Sunday, September 1, 2013

Upcoming Book???

I'd just heard from Greg Barman, our "resident" audio technician, about something he found while doing research:

"Memorializing the Mighty 1090

Sonny Rhodes, a journalism professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, is tackling a book project on KAAY-AM, 1090, a Little Rock radio station that began broadcasting in 1962.

"I think it's a fascinating piece of Arkansas history. There's not been a lot documented about radio history, especially in Arkansas," Rhodes said last week.

The book will focus on the glory days of "The Mighty 1090," which lasted well into the 1970s, he said.

Fans and former employees of the old KAAY celebrated the 50th anniversary of its launch Sept. 14 in Little Rock.

"It had an interesting format in that it was sort of ‘all things to all people,'" Rhodes said. The station would broadcast reports on livestock prices for farmers, top 40 music, religious programming and "Beaker Street," a three-hour night program that "was really one of the forerunners of underground music programming," he said.

Early on, around the time of the Cuban missile crisis, KAAY also used its broadcast range to point American propaganda toward Cuba.

KAAY was the top-rated radio station in Arkansas through the 1970s and was heard in other countries because the 50,000-watt station's signal reached so far at night, Rhodes said.

"You could hear it all the way from Canada to Argentina," Rhodes said. "The sun interferes with AM signals, so at nighttime nothing interferes and the signals travel a lot farther."

KAAY is still on the air, but was sold and converted to all-Christian broadcasting in 1985.

Rhodes is an associate professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He is working on the written history of KAAY with a friend and professor at the University of Tennessee at Martin, Richard Robinson.

Robinson wrote his doctoral dissertation on KAAY, and the book is a result of that project.

Rhodes is currently researching the book, plans to conduct interviews with the famous former KAAY radio personalities who are still alive and is adapting Robinson's academic paper to appeal to an audience outside of academia. Rhodes hopes to have the book finished by May, he said.

Rhodes and Robinson have not yet found a publisher."

I'd also like to clarify the statement about the sun affecting radio waves: during the day, the sun causes the 'F layer' of the atmosphere to divide into what is called the 'F1' and 'F2' layers and are more porous to radio waves.  At night, both layers recombine and become more dense to radio waves, causing signals to 'skip' longer distances.  Radio propagation is a fascinating science and is worthy of basic study, of you're interested in radio and/or communications.

Thanks to Greg Barman for this catch!  We'll be waiting for the book to come out....

Bud S. (

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