Saturday, April 12, 2014

Charles Hefti - Car Tunes, and the first(?) stereo broadcaster

The Low Power Hour is a radio program produced and hosted by Carl Blair of KDXradio. One of my favorite episodes originally aired on Dec 20, 2010..
The Low Power Hour No. 2 welcomes Charles Hefti, the creator of "Car Tunes," a low power application from the 1960s..

You can listen to it yourself below, but I'll attempt to provide a general overview of this particular episode to wet your appetite:

In 1962 Charles Hefti introduced "Car Tunes" in parking lots of drive-ins and restaurants..
Car Tunes utilized a tape driven message repeater (a new type of product at the time) along with a low power AM transmitter
An actual photo fabricated to be a Car Tunes audience
Car Tunes was intended to sound like a regular radio station playing the top ten songs of the time, plus
interesting topics of the day, along with advertisements for hot dogs and other concessions or products found at the particular locations of transmission.

Several different devices were utilized attempting to succeed in the Car Tunes broadcast.. which eventually proved successful.. The frequency of 1170AM was chosen, and regular programming ensued...   The response from the listening audience of the parked cars was overwhelming, and restaurants participating in the venture expressed an apparent increase in their sales.

Previously in the late 1950's, Charles Hefti became directly involved with a extraordinary event in radio broadcasting.. Keep in mind that in those years stereo recordings were a new capability, and stereo radio broadcast did not yet exist, but Hefti in direct involvement with stations KMOX and KCFM 93.7 produced a stereo broadcast by having KMOX broadcast the left channel while KCFM broadcast the right channel in unison.. (or visa verse). Home listeners would tune in both stations on two different radios, and then sit between them to experience the amazing stereo effect!
Later Hefti superseded that feat with the accomplishment of having the second station in the U.S. to have an actual stereophonic broadcast.

You can't prove she wasn't listening to Car Tunes..
But back to the story of Car Tunes.. It's a great little story, and to hear all the details events surrounding those broadcast, as well as topics described above, in his own words, all you have to do is have a listen to this fun and fascinating interview in this episode of The Low Power Hour by cicking the following link:..

If you would like to hear more Low Power Hour episodes, or would like to air them on your own station (free!), You can contact Carl Blair via his website at or at the forums

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