM and for announcing the presidential election returns, the president wasn't involved. It was years before the President of the United States was on the radio, and many years more before it became a fixture.

Coolidge racked up a number of Presidential radio firsts. President Coolidge's inauguration was the first presidential inauguration broadcast on radio. He made history when the largest radio audience ever tuned in to the broadcast of his final campaign speech. Coolidge won the election easily, and in March, Americans listened for the first time to their president take the oath of office on the radio. There are some recordings of Coolidge on the radio, these may or may not be recreations.

It's arcane but he's also said to have made a plea on the radio to find his lost cat "Tiger." "The President's cat is missing," the audience of WCAP-AM was told. He described the cat, told how the cat answered to the call of "Tiger", and gave the White House phone number. A navy captain named Edward Bryant found Tiger at a millitary building about a quarter mile from the white house.

On 6 December 1923, Coolidge was the first President whose address to Congress was broadcast on radio It was on February 22, 1924 that president Calvin Coolidge gave the very first Presedential radio address. The address was made form the Whitehouse and while not a regular feature, Coolidge's address for George Washington's birthday was heard on 42 stations from coast to coast.

Presidents were good media consumers. President Warren G. Harding had a Radio installed in the White House February 8, 1922. It was the entry of mass media into the white house. This White House was on the technological cutting edge, already having an edison turntable. http://www.historyplace.com/specials/sounds-prez/

Became a regular event with: Franklin D. Roosevelt. He marked the 4th of July in 1941- with a live address to the nation from theRoosevelt Library at Hyde Park.

Before that historic broadcast, radio had played a big role in Coolidge's victory in the 1924 presidential election. The night before the election, Coolidge made history when the largest radio audience ever tuned in to the broadcast of his final campaign speech. Coolidge won the election easily, and in March, Americans listened for the first time to their president take the oath of office on the radio.

The first president to speak on college radio was Dwight D. Eisenhower. On December 10, 1952, the voice of Dwight D. Eisenhower welcomed Winter Park's first FM radio station WPRK through 10 tiny watts on 88.1 FM.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The largest-ever College Radio Fine

WSUC has always been a hard luck station. Before 1976 the Station used the calls WCSU and was an AM carrier-current station. When they went legit they hoped to retain the WCSU calls but legally had to submit 5 choices to the FCC on their application. Their picks were WCSU, WMLF, WCJL, WRTC and finally, as a joke, WSUC.

As lit turns out the first four call-letters were already assigned. It turns out that the FCC at least once had a sense of humor.

Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 1464, prohibits the utterance of “any obscene, indecent or profane language by means of radio communication.” Consistent with a subsequent statute and court case, the Commission's rules prohibit the broadcast of indecent material during the period of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. FCC decisions also prohibit the broadcast of profane material between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m...

On June 21, 1992, a student DJ at SUNY-Cortland's WSUC played Kid Rock's "Yo-Da-Lin In The Valley," which explicitly describes one of the Kid's favorite sexual acts. All it took was this one mid-afternoon lapse in judgment, and the school owed the US government $23,750.

It was the largest ever fine the FCC ever had levied on a college radio station. Though the base fine would normally be $12,000, the FCC initially adjusted the figure upwards, explaining "the egregious nature of the material exacerbates the violation." Fortunately, after months of bad press the FCC eventually dropped the fine altogether.

Years later, WSUC's current station manager Christopher Ortega can't take any chances. "I'd rather have a boring station than no station at all." With 13 years of hindsight he still well remembers the single song that caused so much trouble.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Friday, January 05, 2007


I've been waiting for the call letters KCUF to be used for years. The jokes been made at NAB conferences, FMQB meet n' greets and even old Gavin gatherings back in the day. KCUF has been joked about probably for decades. It was only yesterday someone went public with the joke.

Previous to this, KCUF was the call sign of a fictional radio station in Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49. A number of internet streaming radio stations, e.g. call themselves "KCUF", and there's even a couple rock bands using the name.

Owner Simon T. Simon claims it's an acronym Keeping Colorado Uniquely Free. He also said "Those people who look at it that way are the same type of people who want to play a Beatles record backwards," he said. "'God' is 'dog' spelled backward, too."

Currently KCUF serves the 6,000 resdents of Aspen Colorado.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

My guitar pedal gets radio!

I remember my highschool band playing a record store. During this kind of "quaint" show, our guitarist was plagued by problems with his distortion pedal. He kept intermittently receiving radio signals which were very audible through his amplifier.

It turns out this is NOT an isolated incident. I was reading about the Foxx tone Distortion pedal. A simple distortion pedal low on features but also low on price. It's a nice budget pedal with a good sound.

The story starts with this guy:
"I have a danelectro French Toast octave distortion pedal that recently has started picking up radio signals! I have substitued different guitars and cables and it appears when I turn the distortion up any degree it picks up radio. When I turn the volume control on my guitar to 0 it really kicks in. If I turn the distortion on the pedal to 0 the radio signal does not come in. I know its a crappy little plastic pedal that only costs 20 bucks but I would like to fix it until I afford a higher quality version of the Foxx tone machine. Any recommendations on how to repair or a new unit?"

What's happening is that the legnth of cord between the input and the guitar jack is behaving like a whip antenna. Depending on its legnth and the signal stregnth, you'll receive anything from shortwave to AM radio signals. Since the device is poorly sheilded and likely not well grounded even if it were, there is nothing to stop RF signals from entering the signal path. Before the guitar signal exits the pedal it's already intermodulated with the radio wave.

First of all this isnt' a problem at all limited to this make or model. In the studio it might be effective to plug into a strip with a broadband noise filter. You can also try shielding the plastic box with metal foil to block out the radio interference. You can use aluminum tape inside the chassis to keep the mod invisible (dont forget to ground) and not marr the nice design. You can also try wrapping the cables through toroids, that'll cut the noise from the ungrounded circuit and clear that radio reception right up.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A proclamation for 2007

Alternative rock is not dead, though the death of Rock radio has been predicted since 1994...

Though there are fewer rock and modern rock radio outlets on the air today than there were a year ago, (or 2 years ago) Nielsen SoundScan figures from the first 41 weeks of 2005 show modern rock album sales at 90.1 million units. This is 20.8% of the total domestic market.

That exceeds the 20.1 % it had through the same time period for the year 2004. If the numbers hold, this will mark the eighth straight year that modern rock has had a market-share increase.

So why is rock being cut in market after market for more AC, country and Latin Stations? We're lost powerhouse major market staitons in the last year like KLOL, WPLY, WOXY, and even WXRK. So will 2007 be the last year for rock? possibly.

but I think the Ipod fueled paranoia is over. It's abundantly clear where the market share has gone and where it's going and ultimately rock is going to be as effected by the media platform changes as any other format. There's no reason to ditch your alternative rock format and go Hurban becuase you dont understand Myspace, Youtube, podcasts or P2P. There will be no escaping the changes. http://www.radiodiversity.com/whokilledradio.html

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


So after years of hiding, burying, filing, shuffling and ignoring the localism studies, the FCC has finally released them. So many questions remain about why, but what they were hiding is in black and white now: Link

Monday, January 01, 2007

01.01.07 User Stats

So while all of you are reading these short radio-centric articles, I am studying not just radio history to write them, but also you readers. I check my user stats pretty regularly.
June 2006 was my busiest month, immediately followed by this very December. At first I thought I'd written better stuff in those weeks. But upon examining the referring URLs I think it's more likely that Google has been randomly referring more physics students to me as a resource due to my more recent long-form articles. Those searches are for the names of engineers, amateur physicists and R&D men. The radio for these readers is probaby incidental. It is comforting thogh that these new readers dwell a little. The number of pages they read has increased steadily. I'm sure it helps I spend more time spell-checking these days lending a more professional and more credible allure to my research. [regardless of the varied quality level] see below.

Regular posting continues tomorrow an onward. ...and note to the physicts students. Check my work, it's not just my spelling that needs help.