Today’s featured photo of the day! The feature is: Radio

For the month of November, I will be featuring radio transmitters and antennae. Here is today’s featured photo, to commemorate with the industry of radio’s 100th anniversary of invention. Here is a photo of a nighttime shot of Downtown from Grant Park including  the Sears (Willis) Tower taken from Lakeshore Drive on the Grant Park side. The Sears/Willis Tower always was and is the highest point in the Chicago metro area, coming in at 1,450′, 1,729′ to tip, always had the best VHF transmission in Chicago. Being from the south to west suburbs, the Willis Tower can be seen going south  to the highest point in Cook County at the point of the Cook County Forest Preserve on 159th Street near Oak Forest east of Oak Park Avenue. Willis Tower can also be seen in the Homer Glen area at the 12900 W. block of Hadley Road (west on turnpike from Bell Road) south of 167th Street before Bruce Road looking to the northeast. In Lemont, Willis Tower can be seen in the winter months at the 500-600 block of McCarthy Road over and in between the rooftops of houses and again in the 900 block same scenario. Then finally, my last known far point to see the Willis Tower in the suburbs is right on Interstate 88 going eastbound–as soon as you pass the point where you come out on the east side of the Finley Road overpass where the hill shows its crest. All these lookouts are way better viewing in winter months and especially at night. Radio comes in very great on any radio any of these points all the way east to the Willis Tower. All Chicago radio comes in on better antennae on Interstate 88 until the point on the noticeable hill between Hinckley Road and Somonauk Road east of DeKalb. Then going west, NO antennae–no matter how strong in a car, comes in after the noticeable hill near Tower Road way east on Interstate 39 near Malta. This point (Malta) cannot be missed as there are multiple radio antennae at the point because it is on a crest. This is the dividing point from two main markets–the Chicago market and the Rockford market, which are off by .4 MHz, so the signals do not interfere with each other. At this point the radio antennae you see here are all low powered, but high in height. The stations here in the middle of major markets are all at .2 MHz and .6 MHz so the stations from the Chicago market, being low powered do not interfere with either of Chicago or Rockford. I have gone to Rockford many times, so I know the point where you have to change the stations over. The markets are not always exactly circular in diameter, and in fact hills, mountains and other low and high points have all to do with it. This is so true, that the Chicago market is a better signal at the point of Ottawa which is farther west than DeKalb, but also way farther south so the linear mileage is way farther. The reason is that radio always makes it through a corridor, which the I & M Corridor compliments a brief extension of the Chicago market to the west. Deviations like this are all on an elevations map down at the FCC so that there is no change for radio bleed and the directional transmission of radio waves is all perfectly harmonious, so that radio is clean. AM’s high powered stations go several hundred miles at night bouncing off the ionosphere, and still pretty far by day. AM stations that are super low power sometimes still go off the air at night, although this was more common in past days. I like to support not for profit ventures, so I recommend reading the following great website for tips on great radio reception: North Country Public Radio: ARTICLE = Good FM reception tips from Radio Bob, and if you can, please leave a donation. In my final segment, I will go into a history of the Willis Tower and its relationship with the history of it’s inception with radio, and we are running out of November.

Radio was taken to a new journey by the Y2K scare of 1999 and into the 2000’s. By the year 2000, the FM band got great competition from HD radio. AM radio stopped trying to compete with FM and dropped the whole AM stereo that I discussed in my previous article, and turned over to a variety of news, talk and sports. AM does better these days than when it tried to compete with FM, because you do not need high quality to listen to non-musical programming, and the subjects are very popular. So popular so, that August 1, 2009, a Chicago station start simulcasting news on both AM and FM at the same time, and the programing change is still considered one of the most successful format changes in the history of radio. HD radio is a combination of FM and AM stations with many more sub-stations, and is free but you need to buy compatible equipment as it comes in on the same frequency as standard analog radio, but its digital composition makes it impossible to hear the transmission without an HD receiver. Each sub-station obviously uses far less room to cram in all those extra channels. The quality of the reception is the whole 20 Hz to 20 KHz in sound quality, unlike the restricted 50 Hz to 15 KHz FM sister. What gave the whole industry a run for the money completely, and still to the day is the thorn in radio’s side is the Sirius-XM satellite radio, which offers hundreds of channels and some extra premium channels which all of it is pay as you go radio, with usually monthly charges. In fact it is so popular that it has become a multi-billion dollar industry. Sirius and XM originally were two separate networks of satellite radio. Sirius was the older of the two, and was around since the late 80’s and got way more popular in the later 90’s. It got very popular in the New York City area when the Twin Towers disaster happened on 9/11/01. The XM network was delayed transmission because of the disaster. The two networks competed for a piece of the pie, taking over more local radio year by year until they eventually merged, instead of competing by the year 2007. Also competing directly against FM radio was downloading on the internet. Originally toward the beginning of the 2000’s, Napster, WinMX and Kazaa were three peer-to-peer share networking, where no central transmission site was “in charge” of sharing MP3’s with a connection, and the individuals shared the same recording that were eventually completed each time, essentially making ditto copies of the MP3. Lars Ulrich and other recording artists and the whole recording industry had these practices terminated by the year 2009. From the period of 2003 to 2006, a series of raids went through and people, including college students were literally sued by the recording industry. One by one persons were too concerned that they could be indicted, so the P2P networks failed one by one due to no one being there to share anymore. Also, shared were all sorts of computer viruses, and worst of all you IP address, which is how everyone got caught. Theoretically, given the software, the networks could still work today, but do you want to go to jail?  FM is diverse, and I still would like to think that it would go somewhere more than the stations being similar in format. It has been a long time since there has been great radio in Chicago, and all the stations want to ditto each other. This is the real reason radio still has trouble keeping listeners on the other end. I do like a lot of the great personalities and totally respect and follow a lot of them. If you want to keep radio on the air, I suggest going to the following website to connect with fellow radio buffs like myself: We Are Broadcasters. There are a lot of interesting things concerning radio there, and they are the main advocate for the nation’s radio and television broadcasters and lobby with Congress to make sure that radio and television do not go away.. Nowadays there are more options via internet of which I will cover in my final segment honoring of radio’s 100th anniversary of invention. More to follow on history in the final article . . .

Photo # 1 – Photo taken with a Nikon FE camera through a Nikon 26 mm lens, filter=polarizer, Aperture=4 f/stop, shutter-speed 1/30th second, loaded with Konica ISO (ASA) 100 Color 135-20 Negative Film processed with C-41 Processing Chemicals, and a Type C Print using the RA-4 enlargement paper process, onto a 4X6″ semi-gloss print. Date – October 1983.

Photo # 2 – Photo taken with a tripod-mounted Nikon FE camera through a Nikon 26 mm lens, filter=NONE, Aperture=2.8 f/stop, shutter-speed 1/4 second, loaded with Konica ISO (ASA) 100 Color 135-20 Negative Film processed with C-41 Processing Chemicals, and a Type C Print using the RA-4 enlargement paper process, onto a 4X6″ semi-gloss print. Date – October 1983.

The final fine photograph and facts about the Willis Tower to follow very soon to celebrate the anniversary of radio!!

Anniversary of Radio Post: Celebrating The 100th Anniversary of Radio


© 2020 Versatileer

3 thoughts on “Featured Photo: Celebrating Radio’s 100th Anniversary: The Continuing Flat-line of Radio in the Y2K Era to the Teens – The Sears Tower in 1983

  1. Thanks for the great post and the cool pictures! I’m a Chicagoland girl myself. And also thank you for calling it the Sears Tower!

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