AM:FM An Introduction
I’m not old enough to remember a world without television, but I am old enough to remember a world where my friends and I would sit in a hot car parked in the driveway with the radio blasting, desperately waiting for the next Elton John song to be played, calling in our requests and actually hearing our names on the radio and our songs played. I’m old enough to remember sitting at my uncle’s wedding in October 1979, hidden away in a corner, listening to the Orioles-Pirates World Series game on a tiny transistor pressed to my ear.
I’ve been a radio geek since I was a kid, listening on transistors to signals far away. Voices through the static, sometimes French, sometimes Spanish, always magic. In an era when ESPN and CNN did not exist, radio was also the only way to get to know your favorite team or follow a news story around the clock. When you had only four TV channels and no internet to choose from, radio filled the empty void like no other technology.
Even today, according to a March, 2014 report by Nielson, which now tracks radio listeners, over 244 million Americans listen to the radio at least once a week, including 91.9 percent of all Americans aged 18-34. These numbers are actually up from 2013. It seems that no matter what the visual arts do, radio always finds a place on the media consumer’s plate.
Radio, then and now, was on all night, long after TV stations signed off. And it was all live, all happening right now, the talk shows with their quirky hosts and regular callers, the DJ’s choosing their own records, the news updates on the hour. “Give us twenty minutes and we’ll give you the world,” radio said. It was a good bargain then and it remains one now. Whether you listen in your car, your house, over the internet, to stations in Frederick or around the world, radio remains a central beacon, broadcasting our world to us through the air unseen.
In some ways, it’s shocking that radio has remained such a central medium of communication in this video age. Even with the advent of television, movies, the internet, smartphones and a 24/7 YouTube sensibility, radio has thrived. It has succeeded because it works so simply. Turn on the dial and all the information in the world comes to you. All the listener has to do is, well, listen. No reading, clicking, looking, texting or touching required.
This blog won’t make judgments or take sides, we’ll just explore radio in Frederick, in Maryland and occasionally beyond, simply listening, taking it all in.
This blog aims to cover broadcast radio stations in the Frederick area, including Washington, DC and Baltimore. We will delve into the history of the stations, the on-air personalities, the business decisions, the formats, ratings, technical considerations, demographics, changing technologies and anything else that radio stations deal with today.