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Old 07-25-2012, 09:46 PM
Location: Duluth, Minnesota, USA
7,653 posts, read 13,778,264 times
Reputation: 6573


In the United States (and Canada, and Mexico, and most of the rest of the Western Hemisphere), radio stations are assigned call letters. In the United States, these usually consist of four letters beginning with a "K" for stations west of the Mississippi and a "W" for stations east of it.

It seems once that every station branded itself by its call letters. However, this has changed and in the past twenty years it's been possible to listen to a station 24/7 and only hear the call letters said in a rushed voice at the top of the hour (when stations are required to identify with their calls and city of license). I suspect many do not know that "NU 92" is actually WWAX, or that "Life 97.3" is KDNW. Nobody refers to those stations by their call letters - only by the on-air branding they use at the time.

On the other hand, some stations still manage to brand themselves using their call letters and be successful at it. Such is the case with KQDS (a rock station) or KDWB (pop / CHR).

Other stations manage to use FAKE call letters that they are not even assigned by the FCC. For example, WFLA 94.5 somewhere in Florida, a talk station, is actually WFLF.

Do you recognize stations by their call letters, or only by their on-air slogans?

Last edited by tvdxer; 07-25-2012 at 10:29 PM..
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Old 07-27-2012, 06:57 PM
Status: "Houston Astros: WORLD CHAMPIONS!!" (set 10 days ago)
Location: Suburban Dallas
42,567 posts, read 32,780,459 times
Reputation: 26259
Well, it does depend on the station. In today's world, people tend to think of nicknames (i.e. Lone Star 92, Magic 97.9, 100.5 The Coyote, Mix 103.5, etc.). In the olden days, call letters mattered a lot more, especially when they spell words or names. Nearly every market has a few stations with "heritage" call letters, and, as you may know, those stations have a history with cities. But I do study call letters just to get an idea of who they are and what their identity is. In my home market, I know most of the stations' call letters (except for those who change formats and letters frequently).
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Old 07-28-2012, 01:57 AM
Location: Yakima WA
3,455 posts, read 3,850,789 times
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The stations that are known by their call letters tend to be very well established. They can trace their roots back to a time when it was the norm to only use call letters as ame of station and no other slogan.

tvdxer, you mentioned KDWB. They are perhaps the longest running Top 40 station in the USA (that's still around today). You might enjoy this site (if you aren't familiar with it already) it has old airchecks of Minnesota radio stations, including KDWB.

RadioTapes.com / Historic Minneapolis St. Paul Radio Airchecks
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Old 07-28-2012, 02:46 AM
Location: Maryland
210 posts, read 225,772 times
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As a radio student, I follow several rock stations around the U.S. It would be impossible for me to remember them based on their location on the dial. I almost always know stations for their call letters, although I'm probably not the best person to ask about this.
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Old 07-28-2012, 01:19 PM
285 posts, read 557,440 times
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I suspect AM stations are more known by their call letters than FM; they're less likely to have slogans. However, fewer AM stations are all that well known to begin with.
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Old 07-29-2012, 02:04 AM
Location: southwestern USA
1,744 posts, read 1,514,471 times
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I also think that we knew the call letters of stations more back in peek am radio era back in the 60s and 70s.

I agree with YtownGuy that more am stations are known by their call letters than fm stations.

Living in the Milwaukee area we knew the Milw and Chicago am call letter stations------woky, writ, and wisn Milwaukee-----wls, wmaq, and wgn Chicago.

I think am stations had more identifiable and interesting personalities back than----during those days we had more top
40 pop formats.

The fm listeners of today would rate the am formats of the past as cheesy and antiquated------so call me antiquated and an old battleship, because I miss the those great radio days and the personalities of that era.
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Old 08-02-2012, 03:45 AM
570 posts, read 683,531 times
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It really depends on the radio station. Various AM and FM stations in Arizona frequently use their call letters on the air. KOOL, KTAR-FM, KFYI, and KUPD are examples in the Phoenix area. KFMA, KLPX, KIIM, and KNST are examples in Tucson.
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Old 08-27-2012, 10:53 PM
Location: CentralAlabama
173 posts, read 90,838 times
Reputation: 27
All radio stations in the US, including 2 way, amateur, marine. Every licensed type of broadcasting actually are required to give their legal ID at the beginning and ending of each time of operation, and Hourly, as close to the hour as feasible, at a natural break in program offerings. That's under current FCC regulations. It used to be more often than that. The rest of the time they can use names like "Magic 96' or Kicks 106, or Catfish Country, or Chitlin' radio". Well you get the idea.
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Old 08-02-2013, 11:35 AM
Location: Henderson, NV, U.S.A.
8,661 posts, read 4,761,081 times
Reputation: 16551
Do you know radio stations by their call letters?
not really. i used to know them by the 4 letter identifier. it's easy to look up though:

las vegas radio stations, .radio-locator.

i'm a big radio listener; am or fm. especially on my sangean DT-400W, or ccradio EP, or ccradio.
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Old 08-24-2013, 01:08 PM
Location: Boone, NC
1,043 posts, read 1,754,003 times
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The App State college radio station is commonly known and branded as "WASU."

Every station I listen too, as WK4J mentions, give their callsigns every so often. The only ones I can remember off the top of my head are "WKRR" in Asheboro (also known as Rock 92) and WEND in Charlotte ("The End").
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