NCPR: the rising

When I started listening to North Country Public Radio in the mid-1970s, that name didn’t exist. I listened to WSLU, 96.7 fm, which beamed out 3,000 watts of radio goodness from Canton, NY. The broadcast reached most but not all of St. Lawrence County. A peanut farmer was running for president, as All Things Considered informed me, and the News from Lake Wobegon was quirky, as usual.

North Country Public Radio didn’t become a thing until 1984, Orwell’s year, when the Canton signal was amped up to 40,000 watts and the station established its first repeat transmitter in Saranac Lake, giving it a beachhead in the Adirondacks. “Fritz” Mondale’s presidential campaign was being crushed by Ronald “The Gipper” Reagan, as Morning Edition informed me, and the News from Lake Wobegon was quirky, as usual. In fact, Minnesota was the only state in the union to go for Fritz.

NCPR Coverage map. Contour lines represent good in-home reception without an external antenna.

NCPR Coverage map. Contour lines represent good in-home reception without an external antenna.

In the years since NCPR has averaged one new transmitter every year, with number 34 signing on just yesterday, broadcasting at 91.3 fm from atop the wooden shed covering the old water cistern in Elizabethtown, NY. Half of the nation’s politicians are running for president, including a kid going by the name of Deez Nuts (polling at 9% in one survey), as Weekend Edition informs me, and the News from Lake Wobegon is still a little quirky.

To followers of our coverage map, it must be like the transparencies in an old encyclopedia showing the spread of the Roman Empire–except with Radio Bob Sauter instead of legions on the march.

Fortunately, Radio Bob only uses his powers for good, because now with our internet stream the sun never sets on the NCPR listenership. I wonder what listeners in Kyrgyzstan make of the News from Lake Wobegon? Or the Radio Bob Show, for that matter?

When did you start listening? When did NCPR come to occupy your neck of the woods? Are you listening to us in Elizabethtown? Let us know in a comment below.


7 Comments on “NCPR: the rising”

  1. Holly says:

    Wow – I didn’t know that my arrival in this neck of the country coincided with the formal creation of NCPR, or that the frequency I listen to was ever other than 89.5. I think I dialed around to for the station – and it was a dial back then – the morning after I arrived.

  2. Mitch Edelstein says:

    I live a half mile past Great Camp Sagamore, on my car ride to Raquette Lake I switch my radio from 88.3 Tupper Lake, to 88.7 Old Forge and for part of the road to 91.3 Blue Mountain. Then back to 88.3 and then again to 91.3 when I arrive in Raquette Lake. All part of the Adirondack NCPR listening experience.

  3. Hank says:

    Up here in Ottawa it’s 89.5 or nothing. And because of the weak signal (sorry, Radio Bob) in some parts of town it’s nothing. We’re all waiting for NCPR to establish a beachhead north of the border. I’m offering my back yard. You can call the transmitter CHHO. That was a great Listening Post blog, Dale. Thank you!

  4. David Duff says:

    Listening everyday, most of the time. Continually hoping you’re going to continue to get it right.
    Don’t falter, we all have way too much invested.

  5. Chuck Goolden says:

    I started listening to WSLU when I believe it was in Gunnison in the early 60’s.
    Doubt it was Public Radio at that time.


  6. Trude says:

    Started listening about 10 Summers ago in Vermont on the Canton station. It was really hard to zero in on the signal. Now listen to the live stream in Rochester New York in the winter as well .you are the best

  7. James says:

    I started listening to North Country Public Radio four years ago after I moved to Gatineau Quebec from southwestern Ontario. I’m just outside the over-the-air range here but I listen quite frequently online. I am possibly the only person in Gatineau with an NCPR decal on the rear window of my car.

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