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

  1. #1

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

    I'd have to say the old WHOW AM & FM in Clinton, Illinois before the station went dark.

    I was on vacation listening to the radio. A young jock with some talent (if he had lots of direction) was on the air. The format would be variety-non-rock. They were playing album sides, all very scratched.

    I don't know if they had a cue on the board but you could hear the jock drop the needle on the record. He played a whole Eddy Arnold LP and then a Vangelis LP (which skipped about 7 minutes until being discovered).

    The jock, airing the legal ID had a bunch of people repeating it over and over for about a minute or so. Then into the National Weather Service audio until it began to repeat where upon the jock said, I think this is repeating what we've already heard.

    When they'd plug in a PSA, the jock would hit the off switch on the turntable as a song faded (audio as it slowed to a stop and wowed back when the PSA was over). The PSA was on cart, and it wowed as a cart did with the old cart decks that had the engage level that brought the capstan up. The cart audio was as muddy as the Mississippi.

    I spoke with the head of the Chamber of Commerce who told me the station had been 'falling apart' for years and hadn't run a commercial for years. It seemed they had CD decks but they were no longer working, so they were stuck playing old records on the one still working turntable. I cannot say this is entirely accurate as it came second-hand. I did hear one of those spots sold by the company in Chicago that sells via phone for stations around the country (you know, the guys that might change $50 a spot and the station gets 5-10% for airing the 'fill in the blank' copy they mail to the stations).

    As I understand it, the station went dark and the new buyer had to provide a proof to get the stations. The stations have great coverage and location, so I felt they had good potential. I hope the station, under new ownership, is realizing its potential.

    The station was so bad, my mini disc recorder in the car recorded a full 80 minute unscoped aircheck off the radio because I just couldn't bring myself to tune away.

    So, what's the worst sounding station you heard?

  2. #2

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

    K-Earth.........best station just down the road KRLA AM.or KDAY both with Arthur Egnoian ..

  3. #3

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

    Hands down in the Northeastern Ohio area the winner ... er I mean real loser is... WJTB 1040 AM in the Western suburbs of the Cleveland Ohio market. They have a piped in morning show that sounds like it's coming over a bad unequalized phone line. The sibilent sounds, like "S" and soft C's crackle. The sound level is low on everything broadcast, and there is a soft hum throughout. In fact a few years ago this station was even worse. Their transmitting equipment was in such deep disrepair, that there were times that you couldn't understand what was on the air! Not only that, but they had preachers on who sounded like someone recorded them from the back of the church with a cheap microphone generally pointing in their direction. Totally not understandable. How anyone would pay to have this aired is beyond me. I noticed that when people spoke up, they'd crackle so I think that during the worst of times, they under modulated on purpose to compensate for the crackling problem. There are lots of wacky stories about the owner. Examples, he decided to attempt to open a record store in the front of the station to sell the promo copies he got in. He got as far as buying the shelving. Then there are the stories of employees having a hard time collecting their paycheck. People had/have to come to the office and on a number of pay days he suddenly disappeared for awhile.

  4. #4

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

    I've heard quite a few preachers that sounded like the were recorded on a cheap tape recorder with a built in microphone. You could hear the sound of the motor and gears etc over the air. The funniest I ever heard was a shortwave preacher who couldn't read and mispronounced every other word, with lots of heavy breathing and dead air while he was struggling trying to find the correct words. Kind of like a grade school kid reading out loud to the class when he is still learning. He also edited his tapes by placing a tape recorder next to a playback machine. You could hear the thunk of the stop and playback buttons and the beginnings of the recording cut off because he didn't start and stop in the right place.
    As far as the worst sounding stations I've heard have to be those by Willis broadcasting. He bought quite a few once great stations and drove them into the ground, many of them have since gone dark. WWDF in Jackson, MS had a loud hum in the audio that sounded like an old radio with a bad filter capacitor. On top of that, the audio could be barely heard under the hum, was so bad it sounded like a flutter, kinda like you were talking into a fan blade. It was a daytimer on 720 AM and they would leave the transmitter on 24 hours a day, so you couldn't hear WGN Chicago at night. Since they had a fairly strong 5,000 watts it wiped out 720 throughout the area. Not sure if WGN reported them, but I wouldn't be surprised.

  5. #5

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

    The FCC made a sport of of fining Brother Willis. The FCC Enforcement Bureau got writer's cramp each visit writing pink slips. Easily the broadcasting company with the lowest standards imaginable.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Tallahassee, Florida, United States

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


    WHOW has an interesting history, to say the least.

    Near the end of ownership under Cornbelt Broadcasting, the big red barn had fallen into such disrepair that the AM transmitter was sitting under a tarp. I couldn't find the story again, but an operator suffered a near-electrocution while trying to sign the station off one evening. It went silent shortly thereafter.

    Here are some pics:


    It appears to be doing better these days.
    &quot;Big D Country&quot;<br />Tallahassee&#039;s hometown station playing country and classic country music:<br />http://www.live365.com/stations/alanmccall<br /><br />http://www.facebook.com/bigdradio<br /><br />http://www.bigdcountry.com

  7. #7
    tomservo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    LA (Lower Alabama)

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

    I'll nominate another Mississippi station, WABG 960 in Greenwood. I lived in the area for four years and when the station was actually on the air, it was almost completely inaudible. The WABG-TV people must have run it from a closet because it was often subject to dead air. Or at least I think it was, since the audio levels were so low.

    After a while it got sold to someone who pulled the audio back up. And that's when I realized why the TV station never turned up the volume - something in the TX was shot to heck fire. The audio coming out was probably 6-7 kHz down to maybe 1 kHz, no low end at all and impossible to hear on any radio with a low rolloff.

    It's a shame nobody could fix the transmitter issue, because it was a pretty unique station, playing mostly blues and some classic rock, both sorely missing in the Delta. I know there was a morning show but I never could understand the guy enough to know his name, only that he sure liked to talk a lot and rant about the one woman who'd actually call the station.

    It was a mess.

  8. #8

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

    What's the worst sounding station I've heard?

    *ANY* station that plays more than 4 Christmas songs per hour - at ANY time other than on Christmas Day.

    I'm not a programmer, so I'm honestly curious why it is that for the first 40-ish weeks of each year (in some cases even less), programmers do whatever they can to make their station(s) unique - with specific careful attention to song repetition. Then, somewhere after Halloween, all of that is put on the shelf as they begin to monitor the competition hoping to be the first to begin playing Christmas music. And once the Christmas music begins playing, there is no longer any uniqueness. All the stations sound the same.

    Even though the songs are performed by several artists, how many times can one person hear 'Frosty the Snowman' before it becomes the holiday version of 'Helter Skelter?' Has any research been done... has any station ever asked their listeners how they feel about wall-to-wall Christmas music? Do ratings really show that people like it? And are they so loyal to one station that these numbers are a true reflection of listener tastes?

    The idea that Christmas music is played to "spread the holiday spirit" is really kinda bogus, too, because at 12:00 am December 26, Christmas music completely disappears from the airwaves, not to be heard again until sometime after Halloween of the following year. If the music is played to "spread the holiday spirit," why isn't it played throughout the entire holiday period, ending on New Year's Day? Oh, I see. It's because the shopping madness is over for the most part. Christmas music is retail Red Bull.

    Don't get me wrong: I love Christmas music. In moderation. Like anything else. I just think it's a pity that everything is so overdone. When everything is always taken to the max, how successful can we be in doing something better next time?

  9. #9

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

    Gotta disagree with you on this one. A substantial number of LISTENERS love Christmas music. The 2010 Ratings for the Holiday Season are UP UP UP. This will mean that these Christmas Stations will be able to command a premium rate come November-December 2011. This is programming that will not go away in the forseeable future. After all, Radio is a BUSINESS first. Do I like it? Not really. But it is good business.

    Now, to get back on track. What are the crappiest Christmas Stations out there in radioland?

  10. #10

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

    Well, if ratings show that listeners actually like wall-to-wall Christmas music for - in some cases - several weeks, on perhaps every station in their market, I suppose I'm not really surprised after all.

    Our society seems to thrive on things done to excess, and hype has become a way of life for so many. And, while not suggesting the holiday music contributes to it in any way, it's the overall hype, I guess, that at least partially explains how some people can wake in the middle of the night to wait outside for stores to open... and then trample some poor slob to death as they rush into the store*... and get into fist-fights with other shoppers over who's going to spend in excess of a thousand dollars to buy a moronic talking doll that the following year nobody wants anymore.

    All in the name of Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward Men, of course.

    (Again, I make no connection between holiday music and people's actions.)

    *This has happened several times in several areas over the past decade; most recently in the New York City area, where the store was found to be responsible for not having enough security. We wouldn't want to accuse the shoppers of taking leave of their morals.

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