Reporter's Notebook

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Pledge Excerpt: Callsign Mysteries

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It’s probably iconic that many kids in the 50s, 60s and 70s grew up listening to faraway AM stations on junk pieces fished out of trash cans in neighborhoods from coast to coast. From their beds, WLW, “The Nation Station”, WABC in New York, WLS in Chicago and others callsigns were their targets long after parents were asleep. The walls of their bedrooms, illuminated by the yellowish-orange glow of glass amplifier tubes. And spinning the dial, they were probably mesmerized by the rattling off of various callsigns which could sound like incantations, spoken by strange staticy tongues from exotic locales.

Those who paid closer attention might’ve noticed that stations west of the Mississippi started with “K” while stations east of the Mississippi started with “W”. Eventually, some of those kids might’ve eventually gone to work for civilian or even military broadcasting. And their voice became the one ricocheting around the planet. But callsigns are far from being romantic mysteries of youth.  To read more about callsigns or public radio, visit and get on the pre-order list for PLEDGE: The Public Radio Fund Drive.

Written by Interviewer

May 2, 2018 at 15:07

Posted in Scratchpad

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