Happy National CB Radio Day aka “10-4 Day”

I’ll bet you didn’t know October 4th was a national holiday! It is, thanks to former President of the United States Jimmy Carter. On October 2, 1978, President Carter proclaimed this date to be forever known as “10-4 Day” by issuing the following statement:

“This year marks the 20th anniversary of Citizens Band radio. CB is now a widely used emergency communications system. It helps keep motorists safe on our Nation’s highways by providing faster notification of highway accidents, increased detection of reckless driving, and more information to reduce traffic delays. The CB is also effective in emergencies unrelated to motor vehicles. By allowing for citizens’ participation in public safety, we greatly enhance that safety.

The growth of CB use in recent years is extraordinary. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has now issued nearly 14 million licenses. More than 20 million Americans have used a CB radio at one time or another.

While CB is primarily for emergency use, the non-emergency channels bring enjoyment and companionship to millions of Americans, including my own family.

In recognition of the fine service provided by Citizens Band radio, I join with CB organizations across the country in celebrating ’10-4 Day’, October 4, 1978.”

If you’re too young to have experienced CB radio or too old to remember how much fun it was, relive the CB craze by listening to actual CB radio tapes. I recorded these in my hometown of Apple Valley, Minnesota when I was 12-19 years old. There are some real “gems” in this audio collection! Check out vintage CB units in our virtual CB Radio Museum. Have a look back at those classic CB antennas of yesteryear.

Most of all, if you’re lucky enough to still own functioning CB radio equipment, get on-the-air today and make some contacts. You never know who you’ll find out there, just waiting to talk to you on 27Mhz. Happy 10-4 Day, fellow Radio Geeks!

U100 WYOO AM/FM Minneapolis/St. Paul Revisited

40 years ago today, the greatest radio station in Twin Cities history pulled the plug and went dark. Now of course, that’s my personal opinion and many will disagree. But in my mind, U100 aka “The Supah Yeww” will always be the ultimate radio station to ever grace the Minneapolis/St. Paul airwaves.

U100 was actually two stations simulcasting as one: 980 AM and 101.3 FM. These stations began life as WPBC, the People’s Broadcasting Company. Husband and wife team Bill and Becky Ann Stewart owned the stations. The format was best described as Easy Listening. Or, as WPBC put it in their promotional announcements: “Playing more of the prettier, popular music for easier listening.” The Metropolitan Opera was broadcast on Saturdays. Rock and roll was absolutely forbidden on WPBC. It was rumored that Becky Ann even went as far as to scratch out album cuts which were “too loud” with the point of a compass in order to keep the airstaff from playing them.

In 1972, WPBC AM/FM were sold to Fairchild Industries. The stations were split and both formats were flipped. WYOO-AM 980 “The New YOO in the Twin Cities” broadcast a mix of mostly 1950s oldies and nostalgia programming. WRAH-FM 101.3 “Rah-dio for the Twin Cities” was automated, focusing on rock album cuts. The results were disappointing, both in terms or ratings and advertising revenue. Less than 2 years later, management made the decision to flip both stations to an AM/FM simulcast hybrid Rock/Top 40 format.

U100 was born on August 26, 1974. Live at the Minnesota State Fair, Program Director Rob Sherwood abruptly brought an end to WYOO’s Oldies format. Throwing the cart across the trailer, he promised not to play any more “turkey records.” Rob then played Joe Cocker’s “With a Little Help from My Friends”, announcing that since he had left KDWB five months earlier with this song, “I guess I’ll come back with this song. A new era in Twin Cities broadcasting…as we introduce you to boogie! Are you ready to boogie?” This was followed by a montage of the entire U100 jingle package. Which in turn was followed by the J. Geils Band’s “Give it to Me.”

U100 was in many ways an innovative station far ahead of it’s time. For starters, they broadcast in FM Stereo as well as standard AM. This was a big deal in 1974. All of WYOO’s competitors were available on AM only. The format was “Rock 40”, more than 10 years before Dan Kieley coined the term at KKRC/Sioux Falls. Sure, U100 played the current Top 40 hits by KC & the Sunshine Band, Wild Cherry, Hall & Oates, and Elton John. But they also played album cuts from Led Zeppelin, Yes, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and many others. They also played the longer album versions of current hits, rather than the short “45 versions.” Two that immediately come to mind are “She’s Gone” by Hall & Oates and “Miracles” by Jefferson Starship. The latter was somewhat controversial due to it’s racy lyric content.

Which leads me to the most important reason I loved U100: their DJs were radical. Always pushing the envelope. The station even billed itself as “OUTRAGEOUS!” in their promotional literature. Drug references were subtle but frequent. The infamous “U100 Grabs Me” T-shirt had a pair of hands strategically placed right where a female’s ‘special features’ would be. Afternoon jock Chucker Morgan called himself “The Mother Chucker”, a play on words for you-know-what. He also hosted “Chucker’s Leak Line” where kids could call and leak test answers to other students. Parents and teachers hated that feature, of course. Teenagers loved it! Each weeknight at 10:30, “Boogie Check” allowed listeners to call in and speak their mind, tell a joke, or whatever. I had just started the 7th grade at Valley Middle school when U100 went off the air. It was an absolutely huge deal around school. Many kids wore their U100 T-shirts backwards or inside-out in protest. It was like losing a friend. More than any other radio station, it was U100 that inspired me to pursue a career of my own behind the microphone. John Records Landecker of WLS was the jock who had the most influence on me, but WYOO was my most influential station.

Why did U100 die? Depends on who you ask. Some claim it was simply impossible for them to compete against 3 other well-established stations. Minneapolis/St. Paul was unique in that it was the only market at the time with FOUR Top 40 outlets. KDWB-AM 630 and WDGY AM-1130 had been playing rock and roll since the 1950s. KSTP AM-1500 was a fairly recent convert to the format but had the money and the muscle of Stanley S. Hubbard’s Hubbard Broadcasting behind them. All 3 of U100’s competitors had bigger budgets and larger promotional warchests. Others claim that Doubleday (KDWB’s parent company) made Fairchild an offer for their FM frequency that was simply too good to pass up. By this time, it was early 1976. Top 40 stations had begun migrating from AM to FM in select markets. Smart programmers and owners knew the future of this format was in high fidelity FM stereo, not scratchy AM mono. In any case, the FM station was sold to Doubleday and would become KDWB-FM 101.3. Since FCC rules prohibited a company from owning more than one AM and one FM per market, the AM facility was sold to local Beautiful Music broadcaster WAYL-FM.

Just before midnight on Wednesday, September 15, 1976, U100 night DJ JoJo Gunne played the station’s signature song: Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” At it’s conclusion, JoJo thanked the audience, saying “Remember, I love ya”, kissing the microphone, and then “We gone, bye bye” into Joe Cocker’s “With a Little Help from My Friends.” At the song’s conclusion, just a hurried Legal ID: “WYOO AM and FM stereo Richfield now leaves the air.” The transmitter was quickly turned off, presumably to comply with the 12:00:00 deadline. Just like that, the greatest radio station in Twin Cities history was gone forever. Across town, KDWB overnight DJ Mark Ranier gleefully announced “and they just went down for the last time!”

At 6:00AM on September 16, KDWB began their 101.3 FM simulcast as “The All New KDWB, FM-101 and AM-63.” On Monday, September 20, WAYL assumed control of the 980 AM frequency. I find it amazing how a station that was on the air for barely 2 years had such a profound effect on Twin Cities radio and it’s listeners. To this day, people in Minnesota still remember and reminisce about “The Boogie Station”, “Fun Lovin’ Super U”, “The Acapulco Gold Countdown”, and of course “Boogie Check.” For those of us lucky enough to grow up in that time and place, the day the music died was exactly 40 years ago today. Right On, Super Yeww!

September is a Great Month for Cheap Food Deals

If you’re cheap (like me) and love to eat out (like me), September should be your favorite month! Many of the best restaurant deals begin in September. This is because after Labor Day, sales plummet at most locations. Summer vacation season comes to a close. The kids go back to school. Restaurants need to provide their customers with incentives to come in and spend money. This means cheap food deals!

Red Lobster’s Endless Shrimp promotion began on September 5. It will end at a to-be-announced date in late October or early November. Olive Garden’s Never Ending Pasta Bowl starts on October 3 and runs through November 20th. Buffalo Wild Wings has made their popular Wing Tuesdays event into a Half Price Wing Tuesdays. Plus several other regional and local restaurant deals happening over the next several weeks.

These cheap food promotions generally end in early November to make way for Veterans Day free meals and deals. After November 11, sales pick up as we get into Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and the holiday season. So, if you like to eat on the cheap, now is your time! Get out there and take advantage of these fall restaurant deals while you can!

iPhone 7, Headphone Jack 0

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past few days, you no doubt are aware that Apple has released the long-awaited iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Like most people, I immediately noticed what the new iPhone doesn’t have: a headphone jack. This is a problem. Especially if you’re an audio junkie like me. Wherever I go, I am constantly streaming radio stations or other sources of music and news. I need a headphone jack.

In fairness, Apple does include a lightning to 3.5mm headphone adaptor at no extra charge. But the added weight is cumbersome. Another problem is that you cannot charge the iPhone 7 while using the adaptor. The preferred option is to use Apple’s new wireless AirPods in place of headphones. That is, if you don’t mind spending an additonal $159. I do.

Me? I’ll keep my tried and true Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime. If the headphones go out, I can buy a new pair anywhere for around $10. If the charger goes out, that’s universally available for less than $10. And since it’s “old school”, it has a removable battery and microSD card slot. Two important features that neither the iPhones nor the newer Galaxy models have. Yeah, I’m cheap. But I’ll stick with what works for me.

Learn from Greta: Make Copies of Your Stuff!

Last week, Greta Van Susteren suddenly departed FOX News after more than 14 years. I didn’t see that one coming. Speculation is all over the board as to why she chose to take advantage of an exit clause in her contract. This morning, Greta posted on her Facebook page that she hopes FOX will give back all the personal photos and video from her GretaWire blog. Apparently, she does not have copies of these items.

If there’s one thing I learned in 16 years of broadcasting, it’s this: always, always, ALWAYS protect what is yours! Make backups of anything and everything you use on-the-air. Regardless of how long you’ve worked at a station or how good you are, the day WILL come when you are unexpectedly escorted out of the building. If you’re lucky, you’ll be given a box and a few minutes to grab what you can on your way out the door. After your departure, the first thing the company will do is delete all reference to you from the station website, Facebook page, etc. All of your passwords will be changed and you will no longer have access to anything. It is as if you never existed at that organization. Good luck in getting your materials back once this happens.

I believe Greta is one of the few honest journalists in the business today. I wish her well and hope she surfaces at another network after being “benched for awhile” as she put it. As for the rest of us, let’s make this a learning experience. Always back up and protect your stuff!

Virtual Tour of KSUM-AM & KFMC-FM Fairmont, Minnesota

Much thanks to Travis Goraczkowski for posting this virtual photo tour of KSUM-AM 1370 and KFMC-FM 106.5 in Fairmont, Minnesota. These stations have a rich and extensive history: KSUM signed on in 1948 while KFMC came alive in 1978. Travis has worked at the stations for the past 3 and 1/2 years.

KSUM has aired a full service country and agriculture format format for as long as I can remember. KFMC has been various forms of contemporary and rock. It was Top 40/CHR for many years. Today, 106.5 airs “Real Classic Rock.” With a car radio or other strong receiver, their signal used to reach the southern suburbs of the Twin Cities. Today of course, it’s blocked by a co-channel translator.

Included in the KSUM/KFMC photo tour are the outside of the building, AM control room, FM control room, guest seating area, plus several equipment pics. Very nicely done, Travis!

Why Do People Confuse Labor Day & Memorial Day?

Labor Day and Memorial Day do have some things in common. They’re both summer holidays. They are both observed on Monday. Most people get both Labor Day and Memorial Day off from work. If you worked in radio back in the day, this was definitely NOT the case! But that’s fodder for another of Drew’s Ramblings on a different day.

Labor Day and Memorial Day are actually opposite holidays. Memorial Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer while Labor Day signifies the end. More importantly, these holidays are designed for completely different purposes. Labor Day was created to honor working people. Memorial Day is a day to pay tribute to those who died while in the military and serving our country.

I am amazed at the number of people who confuse these two holidays. Every Labor Day, people will ask “What are you doing on Memorial Day?” Or, the ever popular “Do you have to work on Memorial Day?” On Memorial Day, of course, they inquire as to Labor Day activities. I guess for many people, both of these holidays are simply a day to be spent grilling burgers and drinking beer. Kinda sad when you think about it.

For the record, Labor Day is observed on the first Monday in September. Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday in May. When Memorial Day rolls around next year, take notice of how many people make reference to “Labor Day.” It ain’t pretty, friends.

Rewound Radio WOR-FM 98.7 Labor Day Weekend Special

Leave it to Allan Sniffen to come up with another great Rewound Radio special for Labor Day weekend! As you may recall, Rewound Radio brought us a full July 4th weekend of Dan Ingram airchecks. Not to mention the WABC Memorial Day weekend special!

For Labor Day, Allan is presenting the glory days of WOR FM Stereo in New York City. “The Big Town Sound” on 98.7. Original WOR-FM shows from 1967 to 1971. You’ll hear the original WOR DJ’s, music, and the distinct sound of Drake/Chenault Top 40 Radio in the 1960s and 70s. You can hear it all 3 days: Saturday, Sunday, and Labor Day Monday. Don’t miss Rewound Radio’s Labor Day weekend tribute to WOR-FM!

High School Football Games = AM DX Opportunities

It’s that time of year again! The 2016 high school football season has begun. Friday night lights, cheerleaders, popcorn, and, all too often, AM radio stations that stay on their daytime power/directional pattern in order to broadcast the games.

I call these “football emergencies.” Many AM stations which are required to drastically reduce power and/or use a restrictive directional pattern at night will conveniently “forget” to drop to their required after sunset parameters when broadcasting play-by-play of local sporting events. The reason is so that more listeners (and advertisers) can receive the games clearly. Problem is, this is a blatant violation of FCC rules. The FCC does allow AM stations to operate their daytime facilities during bonafide emergencies. These include earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, and floods. Some program directors and general managers seem to believe this rule also applies to high school football games.

A quick scan through the AM dial on an autumn Friday night reveals several potential violators. In the age of the Internet, it’s pretty easy to determine who you should and should not be hearing from your location. Once you’ve made a positive ID on the station, check their coverage map at radio-locator.com. If you’re hearing a station from 200 miles away that is licensed for 170 watts nighttime and you’re in their directional null, it’s a pretty good bet they’re not operating within their night parameters! To confirm, try to receive this same station on a different evening. My guess is that you won’t hear a trace of them.

Since we’re not FCC enforcement agents, we might as well turn lemons into lemonade. I consider these “football emergencies” to be great DXing opportunities. This is your chance to log stations which would otherwise be impossible from your location. It’s usually very easy to identify stations running local ball games since the towns will be mentioned frequently. Also, these games tend to be heavily sponsored by local merchants. Small town advertisers almost always include their locations in their spots. “Joe Blow’s Construction, located at 123 Main Street in Anytown. Joe Blow’s Construction. Call them today at 666-3333. Joe Blow’s Construction, for all your construction needs.” These ads stick out of the pile like a sore thumb.

Let us know what you’re hearing during these “football emergencies.” Happy DX’ing!

The GM Who Forgot His Own Station’s Frequency

I was talking to a long time radio buddy yesterday. As it often does, the conversation turned to owners, program directors, and general managers whom we had worked for back in the day. There was a small station in our area who had a notorious GM. This guy really loved the bottle. His drinking escapades were well known throughout the local community as well as in radio circles statewide. His frequent tirades and outbursts were legendary. I won’t mention any names so as to protect the guilty.

In the late 1980s, cell phones had just become the latest status symbol. The GM had one installed in his car. Which meant he would now call the station every half hour to “check in” and make sure everything was okay in his absence. One day, he heard a song that he didn’t care for at all. He immediately hotlined the jock and demanded to know why he was playing “this (expletive deleted) hard rock!” His station’s format was a blend of country and 1950s/60s oldies. The song which had drawn the ire of the GM was a classic rocker. Jock insisted he was not now, nor had he ever played the song in question. GM continued: “You’re a liar! You’re fired! Get your (expletive deleted) and get your (expletive deleted) outta here. I’ll be there in 10 minutes!”

Upon arriving at the station, the GM was greeted in the parking lot by the PD. His car was still running. PD asked what the problem was. While the GM was ranting and raving, the PD glanced at his car radio. He then said “Uh, (GM’s name), you’re listening to ninety five point NINE. We’re on ninety five point FIVE!” 95.9 was the frequency of the classic rock station located about 30 miles southeast.

GM enters the building. Walks into air studio and mumbles something about “you can stay” to the jock. GM then disappears in his office and closes the door without saying another word.