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Written by: Tom Rieland
Date: December 24, 2008

I often seem caught in a twilight zone between the digital future and my old friendly analog past. The other night I was coming home late and decided to surf AM to tune in the Packers/Bears game. It brought me back 30 years, when I was a weekend DJ at a station, WCOW (really), in Sparta, Wisconsin. I would work until midnight and drive the 40 minutes home listening to AM stations in Chicago (WLS, 890), Little Rock (KARK, 920) and the Mutual Radio Network out of Miami, which had a hotshot radio host named Larry King. The same Larry King who started a show at CNN in 1985 (he’s not nearly as good an interviewer as he was on radio).

The AM signal skips around at night and the so-called AM superstations can be picked up far and wide. I was able to listen to my Packers overtime loss listening to the New Orleans station (WWL, 870). By the way, the reason WOSU 820 goes to low power at night is because the FCC designated WBAP 820 AM in Arlington, Texas as a clear channel station, which means they can send out 50,000 watts at night. Apparently, even a full power 820 signal in Columbus might interfere with this station in Texas.

Contrast my AM surfing with this social media tidbit from CNET News:

Google will be mapping Santa Claus’ trek from the icy North Pole to rooftops around the globe on Christmas Eve. But this year, good girls and boys can track their gifts via mobile phones and Twitter, too. Starting at 3 a.m. PST on Wednesday, a Google Map with Santa’s current location will be displayed on the NORAD Santa Web site, operated by Google and the North American Aerospace Defense Command. Google will be displaying high-resolution “Santa Cam” video of the gift-laden airborne sleigh. And for the first time, people can track Santa’s journey on mobile phones with Google Maps for Mobile and follow him on Twitter by adding “@noradsanta.”

I think I’ll send Santa a twitter suggesting he surf the AM dial and let us know what cool stations he can pick up.