The death of America’s rural radio, according to the Guardian(.UK)

This sponsored “news” story profiles KHIL-AM in Willcox Arizona as typical of the decline of America’s rural radio, which the story blamed primarily on the 1996 Telecom Reform Act (without mentioning that Bill Clinton pushed for it).

Willcox is on I-10 and the Southern Pacific railroad, about 80 miles NE of Tucson. Its population is around 3,500 and declining. About 40% of the residents responding to the census self-identity as Hispanic.

The station was created by singing cowboy Rex Allen, who died in 1999 (probably more important than deregulation in 1996). The station is class D (the smallest type), clustered with 3 other stations. Not mentioned is the AM station now has a “Saving AM radio” FM translator.

On the tower are classic country KHIL-AM, its FM translator, a regional non-commercial FM, a satelite delivered religious station, and a new Classic Hits station started in 2017. Pretty impressive for a town of 3,500.

The story ignores the reason why the man working there has to sleep at the station (which types of people might steal stuff an hour from the Mexican border?). The man running the station clearly doesn’t like classic country music.

Give it a read and let me know your opinion.

6 Responses to “The death of America’s rural radio, according to the Guardian(.UK)”

    • TheChairman says:

      Well, Willcox AZ isn’t exactly a good benchmark… it’s remote, sparse, and odd. A better location would be Benson/Tombstone; big army base in Ft Huachuca.

      We heard plenty of AM station activity in rural Kansas, Nebraska, S. Dakota, etc during our journey. But Michigan is under radio silence on AM. We have one station up here in the ‘Tip of the Mitt’, and they merely seem to be a repeater for Steve Gruber in the morning, and then relay nationally syndicated shows (e.g. Dana Loesch) or the infamous Dave Ramsey infomercial in the afternoon.

      • Fred Stiening says:

        Apparently that guy in that station have gotten buzz on social media, which is the only logical reason the guardian would even be aware the station exists.

        Adding YouTube video to post…

  1. Fred Stiening says:

    The Guardian should have gone to Flint, Michigan to pile on their “America Sucks!” coverage.

    WFNT-AM is a station I used to listen to when I lived in the Flint area. The web site proudly proclaims “1470 WFNT radio has the best news coverage in Flint, Michigan”. The station is owned by Townsquare Media – they are easily in the top 10 evil radio conglomerates that the Guardian blames for putting local radio out of business.

    Steve Gruber is the 6-9 AM morning drive guy who you would expect to have the treasure trove of Flint’s news. If you go to his page on the web site, you are greeted with 8 year old national news headlines. Seriously, that’s the best you can do?

    Can we assume it is the best because it is the only Flint station with news?

    • Fred Stiening says:

      WWCK-AM, the Cumulus news/talk station in Flint runs 4 hours of America in the Morning and First Light from 5-9 AM. There is no morning drive host, presumably because nobody in Flint has a job.

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