Country Music on the Frequencies of Radio Herford.
The latest American country hits in concentrated form on the radio - that existed long before Country Folk! The idea of presenting the biggest hits of the week on the radio in the shape of a hit parade with some additional information came to Casey Kasem, Don Bustany and Tom Rouds as early as 1970. Following the success of American Top 40 in 1973 they created a country version, the American Country Countdown, hosted from 1978 until 2005 by Bob Kingsley. And thanks to the ambassador for American radio in Europe, the American Forces Network, for decades listeners in Germany were able to join him every week.
Of course, in the USA there were always country music chart programs other than the American Country Countdown. But they paled against the exclusive presentation of the ultimate country chart published by Billboard and presented by Bob Kingsley. The American Country Countdown was not only heard on hundreds of country stations in the USA and in the rest of the world, but Bob Kingsley was repeatedly honoured as best national radio host for many years until a rule change meant that at least every other year someone else could win this coveted trophy.
American Country Countdown is mainly, but not exclusively a chart show. The musicians themselves can be heard with their views, there is coverage of important events in country music history and twice each week listeners have a chance to share their story of significance of a certain country song.
In November 2005 we heard news that Bob Kingsley would no longer host the American Country Countdown next year. Allegedly this was not about money, but uncertainty about the future ownership of the show's distributor, which was about to be sold. In any case this was the end of a radio legend and many country music fans feared the worst. The first editions of American Country Countdown without Bob Kingsley seemed to confirm those fears. The sound quality was at best mixed and the moderation half-baked. The chosen new host was to be Kix Brooks, one half of the duo Brooks & Dunn, who took over the duties on January 21, 2006. There were some intial troubles, but a few week later he seems to have found his stride and since then presents a show well worth listening to.
This is the title of the new show hosted by Bob Kingley, which is on air since January 2006. The American Country Countdown team now works for this programme. In this sense Country Top 40 is the real continuation of the American Country Countdown with Bob Kingley, only that they are not allowed to use the Billboard charts and of course they are using a new name.
For those of us growing up without the Internet and DSL connections, there is an address that has brought genuine American radio into our receivers since well over 6 decades:
These days it is almost unimaginable what kind of influence the military radio stations of the western allies, especially the American Forces Network had on the European radio listeners up into the 1980s. Here you could listen to the latest hits from overseas and a relaxed presentation style that adressed a youthful audience. This made the station the complete opposite to the dreary German public radio stations of those days. And the »private« radio stations wearing down the same few hits did not yet exist in Germany. (For some reason, the term »private« is used for commercial radio and television stations in Germany. It seems they wanted to hide the fact that this is all about making money from the unsuspecting audience. the translator) So, those interested in current popular music had no choice to tune into stations like Radio Luxembourg in German or English, stations broadcasting from the high seas, the so-called radio pirates, or said military stations; accepting changeable reception if necessary. This was also the first place in Europe where country music could be heard on the radio. But country music was reserved for the American station, because then as now, most other stations have no reason to consider a kind of music with at best a limited audience in Europe.
Even today the stations of the guest forces (yes, that is the official term used today! the translator) offer a welcome contrast to the ever repetitive "biggest hits" or the unfunny "chancellor comedy" of the German stations. This concerns not just the music, but also the style of the announcers, which is much more inclusive of its audience. Since even many stations in the USA or Great Britain do not succeed at this, this is probably due to the special situation of the forces stations with their clearly identifiable audience. That way they manage to win major radio awards in direct competition to the biggest stations in their home countries!
As a station for the American military forces stations oversears, AFN broadcasts in places where its target audience is located. In Germany, this was in the American occupied zone in southern Germany, in Berlin and in and around Bremerhaven. German listeners in these areas usually had no problems tuning in. This is still the case in some places in southern Germany, while today all American soldiers are withdrawn from Berlin and most are gone from Bremerhaven.
In the USA popular music was mostly heard on AM (Medium Wave) until the 1970s and the AFN logically followed that (even a bit longer than that). That is the reason for the station sometimes being audible far from the nearest transmitter. Further than would ever be possible on FM (VHF). In our area we could tune to the medium waves from Frankfurt (873 kHz), which can cover big parts of western Europe at night, and Bremerhaven on 1143 kHz. The station in Bremerhaven was closed in 1993, but reception from Frankfurt continues to be possible. Today in the USA the AM bands are mostly home to talk radio and that is also reflected by the AFN. American Country Countdown is one of the few music programmes remaining on AM.
In this area, AFN was never a local station. The two mentioned AM transmission reached us rather feebly and with a lot of noise, so that reception is often interfered with by spurious emissions of other electronic devices. In the evenings, at night and during the winter months powerful soviet stations that "just by chance" happen to operate on the same frequencies made reception totally impossible here. In Hessisch Oldendorf and Sögel there were FM transmitters that could at huge expense be heard in our area. Nevertheless AFN never had the impact here that it had elsewhere. That is why to this day you find most country music fans in southern Germany, in the Bremerhaven area and in Berlin. Due to the closedown of the mentioned soviet transmitters, reception of the remaining AM signal from Frankfurt is easier nowadays, but for general reception the signal is still too weak and unstable, and because of the predominace of spoken word programming no longer of interest for a wider (German) public.
We Europeans tend to overlook, that there is another, independent country in North America, that, despite many simularities, is quite distinct from its southern neighbor. There are also Canadian troups stationed in Europe, and they too have their own radio stations. Since they were broadcasting right from the start exclusively on FM using low powers, they reached only the immediate surrounding area of those few garrisons and never had the influence on the German audiences like their American or British counterparts. But at least the CAE-Transmitter in Werl, which was on air until 1970, had a technical coverage of the eastern (densely populated, the translater) Ruhr area and might just have reached our area as well. After the end of the Cold War many of the remaining Canadian garrisons were closed and the funding for the station slashed. There was a period during the 1990s, when the station was not able to transmit any original programmes at all, but since then it has managed to returned to the airwaves. In order to reach remote locations, since 2002 it also broadcasts via satellite, and unencrypted at that - so it is freely receivable by everyone in all of Europe!
In our view at the moment there are no other country music programmes of note on AFN and CFN.
Country Top 40 airs on the Canadian Forces Network and
American Country Countdown airs on the American Forces Network.
Click here for way to listen on the net
In our area receivable on:
In our area receivable on:
Receivable here on:
Receivable here on:
In an era of cheap Internet flat rates listening on the net is of interest, not just for listeners living outside the coverage areas of these stations or who are not allowed or willing to erect a satellite antennas. At least for as long as the intellectual property mafia allows audio streams to cross international borders.
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|Day||CET||Local time and zone||Call||City||Frequency||Slogan
|Sat||appr. 12.45-5pm||appr. 5.45-10am
|WUSN-FM||Chicago, Illinois||99.5 MHz||America's Country Station, US 99 5||Flash||Flash|
|CKMX||Calgary, Alberta||1060 kHz||Classic Country AM 1060||Flash||Flash|
|KPLX||Dallas, Texas||99.5 MHz||99.5 The Wolf||WMA||mplayer with WMA codec|
|WAWC||Warsaw, Indiana||103.5 MHz||Willie 103.5||WMA||mplayer with WMA codec