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Radio AM to FM: January 14, 2005

Storm Watch

Heavy rains apparently led to an accident that knocked down power lines on Mount Wilson last Sunday morning, forcing numerous radio and television stations off the air until power could be restored or backup generators could be started. Some were off the air for more than three hours.

At first I thought there was something wrong with my car stereo, until I noticed that a distant station was being received in place of KBIG. Affected stations included KBIG, Arrow 93, KIIS-FM, KOST, KLSX, Hot 92.3, The Beat, KRTH and KROQ in addition to television stations 2, 22, 28, 44, 50, 56 and 63.

In a strange way, I suppose it is a testament to the reliability of the power companies (specifically Edison, in this case) that the stations were off the air for so long. Most of them have backup generators that didn't start as they should, most likely due to lack of use and maintenance. If the electrical system was unreliable, those generators would be in tip-top condition, ready to go.

Time Off

After years of rare use, many FM radio stations in Los Angeles are suddenly discovering the wonders of RDS, or the Radio Data System.

RDS is what allows text information to be sent along with the analog signal on FM, which allows RDS-capable radios to display such information as station names, song titles, station slogans, or even storm warnings. It has been very popular in other parts of the world, but relatively unnoticed in the United States until recently.

One really neat feature is that RDS signals can be used to automatically set the time on your radios. Not all RDS-capable radios have this extra feature, but on those that do have it, it is great. With one problem: whatever station my car stereo uses to set its clock has the wrong time. It's off by about an hour.

So far I have been unable to determine which station is sending the wrong time signal, but it would be nice to find out and get it fixed!

Quick Hits

Now that Rick Dees is no longer waiting out the end of his contract with KIIS-FM, will he show up on another local station, or will he take it easy working part time on the Weekly Top 40? Or will he end up at working on Satellite radio as does former colleague Magic Matt Alan (Sirius Channel 7; 5 AM to 11 AM weekdays, Noon to 6 PM Saturdays). Dees' name has already come up numerous times at

My plan to become a Sirius DJ has to overcome one obstacle: the service is consulted by Walter Sabo. I suppose I first have to be nice and reverse 20 years of reminding people that he invented Car Radio KHJ. It's gonna be tough.

Longtime KFI newsman Ken Gallacher is back at his old stomping grounds, though not actually in the building, and not doing news. Broadcasting from his farm in Virginia, you can hear him talk about what's on his mind every Saturday from 2 - 5 PM.

Dr. Dean Edell, aka Dr. Deana Dell, also returns to KFI. His health-based show can be found on the Amazing AM Sundays, 2 - 4 PM.


Copyright © 2005 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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