Thursday, August 10, 2017

Lost World

In a post at her blog, Bobbi referred to a "coffeepot AM" radio station. Someone asked about the meaning in comments, and she explained:
"[T]hat's some real old-time radio slang: a "coffeepot" AM is a 250 Watt daytime-only station (of which there are few left), where the station coffeepot is likely to be using more power than their transmitter. The typical county seat AM, that ran 1000 W day and 250 W night was also sometimes referred to as a "coffeepot." Most of those stations are now a thousand Watts or more 24/7 -- or gone.

In a small town with the once-usual array of businesses -- a grocer or two, a Farm Bureau Co-Op, an office supply store servbing (mostly) a couple-three small factories, a bank, a savings & loan (remember them?) and a couple of car dealerships, drugstore, movie theatre, and so on -- a little locally-owned AM like that might have as many as ten or twelve fulltime employees and a handful of part-timers. It could make decent money for the owner/GM, put the GM in a new Cadillac or Lincoln every year, and provide an adequate living to their staff, who would be largely entry-level folks working their way up. The programming was strongly local and included a lot of high school sports coverage. That kind of radio is all but gone now. So are most of the factories, all of the savings and loans, and so on....
If you, like most Americans, live in a city or its surrounding metro area and don't get a chance to wander an older small town Main Street every now and again, it's easy to forget just how much the world has changed in such a relatively short period of time.

For instance, somewhere right off the Main Street of Anytown, USA is likely an abandoned storefront with a faded sign reading "Radio & Television Repair". I wonder how many independent TV repair shops lasted into the third generation of ownership? And the thought of "radio repair" in itself seems almost quaint.