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Airwaves: August 31, 2007

Oh, The (KNX) Drama

My mention last week of KNX (1070 AM) going back to its roots as a news station brought in a ton of mail. Not in regard to the changes in programming now (though two people lamented the loss of Money 101). No, the question on everybody's mind was "will the Drama Hour be coming back?"

Sadly and unfortunately, the answer is "probably not." While KNX dominated the competition years ago during the 9-10 PM hour with nightly old time radio programs such as The Lone Ranger and my personal favorite, The Jack Benny Program, the hour did tend to attract a higher percentage of older listeners than normal ... exactly what KNX is trying to avoid even if it means essentially having no listeners.

OK, I'm being a bit more sarcastic thank normal. But the fact is that KNX probably won't bring back the Drama Hour even though they should. So what's a listener to do?

One suggestion: go to Select from over 12,000 shows -- Abbott and Costello to Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar -- and download them to your computer. After that either burn a CD or put the shows on an iPod and suddenly you have ... you very own Drama Hour!

It's Coming

For those who own an HD radio -- radios capable of receiving digital AM and FM broadcasts -- September 14th is a big day. Actually it's probably a big day for all AM nighttime radio listeners, but perhaps for a different reason.

September 14th, 2007 is the day that nighttime HD broadcasts for AM stations are allowed. This date is 30 days after the official FCC rules for HD Radio were finally published in the Federal Register; by law such rules take effect after this 30-day window.

What this means is that HD radio owners finally get to hear if AM HD does indeed work at night. It seems that nighttime authorization had been held up due to concerns of massive interference caused by the way AM signals can propagate for long distances at night. Can an HD signal lock in when the analog signals themselves occasionally have problems?

Indeed, HD detractors are predicting that there will be so much interference caused by the HD broadcasts that the entire AM band will be rendered useless for both regular and HD radios.

For an example of what they are talking about, tune in an AM HD station during the day (KLAC 570, KSPN 710, KBRT 740, KABC 790, KFWB 980, KNX, or KDIS 1110) and then tune just slightly up or down the dial. That "hash" sound you hear (like an old-style modem) is the HD broadcast being sent just above and below the center of the frequency.

Under the right circumstances the interference to adjacent stations can cause the adjacent stations to be "lost" on some radios. Many AM fans are concerned that this interference, when spread over the nighttime skywaves, will cause interference to all stations on the band, not just the distant stations that they like to hear (another problem in itself).

Last Day

Today is the last day to hear The Real Don Steele on ... for FREE!

Normally ReelRadio charges a nominal fee for access to their library of thousands of airchecks, or recording of radio stations and personalities. During the month of August, in memory of Boss Jock giant Steele, the website gave access to about five unedited hours of his on-air work, both on KHJ and Ten-Q. If you haven't checked it out already ... what are you waiting for?


Copyright © 2007 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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