Ken Foote’s Radio/TV Files: How I Fell In Love With AM Radio

On our last blog, I talked a little about AM Radio and how it works. But I would like to share my personal experience with it!

My love for radio started as a love of music. As a young child, we all had transistor radios but most were manufactured only with the AM band. Like many young children, bedtime was between 8pm and 9pm, but there were nights I could not go to sleep, so I turned on the radio while in bed!

KLIF, “The Mighty 1190”, had a phenomenal evening personality named Russ Knight, also known as “Russ Knight The Weird Beard”. His delivery and execution of his show, especially back in the day when everything in the studio ran manually, was second to none. He made radio fun! On the KBOX 1480 side, Frank Jolly was spinning the hits. In Fort Worth, KFJZ and KXOL, the two Top 40 stations there, didn’t come in quite as well into Dallas because of their nighttime signal patterns and/or reduced power, but you could hear them during the day without any problems.

As I got into junior high and high school, I spent nights listening on a receiver that my Dad had bought where the tuning was a little more exact. That’s when I discovered AM radio’s nighttime sky wave service! I had already told my parents that I was going to make radio a career, to which they frowned upon! My dad was a CPA and I think he would have preferred me going in another direction (later in life he served on the board of directors of a broadcast company and was proud of the career choice I made!).

What I discovered on the AM band at night blew me away! How could it be possible to hear WLS/Chicago, WWL/New Orleans, KMOX/St. Louis, KSTP/St. Paul-Minneapolis, WOAI/San Antonio, and many others from these great distances? WLS was the one I fell in love with because of its Top 40 format and because I wanted to sound like and be like personalities such as Larry Lujack, John Landecker, Steve King, Fred Winston, Bob Sirott, and many others. These guys were at the top of their game at all times and tops in their profession! I even have a hand written letter from John Landecker at WLS himself when he was doing evenings!

Needless to say, I spent countless hours listening to clear channel AM stations back in the 60’s and 70’s. To this day, when I leave CBS11/TXA21 for the day during the winter, many of those stations still come in loud and clear! Want to know all about LSU and the New Orleans Saints? WWL 870 is your station at night!

Even though the FCC no longer approves applications for new AM radio service as a clear channel, the original clear channel stations today have played a major role for over 80 years in bringing news and entertainment to millions of people all over the U.S., and continue to do so today!

See you next time!!