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Thread: What's the worst sounding station you've heard?

  1. #11

    Re: What's the worst sounding station you've heard?

    Now dark, and has been for awhile, but WDUF-AM in Duffield, VA. It was on 1120, I think. Ran by a husband and wife, and on the air, he called himself, "the Old Ridge Runner" They played bluegrass, which I actually listen to some on XM's Bluegrass Junction, but this guy should've beek taken off the air back in the 70's. Just out and out horrible. Would play a song and then try to tell a story about himself and the artist and would just ramble on and on. He's dead now, and I don't mean to speak ill of the dead, and he MIGHT have been good back in the 50's, but that station was just a complete joke.

  2. #12
    tomservo's Avatar
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    Re: What's the worst sounding station you've heard?

    How about, for bad sounding, I nominate any station that broadcasts in HD but never syncs up their audio? We've got a local top 40 that's been 7 seconds off for ages; what little impetus I had to tune in is now directed to their competition.

  3. #13

    Re: What's the worst sounding station you've heard?

    Wow! WDUF in Duffield. I talked to the wife once. They were having a tough time getting the cash to keep the station and I think they eventually lost the station. Their spot rates sure weren't very hefty. Seems it was about $3 for a 60; $2 for a 30 and $1 for a 10 sec. They claimed they were close to $5,000 in billing per month.

    Would love to hear more about WDUF.

    Speaking of 'bad radio'. At one point the AM station in Hot Springs, Virginia, in its early days, was satellite delivered AC. As the station was for sale when I contacted them, it looked pretty sweet. The asking price was $30,000 and the studio had an apartment for the station operator. Investigating this daytimer, I learned their best year was about $13,000 in billing. Locals weren't too pleased either. It seems the handful of advertisers got much more than they paid for with the same commercials playing in every single commercial break. Back then, you likely had 4 three minute breaks an hour, so, according to folks I talked to said they heard the same commercials several times an hour for weeks, if not months at a time.

  4. #14

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    Re: What's the worst sounding station you've heard?

    There was a little daytime station in Oak Harbor, WA called KJTT. It was known as "K-Jet" (a homage to the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.), but the station itself was more of a Wile E. Coyote contraption. It sounded like a telephone receiver, segues from "You Got Another Thing Comin'" Judas Priest to "Alvin's Harmonica" The Chipmunks were not uncommon. Today, it's still a daytimer, the audio still sucks but it's now a conservative talker called KWDB.
    "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." - Unknown

  5. #15

    Re: What's the worst sounding station you've heard?

    We all have our Mom and Pop horror stories. Live and locally owned was not so great after all.

  6. #16

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    Re: What's the worst sounding station you've heard?

    Quote Originally Posted by 12 In a Row
    We all have our Mom and Pop horror stories. Live and locally owned was not so great after all.
    Sometimes. It's like any other business. You have really good ones, you have fair to middlin' average and sometimes you get really crappy ones...
    "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." - Unknown

  7. #17

    Re: What's the worst sounding station you've heard?

    CKLY (91.9 FM Lindsay, Ontario, Canada) was a little bad-sounding during its early years as an FMer in the late 1990s - the station had just installed its first PC-based automation system (and other new studio gear) in late 1997, in advance of the move from 910 AM to 91.9 FM. Under the ownership at the time, a group of local investors, CKLY had some quirks - to name a few:
    -mono-only transmission for the first couple of years
    -old VTs playing (jock backselling Chicago when the last song was actually from Amy Grant) - I guess the system didn't auto-delete old VTs
    -occasional quick rustling noises, button clicks, grunts etc. - I first thought the station's spirits were taking over (the studios are in a big old house that's said to be haunted) but it was actually their production guy overwriting VT files by making any noise that would trip the recording software's VOX
    -song outro recorded in some VTs - jocks not configuring the board properly for voice tracking
    -satellite feeds were just barely audible under the regular program audio - CKLY aired occasional Broadcast News (Canadian Press) national newscasts, as well as some Toronto Blue Jays games
    -a high-pitched (4 kHz or so?) tone mixed with the audio - the station was, and probably still is, using telco lines to feed the transmitter... I have an example of this tone-and-audio on a cassette
    -out-of-the-ordinary instrumental music in the evenings

    I don't think CKLY still has any of these oddities... CHUM Ltd. (now part of the Bell Media group) bought the station in late 2000 and, under their ownership, a number of upgrades were carried out. Among others, the automation - a DOS-based MediaTouch system - was replaced with Scott Studios SS32 which was being used at CHUM's nearby Peterborough stations, Ward-Beck R2K consoles replaced the Ramko XLs that were installed in the studios in '97, and the station's whole audio chain was cleaned up... and it's actually in stereo! They also built a much taller tower (at least twice the height of the old ex-AM tower that held the FM antenna), installed a new antenna system, adjusted the power and changed the format... it had been a sleepy soft AC known as "Y92" but it's been running CHUM's "BOB FM" format/branding since the tx changes in 2005. A big improvement from its early days on FM, but still a far cry from 910's glory days in the 1970s.

    NOTE: I haven't worked for the station or company, though I've visited the place a couple of times, and a friend works for them.

  8. #18

    Re: What's the worst sounding station you've heard?

    I seem to be in awe with bad radio, much like seeing a grusome car wreck but cannot turn away. Here's another...

    Living in a major market at the time, I centered on fringe stations for 'raw radio' and there was sure alot of it in the 1970s.

    I first discovered this little 3kw FM that barely made it to my house. It had been an automated beautiful music station and being a stand alone and only station in this town where all the metro stations could be heard, I'm sure struggling financially was an understatement.

    Likely in an attempt to skew younger demographics (those with the FM radios), they opted for the 'New Music Mix'. It certainly evolved quickly over several months. About half of the music would be considered standards and MOR material but the rest was acoustic based material of the folk, rock and pop side. You would hear Crosby Stills and Nash or Let It Flow from Eric Clapton and such mixed in. Perhaps this was an ongoing process, but within about 3 or 4 months, almost every selection was this 'soft, acoustic' rock-influenced artist lineup with a centering on album tracks. It was an interesting mix indeed.

    Suddenly the station went dark a few days but reappeared as a top 40. We are talking very raw live radio. Toss in about 50 or so top 40 hits, DJs with no radio experience and all requests and dedications. No hot clocks. No nothing. Just give the kid some records and a phone line and see what happens. They added UPI News on the hour during the day.

    Seeing the station, I could certainly say it was a primitive situation. What appeared to be where a receptionist would sit was a makeshift table with a 4 pot BE board, microphone and telephone. On 5 gallon plastic cans set the two turntables encased in a wood box. A three switch metal box set next to the board. It connected to the remains of a gutted autonmation machine that had a carousel that held 24 carts as there were no cart machines in the studio. A single reel to reel was the only thing remaining aside from the carousel. The jock played commercials by hitting the green button on the metal box and potting it up on the control board full blast.

    It seems the audio from the carousel was always about half the volume of the music and microphone. The DJs complained of hitting the start button and nothing would happen requiring them to make the mad dash into the next room to manually hit start. The music library was maybe 20 singles plus a stack of about 50 hits and, no kidding, maybe 5 albums of more easy listening hits (Floyd Cramer and such which were to be played at a rate of 1 track per quarter hour the first two hours after sign on). There was a strict 8 units per hour spot maximum, but they were lucky to have maybe 6 units that had to be played one per break because every spot was in the carousel and you had to run into the room to rotate the carousel manually before the next commercial aired.

    Then there was the issue of production. There was no production studio so the daytime jocks had to flip a switch to fire the reel to reel, cutting off the board from input line to the transmitter. One of about 5 reels would play a mix of oldies very different from the normal format (actually it leaned more album rock....top 40 was adult contemporary and disco heavy then). While the reel played the jock recorded the spot through the board connected to the record/play cart machine in the automation system in the next room. You had a start and stop remote button next to the board. When commercials were recorded, the jock switched back to the board and regular programming continued.

    I will commend the obviously financially strapped owner. He did manage to sell advertising at a good spot rate and obtain enough revenue to grow the station before it sold several years later.

    The music was all request and dedication. You might hear the same song again 30 minutes later. You also might have a string of names before each song or several songs in a row without interruption as the jock talked to a groupie that called the station.

    It was bad radio but at the same time there was something very vibrant about it. Even though I was several years away from my first radio gig, I could pinpoint the glaring issues on programming that surfaced at that station. Even so, it held a button on my FM radio in my '73 Gremlin because the station had real interaction with listeners...raw, unplanned and immediate. I actually felt a part of 'it' when I listened and felt I might very well 'matter' to this station.

    Another station was an AM daytimer a friend worked for. It seems this daytimer had an absentee owner who obtained the CP but was working a deal with a couple of other stations to benefit all of the stations involved. At this time, this was sort of revolutionary thinking and I can only wonder how the FCC saw it then. Well, with CP in hand, the station hit the air. The building in the field was new but small and the control room had the needed space. In a corner, a folding table with a cassette deck, a record play cart machine, microphone and a little 4 pot board (seems it was the Russco "Disco Mixer" little 4 pot mixer). The production studio had a homemade 2 pot mixer where you could record voice only onto the single record/play cart machine. There were 8 Maxell 90 minute cassettes of an uptempo easy listening format.

    The format was play the cassettes and do an ID or liner at least every 2 or 3 songs. They went through the paper to find local announcements to serve as PSAs that they read at a rate of 5 per hour, neatly typed on notecards. News was pulling a few stories from the local paper to cover a newscast (told to rewrite it, no just read it from the paper). The system worked this way, the afternoon jock would record the morning newscast that played in the morning and the morning jock would do the afternoon casts, all recorded on the 2.5 minute cart. The morning guy was to listen to another station or watch TV before coming in and get the day's weather forecast to add following the news. This recorded newscast played 35 times a week (7 per day Mon. thru Fri.).

    There weren't many commercials either and all of them were single spot. They had every newscast sponsored and when visiting my friend I looked at the previous week's logs and was amazed to find so few commercials. Outside the news sponsorships there were 28 additional spots per week. The only other revenue was about 4 hours of religious programs from local churches who also put their programs on cassette. It seems they had two banks trying to outdo each other, each taking 3 newscast sponsorships and a couple of weekend commercials.

    Needless to say, the music got old fast and the owner did respond by ordering more. I think they ended up with about 24 cassettes of music. I understand there was a company that offered formats to stations that would let you do an outright buy, one tape at a time, and this station insisted on cassettes (Maxell UDXL brand 90s).

    My friend was gone in 6 months but a short time later they went dark and reappeared with more power, seemingly abandoning the tower and little building in the field where it started. I remembered thinking the station would have sounded great if it played the music I preferred. My friend has good memories of that station. The tiny 4 person staff (including the weekender) all had lots of fun and enjoyed one another. As he put it, it was bare bones, zero budget radio void of stress and a staff that was having fun regardless. Needless to say, the pay was low...just low enough to make getting an oil change or buying a used tire was something you had to plan for financially.

  9. #19

    Re: What's the worst sounding station you've heard?

    Two of the worst ever were:

    1) WHYP, North East, PA (outside of Erie). A friend was considering buying this station, so we drove to the area to check it out. What we heard when we first tuned in was a record (this was the mid-80s) riding the center groove. This went on for about five minutes, followed by the needle being popped off the vinyl. A few seconds later, the mic came on, and you could hear a lawn mower going by the window for another 30 seconds or so. Then a voice of what sounded like a gentleman in his mid 90s with a bit of a breathing problem (the "dirty old man from the park bench" on Laugh-In, maybe?) said, "time for the weather forecast on WHYP"...he then got out of his chair and walked across the room to retrieve the weather forecast from what sounded like the daily newspaper. Thirty seconds later..."ehhh, it's gonna be cloudy this afternoon..." etc. Needle drops on next record, no cueing, about five seconds of riding the groove before music hit. Repeat several times over the next hour and you have an idea of what it sounded like. When we located the towers and went to see the facility, we encountered a long dirt road driveway with a burned out Chevy wagon in the weeds by the road, spraypainted with the graffiti-like words "STAY OUT! THIS MEANS YOU."

    2) WHGM-FM, Bellwood, PA (now WALY in the Altoona market). Its IDs sounded like they were recorded in a tile shower, and the primary source of programming came from cassettes that were off-azimuth so they continually made a swishing sound in mono (no stereo pilot at WHGM). The cassettes were recordings of broadcasting students from some fly-by-night school in Philadelphia that guaranteed their students that "your show will be played on a real radio station!"

  10. #20
    tomservo's Avatar
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    Re: What's the worst sounding station you've heard?

    I think I have a new one to add to the list, courtesy of some samples I got from a friend. WSLV 1130 AM in Ardmore, Tennessee. I think it's owned by one of the family members of Ernie Ashworth, a country musician who was on the Grand Ole Opry.

    The station's stream is on 24/7 even though the station is a daytimer. When sign on comes, the stream "pops" to life in the middle of a song, as if someone is just flipping the transmitter on. Apparently they run hours at a time with no ID or commercials whatsoever during some dayparts, and when there are commercials they are as bumpkin as a moonshine still. The lack of technical prowess is only matched by the lack of polish and professionalism in all aspects of the on air presentation.

    And at sign off. A blip as they cut the transmitter, and the stream goes dark. No call sign, no goodnight script, just shut it off in the middle of a song.

    If I can, I'll post some of the clips for everyone's amusement.

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