Radio Waves: 8/18/17

Visiting the Barber

Andy Barber was a high energy Los Angeles DJ from 1974 to 1981, launching his local career at KROQ back when it was heard on the AM band (1500 AM, now dark) in 1974, moving to Ten-Q (KTNQ, 1020 AM) and eventually K-WEST (now KPWR, 105.9 FM) during it’s top-40 days under the direction of master programmer Chuck Martin.

As if it was one of those cosmic moments, I happened to hear hear an aircheck of Barber on Ten-Q last week, and contacted him to ask if he’d be interested in doing an interview. Turns out, he just happens to be beginning his 50th continuous year being on the radio airwaves; now heard on KBEZ/Tulsa, OK, he began his 50th year last Wednesday morning at 6 a.m.

And he said “yes” to the interview … that will be happening in the next few days; look for it in this very spot within the next two weeks.

Portable Sounds

Readers often ask if anyone still makes a good radio any more. Not a fancy streaming device, just a regular radio with a knob for tuning, a knob for volume, and a speaker. 

While you don’t see them in many stores — they were hard to find even at Radio Shack, which might explain that chain’s demise — they are still available. And Sony even introduced a new one earlier this year, the ICF-506 “analog tuning” portable radio. It costs about $40-$50.

I put analog tuning in quotes because this is not an analog tuner as far as I can tell. As you move the dial, the stations seem to pop into place the same as if you were using a digital tuner, both on AM and FM. And on AM, the tuning dial is linear — stations are evenly spaced throughout the band — unlike analog tuners that give more space for the lower end of the band and space stations at the top of the band more tightly. I did not confirm, but I believe that the radio is fully digital.

Reception is excellent. Using just the built-in antennas, even distant stations on both AM and FM bands came in easily. And FM sound through the single small mono speaker was adequate. You won’t be thumping any rap tunes through this but the sound is pleasant. AM, on the other hand, is awful. Think transistor radio from the 1960s sound … Sony totally dropped the ball here, considering how others have done better even in the past.

It runs on three AA batteries or a power cord (no storage on the radio for the cord). It would make an excellent emergency radio due to its small size and great reception, as long as you are OK with the lack of fidelity on AM.

Charging KFI

KFI (640 AM) has been named one of the flagship radio broadcast stations for the San Diego, er, Los Angeles Chargers. KFI will be airing play-by-play, while it and sister stations KYSR (Alt 98.7 FM) and KLAC (570 AM) will broadcast 10 hours of game-day programming.

Without being too obvious, I imagine that management from competitors KROQ (106.7 FM) and KNX (1070 AM) are looking forward to the upcoming season.