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Teasing the Korean

AM Jazz Stations Back in the Day?

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By the time I was coming up, jazz was almost entirely an FM thing.  Does anyone remember AM jazz stations, and did anyone ever pick up far-off AM jazz stations at night?

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Yes!  New Orleans had two black AM stations, WYLD and WBOK.

For four hours every Saturday afternoon, WYLD's program director, Larry something, hosted a jazz show.  I listened every week my senior year.  There was plenty of Blue Note, and I knew that every week I would hear Horace Silver's The Jody Grind.

Edited by GA Russell

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Yeah. Tyler's KZEY had a Sunday afternoon jazz show, as did the late, great Soul 73 in Dallas, hosted by Roger Boykin.

Commercial AM jazz was a thing for a good while in the DFW area, we had a full-time station for a good while from the late 70s thru the early 80s.

As a kid, I would pick up AM Jazz out of somewhere in Iowa, on Sunday nights.

Other than the Iowa thing, these were all stations whose listening demographic was primarily African-American. I couldn't get the Iowa station during the day, so I don't know. But their commercial spots seemed pretty much Anglo-American in focus. But the music was definitely not, at least the jazz.

The ethnic make-up of the different jazz programmings (AM and FM) were/are interesting. The Anglos played one thing, The Nubiains another. Very, VERY little crossover. You could hear both Julie London and Nancy Wilson, if you know what I mean, just not on the same shows.

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26 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Yeah. Tyler's KZEY had a Sunday afternoon jazz show, as did the late, great Soul 73 in Dallas, hosted by Roger Boykin.

Commercial AM jazz was a thing for a good while in the DFW area, we had a full-time station for a good while from the late 70s thru the early 80s.

As a kid, I would pick up AM Jazz out of somewhere in Iowa, on Sunday nights.

Other than the Iowa thing, these were all stations whose listening demographic was primarily African-American. I couldn't get the Iowa station during the day, so I don't know. But their commercial spots seemed pretty much Anglo-American in focus. But the music was definitely not, at least the jazz.

The ethnic make-up of the different jazz programmings (AM and FM) were/are interesting. The Anglos played one thing, The Nubiains another. Very, VERY little crossover. You could hear both Julie London and Nancy Wilson, if you know what I mean, just not on the same shows.

That is interesting.  That makes sense about the Iowa station, as AM waves were easier to pick up from far off at night, presumably because of less interference.  

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I am wondering what it was like before FM radio really became a thing, but we may not have any members old enough to remember that.

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In Chicago, Daddy-O Daylie on a number of AM stations over the years and Sid McCoy on WCFL. ("Hey, hey, old bean, and you too baby... It's time for The Real McCoy."

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21 minutes ago, Larry Kart said:

In Chicago, Daddy-O Daylie on a number of AM stations over the years and Sid McCoy on WCFL. ("Hey, hey, old bean, and you too baby... It's time for The Real McCoy."

Thanks.  I'm guessing these could picked up from far away at night. 

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12 minutes ago, Teasing the Korean said:

Thanks.  I'm guessing these could picked up from far away at night. 

No. Many AM channels usually cut down there power after sunset. The ones you could hear from a distance were usually so-called "clear channel" the ones that kept their power up after the lower powered stations either signed of or cut way back.

From Chicago, the only AM station I could get in Texas was WLS, which at the time was a powerhouse Top 40 station. In 1967-68, that was a very good thing to be able to hear. But no jazz.

That Iowa thing I got, not sure what that was about, because it would fade in for a while, play strong for a bit, fade out, stay gone for a while, then fade back in.

AM was a quirky beast. Quirky but fun!

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4 minutes ago, JSngry said:

That Iowa thing I got, not sure what that was about, because it would fade in for a while, play strong for a bit, fade out, stay gone for a while, then fade back in.

Iirc, certain atmospheric conditions would sometimes allow AM stations to carry farther -- sometimes much farther -- than normal.  I used to sorta half-understand how all that worked 20+ years ago, but that's long since faded.   But this link seems to emplain...

https://www.fcc.gov/media/radio/am-stations-at-night

>> However, during nighttime hours the AM signals can travel over hundreds of miles by reflection from the ionosphere, a phenomenon called "skywave" propagation.

And I guess(?) sometimes specific conditions can affect that "reflection" effect.

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50 minutes ago, Teasing the Korean said:

Thanks.  I'm guessing these could picked up from far away at night. 

I think WCFL was pretty powerful.

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I grew up in the New York metro region.  At night, we could easily pick up CKLW in Windsor, Ontario, I guess through a combination of signal strength and atmospheric conditions.  Not a jazz station, but thought I'd mention it. 

Tangentially related to my original question:  In the 60s and 70s, I remember AM easy listening stations having certain blocks dedicated to the big bands, during the "big bands are coming back" hype.

 

 

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Not jazz related, but re: AM radio ...  As a kid, I remember listening to Atlanta Braves games on WSB, a clear channel station, while visiting my grandparents in southwestern Pennsylvania, about 500 miles away (as the crow flies) from ATL.

Only at night.  And you could only get good reception from high points around town.  But that was something.  Very memorable listening to those games while being so far from home.  Announcers were Skip Caray (Harry's son), Pete Van Wieren, and Ernie Johnson.  

 

Edited by HutchFan

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56 minutes ago, Larry Kart said:

I think WCFL was pretty powerful.

But did they drop the power down at sunset? Most AM stations did, but not all.

That "clear channel" thing was for real.

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I thought they increased the power at night.  For whatever reasons I could listen in Fredericton NB to Rock and Roll on NYC stations some 600 miles away while many  other residents of town were listening to C&W on a station from Wheeling West Virginia. 

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28 minutes ago, JSngry said:

But did they drop the power down at sunset? Most AM stations did, but not all.

That "clear channel" thing was for real.

In the 1941 NARBA reallocation, WCFL moved to 1000 kHz. The same year, it was granted a Class 1-B clear channel license, and increased its power to 10,000 watts.

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10,000 is strong for local, but to get all out there, most stations that did that were 50,000 watts.

Being the wonk that I was, I spent too many nights cruising the AM dial literally from top to bottom. Not saying that I got WCFL, but if I did, it didn't jump out if I did. I kept an ear open for "distant" stations, that was a fun thing for me.

Maybe they reduced power after sunset. KLIF (the legendary Mighty 1190 of Gordan McLendon fame) did that. Dallas was 120 miles away, but at 50,000 watts, we got it loud and clear until they lowered the power for evening hours and then POOF, you couldn't hear it at all. And then around 7 AM or so, they flipped a switch and there it was again.

 

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When i was a kid, I only remember AM radios, especially in cars. I don't remember FM until I was an older kid... maybe 1973 or 74? WHYN out of Springfield was the pop/rock station that everyone in Western Massachusetts listened to. I used to record their Top 100 countdown that they had every year on New Year's Eve. I think I still have one of those cassette tapes - Rod Stewart's "Maggie May" was #1, which would have dated it to 1971. I also remember hearing radio stations from as far away as Ohio on warm summer nights in the car.

I can still hear that "56 HYN" jingle in my head. :)

This website is the modern equivalent of those hot summer nights spinning the dial to see if I could pick up some distant station. :) http://radio.garden/

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