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Thread: The Unofficial AM Cheating Thread

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Default The Unofficial AM Cheating Thread

    Okay call me naive, but I suppose that is why these Fora are here.

    There is so much widespread cheating amongst AM stations that I could use some info...like....

    (1) Does the FCC have to wait for enough complaints, before the hammer is leveled? Are there not enough complaints, **at least from supposedly-protected stations**, that the offending AM station (whether running at nights when they shouldn't, or running day/higher power or different pattern) can keep it going?

    (2) How many of the daytime-only offenders have a listen-live link on their website, and figure that they need to run the AM to keep the feed fluid? Also, how many are announcing an FM frequency as well, and feel that they have to run the AM? I do know that one FL station runs 1 watt at night, ostensibly to keep the FM and/or Web stream going.

    (3) We have one member here I know, maybe two, who are whizzes when it comes to knowing about "HSFB" (high school football), and listens out for any cheaters who run such games on the air. (This time of year, I would figure basketball to play a similar role.) Do these sporting events affect what power/pattern a station uses?

    Anyway I know I am all over the place on this, but when I did AM DX in the 70s and 80s, this silliness just didn't happen. Never; unless there was a special DX program or special maintenance, assumed approved by the FCC.

    Any answers or comments?

    cd

  2. #2
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    May 2014
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    Default

    Mexico has a good set of cheaters too — especially the daytimers who run 6am-midnight schedules. XEBCS comes booming in here at night. XEQI does the same thing.
    Este programa es público, ajeno a cualquier partido político. Queda prohibido el uso para fines distintos a los establecidos en el programa.

    Read the Mexico Beat | Download Mexican FM Station Coordinates v2 | View my HD Radio in Mexico map

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
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    Pleasant View, TN EM66
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    Default

    I don't suppose you're going to get any hard answers...

    - My sense is that the FCC no longer has the enforcement resources it once had. For the most part, what enforcement they have is wielded against violations that threaten public safety -- or financially well-heeled stakeholders. (i.e. cellular services) AM radio is small potatoes & not worth much effort.
    - The regulations specifically state an FM translator relaying a daytime-only AM station may operate if the AM station has operated in the last 24 hours. It's not legally required to operate the AM 24/7 if the FM is to operate at night. Since all FM translators relaying AM stations are "fill-in" translators, they may receive their programming via any terrestrial means - not just over the air. That said, one translator around here once picked up its daytime-only AM primary over the air, so they did have to operate the AM 24/7 if they wanted the FM to work. (that doesn't make it legal) (the station in question has since switched to other-than-OTA means and to the best of my knowledge is now turning the AM off at night)
    - High school sports are awfully lucrative. I've heard many small-town stations make all their money on these games -- if the games weren't airing, the stations would not be profitable. So yes, I think many stations do run the games on day facilities; the alternative is to go out of business. (again that doesn't make it right!)

    You may have read about the "Friday Night Football Exemption", a FCC regulation that supposedly makes the broadcast of a sporting event with day facilities legal. I have encountered AM station employees who are convinced this regulation is real and are VERY surprised to learn it isn't. There is no such regulation. I suspect they're thinking of 73.1520(f):

    (f) AM stations may, without further FCC authority, use their full daytime facilities during nighttime hours to broadcast emergency information (examples listed in paragraph (a) of this section), when necessary to the safety of life and property, in dangerous conditions of a general nature and when adequate advance warning cannot be given with the facilities authorized. Because of skywave interference impact on other stations assigned to the same channel, such operation may be undertaken only if regular, unlimited-time service, is non-existent, inadequate from the standpoint of coverage, or not serving the public need. All operation under this paragraph must be conducted on a noncommercial basis. Recorded music may be used to the extent necessary to provide program continuity.
    Football games do not appear in the list of examples in paragraph (a) (and notice the sentence about "...noncommercial basis.")

    They can get away with it, so they do it.....
    Doug Smith W9WI
    Pleasant View, TN EM66
    http://www.w9wi.com

  4. #4
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    Doug, you had me there when I first saw the high school football exemption! And it isn't even April 1! I was ready to reply, "no, I never heard of that!"

    We have a cheater in FL 250 miles away (unless their 33 watts are aimed my way, hi) and I heard a local ad. I suppose that when that business signed a contract, they were banking on full coverage, whether day or night. The whole thing about local advertisers - another fly in the ointment.

    Raymie, I was just transferring files tonight, including that XEQI...I admit that I did love their musical selections.

    All this is just amazing.

    cd

  5. #5
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    Jul 2005
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    Toronto / Burnt River ON
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    Default

    Sometimes stations might run illegally without intending to do so. After hearing 540 WKFN TN, for example, night after night in Ontario at dominant strength, I contacted the CE, who worked for a groups of stations, and he said he'd look into it. He got back to me a day or so later and actually thanked me, acknowledging the station should have been on very reduced power, and somehow things got out of whack without it being apparent. WKFN has not appeared at night ever since, though I do note it often enough during authorized daylight hours.

    The e-mail exchange with the CE was very friendly. I consider that key in the early going if one's aim is to curtail such activity. Keep a log of when you hear something. If possible find DXers far away who can hear it loud enough. Have audio recordings made from a distance, even if it means asking distant DXers to do that (if you happen to be too close).

    If you do want to curtail the activity, publicize the situation (in a non-inflammatory way) widely on DX lists and bull-boards so DXers who want to can avail of the opportunity. Allow a generous window. Build and document your case in the meantime. Then at some point take it to the station and / or owners and/or engineer, and let them know the xmtr may be malfunctioning.

    If they indicate that they care (a good deal of them may not, or may be cheating deliberately), then I think it's OK to let them know you're part of the community of DXers, who if the CE wants can be eyes and ears. Might even pull off the occasional DX test.

    As for the cheaters who don't care: Leave a little time after letting them know. Perhaps they will fix a problem or stop on their own, quietly, wanting to save face. If nothing changes after, say, a month, contact the CE at stations that may be being interfered with. It helps if the person making that contact isn't in Idaho if the station being affected by the cheater is in Virginia - so consider enlisting help from another DXer if need be.

    If nothing resolves from there, after a month or so, perhaps contact the FCC. If anyone is going to take the matter this far, I'd really hope they would not have IDed themselves as a DXer anywhere in the process.

    I do think it's nice, if you're a DXer, to give other DXers ample opportunity to hear the station, by publicizing it's DXability in DXer venues. And even if the complaint level goes into high gear, remain polite, civilized and totally mellow in demeanour, and avoid inflammatory and accusatory words like 'cheating'.

    As for the footballers... if they sign off right after the game ends and aren't a chronic offender, publicize the opportunity and let 'em be.

    My two cents, as I enjoy this thread.
    Saul Chernos
    Burnt River ON

  6. #6
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    Good post, Saul.

    One time around 1996ish I was listening to Joe Donovan's 840 WHAS oldies show (fantastic show BTW), and heard (ISTR) CNN Headline News underneath it. This turned out to be KVJY Pharr TX running its day pattern. I had their number in the NRC Log so I called them (2:30 am local), and asked them if they are running day pattern by accident. Man! The guy on the phone was in such a panic---said he'd call the CE right away. 10 minutes later, problem solved! I sure hate to interrupt people's sleep.....!

    So, yes, the nice approach works.

    As Saul knows, I do post on the BCB Log for other DXers where I notice violations.

    cd

  7. #7
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    Further to Doug's post, if the FCC is going to respond to a complaint about AM, it's going to be mostly because another station had a legitimate complaint. Long gone are the days when the FCC had the staffing, budget and will to pursue rules violations simply because rules were violated.

    Saul's approach is the best one, I think. Particularly if you think that there's another station which is being interfered with.
    Russ Edmunds
    15 mi NW Philadelphia, PA
    WB2BJH -- Grid FN20id
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  8. #8
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    Propagation can do strange things...

    ... I'm thinking of a time when I was AM DXing with a crystal radio set. There used to be a crystal radio contest...

    http://crystalradio.us/contests/index.htm

    ... in which I competed, years ago. (2004-2009) During this contest I was listening to my line-of-sight (my tower can 'see' their tower) local station, early one morning. It's licensed for, non-directional, 5KW day and 53 watts night. On this particular morning it was VERY strong while it was supposed to be running low power. I thought they were, 'cheating.' A few minutes later they flipped the switch and nearly blew the headphones off of my head. Seems I was wrong about it, 'cheating.' Normally, when running low power, the local just blends in with all of the other mess. On this morning it was LOUD, even though it was obviously running low power. I was amazed how much propagation can vary the signals even when the station is LOS. The moral of the story is: Favorable propagation can, at times, turn a 'pea-shooter' into a 'big gun.'

    I've heard several other 'pea-shooters' (TIS stations, etc) over the years thanks to favorable propagation.

    Are there cheaters out there? Sure there are, but, just because they have a big signal doesn't necessarily mean they're cheating.

    FWIW... the FCC is too busy selling RF spectrum, it does not own, to be bothered with anything so trivial as enforcement of the rules. Remember... People who are completely un-employable will be employed by the government. I offer, 'inside the beltway' as proof.

    73, Ed NN2E
    Owner / Operator - Murphy's Law Test Site & Thunderstorm Proving Grounds
    "You Might Be a Redneck If...
    Your TV is on 24/7.
    Your TV has been permanently on for over a decade.
    The only time your TV is off is during a power outage.
    Your TV gets 512 channels, but you go outside to use the bathroom.
    Your new TV is sitting on top of your old TV.
    Your TV costs more than all of your other furniture.
    Your deer-stand has a TV antenna on it.
    Your cable provider has no idea that you exist."
    Jeff Foxworthy

  9. #9
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    Man I love this hobby. There was a station in Kansas on 1030, KBUF I believe that was on day power a few times during the summer and fall of last year (2015). Contact with the engineer was made and though he said everything was fine, I still heard it from MN. Eventually they fixed it. The biggest cheater I can think of off hand is KCTO 1160. Annoying station.
    Last edited by SlcDX; 02-09-2016 at 12:10 AM.
    Justin W. - Blaine, Minnesota (EN35)
    Most used radios in order: Sony XDR-F1HD, Subaru Impreza Factory radio with RDS (not stock antenna though), Grundig G8, or Grundig S350.
    DTV dx: Insignia Tuner that everyone else has.
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  10. #10
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    KRXR-1480 Gooding, ID
    KZXR-1310 Prosser, WA - Both Spanish speaking formats but MAN they cheat a lot! KRXR is always in the clear E-W on 1480, and Prosser dominates at night on 1310, 50 miles away. Their wattage at night should only be in the double digits...not 5,000. Ditto w/ KRXR.
    I hear KOHI 1600 St. Helens, OR cheating about once a month. They are 12 watts night, but cheat on 1000 watts.
    KSLL-1080 Price, UT is also common w/ their Classic Rock 105 the Kastle format, well into the night. They are a daytimer!
    FM/AM/SW DXer of Yakima, WA! God Bless America!

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