Cable radio

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Cable radio or cable FM is a concept similar to that of cable television, bringing radio broadcasting into homes and businesses via coaxial cable. It is generally used for the same reason as cable TV was in its early days when it was "community antenna television", in order to enhance the quality of over-the-air radio signals that are difficult to receive in an area. However, cable-only radio outlets also exist.

Cable television Television content transmitted via signals on coaxial cable

Cable television is a system of delivering television programming to consumers via radio frequency (RF) signals transmitted through coaxial cables, or in more recent systems, light pulses through fiber-optic cables. This contrasts with broadcast television, in which the television signal is transmitted over the air by radio waves and received by a television antenna attached to the television; or satellite television, in which the television signal is transmitted by a communications satellite orbiting the Earth and received by a satellite dish on the roof. FM radio programming, high-speed Internet, telephone services, and similar non-television services may also be provided through these cables. Analog television was standard in the 20th century, but since the 2000s, cable systems have been upgraded to digital cable operation.

Radio broadcasting distribution of audio content to a dispersed audience via any audio mass communications medium

Radio broadcasting is transmission by radio waves intended to reach a wide audience. Stations can be linked in radio networks to broadcast a common radio format, either in broadcast syndication or simulcast or both. The signal types can be either analog audio or digital audio.

Coaxial cable A type of electrical cable with an inner conductor surrounded by concentric insulating layer and conducting shield

Coaxial cable, or coax is a type of electrical cable that has an inner conductor surrounded by a tubular insulating layer, surrounded by a tubular conducting shield. Many coaxial cables also have an insulating outer sheath or jacket. The term coaxial comes from the inner conductor and the outer shield sharing a geometric axis. Coaxial cable was invented by English engineer and mathematician Oliver Heaviside, who patented the design in 1880.


The use of cable radio varies from area to area - some cable TV systems don't include it at all, and others only have something approaching it on digital cable systems. Additionally, some stations may just transmit audio in the background while a public-access television cable TV channel is operating in between periods of video programming. From the late 1970s to the late 1980s, before the advent of MTS Stereo television broadcasts, cable TV subscribers would tune in specific cable FM frequencies that simulcast the television broadcasts in stereo.

Digital cable is the distribution of cable television using digital video compression for distribution. The technology was originally developed by General Instrument before being acquired by Motorola and subsequently acquired by ARRIS Group. Cable companies converted to digital systems during the 2000s, around the time that television signals were converted to the digital HDTV standard, which was not compatible with earlier analog cable systems. In addition to providing higher resolution HD video, digital cable systems provide expanded services such as pay-per-view programming, cable internet access and cable telephone services. Most digital cable signals are encrypted, which reduced the high incidence of cable theft which occurred in analog systems.

Sound mechanical wave that is an oscillation of pressure transmitted through a solid, liquid, or gas, composed of frequencies within the range of hearing; pressure wave, generated by vibrating structure

In physics, sound is a vibration that typically propagates as an audible wave of pressure, through a transmission medium such as a gas, liquid or solid.

Public-access television is traditionally a form of non-commercial mass media where the general public can create content television programming which is narrowcast through cable TV specialty channels. Public-access television was created in the United States between 1969 and 1971 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), under Chairman Dean Burch, based on pioneering work and advocacy of George Stoney, Red Burns, and Sidney Dean.

A related secondary meaning of the term is any automated music stream - the usual format of cable-only "stations".

United States

The first "commercial" cable radio station in the United States was CABL-FM 108 in California, on the Theta Cablevision system, serving West Los Angeles and surrounding areas. It went live on January 1, 1972, and was run by Brad Sobel, playing what he called "progressive top 40". CABL-FM 108 came into being after Sobel's original venture, K-POT, a bootleg FM station at 88.1 MHz, was silenced by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in November 1971. The illicit station ran for three days until it was shut down, and the event made the front page of the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner . Because Theta Cablevision charged extra for its FM hookups, CABL-FM 108's potential audience was between 4,700 and approximately 25,000 (based on information provided by Brad Sobel in an article in Billboard ), out of Cablevision's approximately 100,000 subscriber households.

West Los Angeles Neighborhood of Los Angeles in California, United States

West Los Angeles is a residential and commercial neighborhood in the city of Los Angeles, California. The neighborhood is divided by the Interstate 405 Freeway, and each side is sometimes treated as a distinct neighborhood, mapped differently by different sources. Each of them lies within the larger Westside region of Los Angeles County and together they comprise most of the 90025 zip code.

Federal Communications Commission independent agency of the United States government

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent agency of the United States government created by statute to regulate interstate communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. The FCC serves the public in the areas of broadband access, fair competition, radio frequency use, media responsibility, public safety, and homeland security.

<i>Los Angeles Times</i> Daily newspaper published in Los Angeles, California

The Los Angeles Times is a daily newspaper which has been published in Los Angeles, California, since 1881. It has the fourth-largest circulation among United States newspapers, and is the largest U.S. newspaper not headquartered on the East Coast. The paper is known for its coverage of issues particularly salient to the U.S. West Coast, such as immigration trends and natural disasters. It has won more than 40 Pulitzer Prizes for its coverage of these and other issues. As of June 18, 2018, ownership of the paper is controlled by Patrick Soon-Shiong, and the executive editor is Norman Pearlstine.

95.9 CPVR-FM ad in the Daily Breeze (November 1973) 95.9 CPVR-FM ad in LA Daily Breeze (November 1973).jpg
95.9 CPVR-FM ad in the Daily Breeze (November 1973)

The first exclusively cablecasting community radio station was CPVR in Palos Verdes, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. CPVR 95.9 Cable FM radio was on the Times-Mirror cable system, and was started by a group of teenagers who initially practiced being disc jockeys in the homes of two of the founders. Since traditional broadcasting equipment was prohibitively expensive at the time, a young engineer named Tom Hewitt built much of the electronic hardware from scratch.

Palos Verdes Estates, California City in California

Palos Verdes Estates is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States, situated on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The city was master-planned by the noted American landscape architect and planner Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. The city is located along the Southern California coastline of the Pacific Ocean.

Hearst Television, Inc. is a broadcasting company in the United States owned by Hearst Communications. From 1998 to mid-2009, the company traded its common stock on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "HTV."

Mark Speer and Brad Gardner began the venture, which was run as a non-profit youth organization from a studio in the Golden Cove shopping center in Rancho Palos Verdes beginning in March 1972. Even though it was non-profit, it was not subject to the restrictions of terrestrial public radio stations, and thus was able to subsidize expenses by accepting commercial advertising.

Because the staff and audience were part of a highly desirable demographic (many of the DJs weren't even old enough to drive), advertisers of the day, such as concert promoter Pacific Presentations and local record stores eagerly bought ad time in order to reach such a prime demographic (males/females, 13-24) as CPVR had attracted during its history, further enabling CPVR to not only continue operations, but expand into larger studios.

Greg McClure (a.k.a. Isaac O. Zzyzx), Jim Sideris, Harv Laser, David Zislis, Richard Hower, Tony Fasola, Dave Chrenko (a.k.a. Johnny Ace), Kerry Doolin, Liane Benson, Lorraine Dechter, Clyde Stanton (a.k.a. Certified Clyde) and Kathy Bauer were some of the young disc jockeys who helped create the station's legendary style and sound. Unlike Cable 108, CPVR was not only on the FM dial, but was in stereo, and also appeared on the cable system's "barker" channel (Channel 3).

Although the station was only on the "cable" for about two years programming free-form rock and roll, CPVR often scooped its over-the-air competitors, breaking acts such as Bruce Springsteen and Queen, and often premiering landmark albums such as Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon and Procol Harum's Grand Hotel sometimes several weeks before the Los Angeles stations picked them up.

Bruce Springsteen American singer and songwriter

Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen is an American singer-songwriter and leader of the E Street Band. Nicknamed "The Boss," he is recognized for his poetic lyrics, his Jersey Shore roots, his distinctive voice, and lengthy, energetic stage performances.

Queen (band) British rock band

Queen are a British rock band formed in London in 1970. Their classic line-up was Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon. Their earliest works were influenced by progressive rock, hard rock and heavy metal, but the band gradually ventured into more conventional and radio-friendly works by incorporating further styles, such as arena rock and pop rock.

Pink Floyd English rock band

Pink Floyd were an English rock band formed in London in 1965. They achieved international acclaim with their progressive and psychedelic music. Distinguished by their philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, extended compositions, and elaborate live shows, they are one of the most commercially successful and influential groups in popular music history.

Many of the original staff went on to careers in media. (Co-founder Brad Gardner has since been nominated for four Emmys, winning two—one for a music video, "The Doctor is In", and the other for the veterinary show Horse Vet. His other two nominations are for directing and audio.) For those involved and those who heard it, this tiny little community rock-and-roll radio station holds a special place in their hearts and minds, often discussed in the same breath as KMET, KPPC, KWST, KRLA, KROQ-FM and KNAC, legendary southern California radio stations in their own right.

KROQ-FM radio station

KROQ-FM is a radio station licensed to Pasadena, California serving the Greater Los Angeles Area. Owned by Entercom, it broadcasts an alternative rock format, branding itself as The World Famous KROQ.

KWST is a commercial AM radio station licensed to El Centro, California. It is owned by Entravision Communications and broadcasts to the Imperial Valley and Mexicali, Baja California.

KRLA news/talk radio station in Glendale, California, United States

KRLA "AM 870 The Answer" is a radio station broadcasting a talk format. Licensed to Glendale, California, United States, it serves Los Angeles and Southern California. The station is owned by Salem Communications, which also owns 99.5 KKLA-FM which features a Christian talk and instruction format, and 95.9 KFSH-FM with a contemporary Christian music format.

For a time, cable radio stations popped up across California and elsewhere in the U.S., most run by high school and/or college students. CCIA, a cable radio station on the campus of California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California, is one example. But as the founders of these stations grew older and moved on, there was no one to take up where they left off. Eventually all these cable radio stations went dark. Today, where college or community groups might have once considered starting a "cable" radio station, they now look to creating an internet radio station.

On the East Coast the most popular commercial cable radio station was WLHE, started in 1979 in Woburn, Massachusetts. This station was the first commercial cable-only radio station in the country, and ran from 1979 to 1987. Larry Haber, owner and operator, started it. Frank Palazzi and Alan Rupa were the first disc jockeys. Palazzi was known as Frank Fitz, and Alan Rupa was known as Alan James. Mr Haber went by his own name. Other DJs were Jim Fronk (aka Jim Jacobs), oldies expert Chuck Steven, country music expert Glen Evans, indie rock expert Mark Sawyer, and jazz expert Scott Cavanagh (a.k.a. Scott Rogers). Larry Haber was the stations first president and general manager, Palazzi served as program director, and Rupa was music director. The station was heard only on Continental Cablevision's local Channel 6 in Woburn, Wilmington, Stoneham, North Reading, and Billerica, Massachusetts.


In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission previously required most cable companies to provide cable FM service; those that did were required to convert all local AM broadcast radio stations to cable FM signals. The commission now requires only that campus, community, native radio stations, and one CBC Radio station in each official language, be provided by local cable companies, either via cable FM or digital cable audio channels. [1] [2]

Russian Federation

In the former Soviet Union, cable radio was popular and Radio Rossii is reported to have had as many as forty million listeners. [3]

Initially the system had one channel that was transmitted as direct audio. The wires and plugs for the system were the same as for standard power wires and plugs which could cause receivers to burn out by attaching to mains socket. During World War II, all RF receivers were confiscated [4] , but cable radio continued operating and, in particular, was used to transmit warnings of aerial bombing. The 1960s saw an enhancement with the addition of two additional channels, using AM on carrier frequencies of 78 and 120 kHz. The installation of this system became mandatory for all new buildings. The system, along with usual broadcasting, was created to inform people of emergencies.

Today, cable radio outlets are installed in all new homes, but many people don't use them or even uninstall the socket and wires inside their units. However, they continue to pay the mandatory fee (as of 2009, the price in Moscow is approx. 0,7 EUR per month). These payments can be avoided, but due to bureaucratic procedure it is rarely used. [ further explanation needed ]

North Korea

North Korea has had a cable radio system sometimes referred to as the 'Third Radio' since the 1940s and it was declared that all cities and villages had been reached by the service in 1975.

Operated by the North Korean Ministry of Communications and focusing on music, news, and educational programs. The 'Third Radio' has been mandatory in new apartment blocks since the 1980s and is present in some offices and loud speakers posted in public places. [5]

United Kingdom

The earliest cable-only radio stations in the United Kingdom was Radio Thamesmead in Thamesmead, South East London and Radio Swindon Viewpoint in Swindon, Wiltshire. Cable relays of early BBC stations (in areas where direct reception was poor) dates back to the late 1920s.


The Melbourne suburb of St. Kilda had a landline radio station called 3SA which operated on weekends and public holidays from March 1954 until July 2010. [6]


Rediffusion Singapore was a popular cable radio service on the island from 1949-1980's, which broadcast in English and Chinese. It is now a subscription digital radio service, broadcasting on DAB+.


Rediffusion Malta was a popular cable radio service on the island from 1935- 1975's, with broadcasts in English and Maltese Language. In 1975 the service was nationalised and it was demised on 31 January 1989. It is now part of Radio Malta [7]

See also

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Ted Sobel is an American sportscaster who is the longest current tenured Los Angeles-based radio sports reporter. He has worked mostly with CBS Radio since 1985. Sobel is the network's in-studio host and producer of Sports USA Radio's NFL pre, halftime, and postgame shows in addition to providing in-game scoreboard updates during Sunday doubleheader broadcasts. Since 2005, Ted has been a sideline reporter for Sports USA Radio's NFL and NCAA games of the week while also hosting podcasts for the network along with field reporting covering all major sports, most notably the Masters Tournament. Sobel is currently writing his first book Touching Greatness with an expected December 2018 release.


  1. Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2006-119 Archived 2007-01-14 at the Wayback Machine , 8 September 2006
  2. Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2006-51 Archived 2006-05-04 at the Wayback Machine , 19 April 2006; see para. 26 for discussion of analog/digital carriage issue
  3. Archived 2010-02-07 at the Wayback Machine , 8 August 2001
  4. ""Могут быть использованы вражескими элементами"". Журнал "Коммерсантъ Власть" (in Russian). Kommersant. 2016-06-13. p. 45. Retrieved 2018-04-25.
  5. p.g 52-54
  6. "RadioInfo Australia".
  7. Toni Sant, Remembering Rediffusion In Malta, A History Without Future,Malta 2016, Page 14

Billboard Magazine, July 7, 1973, pages 24 and 28: "Once 'Pirate', Now Cable Radio Pioneer", written by J. Christopher Ehler.

Los Angeles Times, Peninsula Edition, June 1972.