The Radio AM My Friend

Such a dinosaur I am; and very happy to be that way. I’m something of an oddball regarding technology. Although my job in computer support takes me on lots of journeys with new devices and gadgets; my love for simplicity keeps me grounded in an “antique” world. My job can get rather stressful at times; so in an effort to take care of myself I’ll often seize the opportunity to take some quiet time. Meditation if you will. I keep it simple, I just step away from all the gadgets and reflect on what I’m grateful for; and then ask The Great Committee In The Sky for guidance.

Then of course there are other times when I’ll turn to technology for a diversion. Maybe I’ll play a CD… or a record! That’s right folks, I actually said I listen to records!!! And some youngsters actually think records are way cool!! Oh God Oh God… So yes I’m a dinosaur and I’m not afraid to admit it.

So there, nyaa nyaa na boo boo!!

I’m one of those weirdos who thinks paying for satellite or cable TV is a waste of money. There’s lots of stuff still available for free… for example, we actually use a TV antenna for most of our viewing pleasure. I say most, because we do have access to the interwebs and get TV stuff from our Roku. But no cable or dish. Nope.

I also love a very archaic device called the radio. My TV antenna looks like a giant fish skeleton on a pole, and not only does it work well for television, it also does a great job of grabbing lots of FM stations. Much of my FM listening revolves either around NPR or music. NPR is great for staying informed, but when I hear all the reports about war and suffering and cockamamie government shutdown stuff with climate change mixed in for good measure, I get a really heavy heart. So when I’d rather hide on the harsh realities of the world I seek out some good old rock ‘n roll. Unfortunately most commercial radio stations seem to have their music selections stuck on AC/DC, Bob Seeger, and Lynard Skynard. WAY too much repetition. WAY too much repetition. WAY too much… well you get the idea. That’s when I’ll look for those oddball “community radio” stations.

On the other hand, you have AM radio. Say what??? Anyone besides me remember AM radio? May sound like a silly question, but with all this “subscription addiction” (satellite radio, cable TV, etc.) lots and lots of people are amazed to “discover” AM radio.  AM is short for “amplitude modulation,” which is the oldest method of adding audio to a radio signal so it can be broadcast. The technology dates back to 1906, which is why many radio hobbyists refer to it as “ancient modulation.” For more info click here:

AM radio was pretty much all we had available for music when I was a kid. So for me, it’s like an old friend; and I’m very thankful that it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. We live in an area where Chicago stations come in all day long, and I still find myself clinging to ancient stations with only 3 call letters. WGN (720 on your AM dial) is one of my favorites… those kids seem to have a great time being on the radio and they make me laugh. And now, West Michigan has its very own Public Radio Oldies Station!! Say wha??? YES!! Commercial free oldies, 24/7!! And what’s even more awesome is they stream it to the whole planet here:

Now that it’s winter outside, I leave for work when it’s dark. And of course, it’s pretty much getting dark again when I get home. Something magic happens to the AM radio band after the daylight goes bye bye: SKIP. Skip is a very old radio term that describes when radio waves are sent from the earth and into the sky, then bounce back down again. If you could watch skip happening, it would look somewhat similar to when a well tossed stone skips across water. Skip is especially prevalent on the AM band between dusk and dawn. Sure, the AM radio is plagued by noise and fading, but there are many high powered stations that provide reliable listening over a very wide geographical area.

In my professional opinion, this boils down to just plain fun. So when I’m driving around in the dark, especially during a long drive, I really enjoy frolicking about on the AM radio band. For example: I recently tuned to 540 AM on the way to work and was listening to the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) out of Regina, Saskatchewan. A mere 1000 miles away!! Never bothered to check down on that part of the dial before.

Another time: on our way down to Florida to celebrate my Father-In-Law’s 85th birthday, it was getting late outside and we were really ready to be done driving. Just a few miles from the Florida border, we heard on one of the local FM stations that the Chicago Bears were playing against the Philadelphia Eagles, and that they might actually have a shot at the playoffs. Well normally we don’t really give a golly gosh darn about football. But the Bears haven’t been in the Superbowl for a loooonnnnggg time… so we thought we’d try to catch the game. Tuned around FM… nothing. Then I tried one of my presets: 780 on my AM dial, and lo and behold, WBBM was coming in clear as a bell out of Chicago!! So we got to listen to the game, live from Soldier Field. Cool, huh??

So my friends, I invite you to give this very old medium a whirl. You just might accidentally have some fun! There are lots of listings on the internet for AM radio stations if you care to check out other areas of the country and / or the world. If you find one you like, you might also be able to stream it from the webbernet if the snap crackle and pop starts to bug you. As far as broadcasters, I found nice listing here:

I leave you with a very short list of stations that are pretty easy to pick up between dusk and dawn, especially if you are here in the Midwest:

650 WSM Nashville, Tennessee (Check out the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday Nights!)

700 WLW Cincinnati, Ohio

720 WGN Chicago, Illinois (Home of the Chicago Cubs! Lots of other entertaining stuff too.)

740 CFZM “Zoomer Radio” in Toronto, Canada (Wonderful music variety, excellent sound quality.)

750 WSB Atlanta, Georgia

760 WJR Detroit, Michigan

770 WABC New York City (This was a big rock ‘n roll station when I was a kid growing up on Long Island, NY. Mostly talk now… ah well).

780 WBBM Chicago, Illinois (All news all the time.)(I use this station for an “alarm clock” when I take a nap at lunch)

830 WCCO Minneapolis, Minnesota

840 WHAS Louisville, Kentucky

880 WCBS New York City (News Radio.)

890 WLS Chicago, Illinois

990 CBW Winnipeg, Manitoba (CBC Radio)

1020 KDKA Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (One of the oldest stations on the dial.)

1030 WBZ Boston, Massachussetts

1040 WHO Des Moines, Iowa

1060 KYW Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1140 WRVA Richmond, Virginia

Take care and Happy Listening!