Tuesday, February 7, 2012

KAAY Coverage Revisited

Dear folks, it is awesome how radio waves travel. I have studied such, having been a Ham radio operator and radio listener for so, so many years...and it is still a wonder! In speaking with Steve Morris ("Steve Scott") awhile back, I believe that I mentioned doing the math and realizing that I listened to Steve when he was on The Mighty 1090! I'd also mentioned a time or two that within thirty minutes of sundown, I could hear KAAY starting to fade in. Granted, this was while still on their daytime pattern, which was more or less roughly circular to cover the state of Arkansas and not switched over to their figure-eight nighttime pattern yet.

In the nighttime pattern above, the coverage was HUGE...and we can see how all of Cuba, parts of Central and South America were covered, as well as literally over half of Canada, up to Alaska...and no telling where else...I wish we had access to all the mail KAAY got!

In the past, I'd mentioned the "grey line" a phenomenon where it is not day, nor night...just that half-light pattern between the two. In the "old days", radio stations would sign off at sunset and sign back on at sunrise (some few still do). During this time, it was possible to tune to frequencies and momentarily, for a few minutes, hear other radio stations that were blocked by a local station, before THOSE stations signed off. In some instances, it was mere minutes, others it was maybe longer, due to the difference of a time zone. We radio enthusiasts of all types still use the "grey line" to communicate or to listen for otherwise elusive radio stations not "there" in daylight or dark. It is a fascinating phenomenon, as things happen during the "grey line" that do not happen any other times. Here is the link to the "grey line" map; it refreshes ever five minutes or so:


Because radio propagation is an ongoing study, some things are constant- others are constantly changing! A lot has to do with weather and sunspots. Nonetheless, I believe this "grey line effect" was responsible for my hearing KAAY before dark and the changeover to the nighttime "flame-thrower" figure-eight pattern. Give the dial a whirl before sunset sometime, you may be pleasantly surprised! Do it for a week, or two weeks and there may be more there than you realized!

Bud S. (staceys4@hotmail.com)


  1. Bud,

    After looking at the KAAY night time coverage map, I now know why I had NO trouble picking up KAAY at night in Minnesota.

    Paul Kirby

  2. Thanks for the site. I listened from Marshalltown, Iowa from 1968-73, then had to head East for college. The signal ranged from terrific to good...always. It was magical for sure.

  3. To Paul and Anonymous,

    On behalf of all of us who so proudly served the KAAY call letters, THANK YOU for being out there on that Skywave with us! Trust me, it was just as magical on our end as it was on yours--BECAUSE of you.

    What a rush it was to watch the sun go down...

    David B. Treadway
    Doc Holiday VII

  4. I'll still never forget my first shift at KAAY, in November of 1984. I was very much aware of that signal, and as if to serve as a reminder, within my first hour, I had a call from Minnesota. I'm not sure how that night time signal is doing these days, as I know, for several years (at least from '03-'08) KAAY was operating at about 18,000 watts at night.

    Barry McCorkindale, aka Scott Taylor, Barry Mac

  5. WBAM 740 "BIG BAM" Mongomery used to boom into Tampa 30 minutes before they signed off. One of the legendary Bennis top 40 powerhouses. They were 50 KW directional, to the south, to protect adjacent clear-channel WSB back then. Mongomery sunset was 15-30 minutes after Tampa. Now they have a new XMTR QTH, and new pattern. Reduced to 10 KW, I think. KAAY has to protect WBAL, Baltimore at night. Hence the deep null that runs right through the Atlantic south.

  6. Bud, I remember one particular night in about 1975-76, I was on-the-air from 8pm-11pm. About 1030pm one winter's night I was playing "Stairway to Heaven" (over 7 minutes long). I had time to answer a few phone calls. The first call was from Key West, Fla.-a couple of NAVY guys called in for a request. We chatted for a minute or so & I still had time to take another call. The very next call I answered was from Butte, Montana !! We chatted a minute or so. It was 72 degrees in Key West & minus 20 in Butte !!! Even having been a "ham" & used to long distance communications, I was awed that each night KAAY's signal was heard from Butte to Key West & ALL IN BETWEEN !! Wayne Moss (the P.D. at the time) told me that the estimated listening audience of KAAY on it's night-time directional pattern was over 1,000,000 people!!! It was a little bit intimidating! My 3 years as 8-11pm "jock" at the MIGHTY 1090 were the best 3 years of my 56 years as a "ham" & "broadcaster" !! I have two shoe-boxes of "mail" I'll bring to our next meeting... Keep up the great work. Steve Scott / W5BIB

  7. Steve, I am looking forward to us getting together again! Bud S.