Now that I have a more accurate way to know what radio stations you should be able to hear, it was time to test it in the real world.
Back around Christmas time, I sat in a parking lot with a list of nearby radio stations to see if there were any discrepancies. At that time, I mentioned that there was one radio station that appeared to be missing in action – all the rest seem to be there
Previously because I didn’t know how free space signal loss worked, I just set the range to < 35 miles – but some stations can be heard more than 35 miles, in fact most. With the range set to 200 miles, many more radio stations appeared to be within the listening range – and that is true.
But that one radio station – WAGL-AM in Lancaster SC was still not audible in Charlotte, where it should have a clear signal. Time for a road trip!
So I told my iPad where the station tower is, and told Siri – “take me to the tower!” – at the time I started the trip, I was already in a place called Stallings, NC. Siri figured out a route, and started turn by turn instructions. I had the radio to the appropriate frequency, no matter how close I got to Lancaster, no signal. It was plausible that the station might have been running reduced power, but there was nothing. I arrived on the street outside the towers, there they were – and absolutely no signal.
If one were hunting for zombies this is an obvious candidate – the reasons include:
- It is daytime only AM station
- It is licensed for 50 kW daytime, which would probably cost $80 a day for electricity
- It was airing gospel, which probably does not draw a big audience
- Lancaster is a small town with a struggling economy (9000 people – majority black, and 23% below the poverty line)
- The license is for a directional antenna array, which requires 4 towers, requiring engineers to check them, and more things to go wrong
- The ownership contact address is a PO Box
- the license renewal was not done by an attorney
Upon further review, the owner died in September 2014
The FCC has not been notified that the owner died or that the station is off the air. The web site domain has stopped functioning. The FCC should have been told in 10 days, it has been 6 months.
So what now?