WDEL Blog: Eclectic Hobbies with Allan Loudell

Springtime FM skip: Chinese "Classic Hits" Station from Hampton Roads

If you read my regular "hard news" blog, you know that I've posted frequently on the Chinese economic, cultural, and military challenge to the United States.

So it was rather surreal to be driving on I-95 from Chester to Philadelphia Saturday morning (to participate in a regional seminar of The Society of Professional Journalists), and while scanning the F.M. dial, to hear a "Chinese Classic Hits" station booming in on 100.5 F.M.

First, some background. Early-morning heating, particularly during springtime, creates ducts in the troposphere which can carry F.M. signals far beyond their normal coverage areas. This phenomenon is not as dramatic as F.M. ionospheric e-layer skip, which occasionally brings in signals from more than a thousand miles away!

As I was driving to Temple University for that seminar, I wasn't particularly in the "mood" to DX; however, I quickly noticed some erratic reception on Philadelphia F.M. signals, a key indicator of tropospheric skip.

I tuned around the dial, and noticed something rather bizarre on 100.5 MHz. -- Chinese music with English-language I.D. "positioners": "Kung Pao 100.5".

I was intrigued. I recalled the Hampton Roads area of Virginia (Norfolk, Virginia Beach) has a 50-kilowatt station on 100.5 which often booms in during periods of tropo skip. Could it be that one? Or was something bouncing in from further away?

Indeed, the station turned out to be WXMM from Norfolk / Virginia Beach.

But remaining unclear: Is this conversion to "Chinese classic hits" a spoof in between formats? Or, has owner Max Media decided to do something revolutionary (pun intended) to show that terrestrial F.M. radio can STILL think outside the box?

At first glance, Hampton Roads would seem to be a rather unlikely market for America's first Chinese Classic Hits station. You'd think Honolulu (which actually has much more Japanese on-the-air!), Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, or New York.

..unless an unlikely combination of Asian-Americans in southeastern Virginia; U.S. military with East Asian experience; and avant-garde young people and baby boomers could represent a new radio niche!

Nahhh... I'm still thinking spoof!

Here's an article about Kung Pao 100.5 which appeared in the Virginian-Pilot...


The Kung Pao 100.5 website is full of "Red" Chinese double entendres & imaging which suggest a spoof:

"The Wake Up Gang of Four", "Join the Insurgent Club", etc. Still I love to see terrestrial radio doing wacky stuff as an antidote to satellite radio!

UPDATE: It didn't take long. By Monday midday, 100.5 became a "hot" CHR -- Contemporary Hit Radio. So much for the "Red" Chinese double entendres!

Posted at 6:08am on April 27, 2009 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Audi Mayshun
Tue, Apr 28, 2009 6:22am
It may be of interest to you to revisit the web site of the Virginian-Pilot, where there are now a number of stories and blog entries about the stunt and format switch. The comments to these items show the good citizens of the Seven Cities were not amused.

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