Many people in the radio hobby, myself
included, combine their interest in radio
with a love of travel and geography. One
listens to distant radio stations and is
curious to see and learn about the places
from which they emanate. On this page, I
will summarize my notes regarding motels,
roads, restaurants, etc., whenever I
am able to travel. I will also use this
space to update my hobby of county
collecting, a pursuit I began on 1
January 1995 that counts only those counties
I have visited since that date. This page
will consciously avoid discussion of radio
matters such as formats, but may contain
discussion of station/tower site
I conceived this page on
6 May 1998 and will include details of my
travels beginning then, with the most recent
For earlier trips from 1998
and 1999, see page 1, and for 2000, see page 2.
Cincinnati-Louisville-Terre Haute Trip, 9-13 July 2001
Readers of this feature (for which I thank you) will recall that we have been planning our trips around the art galleries in this part of the country that have significant holdings of European paintings of the nineteenth and earlier centuries. Here is another such trip: in 1996 we went to the Cincinnati Art Museum only to find it closed on Mondays (now, of course, we check such things on the web), and I had heard of a museum in Louisville while there for a convention in the early '80s. These two aren't very far apart, and as plans developed, other good possibilities arose in the same area.
We left on Monday morning just after 8--pretty good, we thought, after all the loading and getting boys ready--in warm and humid weather. After breakfast in Janesville, we went through Chicago on the Tri-State Tollway quite easily, with just two traffic delays: near O'Hare and then eastbound near the state line on I-80/94. There are eight 40-cent tolls on this route. We had lunch near Lowell at a Burger King; that is, the boys and I did, and Jill waited for the Fazoli's in Lafayette that we had marked on the map during an earlier visit. I had planned to exit I-65 and go into Lafayette for the betterment of this web site, and so we had time for Jill to enjoy her sampler platter while I monitored stations and copied their addresses in the restaurant. WJEF 91.9 ("Jeff 92") is an interesting non-commercial oldies station. I hadn't been to Lafayette since attending a DX get-together there in the fall of 1996 with some friends. Gas in Lafayette was 1.129, which proved to be the lowest of the whole trip, and we came to wish we had topped it off there. Back on I-65, we drove the north and east portions of the I-465 loop around Indianapolis, passing the channel 13 tower, and then went east using a roundabout route (catching some counties) to our motel in Centerville, just west of Richmond. We stayed at the Super 8 there, and it was uncommon in being one at which you park right in front of your room--not the usual interior hallway layout. It was in the mid-80s outside, and considerably hotter in the room, but the air conditioner worked, and soon it was comfortable and cool enough to sleep. There were just a few cable channels, and most of the TV was apparently received over the air; I noted considerable CCI over WDTN 2 Dayton and suspected skip. We got dinner from the nearby Dairy Queen and ate in the room. The meat in my barbeque wasn't very good.
Tuesday morning started off hot and humid. We started off by looking around Richmond. We stopped at a Cub Foods to get milk for the boys, only to find it closed and a crew just then working to take down the "Low Price Leader" sign. We got the milk at the Kroger in the east side. A visit to WKBV 1490/WFMG 101.3 yielded a free t-shirt! Then it was off to Ohio to proceed on that side of the border to Cincinnati. There was construction on our route, but we got around it, and headed down on 27 into the city. At a lunch stop at a Hardee's in some north suburb we had 2-for-2 Big Shef [sic] sandwiches. It's a Big Mac imitation, and we really liked them.
Entering the city, we were reminded of its distinctive character, its many named neighborhoods, and its narrow streets. Parking is allowed, but where there is a parked car, there isn't enough room for two cars to pass one another. I come away with the sense that Cincinnati is a very rich and colorful city that one would only appreciate after a considerable time. We found our way to the Cincinnati Art Museum and went in, expecting a $5 per adult fee (after reading the web site), and it was a pleasant surprise that someone's grant had yielded free admission for the summer. The collection is very good and fully worth visiting again. I had read earlier (Musical Quarterly 1990) about a Gainsborough portrait there that the author of the article argued was in fact a portrayal of Johann Christian Bach (J. S. Bach's youngest son and friend of the boy Mozart), not the man named Middleton as it is identified in the gallery. We saw it, and it was a great surprise to find a wonderful portrait by Ingres of Luigi Cherubini, a composer praised by Beethoven who wrote operas in Paris in the revolutionary era. I had no idea that it was in Cincinnati, and was glad to find it in the book of highlights from the collection that we purchased. Earlier art is a bit weaker at Cincinnati, but they have a beautiful pair by Hans Memling.
Leaving the museum as it closed at 5, we dared to head downtown in rush hour to see the new baseball stadium. We were stationary in downtown gridlock for a while, and saw a bank thermometer reading 97, but the delay gave me time to monitor some more of the local stations. We got to the stadium, near the existing one, and took a picture out the window at a red light. Then we hopped onto I-71, noting the 1050 tower as we left town, and went to our motel, the Super 8 in Carrollton KY. It was a very nice one and, in a cluster of motels and restaurants, there was plenty to choose from for dinner. Jill and the boys had KFC while I went for Taco Bell.
Wednesday morning was warm and sunny, and thankfully less humid. With a relatively short distance to drive, we stayed around the motel late, and had lunch at the KFC Buffet adjacent to it before leaving the area. The food was certainly regionally influenced, and it was good to be in a "y'all" environment again. The first mission of the day was to find, finally, on my third visit to Louisville, the WHAS 840 tower. Web work at home told us where it is, but we had no map of the area, and efforts to print one from mapquest.com yielded limited results. We did find the tower by spotting it and driving toward it, and then we noted streets and landmarks nearby in the hope of some day obtaining a map. The tower looks like some of the great Chicago clear-channel towers, a very imposing structure with an attractive building with calls in front. That mission accomplished, it was time to go into the city. But, again, we had no map of the rural area we were in, and we stopped for directions that quickly got us on our way.
The Speed Art Museum is adjacent to the University of Louisville, not far south of downtown, and there is no admission charge to see the permanent collection, though we did pay $3 to park. The staff is very friendly, and the galleries are physically very beautiful. The collection is fine, not so deep as Cincinnati's, but well worth the visit. A highlight is a beautiful portrait of a woman by Rembrandt. Our motel was the airport Super 8 in Louisville, where we also stayed in our last visit in 1995. This, again, was a very nice motel, and I taped the considerable number of stations that had changed in the intervening years. For dinner we went to the Home Town Buffet on Dixie Highway, where a waitress got our drinks, asked if everything is OK, etc., unlike co-owned Old Country Buffet locations we've been to. Gas in Louisville was 1.349.
In the morning we woke up to clouds for the first time this trip. Jill caught the mention of the hundredth birthday of the founder of her place of employment on The Today Show. Our first destination of the day was the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in southern Indiana, not far from Santa Claus. Picking up a bunch of counties on I-64, we made our way there and found the parking lot pretty full. In the Visitors Center we got our Passport postmarks, paid the $4/family fee, and saw the film and looked at the exhibits. We walked to the gravesite of Lincoln's mother, and saw the site of the family's house. We got gas in Lynnville for 1.169, and took a picture of the impressive courthouse in Princeton. We passed the WRAY 1250/98.1 studio, and of course stopped in. Lunch was at Arby's in Princeton. We were near Evansville, but did not go there; we "did" Evansville in our 1995 trip, and this time wanted to catch Terre Haute. But first we stopped at the George Rogers Clark National Memorial in Vincennes. It is a beautiful Greek structure, not too unlike the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, with murals on the interior walls. There is a $4/family fee to enter, and we did, accompanied by a friendly ranger. Inside, we were given what were apparently hand-held one-frequency FM receivers with headphones, to which were transmitted a narrative about Clark and the content of each mural. From there, we tried to get a map, but found the Chamber of Commerce and City Hall both closed before 5; we did get a photocopy map from the Memorial. Then, after a stop at the WAOV 1450 + three FMs studio, we headed into Terre Haute from the south on US-41, seeing all three of the TV towers (WTWO 2, WTHI 10, WBAK 38) in a small area south of town. We drove around on US-41 in the city to find milk and start getting familiar with the city. Having found the milk, we went to the motel, another Super 8, near where I-70 meets US-41. Since this was our first visit to this market, I tried to tape just about everything, and did pretty well. Jill went out to pick up Little Caesar's pizzas for dinner, and they were a treat.
Friday morning it was sunny and warm. We spent a good while in Terre Haute looking around and visiting stations and towers. We found two separate towers in about the right area, either of which may have been the 1300. 1480 has a nice 6-tower array. We took the time to head back south to photograph the three TV towers and visit WTWO 2, whose studio is by the tower (the other two are in town), and on that route got gas for 1.149. Our route out of the area was another roundabout one, yielding seven needed counties in eastern Illinois; Jill now took over driving. This route took us into Decatur, where we had an early dinner at the Home Town Buffet; again here, a waiter was assigned to our table, but he did not offer to get our drinks. Then we headed home, passing through Bloomington and getting gas in Baxter for 1.299. We got home at 10:16 p.m.; 1408 miles total.
COUNTY UPDATE: Tim: 17 new in IN: Henry Rush Fayette Union Wayne Floyd Harrison Crawford Perry Spencer Dubois Warrick Pike Gibson Knox Sullivan Vigo IN now 68/92 = 73.9% 1 new in OH: Preble; OH now 39/88 = 44.3% 6 new in KY: Gallatin Carroll Trimble Henry Oldham Shelby Jefferson KY now 22/120 = 18.3% 7 new in IL: Edgar Clark Cumberland Coles Douglas Moultrie Macon IL now 69/102 = 67.6% new total: 474/3141 = 15.09% Chris: 21 new in IN, 3 new in OH, 9 new in KY (state no. 9), 8 new in IL Chris's new total: 270/3141 = 8.60% Paul: 21 new in IN, 3 new in OH, 9 new in KY (state no. 8), 14 new in IL Paul's new total: 190/3141 = 6.05%
Northern Minnesota Trip, 11-15 June 2001
The idea for a trip to northern Minnesota came about a year ago, when we went to northern lower Michigan. We had done a fairly thorough northern Wisconsin trip the previous year ('99). It's part of the ongoing attempt to travel in all the regions that are reasonably close to home, pick up counties, hear lots of stations, catch tourist attractions, and just plain get away. We set up an approximate itinerary and made reservations, allowing for a roughly circular route that took us to the cities and attractions we wanted to catch, all with stays at Super 8 motels. They remain our favorite, since they rarely disappoint, are located in just about any city we want to visit, and offer the "VIP" card discount (which we certainly recommend).
Monday morning, we left in weather that was warm and humid. My namesake was executed while we were getting ready to leave, but we avoided seeing that as any kind of omen. The drive out of the area was uneventful and smooth; lunch was at the Burger King in Black River Falls. The route we planned avoided passing through the Twin Cities, rather continuing north from Eau Claire to US-8 and then west to the state line. This kept us in line with an emphasis on points further north in Minnesota, and was designed especially to take us through a couple counties a short distance north of the Cities that we needed. (I just went to pick up a state highway map that we got on the trip to look up the names of those counties and found the state map side of that copy blank!) Those counties are Isanti and Kanabec. But first: as we were in the St. Croix Falls area, just east of the state line and on that river (which forms the state line), we caught sight of a brown sign for the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, a National Parks site. I knew there was such a thing, but never once thought of it in connection with this trip. But we were glad to be able to drive the extra one mile north to its Visitor Center, where we saw a nice 12-minute film, and the boys liked seeing the stuffed owls and the giant logs. We got our Passport stamps of course, and looked at their collection of bugs taken from the front of their cars.
From there it was time to cross into Minnesota, where we took MN-95 to MN-65, and then north as far as MN-27. That took us through the needed counties while ever moving in the right direction. It was along that stretch that we hit some big storms, where the trees suggested that there were high winds, and the rain was very heavy. A couple times it sounded like hail was hitting the van, though we could not see it. Later we heard that the Twin Cities had record rainfall from these same storms. We never stopped, though a number of motorists did, but the rain slowed us down considerably. Part of the plan behind our route was to drive US-169 around the south and west sides of Mille Lacs Lake. By this time the storms were past, and we had some pretty views of the lake at points when we were right next to the shore. From there it was on to Brainerd for the overnight stop, except for a brief detour while still on the lake to catch Aitkin county.
Our motel was the Super 8 in Baxter; Baxter is the west side of Brainerd (home to the 1270). We had dinner at the KFC Buffet near the motel, and enjoyed it as always. We asked the person at the desk at the motel where the Paul Bunyan/Babe the Blue Ox statue seen in Fargo is located (feeling very touristy) and were informed that the one shown in the movie (there seem to be plenty around) is actually in Bemidji. The latter was in our plans for Tuesday, so that was fine. We bought some groceries at Super One, a chain we saw all over northern Minnesota, and got gas. We were lucky there, finding the least expensive gas we had seen all day just when we needed it--$1.55.
On Tuesday morning we drove around Brainerd, with a few tower and studio visits. The downtown studio I've been to before used to have six stations in it, but now there are four since they sold the two licensed to Walker (1600 and 99.1). WJJY 106.7 had moved, and I noted the new address given on the door, but we did not pursue a visit. We also visited the 1270, finding it on the same street but in a different spot than before. Then before leaving town, we caught the three 1380 towers, one tall and two short, the tall one containing 107.5 on top and 103.5 further down. (When I find two or more stations on one tower when working in radiostation.com, i.e., same coordinates, I make note of their altitudes so I will know which is which while there--call me crazy). Not far from there is the 1340 tower, which we marked on the map before leaving town on 371.
Next stop was Bemidji, via 371 to 200 to US-71 to US-2. Courtesy of radiostation.com, we know to look for a couple towers on 9, just west of US-71, and found them, quite close to one another. They are the 95.5 and the 101.1; the 95.5 tower was remarkable in having the largest number of bays of any FM tower I have ever seen: 20. I took a photo, and hope they all show up. In spite of phoning Bemidji in advance to request a map, we had none (they did pass our address to several hotels/resorts, so we got lots of mail from Bemidji). However, once downtown, we found the cluster of stations (including KBUN 1450) and got a map at the Chamber of Commerce. At KBUN I asked about the Paul Bunyan statue, saying that we were told that it is in Bemidji, and the receptionist emphatically said that that is incorrect: it is in Brainerd. We marked the 1360 and 1450 towers on the map, and visited the 1360 etc. studio (where the towers are), giving us the desired chance to drive around town for a while. Then we headed west on US-2, where we stopped at a nice drive-in called Midwest Dairyland in Bagley for lunch (I had a foot-long hot dog), detoured briefly to enter Mahnomen county, and chanced upon the studio of Fosston 1480 (simulcast 96.7 Bagley) and 107.1. They were friendly, and then we headed north on US-59 for the motel in Thief River Falls. Tuesday's weather was gorgeous all day.
Using a coupon book from the motel desk, we ordered a take-out pizza from Pizza Hut, and it was a treat. It rained over night, and was still raining lightly as we loaded in the morning. The rest of the day was mostly cloudy, but dry. In Thief River Falls in the morning we did our usual drive to see the city, and did our station visits. 1460 had moved, we found, and it was inconvenient that the central intersection of the city, where 1 meets 32, was closed. But we found the 1460 tower east on 1, and visited to KTRF 1230 to find that 1460 had moved there. This was another friendly visit, where I met a gentleman named Big Red who gladly answered my questions. We got gas in Thief River Falls for 1.72, but paid 1.67 thanks to a coupon in that same coupon book.
Not taking the most direct route to our next destination--59 out of town instead of 32--yielded Kittson county, the state's northwesternmost ("The shortest distance between two points is no fun"). Now we were in extreme northern Minnesota, and the radio station population is quite sparse; one hears more from Canada than from Minnesota. Passing through Roseau (with a stop at KJ102), we went to Warroad, taking 313 north to the Manitoba border. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I've never been to that province, by far the closest state/province with that distinction. We crossed the border, which was not at all busy, and drove in a few miles to Middlebro, a small town. Then we turned around and crossed again, heading to Warroad thinking of lunch. We found a Dairy Queen there, and had fish sandwiches and hot dogs.
Next it was on to International Falls, another place I have long wanted to visit. This required a considerable drive on MN-11, where listened to the oldies on CKY 580 Winnipeg and enjoyed their great old-fashioned jingles. Entering International Falls on 11-71 we stopped at the 91.9/99.5 studio for a friendly visit. We looked around town and saw the huge Boise Cascade paper plant, and visited the 1230 etc. studio. There I met a radio engineer who works for a number of stations in the region, including WHSM Hayward WI, whose shirt he wore. The people at the station agreed that International Falls is most famous for its winter weather, the country's "deep-freeze capital." After catching the 1230 tower on the east side of town, we went east on 11 toward Voyageurs National Park.
We were planning to visit this park, having noted that it is near International Falls. We saw signs indicating that the Visitors Center could be reached by following 11 east out of the city, and we found it easily. We enjoyed some great scenery, heard a variety of bird calls, and saw what seemed like a couple million caterpillars; the ranger called these "army worms." The boys liked the rubber stamps they had set up, and liked looking through the binoculars. Of course we got our Passport stamps (they had two different ones) before we got on our way. That required backtracking on 11 in order to go south on 53 toward the night's motel in Hibbing. Along that path we encountered signs leading to the other Visitors Centers that this large park offers. It was along this stretch that we encountered the car coming toward us (passing) who could not get back over and drove past us on the shoulder, a deer stopped on the road, and a dog in the road, but we did reach the motel collision-free. On the way we passed Chisholm, which we're pretty sure is the town where Doc Graham lived in Field of Dreams. We did not have a map of Hibbing, but found the motel (another Super 8) OK. We had meatball subs from Subway for dinner, and I sorted out and taped the various stations licensed to several different towns in the area.
Thursday morning we drove around Hibbing. We needed stamps to send out the Father's Day card, and found the post office and Chamber of Commerce within walking distance of one another. So we got our city map, mailed the card, and made a few notes on the map before leaving the area. We had planned to go to Cloquet on 73, but took 37 and US-53 instead to avoid construction (thereby missing the site where the 650 in Nashwauk is supposed to have its towers). Since soon after leaving the park we were in St. Louis county, a huge region. Arriving in Cloquet (birthplace of actress Jessica Lange, of whom Jill is a big fan), armed with a map from a past visit, we drove around and saw the town. Some was familiar, and some was not. WKLK 1230 gave me a nice mug. Jill and the boys had Hardee's for lunch, and I went for Taco John. The taco sandwich, which I think I had for the first time here, was just OK, as was the bean burrito, but the basic taco was really very good. Out of Cloquet we followed I-35 into Duluth, and along this route there are some great, high-up views of the city and water. We noted, but did not visit, Duluth's big tower farm. We picked up US-53 into Wisconsin, and followed it to our last motel, the Super 8 in Eau Claire.
Eau Claire is a city I've visited quite a few times, but I never seem to finish visiting the stations and towers. Doing some radiostation.com work before we left, I found that there are several transmitter sites just north of the county line (in Chippewa county), some on either side of US-53. So we exited 53 on S and went west to three towers; the first, which was supposed to be the 90.5, was right where we looked for it, but it just didn't look like an FM tower to me. Next, we found 95.1 and 100.7, each on the same tower (with 95.1 on top), and then we found the 92.9 tower. Now it was getting late enough that we opted to keep the others for morning, so we headed through Eau Claire to the Super 8 on US-12, west of town. With few options, we got dinner from the McDonald's across the street.
Friday morning we spent a good while in Eau Claire, first catching the remaining tower sites. Most interesting are 680's 4 towers and 1150's 1, kitty-corner from one another at the intersection of OO and K, southeast of Chippewa Falls. The 1150 is surprisingly tall, and 680 is in the back yard of a chiropractic office. We also saw the 105.7 tower, which had two sets of bays on it; not sure which is in current use. Back in the city, we visited some studios (though I still haven't been to all of them). A kind gentleman at 680/103.7 went to a vehicle to get me WWIB magnets and, handing me about fifteen, wondered if I need any more. The studio at the 1400 tower on Cameron St has six stations in it, and the group on Harlem St has five. However, at the latter, the receptionist said that there will be another soon. I wondered aloud if that might be the 99.9 CP in Cornell, and she said it is not; after visiting 1050/98.1, I now suspect that 1050 will join that cluster. We had lunch at Old Country Buffet, where they had some dishes we remember from years ago at the Madison location, and then made our only mall visit of the trip: Oakwood Mall. The kids liked their play area, and I participated in a survey about breakfast cereal and they paid me $5. The last time I did such a survey (at Kennedy Mall in Dubuque, I think) it was just $2. We got gas in Eau Claire, paying $1.69, and then headed home, arriving at 7:09 p.m. Total miles: 1614.
COUNTY UPDATE: Tim: 16 new in MN: Isanti Kanabec Mille Lacs Crow Wing Aitkin Cass Hubbard Beltrami Clearwater Polk Mahnomen Red Lake Pennington Marshall Kitson Roseau Lake of the Woods Koochiching Itasca MN now 43/87 = 49% Chris: MN: the same, plus Chisago Mille Lacs Crow Wing Aitkin St. Louis Carlton MN now 34/87 = 39% Paul: same as Chris Tim's new total: 443/3141 = 14.10% Chris's new total: 229/3141 = 7.29% Paul's new total: 158/3141 = 5.03%