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Airwaves: October 5, 2007

Virtual Mailbag

The email has been (virtually) overflowing with questions from you. So that means it must be a good time to answer some of them.

Q: "I think someone ... perhaps yourself, should warn the public about HD radio and how you cant always get it. Last night, even with a little amplifier, the signal dropped ... evidently the signals are subject to atmosphere/temperature changes.

"There are now ads for HD radios, some as "low as $99" on the air and people will go blithely, as I did, and sink mucho bucks into a set that wont perform worth a darn because of where they live. They should be told that if they don't have a clear shot of MT Wilson 'Forgedaboutit'!" -- Pell Kruttschnitt

A: Pell is referring to reception problems with KKGO's (105.1 FM) digital HD-2 signal, which runs the classical format heard on KMZT (1260 AM). Currently, HD is the only way to hear a commercial station on FM in Los Angeles playing classical music.

This is a major problem in some areas. It is due to the way HD signals are sent (along with the regular analog signal) and the power used in order to minimize interference (1/100 of the analog power). Where I live, all of the FM (and AM) HD stations come in rock solid on a house antenna. But without a good shot at the transmitter or an antenna that can somehow make up for it, HD can be difficult to receive.

Help may be on the way, as broadcasters push to raise the allowable power for FM HD broadcasts. In the meantime, outside of an even taller antenna, there just isn't much you can do.

Q: "Just wondered if there’s any way one could somehow get through to one of the ‘suits’ that run these stations? I’m about as old as the dirt in the planters in front of my office, and many in my age group are very frustrated about the lack of music available in this area from our era (‘50s) ... Eddie Fisher, Louis Prima, Ella Fitzgerald ... These singers could SING! I find it impossible to believe that there isn’t a market for such programming.

"The only sounds we hear like these today are from the famous ‘The Swinging Years’ radio show produced and hosted by Chuck Cecil since the late 1950’s ... SO SAD that a quality radio station in the booming Inland Empire with huge audiences of seniors is missing this boat!" -- Jack Vander Woude, San Bernardino

A: Not just the Inland Empire, but almost everywhere outside of Vegas. No one appreciates the fact that "seasoned citizens" have spending money, but younger people also enjoy the music. You are right: it is sad. When I win the lottery, one of my stations will play the Big Bands and standards.

By the way, The Swingin' Years is heard on KCSN (88.5 FM) Sundays at 9 PM.

Q: Regarding  radio stations listed in your column (the GO section of the San Bernardino Sun) do you have any idea  the station and time slot for Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion?" Your response is greatly appreciated." -- Steven Graham

A: A question that comes in fairly often, and that I am happy to answer. Try KPCC (89.3 FM) Saturdays from 3-5 PM, again at 6-8 PM and Sunday from Noon to 2 PM. In the Inland Empire, KPCC's signal is simulcast on KUOR (89.1 FM).

Q: "Thanks for the list of those hot music stations on AM from the past. Another one was KGFJ. I used my car radio to switch among them all the time ... just seeing the call letters brought back a lot of memories." -- Joseph Tripp

A: Aah, KGFJ. What a great station, right up to the end, when they became ... something I can't even remember.

More questions? Send them in. I try to answer as many as I can and print the most interesting ones here.


Copyright © 2007 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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