Clear channel

From Academic Kids

For information on the company named Clear Channel, see Clear Channel Communications.

Clear channel stations are AM radio stations that are designated as such so that only one or two 50,000 watt powerhouses operate at night on each designated frequency, covering a wide area via sky wave propagation. Non-clear channel stations transmitting on these frequencies are (or were) required to shut down at night, leading them to be known as daytimers. In North America, some frequencies were designated by the North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement (NARBA) (to which the U.S., Canada, and Mexico are signatory) as clear channels. These are considered by the FCC and CRTC to be class A (formerly class 1-A or I-A) stations. Daytimers are in class D.

For the U.S., clear channels first appeared in 1922 when the Commerce Department moved stations which had all used two frequencies (one for entertainment stations, one for news) onto 52 frequencies. Two were used for all low-power stations and the large stations each got their own frequency. A few frequencies were used on both the East and West Coast, which were considered far enough apart to limit interference. At this time large stations were limited to 1000 watts. Later in 1928, the AM band was reorganized with local, regional and clear channels (and a few reserved for Canada) by the new Federal Radio Commission. Gradually maximum power was increased to 50,000 watts. This system was continued in the 1941 NARBA system although almost all stations shifted broadcast frequencies.

Recently however, the FCC has authorized nighttime operation by lower-powered stations on these frequencies, thus limiting the non-interference range of the primary licensees. Stations are still required to reduce power or reconfigure their transmitters at night. Regional class stations have been allowed to increase their power to the same 50,000 watts as clear channel stations. In 1987 the rules were changed so that no new stations would have daytime-only licenses.

Clear Channel Communications, a San Antonio, Texas-based company which owns a large number of U.S. radio stations, was originally formed to purchase one of these stations, WOAI; the company now owns more than a dozen.

Clear channels in North America

The following two tables show all of the class-A stations in North America. Stations in Alaska are shown separately due to their unique status.


Class A stations (except Alaska)
Freq. Callsign Community
540 CBK Watrous, Saskatchewan
540 CBT Grand Falls, Newfoundland
540 XEWA San Luis Potosi
640 CBN Saint John's, Newfoundland
640 KFI Los Angeles, California
650 WSM Nashville, Tennessee
660 WFAN New York, New York
670 WSCR Chicago, Illinois
680 KNBR San Francisco, California
690 CINF Montreal, Quebec
690 XETRA Tijuana, Baja California
700 WLW Cincinnati, Ohio
710 KIRO Seattle, Washington
710 WOR New York, New York
720 WGN Chicago, Illinois
730 XEX Mexico City
740 CHWO Toronto, Ontario
750 WSB Atlanta, Georgia
760 WJR Detroit, Michigan
770 WABC New York, New York
780 WBBM Chicago, Illinois
800 XEROK Ciudad Juárez
810 KGO San Francisco, California
810 WGY Schenectady, New York
820 WBAP Fort Worth, Texas
830 WCCO Minneapolis, Minnesota
840 WHAS Louisville, Kentucky
850 KOA Denver, Colorado
860 CJBC Toronto, Ontario
870 WWL New Orleans, Louisiana
880 WCBS New York, New York
890 WLS Chicago, Illinois
900 XEW Mexico City
940 CINW Montreal, Quebec
940 XEQ Mexico City
990 CBW Winnipeg, Manitoba
990 CBY Corner Brook, Newfoundland
1000 KOMO Seattle, Washington
1000 WMVP Chicago, Illinois
1010 CBR Calgary, Alberta
1010 CFRB Toronto, Ontario
1020 KDKA Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
1030 WBZ Boston, Massachusetts
1040 WHO Des Moines, Iowa
1050 XEG Monterrey
1060 KYW Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1060 XEEP Ejercito de Oriente
1070 CBA Moncton, New Brunswick
1070 KNX Los Angeles, California
1080 KRLD Dallas, Texas
1090 KAAY Little Rock, Arkansas
1090 WBAL Baltimore, Maryland
1100 WTAM Cleveland, Ohio
1110 KFAB Omaha, Nebraska
1110 WBT Charlotte, North Carolina
1120 KMOX St. Louis, Missouri
1130 CKWX Vancouver, British Columbia
1130 KWKH Shreveport, Louisiana
1130 WBBR New York, New York
1140 WRVA Richmond, Virginia
1140 XEMR Monterrey
1160 KSL Salt Lake City, Utah
1170 KFAQ Tulsa, Oklahoma
1170 WWVA Wheeling, West Virginia
1180 WHAM Rochester, New York
1190 KEX Portland, Oregon
1190 WOWO1 Fort Wayne, Indiana
1190 XEWK Guadalajara
1200 WOAI San Antonio, Texas
1210 WPHT Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1220 XEB San Lorenzo Tezonco
1500 KSTP St. Paul, Minnesota
1500 WTOP Washington, D.C.
1510 KGA Spokane, Washington
1510 WLAC Nashville, Tennessee
1520 KOKC Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
1520 WWKB Buffalo, New York
1530 KFBK Sacramento, California
1530 WCKY Cincinnati, Ohio
1540 KXEL Waterloo, Iowa
1540 ZNS1 Nassau, Bahamas
1550 CBE Windsor, Ontario
1550 XERUV Jalapa
1560 KNZR Bakersfield, California
1560 WQEW New York, New York
1570 XERF Ciudad Acuña
1580 CHUC2 Cobourg, Ontario
Class A (former class I-N) stations in Alaska
Freq. Callsign Community
640 KYUK Bethel
650 KENI Anchorage
660 KFAR Fairbanks
670 KDLG Dillingham
680 KBRW Barrow
700 KBYR Anchorage
720 KOTZ Kotzebue
750 KFQD Anchorage
770 KCHU Valdez
780 KNOM Nome
820 KCBF Fairbanks
850 KICY Nome
890 KBBI Homer
1020 KAXX Eagle River
1080 KUDO Anchorage
1170 KJNP North Pole


Note 1: WOWO was previously a class-A station and is called out in the treaties as such. However, in the 1990s WOWO was downgraded to a class B allotment by reducing its night power to 9.8 kW, and thus no longer has a secondary service area.

Note 2: CHUC applied for and was granted 1580 at Cobourg, Ontario with 10 kW, but chose instead to move to FM. This channel was originally allocated to CBJ in Chicoutimi, Quebec. CHUC is notified to the U.S. as an existing station on 1580.

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