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.

Hurricane Katrina Remembered 11 Years Later


11 years ago today, Hurricane Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Whenever August 29th rolls around, it’s a sad day of remembrance and reflection for everyone who was affected. Especially those who lost friends or family in this massive storm.

I wasn’t there, but I came way too close for comfort. I left 27 days earlier. If I had stayed, I wouldn’t be talking to you right now. The apartment complex where I had lived for the past few months was located right on Front Beach in Ocean Springs. It was completely destroyed. I’m sure you remember seeing TV news footage of the Biloxi/Ocean Springs bridge. Nothing remained except support pillars and broken slabs of pavement. That bridge was less than 1 mile from my place. I used to walk across it several times per week.

Even though this was prime beachfront real estate, it remained undeveloped after the hurricane. There were plans for condominiums. The condos were actually planned before the hurricane. But after Katrina, the cost of insurance became astronomical, IF you could get insurance at all. This photo is where my apartment stood. Two years later, it looked exactly the same as it did after the storm. Five years later, it was still undeveloped. I haven’t been back to visit since 2010. But I’m guessing it looks pretty much the same. Hurricane Katrina was a horrible experience for everyone involved, both directly and indirectly.

670 WMAQ Chicago: A Look Back at the Q 1922-2000

If you haven’t yet seen this, Scott Childers gives us an excellent timeline of Chicago’s WMAQ. Scott starts at the beginning: 1922, when it first signed on as WGU. The big 670’s days as a legendary country outlet and flagship station of the Chicago White Sox are covered. “WMAQ’s gonna make me rich!” The short-lived talk format and WMAQ All News 67 are also explained in detail. Finally, the sad demise in 2000 as CBS dumped 78 years of radio history, killing WMAQ and replacing it with The Score WSCR-AM.

Scott covers it all in his Chicago Radio Time Capsule. It’s well worth the read.

Radio Geek Heaven’s Virtual Vintage CB Radio Museum

Were you a CB’er in the 1970s and/or 1980s? Do you remember waiting anxiously for the Radio Shack catalog to arrive each fall so you could see the new models? Do the names “Cobra 139XLR”, SBE Sidebander II, “Browning Golden Eagle”, and “Kraco CB Super De Luxe” mean anything to you? (I can’t believe I just mentioned Browning and Kraco in the same sentence!) If so, you’ll want to check out our new online Virtual Vintage CB Radio Museum!

Previously, Radio Geek Heaven featured a page with 1970s & 1980s Base and Mobile CB Radios. The response has been great, so I decided to expand it. Now, there’s an entire category devoted to those classic mobile and base station units that we all knew and loved. Each has a photo and description of the radio. I will be adding more manufacturers and models as time allows. If YOU had one of these radios (or maybe you still have it), please tell us about it via the “comments” section.

The Radio Geek Heaven Virtual Vintage CB Radio Museum starts here: