All hits, all the time

Well, maybe …

After writing my blog post on Saturday for World Radio Day, I went on a bit of a nostalgic tour of the radio stations that I’ve followed as I moved from place to place.

Here they are, and their current format.

CKLW – the information station

WCAR – sports radio

CKNX – country, talk, news

CFTR – new

CHUM FM – adult contemporary

CKMS – independent, progressive university

WLS (The call letters kicked in while thinking about this Chicago station) – news and talk radio

WRIF – rock ‘n roll

CJWF – country

E STREET RADIO – Bruce Springsteen and E Street Band

voicEd Radio – education and music

It comes as no surprise that these days all of these stations have a website. I mean, who doesn’t have a website these days. I tracked each of those down to see it and also to see what format of radio they currently have.

I can’t help but be impressed with the change in mindset radio has had over the years. Originally, you had to be in a car or near a radio AND within the broadcast area of the station to hear it. There was nothing more frustrating to drive outside the range of a station and have to endure static. Then, you’re scanning for a new station that was both strong and the same format that you wanted.

It’s not the same these days. Since stations also broadcast over the internet, distance and antennas are no longer the requirements. I can, and did, tune into CKNX to find out what was happening in Western Ontario.

Radio is also very competitive. It was interesting to see the chance in format for some of the radio stations. Listenership is important and having the loyal following is key.

So, thanks to World Radio Day for taking me back to some great listening memories. As I leave, I’ll leave you with this link to Radio Garden. Here’s a place to go and search for a station or just explore on a map. After all, once you know location and where the stream is, you can listen from anywhere.

Or zoom way out to see stations across a continent.

Or take the earth for a spin. We don’t have a monopoly in North America with radio stations.

When Technology Changes Things Completely

Leamington blogger Paul C. posted yesterday about the change in CBC radio.  As happens sometime, those of us who responded quickly took the conversation onto a different track.  Quickly, we steered the conversation to advertising free radio and the values of a subscription to a satellite radio service.

I’ve been thinking about this all day.  I’m old enough to have seen profound changes in the way that entertainment is delivered.  I grew up in a town that had three television stations.  We would get CFPL-TV from London, CKNX-TV from Wingham, and CKCO-TV in Kitchener.  The London and Wingham channels were both CBC stations and so the content was almost always the same.  The biggest draw was, of course, Hockey Night in Canada which brought us all around the tube on a Saturday night.

Radio stations were a little different.  The signal carried a great deal further and we would occasionally listen to London, Ontario stations but the dial almost always was turned to the Big 8 – CKLW in Windsor.  It was THE station to listen to.  I recall the names Tom Shannon, Pat Halliday, and so much more.  It was located in Windsor, but it was for all purposes a Detroit station.  You didn’t hear traffic reports about Riverside Drive; it was about the Lodge or the Ford freeways.

CKLW was big. It broadcast with more power than US stations were allowed and it was heard all over North America. I recall a report that it was the Number 1 station in Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday nights!

We had distinct loyalties and often listened for the personalities as much as the quality music.  It didn’t really matter then that we had limited listening and viewing possibilities.  We had our favourites.

It’s all changed how and technology has a huge impact.  Instead of three television stations, satellite and cable television brings hundreds of channels to our television sets.  A local station is only local if you want it to be and make a determined effort to get a local signal.  There are so many channels that they all have to carve their own niche and theme, including showing old television shows.  Similarly, internet and satellite radio changes everything.  Listen to a radio station through iTunes or satellite radio and you have a huge selection.  The interesting thing is that there can be no commercials if you wish — but also no personalities, if you wish.  Who is the current cutting edge disk jockey?  (Heck, what is a disk?)  Who is the current or upcoming Wolfman Jack?  Dick Clark?  Some stations are so computerized that they are almost 100% automated with no human regularly at the controls.

Technology does indeed change everything.  It’s worth pondering whether or not this is a good thing.  From a viewer or listener perspective, we can change our patterns and avoid commercials and the old fashioned banter of the radio host.  Has an entire profession left us?

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