Thursday, August 26, 2010

West to Walla Walla

Leaving Seattle I checked out the AM side of the dial. At night I tried some of the Canadian stations that should be audible out here but struck out on 600 CKBD-AM, 650 CISL-AM, 730 CHMJ-AM, 1130 CKWX, 1410 CFUN-AM, but 690 CBU-AM is somewhat audible through the RF haze but unlistenably noisy. 880 KIXI-AM is loud and clear and playing some Glenn Miller. After Seattle much of the drive was without local radio as that interstate passes through the Wenatchee National Forest, and the Snoqualmie National Forest. The last interesting station before Ellensburg is in Enumclaw. 
Contrary to popular belief, 1330 KGRG-AM is not a simulcast of 89.9 KGRG-FM. The AM side is in Enumclaw, Washington and the FM stick in is Auburn, about 15 miles apart. The FM stick covers parts of Seattle and Tacoma and is widely listened to, even in this very well-served market with half a dozen options for indie rock on the radio band. But KGRG-AM remains elusive covering barely outside Enumclaw by day, and at night powering down to 26 watts, it almost vanishes entirely. I caught it briefly (I think) and they do appear to run their own Classic Alternative format. (Is it too early to call it Alternative Oldies?) KASB took it over briefly, bombing the dial with commercial rock for a few miles courtesy of a pre-recorded program hosted by Barry Fry. KSER was clear-ish on the return trip and I caught a live blues program called Blues House. In the Wenatchee National Forest most signals are poor except the info station WPZ971-AM on 1610.

Heading out I-90 West I caught AAA 101.1 FM Icicle broadcasting station KOHO. and in Ellensburg, 88.1 KCWU, the Central Washington U. Station. "The Burg" was playing automated christian rock.  And with much driving in circles even tiny gospel station 96.1 KGRU-LP. It is reputed to be a white gospel station, (a format more common in rural Tennessee) but was playing a bit of Skynyrd when I came though town.

As I approached Yakima I found a new set of local stations. 90.3 and 90.7 are both NWPR stations.  More interesting are 88.5 KYVT, a Yakima high school station, and 1490 KYNR-AM a station owned and operated by the Yakima Tribal Nation. I caught the Ryan Craig Program.  Also here is 91.9 KDNA, Radio Cadena, a community station which serves the Hispanic farm workers of rural Washington. It reminds me of Radio Bilingue.On the way out it was doing a talk program on the return trip it was mariachi.

In Richland I can hear 1360 KOHU-AM spinning country Oldies, and 88.1 KTCV the Kennewick, high school station. 89.1 KFAE and 89.7 KWWS are carrying NWPR. KRBM on 90.9 carries Oregon Public radio leaving the band triple served with NPR. But I was thwarted at the end off the journey, despite best efforts the 160 watt Class A Whitman College station  90.5  KWCW in Walla Walla Washington remained inaudible, but there was some religious teaching on that frequency inexplicably in Pasco, possibly from a pirate.

On the return trip some of those elusive Canadian AMs came in: 600 CKBD-AM,and 1130 CKWX-AM were quite clear as was CBR-AM CBC Radio One in Calgary! That's at least 1000 miles. The program on air was an interview on Q with the band Hollerado. Also clear were 670 KBOI-AM in Boise, 750 KXL-AM out of Portland, and 1530 KFBK-AM from Sacramento. But almost all of those faded out as I approached Seattle.