KTLKFM–May you rest in peace…

KTLK-FM 100.3 FM (http://ktlkfm.com) was the local Twin Cities only FM talk radio (I could be wrong, but it’s the only one I listened to).  Her you could listen to the voices of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Jason Lewis and other local talk hosts.

To be fair – I use the past tense here but KTLK-FM is now Twin Cities News Talk – 1130 AM (http://www.twincitiesnewstalk.com).

The Clear-Channel management (owners of KTLK-FM) decided to swap things around.  KFAN (Twin Cities sports radio) and KTLK are swapping.  Here’s the low-down.

Was:

  • KFAN – AM 1130 and FM 103.5
  • KTLK-FM – FM 100.3

Is:

  • KFAN – FM 100.3
  • KTLK-FM – AM 1130 and FM 102.5

 

Why the change?

Clear-Channel has decided that sports is a bigger market than talk.  And they are right (according to the numbers).  20+% people listen to sports radio vs. only 5% talk.  And with the new contracts for Minnesota Wild and University of Minnesota’s Gophers Clear-Channel decided to promote their sports channel on the FM frequencies.

What’s the impact?

Things are not as they seem.  First off, due to FCC delays KTLK is not currently being broadcast on FM.  When they (FCC) finally get their act together, we’re not out of the woods.  Let me explain:

FM 100.3 is a whopping 98,000 Watt transmitter (http://radio-locator.com/info/KFXN-FM).  In comparison 103.5 is only 175 Watts and 102.5 is even less at a puny 41 Watts.  The reason why KFAN was also broadcasted on these frequencies was to take care of the AM dead-spot in downtown Minneapolis (tall buildings).  The ONLY reason why KTLK will transmit on these frequencies is ALSO to deal with the downtown dead-spot.

Ok, lets look at 1130 AM (http://radio-locator.com/info/KFAN-AM)– this is transmitted at 50,000 Watts during the day and only 25,000 Watts at night.   Wow 50,000 Watts is close to 98,000 Watts – nope – not even close.

First the obvious; the 50% less power.

Secondly technology.  AM – Amplitude Modulation vs FM – Frequency Modulation.    AM is more prone to signal degradation over distance due to the transmitted signal being a component (amplitude) of the carrier wave.  Whereas FM is more enduring.  Because FM uses frequency modulation over its carrier wave the signal quality is not reduced with distance.  Sure the signal’s amplitude is reduced (signal strength), but since the broadcast is not a component of amplitude it is not affected.

Lets view this pictorially.

Here’s the good old 100.3 FM coverage map:

Nice and strong.  Now lets look at the equivalent 1130 AM’s coverage:

Daytime (50,000 Watts)

 

and nighttime (25,000 Watts):

 

What about 102.5 and 103.5 FM you ask:

Here’s 102.5 FM (41 Watts)

 

and 103.5 FM (175 Watts):

 

Are there other options?

You can still listen to the good old (high fidelity) KTLK; here are your choices:

  • Listen to them on AM 1130 (not so good, but I list it here anyway)
  • Listen to them on HD2 radio.
  • Use their iHeartRadio (mobile phone) application – http://www.iheartradio.com
  • Listen to them live via their web site.
  • Listen to their pod-casts.

My Conclusions?

Clearly if you relied on 100.3 FM’s transmission strength you will loose out.  I personally would have days when I couldn’t get a clear signal at home (some 60 miles west of downtown) yet these would number 1-2 days a year.  Today with 1130 AM – nothing but static.

Good bye KTLK – may you rest in peace.

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