Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Interesting Stories From Hollis Duncan!

Hollis and I have e-mailed back & forth quite a bit- he is wonderfully knowledgeable about broadcast engineering and such- and he says he hasn't seen the inside of a transmitter in 20 years!  Knowledge stays with one for many, many years (as my stint in the Emergency Medical field has proven).  Here are three interesting stories Hollis related to me recently:

"I'll leave you with a KAAY story. Late one Saturday night, I was in my office at KAAY and was talking to an engineer friend in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We wondered if he could hear KAAY at night, so I went into the control room, verified that it was after midnight (the "Experimental Period,"), checked the log to see that we had no commercials scheduled, and told the DJ to put it on non-directional. Gary went out to his car and said that he could hear KAAY just fine.

Meanwhile, the control room telephone rang. It was some guy in Nashville, Tennessee, asking "Where did you guys come from?"

OK, one more. I was sitting in my office one bright sunny morning and I received a semi-hysterical telephone call telling me that KAAY needed to go off the air because we were interfering with her radio station. As you know from your BCB experience, things get really active on the AM band around sunrise and sunset. I finally extracted this much: she owned a 500-watt radio station on 1090 somewhere in Eastern Tennessee and was trying to sell advertising in a town that was 20 miles away and when KAAY went non-directional at local sunrise, we were eating her up in this distant city. I tried to explain to her that she was operating on KAAY's channel and not the other way around, but she wasn't buying it. So she told me that she would call the FCC to have us shut down and I asked her to give the Commission my phone number so that I could cease operations immediately. I never heard back.

OK, yet one more... I received a reception report from Havana, Cuba. I couldn't acknowledge it because there was no mail service between the US and Cuba and my reception report kept coming back. Knowing then what I know now, I would have put Canada and a fake Canadian postal code as the last line of the address and Canadian Postal would have said "Wrong Country, eh?" and sent it to the right place. People used to send letters to Russia this way. But I always felt bad about not acknowledging the guy's reception report...."

You gotta chuckle!  Unfortunately, a few people in the business, like the lady in Tennessee, have no practical knowledge as to how radio "works"; leave it to us hobbyists, who chase after distant broadcast band stations' signals ("BCB DXing"), as well as broadcast engineers, et. al., to know how radio waves act at different times of the day.  Numerous KAAY deejays KNEW their voices were being flung to the farthest reaches of this country and beyond!  Jerry Sims spoke of how he was in awe of this phenomenon, as a young deejay.  Folks, the wonderment is still there!  Radio is STILL magic!

Thank you, Hollis!

Bud S. (

1 comment:

  1. Yep, one more! I received a tape in the mail one day from Norway. I threaded it up and barely audible through the static I heard Russell Jones, the KAAY late night jock. So I acknowledged the reception.

    I later found out that this report came from a band of crazed lutefisk-eaters who traveled to Northern Norway to catch over-the-Pole North American AM stations. So it's not like KAAY was roaring into downtown Oslo.