radio radio

I found a new NPR station that comes in (relatively) clearly on my home radio, and it has real NPR talk programming for most of the day. The station is WEPR in Greenville, SC.

A few months ago I was rearranging furniture and I pulled the wooden Emerson radio/turntable/cassette/CD player out of the corner, setting it on top of a small bookcase on the south wall of the living room. It was able to get a lot of stations that I don't care about, but the wealth of public radio around here doesn't penetrate very well to my part of Cruso, nestled as it is in a narrow river valley at about 3080 ft elevation with mountains from 4000 to 6000 feet on both sides.

For a long time I listened to WCQS in Asheville, but they play classical music from 9 AM until 3 PM and go back to it at 7 PM. And so I listened to a lot of podcasts during the day, or streamed WFSU in Tallahassee on my laptop.

A few weeks ago, I was having trouble with the reception and fiddled with the tuner. I found NPR on another station, and it came in even clearer than Asheville. At first I thought it might just be a repeater for Asheville's signal, but then I noticed a difference in programming and heard the call sign. It was coming from Greenville, South Carolina; the signal has to come over the Pisgah Ridge section of the Blue Ridge parkway, which is situated at 5000 feet and is only a couple of miles away as the crow flies. This is counterintuitive to me, since it seems that there is a much clearer line of sight to Johnson City from my house. But I'll take what I can get.

When I'm in the car I listen to WETS in Johnson City, TN. It doesn't come in at all here at the house, but when I head down the road it's the clearest station - until I get close to Clyde, where the road gets all twisty, up-and-downy, and even has one tight switchback. There the Tennessee signal gets weak and peters out.

Last year I gave my annual donation to WFSU, but now I have real radio at home without burning up my download allowance with streaming. It looks like I'm going to have to give to the Greenville station next year.

I'd prefer to donate locally, but I really don't listen to WCQS in Asheville or WNCW in Spindale enough to justify it. If WCQS went to the standard NPR format, I'd gladly give to them. But I listen almost 24 hours a day (the radio usually stays on as I sleep), and if I have to get up to change the station at 9 AM five days a week, that's not the right station for me. Not if I have a better option, and especially not when I don't have push-button tuning and station memory. My radio is proudly analog in its user interface, with a potentiometer whose knob you twist to find stations.

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