A.M. radio, those were the days

As a young boy I recall listening to long distant A.M. radio stations in the evening on my transistor radio. As a young boy I had two hobbies that thrilled me, that was rock collecting and electronics. At a very early age my parents would buy me Radio Shack perfboard kits, 101 in 1 project kits and then an AM radio kit to build and then I was fortunate enough to get a Radio Shack Globe Patrol SWR to put together and listen to the world.

But what I recall most of all was having a tie to many of the local AM stations as I had an Uncle who was a DJ on many of them and then he eventually became Chief News Editor in Thunder Bay for CBC (CBQ). In the day we had 3 A.M. stations that ran full time, 580 CKPR , 800 CBQ and then 1230 (CJLX, CFPA), and then not being too far from Duluth MN where we are located I could usually hear at least 2 stations from there both day and night, one in particular was around 560.

I best recall listening to many programs at night, everything from Grand Old Opry, CBS Mystery Theater, The Great Gildersleeve and The Life of Riley, Dragnet and others. Of course WLS 890 was always loud here in Thunder Bay, ON (Formerly The Twin Cities of Fort William and Port Arthur)

There are no more A.M. stations in Thunder Bay, all have migrated to F.M., however as you drive along the North Shore of Lake Superior you will find many low power A.M. stations that rebroadcast some of the larger stations.

Here is a look at a few of the reminders of those once powerful and notable stations that once took on the air waves.

Fred Lesnick, VE3FAL, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Thunder Bay Ontario, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

6 Responses to “A.M. radio, those were the days”

  • Jason KF5OUD:

    I’ve recently been listening to AM radio on a small AM/FM radio. I’m amazed at the distance I’m able to hear station at night. Unforunately, my interest isn’t held long since the majority of programming is talk radio. I wish I’d have grown up eariler(33 years old) when radio had all those things you described.

  • W4MMR:

    My wife and I were discussing how we used to listen to the am radio station in the morning for school closings when the weather was bad. Where we live now, they do not do that any more. Radio is a great technology for information passing especially in the simpler times and nowdays where some cannot afford internet technology today. One just does not find AM radios so much in houses like we used to.

    I like to listen to AM stations and do so with my TS480 often and I like to log the stations just for fun. There is still a lot of activity on the East Coast of the US and not all talk radio.

    I grew up in the Midwest and we used to listen to WLS out of Chicago which has some very interesting DJs and played rock music. We were down in SW Texas in a town called Alpine and we could pick up WLS at night. That was a lot of fun and showed the power of propagation.

  • Jeremy KF5YKO:

    Im in the small west Texas town of Crane. There are still a few AM stations around in the area a few miles north of me and as long as I’m standing outside my house with an am loop antenna in hand I can pull them in really good at night. I built a crystal radio recently with my son and hooked up an amplifier and speakers and we have heard stations in Dallas really strong, several in Florida, one I can regularly pickup but barely read get is in S Carolina. Once I was able to read the call sign of one from Brazil.

    I’m really not interested in most of their content but in the experience of building a radio and antenna that can pull them in is fun. Right now I’m working on building an antenna that I can put on a rotating mast and run it from inside the comfort of my house instead of standing outside in the dark like the crazy man that the neighbors must think is looking for E.T.or something.

  • Les KC7HYH:

    As a young boy radio was all the entertainment we had and it was wonderful all of the daily and weekly radio programs which you can only find either on the Internet or satellite radio now. There was no television etc. in those days. It was a magical time when one used their imagination when listening to the radio

  • Richard KWøU:

    Well remember listening to Jean Shepherd (W9QWN , W2ORS) and his late night talks on WOR in New York. Was recently in HI9 land and heard the Caribbean Beacon station (all day, all night, preaching) from Anguilla. Bits and pieces of AM left here and there, but you are right, it’s far from what it was decades ago.

  • K5JEF:

    Don’t forget the clear channel KAAY in Little Rock Arkansas. Late night with Beaker Street programming and all of the weird sound effects. I used to travel all over the country and people seemed to always ask about Beaker Street. The station used to say “The Mighty 1090”. The last time I tuned in it was “The All Mighty 1090” and the programming was quite different;)

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