I've made some observations today about AM broadcasts in relation to the subject of information gathering.
Firstly, during the day I was able to pick up a number of stations in my region, Big Rapids and Grand Rapids being closest, those stations were to be
expected. On the edge of my range was Chicago, Milwaukee and Lansing, but Detroit wasn't coming in even though it is about as close as Chicago is. Not
bad considering FM from this outer range is impossible.
Next, during the night time I experienced the same distant skip I had last night and was picking up numerous stations from states like Iowa, Ohio, New
York, Kentucky, Virginia, Ontario & Quebec Canada, Tennessee, and now finally Detroit. Other Clear Channel Stations from farther west and south
weren't coming in though. The local stations, because of regulations that have them reduce their broadcast power at night, were obliterated by noise
and distant stations that over powered them.
Some problems I experienced were signal fade and drift as well as interference, some interference came from the appliances in my home. Some signals
were fairly consistent and quite clear most of the time though. Fade and drift were likely due to the fluctuations of the ionosphere, like slow, long
waves on the surface of a large body of water. A tuned antenna, perhaps with a tuning circuit might eliminate some of the interference.
Lastly was the content of programming. There were only a few network talk and sports programs being repeated as simulcasts on most of the numerous
stations I was picking up. The short local news broadcasts had little information in the 5 or so minutes on the hour and half hour. The radio
commercials were useless (also quite lame) as those events and businesses are far from my area. The talk show networks really have a strangle hold on
most of the stations on the AM band, not unlike the network's control of the music programming on the FM band.
The only original programming I heard were a few religious ones as well as some oldies and ethic music. It seems that to gain useful information you
would need to know when the programs with strictly local news content were being broadcast and what stations they are being broadcast on. I didn't
hear any straight news being broadcast, not even NPR. I had hoped to hear some original programming with local news reporting or commentary on local
political issues. I have heard them on occasion, but not during the hours I was monitoring at this time.
I guess I will need to find out the program schedules for the stations I was picking up the best and tune in when they have some local news content.
This is not so easy as stations don't publish a programming guide and many don't have a website either. It will be hit or miss until I happen to find
some worthy programming to listen to. I know that the F.C.C. rules make a certain number of hours of local content mandatory, so the local programming
must be on some time, probably really early in the morning before rush hour. I will try again soon tonight and report back by the morning.
edit on 10-3-2015 by MichiganSwampBuck because: typo