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At the end of the 1960s, KINK-FM probably didn’t light the stereo light, but it was very listenable in mono 24/7 if you were lucky enough to live on the South slope in Vancouver, Canada. A DX’er friend of mine did just that. And what I heard at his house compared to the best I heard on CKLG-FM Vancouver (Canada’s first full-time Underground station in early 1968) and KOL-FM Seattle. CJOR-AM Vancouver played Underground from 6-10pm weeknights from September-December 1967 with Tim Burge, but I can’t really compare because I hadn’t yet heard KINK by the time Tim was fired and the station drifted back into oblivion.
In many Canadian markets, an AM commercial station is #1 rated, so there are obviously a lot of people who listen, presumably finding it “GOOD/ENTERTAINING”.
Back to AM transmitters and such: the only reason that FM is “so simple” is because there is not the need to create the incredibly complex directional patterns that all but the oldest clear channel AM stations need to broadcast at night with any amount of power.
From what I’ve read, a directional FM station — and, yes, there are quite a few now — simply has a null in one specific direction. And that null is created simply by sticking a grounded piece of pipe in the direction of the null, not very far from the transmitter antenna “element”.
Of course, the reason is that FM doesn’t normally do the long distance skip that AM is famous for at night.
By the way, that would be an interesting topic for discussion sometime: what is the record for number of towers for an AM station? Not so simple anymore since we are now seeing multi-station sites for directional AMs. That really starts to add up to a lot of towers.
And there is a 1957 KXL record survey on sale on eBay right now with one bid for $300.