Radio was my passion from an early age.
It is still exciting to hear stations from hundreds of miles away while DXing.
People who have worked in radio for years give me a puzzled look when I mention my DX hobby.
DX, for those new to the term means distance and was first used in the days of the telegraph. In radio we use it to mean listening to distant stations.
At night AM radio signals are able to bounce off the ionosphere and be heard hundreds if not thousands of miles from the transmitter.
DXing opened the whole world of radio to me. I could listen at night to stations from Chicago, Boston, Ft. Wayne and Buffalo from my location in Succasunna, New Jersey. (Yes a real place).
Each night was like a virtual classroom for a radio geek like me. There was WLS Chicago, CKLW Windsor and Ron Gregory on WOWO.
The late 60s and early 70s was a period of great radio with amazing jocks. Well they seemed amazing then. I owe a lot to all of them for helping me learn the business.
These days there are very few locally produced night time shows on AM radio. Most are programming talk from a network. That doesn’t keep me from spending too money on nice radios (my wife’s words, not mine) and trying for Radio Reloj in Cuba or CKWW Vancouver.
I’ve logged close to 350 AM stations here in Central Texas. That’s a small number compared to some DX’ers who have 2,000 or more.
But from my DXing habit I can offer some thoughts about why AM stations struggle beyond the simple problem of being on AM.
First on my list is lack of identity. I am amazed how often stations neglect to identify themselves during breaks in the network shows.
I’m actively listening for the ID and location and don’t hear it. A casual listener would have no idea what station they are listening to. They lose the battle in Arbitron.
Secondly, there is almost no promotion of other shows on these stations. Tell me how to use the station. Give me a reason to listen later today or tomorrow.
Thirdly, plant your flag in the local community. Most stations could be coming from anywhere.
Keep the production fresh. It is amazing how many times the promos are out dated or misplaced in the log.
Focus on the details. Have someone who manages the promos, IDs and other elements.
Here are my top five suggestions for AM talk stations.
- Identify the station. Do this at beginning, during, at end of commercial breaks. Don’t be shy about your name.
- Promote the shows coming up later today and tomorrow. Help the listener listen.
- Be local. Make sure the weather report sounds like it belongs in your area.
- Keep production fresh. Eliminate all outdated material.
- Pay attention to all the details, listen to your station with a ‘listener’s’ ear.
The National Radio Club website can give you more information about the hobby of DXing. http://www.nrcdxas.org/
Happy listening and good DX, 73s