AM radio was an important part of my life in Trona in the 40s and 50s. Television made to Trona by way of cable in the last half of the 50s. That was about 10 years after the rest of the country had TV. Radio and movies at the Trona theater were the two choices we had for modern entertainment until we finally had TV. Once Trona had TV there wasn’t enough people going to the theater to keep it open. Sadly it had to close.
KFI was a 50,000 watt NBC affiliate station that still broadcasts out of LA. It was the only station that could be reliably heard during the day in Trona. My mother would listen to the soap operas it broadcast while she did her housework. My favorite soap was “Just Plain Bill“. As I remember it every time the lead actor’s contract came up for renewal Bill would die. Then as the ratings would drop they had figure out an inventive way to bring Bill back from the dead. KFI was the station of the Bob Hope show, Dragnet, Amos and Andy, The Lone Ranger, Bob and Ray, and Fiber McGee. KNX was the CBS station in Los Angeles. It carried Burns and Allen, and Jack Benny and others that I no longer remember. The problem was that KNX would only come in at night or very weakly at sunrise and sunset. At night, KSL the 50,000 watt station in Salt Lake City was actually, a better source for CBS programs than KNX. As TV became more popular in the rest of the country radio drama started to slowly disappear.
During the last half of 50’s when we were all teenagers interested in rock and roll XEAK, “the mighty 690“, a rock and roll station came barreling out of Mexico and could be heard in Trona during the day most of the time and at night there wasn’t any radio signal that was louder. With 70,000 watts of power it covered all of southern California and beyond. The station was in Mexico but the studios were in the LA area. Every night. It would stop broadcasting rock for a half hour and do a hundred “Hail Mary’s” as if it had to do penance for playing rock. XEAK signed off in 1961. Mighty 690 was a big hit with Trona teens of the era.
That was the days of tube radios and early transistor radios. Many people are predicting that AM radio is going to go completely away and be replaced completely with internet radio and podcasts. That may very well happen but if it does it will be a sad future that has been brought about by poor stewardship and perhaps political corruption in the FCC that has allowed radio station ownership to be trusted to a few corporations that are only interested squeezing all the profit they can out the stations they bought. They have no concern for the future or the public interest. Radio could stay innovative but that would require investment and commitment. The industry has been so run into the ground it almost has to fail before anyone can hope to put it together again. If there is any hope at all for it.
When I started this post I was just trying to share memories but somehow the path I took ended taking a swing into the political realm. Hey, sometimes these things happen. I grew up with radio. I am still a big fan of radio even though 80% of what I now listen to are podcasts downloaded from the internet.