This time of year isn’t the best for traveling in North America. Snow and freezing rain make highways treacherous. Inattentive or reckless drivers make the difficult journeys even more hazardous.

For people who just want to experience new regions of the country, there is an easier way to travel. An ordinary AM radio can tune in stations from thousands of miles away during the long, dark nights of winter. By merely tuning the dial between local stations, you can find all sorts of interesting programming.

Local news is particularly interesting. From what you hear, you can compare your local government with that of other municipalities. If there’s a disaster in a certain part of the country, and that location has a powerful radio station, you can get details from their news cast which are missing from local stations. It also is helpful for those of us who came from other parts of the country to hear about what is going on in our former home town or city.

Sports fans have plenty of programs to enjoy. A casual cruising of the dial will bring up many sports commentary shows, as I found out recently. In fact, I was amazed at the number of different shows devoted to sports.

Talk shows are not as popular on the AM broadcast band as they were a few years ago. Even so, I’ve picked up many conservative programs and one liberal one while tuning the dial before bed.  These shows often feature popular topics but they also have some unique interviews or discussions of topics you might not have thought or known about.

At sunset and sunrise, an even more interesting phenomenon takes place. Stations along the line between daylight and night are easier to pick up at those times than they would be normally. This grey line propagation, as radio aficionados call it, often allows normally weak stations to be heard at great distances.

In my more than four decades of Am dial listening, I’ve been able to receive stations from remarkable distances. For example, I’ve heard WWL in New Orleans from here in Alberta. It’s difficult to pick up these days due to a local station right next to the frequency it’s on. KGO in San Fransisco is another distant station I hear quite often. There was one rare night in December of 1976 when I picked up WNYW in New York. A cold snap had hit the state and announcers were advising citizens on how to dress for the cold. Being from Alberta, that was old news to me but interesting to hear none the less.

Radio has been my lifeline to the outside world, especially when I attended a residential school for deaf and blind children. It was also responsible for teaching me about the Bible and the true character of the heavenly Father. Check out How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell’s Books to learn more.


Author: bruce Atchison - author

I'm a legally-blind freelance writer as well as the author of three memoirs and scores of articles. Contact me for details.

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