AM radio, regular radio as we old timers call it, is on its death bed. It’s been there before. But now it seems all but certain that as its shrinking and aging audience dies, so will it follow.
But wait. There’s a new sheriff in town. It’s the American Society of Mediums. The what? Yes, the lobbying group for the men and women who make their living talking to your dead relatives has stepped up to the plate.
Little known fact: AM and shortwave signals are how they work their magic. You want to talk to aunt Margaret who died in 1943 or Napoleon, members of the ASM will get you there.
Oh, they will have little beads or a crystal ball or a Ouija Board. But those are just props. The real secret is in powerful little radios each member carries.
Ever meet a medium in a bikini? Or Speedos? Of course not. No place to hide the machinery. Will they come to your home or office for a consultation? Absolutely not, at least not those who are members of the ASM. The gear is at their home, storefront or traveling show tent. It’s hard to move. No, you have to go to them.
But over the last few decades, AM radio transmission has met enemies that no one foresaw. It’s called “RF,” short for radio frequency or RFI for radio frequency interference. It describes a kind of audible hash that makes contact with those in the afterlife harder.
You’ll never see a member of the ASM with fluorescent lights in her house. Not even those energy saving corkscrew bulbs. Fluorescent lights cause interference with transmission and reception.
So do cell phone towers, neon signs, steel beamed buildings, even the electric meter at your house. And then there are power lines, computers, modems, wifi routers, light dimmers, wired smoke alarms, garage door openers, surge suppressors, washing machines, microwave ovens and traffic lights.
And over time, we have put more and more of these devices into use.
They don’t just affect reception, they affect transmission. Fifty years ago, you could hear radio stations like WOR, New York, WLS, Chicago and WSM, Nashville over half the contiguous 48 states at night when signals bounce off the ionosphere. No more.
Even the crummy little WFLF near Cypress Gardens, Florida cast a respectable signal from the Jersey Shore to Houston.
Those days are gone forever.
But the unrecognized collateral damage is the seers and communicators with those in the afterlife.
The ASM has petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to increase the allowable maximum power of AM transmitters to one million watts from the current 50-thousand.
But the FCC is in no mood to do anything but euthanize the entire AM dial.
And while you think we’re being frivolous, just wait until you meet aunt Margaret in heaven. “Why did you stop calling? Did I say something wrong?”
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2016