Wednesday, March 12, 2008

AM Radio

Broadcast Band DXing has been a hobby of mine from 1951 till present day. I admit I do not pursue the hobby as I did when I was younger but I still slip the headphones on ever so often. I had what was called an "All American Five" broadcast band receiver. This is what most people had and was the most common radio receiver for home use in the 50s. Most had a wood or bake-o-lite case and only two knobs, one for volume and one for the tuning. Most had a set of screws on the rear, one for the antenna and one for ground. Most listeners did not use an antenna or ground but relied on the internal antenna that was called a loop stick. If you added a piece of wire to the antenna screw you could improve reception a great deal. Bigger is better, so I had a 100 foot wire attached to mine. I had a speaker attached that I put under my pillow so as not to disturb my Mom or Dad. (And they thought I was sleeping). I tuned most of the clear channel stations, these were stations that no others were allowed on the same frequency and most ran 50,000 watts of power. Some of these stations are listed below. WSM I must say was my favorite. To see some of the history of these stations click the link below:

650 WSM, Nashville, TN Home of the Grand Ole' Opry.
700 WLW, Cincinnati, OH WLW was a true US "Flamethrower.
890 WLS Chicago, IL One of my favorites when a teen.
1020 KDKA Pittsburgh, PA Among the very first broadcast stations in the US.
1190 WOWO Ft. Wayne, IN Originally a powerhouse on the 1190 channel

Later in years I used communication receivers. These had many knobs to twist, and I must tell you they worked much better than my 5 tube first radio. Today FM is the preferred mode, AM has sank to an all time low but if you want to hear far away stations AM is the way to go. With AM not popular it is hard to find a well made AM radio. Most do good to pick up a 50,000 watt station 50 miles away. There is only one radio that still has a sharp sensitive receiver, that being the GE Super Radio. RCA acquired the GE division that produced this radio for many years. This model came in as the RCA RP7887 Superadio III. It is the same as the former GE model. See it here:
If you are on a budget try looking at an old and I mean old car radio. You may find one at a junk yard. Hook it up to a car battery and put a long piece of wire on it for the antenna and you will have one of the best AM radios you can get. Listen late at night and tune not only the loud stations but the weak ones too. Listen to the far right of the dial for the weak low power stations. These are nick-named the "graveyard stations". Listen for a station ID and location. If you only get the call letters you can search the Web to find the location. Give it a try ......... its fun.
Here is a Web site with further information: