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Longing for Skywave

Couldn’t we all just turn off our spectrum-polluting cell phones and other devices for just one evening?

James O’Neal’s article recounting his memories of nighttime radio (“I Remember the Power of Nighttime Radio,” June 16) strikes a note with me. In fact, it makes me curious as to just exactly where O’Neal grew up, because the stations he mentions hearing on the AM skywave are the exact same stations I listened to. All of them!

I seemed to be coming of age — in northwest Arkansas, near Harrison, and a few miles south of Branson, Mo. — at about the same time. I, too, listened to WNOE, New Orleans, which, with only 5,000 watts at 1060, must have had a directional pattern coming north toward the Ozarks, as I could listen to them on most clear nights.

The programming approach from their jocks seemed totally awesome. To my mind (using 20/20 hindsight), it was a clear precursor to Bill Drake’s later approaches at KHJ in Hollywood.

Also from New Orleans was WWL at 870, which was still presenting big-band remotes from the Roosevelt Hotel well into the 1960s. According to their station break, the hotel also housed their studios.

A station O’Neal didn’t mention was WSM at 650 from Nashville. While as a high schooler I didn’t embrace country music quite to the extent that I later did (at Jones Radio Network, as founding programmer of Classic Hit Country, between 1997 and 2009), I would listen to The Grand Ole Opry simply because the participants seemed to have such a good time presenting the program. If they were enjoying it so much, I reasoned, there must be something good about it.

Another favorite of mine was KRMG, at 740, coming across the plains from Tulsa. (Years later, I worked there.)

And my strangest memory was of hearing the 570/820 frequency sharing between Dallas’ WFAA and WBAP in Fort Worth. When the 820 frequency changed identities, a cowbell would ring!

Couldn’t we all just turn off our spectrum-polluting cell phones and other devices for just one evening, and enjoy those skywaves again?

Lew Jones
Jones Radio Resources
Littleton, Colo.

Ed. Note: James O’Neal grew up in Hope, Ark.

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