I previously made a call for folks to check in on a net so I could count heads. It probably was not the most opportune timing but it was what I had available. You can listen to the full net at https://archives.anonradio.net/201906170000_sdfarc.mp3 and you’ll find my after-net call to all Ubuntu Hams at roughly 44 minutes and 50 seconds into the recording.

This was a first attempt. The folks at SDF were perfectly fine with me making the attempt. The net topic for the night was “special projects” we happened to be undertaking.

Now you might wonder what I might be doing in terms of special projects. That bit is special. Sunspots are a bit non-existent at the moment so I have been fiddling around with listening for distant stations on the AM broadcast band which starts in the United States at 530 kHz and ends at 1710 kHz. From my spots in Ashtabula I end up hearing some fairly distant stations ranging from KYW 1060 in Philadelphia to WCBS 880 in New York City to WPRR 1680 in Ada, Michigan. When I am out driving Interstate Route 90 in the mornings during the winter I have had the opportunity to hear stations such as WSM 650 broadcasting from the vicinity of the Grand Old Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. One time I got lucky and heard WSB 750 out of Atlanta while driving when conditions were right.

These were miraculous feats of physics. WolframAlpha would tell you that the distance between Ashtabula and Atlanta is about 593 miles/955 kilometers. In the computing realm we work very hard to replicate the deceptively simple. A double-sideband non-suppressed carrier amplitude modulated radio signal is one of the simplest voice transmissions that can be made. The receiving equipment for such is often just as simple. For all the infrastructure it would take to route a live stream over a distance somewhat further than that between Derry and London proper, far less would be needed for the one-way analog signal.

Although there is Digital Audio Broadcasting across Europe we really still do not have it adopted across much of the United States. A primary problem is that it works best in areas with higher population density than we have in the USA. So far we have various trade names for IBOC, that is to say in-band on-channel, subcarriers giving us hybrid signals now. Digital-only IBOC has been tested at WWFD in Maryland and there was a proposal to the Federal Communications Commission to make a permanent rules change to make this possible. It appears in the American Experience, though, that the push is more towards Internet-connected products like iHeartRadio and Spotify rather than the legacy media outlets that has public service obligations as well as emergency alerting obligations.

I am someone who considers the Internet fairly fragile as evidenced most recently by the retailer Target having a business disaster through being unable to accept payments due to communications failures. I am not against technology advances, though. Keeping connections to the technological ways of old as well as sometimes having cash in the wallet as well as knowing how to write a check seem to be skills that are still useful in our world today.

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So That Happened… by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.