50,000 Watts of Power with a skip

I have the fortune of listening to Massachusetts election returns on WBZ 1030 AM while in Raleigh, NC. What? You say? Yes.

BZ's signal, beamed with 50,000 watts of power to cover most of the dead zones around Massachusetts and New England, reaches down here loud and clear.

How? Well a former member of the Army Signal Corps could probably explain it much better than I, but the basic idea is that radio waves travel like waves on the ocean. Radio waves get an extra boost from the phenomenon of atmospheric skip. Basically, the waves rise into the upper reaches of the amosphere, where the air is lighter, and the waves skip freely, like Tiny Tim in his tulips.

I discovered the power of this phenomenon, all 50,000 watts of it, on Sunday night. I was scanning the AM band down here while driving to a friend's house to watch the Patriots' JV team play the Colts. I was hunting for pregame chatter in hopes of finding the game itself for later because I planned to leave during halftime.

The radio version of 60 Minutes was playing on 1030, so I stopped to listen. I hung around for the commercial for a station ID and to listen if they did a promo for the game's broadcast. I was stunned that it was BZ, loud and clear.

Excited, I tuned in the next morning to listen to the morning news in Boston and the world, but I instead got a dose of hellfire from a preacher who wasn't going to yield to the gentle voices from Boston.

However, tonight, I decided to give it another shot. Sure enough, BZ was there for me on my drive home. I was so happy. The signal was worse thanks to the heavy rain we're having here in Raleigh tonight, but it was still as strong in some spots as it would have been in Boston.

Ahhhhh, a bit of home right here in Tobacco Country.


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