Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Big Fish AM 1700

Callander Bay Ice Village, Ontario Canada
A few months ago I stumbled across a webpage featuring a recording produced by what I assumed was some kind of an organization going by the name PostApocProductions, who in late December 2013 set up a "low power unregulated AM radio station" called BigFishAM for a special event at Callander Bay Ice Village in Ontario to broadcast to "a collection of hundreds of ice huts.”

It's an interesting part 15 AM broadcast story.. or rather, since it took place in Canada it's really an RSS-210 story; which is the regulated Canadian equivalent to the FCCs Part 15 here in the U.S.
But I'm not in Canada, so am going to refer to it as a part 15 station for the sake of familiarity, it's essentially the same thing.

The information about it was vague, so wishing to know more I searched about gathering additional information from a few different places, (most of details found on facebook). Compiled here in a sequential order to present as much of the whole story that I can. The pictures and audio are those which PostApocProductions had posted, and/or those who had participated in the event.

It didn't take long to discover that PostApocProductions is basically one guy; David Merleau, from Lake Talon, Canada. He's has a blog at You should check it out.

"I am a performance storyteller, radio producer and host, as well as an audio production technician.  I create and program both online and low power terrestrial radio stations, and I work with non-profit arts organizations.."

He's been quite involved in a lot of event broadcasting productions over the years involving AM, FM, streaming, and even GPS apps that translate "tree talk" into English as you pass by them! Interesting stuff. But the only one I've found using part 15 AM was this one called Big Fish AM....

"Big Fish AM is hyperlocal radio broadcast from a low power AM transmitter outside of my fishing hut in the Callander Bay Ice Village."

01/29/14 -"Talk about a fish hut!! Completely insulated, huge
furnace, and even electricity!.. Seems they forgot the generator
though and will have to wait little while longer for Die Hard"
I had attempted to contact Mr. Merleau for more details and was also curious what transmitter he used.. Unfortunately received no response.

Apparently it was an about 6 week long special event for ice fisherman which actually began in late January 2014 and continued on thru mid March. Participants all camped out for the duration inside a bunch of little shacks upon a frozen lake. Each shack included basic living necessities along with a few minor luxuries. Some even had electricity.

David explains the event in a January 29 post:
"Every year hundreds of huts are dragged onto the ice of Callander Bay, Lake Nipissing ON. David Merleau brings you the stories from the lifers to the ice fishing newbies and tales from the tiny tents and the shacks that put most homes to shame!
As you will hear, ice fishing is not about reeling in the big one. No, it is about a love for the harsh Northern Ontario winter and the community that begins to develop the moment the ice begins to form"

The broadcast were to include "a snapshot of life up here in the North. Learn about upcoming events, local businesses, contests, ice conditions, local news, and general all round good fun!"

In a February 1st post David puts a feeler out for some content:
"Once I tried to impress the girl in the passenger seat by driving out on the ice. We got stuck. And then I had to ask her if I could borrow two hundred bucks to pay the tow truck guy!!
Do you have a story about being out on a frozen lake? Fishing? Falling through while making snow angels?
 And feel free to post a recording from the voice recorder on your phone. I will play it for the folks out on the Bay. They'd love to hear you!"

Seems his request received some response, because we hear some of those stories in his first weeks broadcast.. He did a wonderful job enhancing those recordings with sound effects and music as you will hear.. 

Here is a broadcast from week 1, titled "What's Big Fish AM All About?". It's about 4 and a half minutes long, sounds professional, fun, and interesting.
A banjo plays a short tune as David introduces himself and welcomes you to Big Fish AM 1700, talks a little about the station and the introduces you to the people who live in the area. They talk a about the locals and activities, such as stories of vehicles getting stuck in the ice, local eating spots, and more. The episode concludes by telling you about a wild bear that will be featured next week, and David bids you Farwell saying that Big Fish AM is his own personal radio station for his personal enjoyment but if you tune in he won't be disappointed (or something like that). Have a listen:
Pretty cool..
"Curious about Big Fish AM? Well here is some moments from our first weekend of broadcasting."
Week 1: What's Big Fish AM all about?

The downtown strip of the Callander Bay Ice village..pretty quiet
on a Thursday with 70 km winds but just wait 'til this weekend!
On Valentine's day Dave makes an announcement that Big Fish AM will be making a temporary transformation and leaving Callader Bay Ice Village behind about 4 miles, but to rest assured it will be returning very soon..

"This Saturday Big Fish AM 1700 will be moving its ice hut radio studio six kilometres up shore and will transform into AM 1700 Ice Follies Radio to broadcast all the fun at, North Bay's critically acclaimed Ice Art Party.
Of course this means that we will not be in the Callander Bay Ice Village
on Saturday, but we will resume regular Big Fish AM fun on Sunday, and
Family Day Monday. Til then!

I know nothing about ice huts, but evidently they are something you can easily tow around from location to location because David had moved his entire hut for a couple of days with it's studio enclosed, along with his AM transmitter to the Ice Follies event taking place miles away in the North Bay...

I personally didn't consider the following broadcast at the Follies to be as entertaining as Big Fish AM was, in fact, actually found it a little tedious. But it is interesting and kind of made me feel like I was in a Twilight Zone episode or something. However, since it was an artsy event I guess it's the kind of thing is to be expected..
This episode is about 15 minutes long and features the "artwork" of Gordon Monahan. It's known as "A Piano Talking to Itself" and consist of a piano, very long cables, coils, an amplifier, and I'm not sure what else.. It's a variation of an earlier art project of Gordon which originated in 2010 and has been featured at art festivals and won awards worldwide, so it's apparently a big deal. I think it is best described by this drawing of the original plans when constructed and first exhibited in Poland back in 2010:

Wild huh? So check the following episode out, and then we'll return to another episode of the Big Fish AM broadcast before I conclude this post..

"On February 15th, I ventured out with my portable AM radio ice hut studio to broadcast all of the fun at North Bay’s Ice Follies 2014. Want to know how a piano listens to itself? Sound artist and Governor General Award winner Gordon Monahan has strung wires between a camper trailer and a piano 200 feet away. Take a listen to my short doc on Gordon’s installation."

Ok, So next Dave finishes his participation at The Ice Follies event and returns to Calendar Bay to resume broadcasting... First a couple more of his post outlining what occurred there and then we'll conclude with Big Fish AMs final broadcast..

Big Fish AM
February 19, 2014 ·
The Big Fish AM Smallest Fish Contest! Absolutely everybody can enter!
 This Saturday we give away prizes from our sponsors and for a grand prize, local talent Jimmy Golden will play a concert live at your ice hut!
 Contest starts now so post your tiny fish photos!
 (The fish could have been caught anywhere anytime)"

Big Fish AM
February 22, 2014 ·
"Yes, even the toughest fisher-person must bow to the awesome power of mother nature. It took this monstrosity mere minutes to blow in and completely consume the Callander Bay Ice Village!! The storm won't to be letting up soon. Doesn't look good for our Smallest Fish Contest! Oh Well.."
And now here's the "best of" from last Big Fish broadcast, it's as delightful as the first  - and it's the only other low power AM broadcast of his that I could find that was specified as such.. there might be more, he does a lot of quality "broadcast" from parks and such, but the actual medium of those may or may not be AM. I wish more hobbyist would do special productions like this instead of just being a "music station". It would make our hobby so much more productive and notable.
Big Fish AM
March 11, 2014 ·
"Big Fish AM must roll in the lines for the season. But I will leave you with some shinny lures...Thanks for the support!"
"This is the best of Callander Bay Ice Village Radio 2014"

a few more pictures by those who had attended there:
 I you'd like to check out  some other "special event" type part 15 broadcast (unrelated to Big Fish) see some of my past post:
 RECEPTION/TRANSMISSION Event which happened back in 2006. 
And there's also Atlanta Records Part 15 Escapades from back in the 1990s,
and maybe even Charles Hefti - Car Tunes from back in the early 1960s

Thursday, January 24, 2019

It's All a Question of Range with Part 15 AM

This is a copy of one of my own responses posted about a year ago in a Hobby Broadcaster thread of the same title. I thought it worthy of reposting here, with some image illustrations added:

The FCC Certified
Hamilton Rangemaster
Excerpted from the HobbyBroadcaster discussion;
"It's All a Question of Range with Part 15 AM"  [] :

An example install.
I had a Rangemaster install several years ago, elevated about twelve foot with a single ground rod in an area with a ground conductivity of 4, in a relatively quiet area (no businesses neons, few power transformers or other factors which often lend to increased interference, in a rural area) and I could barely receive my signal at a mile, and that was with the volume full blast and a lot of static, you could barely hear it, - it's not what I would consider a useable signal. But at a half mile it sounded pretty good (so, a mile radius).
I had another similar installation (about 20 foot, single ground rod) but with a ground conductivity of 8, in a congested area, businesses and tall condos and motels surrounding it, etc. and my range fared about the same as described above.

Now, neither employed an engineered ground with radials and so forth, but I assume with a good engineered ground both those previous installs could have achieved a good signal at around a mile (2 mile radius). But note both described involved more than the 3 meter limit, so were not actually to the letter of the law, at the time it didn't really occur to me.. I wish I had tried it at ground level (like the challenge did) and see how the range was affected. 

What I'm getting to is that based on my own experiences, I find it extremely difficult to believe that any legal install could ever possibly achieve greater than a 2 mile radius. But putting my own experiences aside, historically, the range capability of 15.219 has always been documented anywhere from 1/4 mile to approximately a mile maximum radius, dependent on the area.. So is it possible to legally achieve a 2 mile radius with a usable signal??.. With a premium transmitter and a optimal engineered ground in a high conductivity, low interference area?.. Perhaps, maybe, if your really super fortunate. Maybe, just maybe.
At one time was installed on the pinnacle
of the pavilions roof, tied into it's massive
1 inch copper cable grounding system. 

Yeah, about ten or twelve years ago I have had a Rangemaster 40 or 50ft in the air tied into a massive ground system and achieved an easy 10 miles range of usable signal here on the coast, but it certainly wasn't legal.

That's my take on the matter, based on 75% factual and 25% speculative. But I'm no real expert.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019


Been restructuring the Free Programming page into it's own section and better categorized making it easier to find what your looking for. The categories are broken up better and also an additional section arranged by runtimes... Anyway, It's not live, it's taking me longer than I expected, plus I've got normal life on my ass, so the restructure is just not getting finalized as rapidly as I thought it would.

But, it just occurred to me that other than posting a couple links on the forums there is no link here in the lab.. So here is a very recent and spectacular program that was supposed to be posted weeks ago...

There are currently 9 selections in this category

This first featured selection under our 'Talk and Entertainment' category was granted and added on December 25, 2018. What better time to receive a gift! It is one of my favorites. It's a very unique and entertaining offering.
The Radio8Ball Show has a fun premise; We have the host, a musical guest, and a one question... What that question is, might come from a phone-in caller, or someone visiting right there in the studio..

The answer to the question is revealed through the assistance of synchronicity, via a spin of the wheel, flip of a coin, or the turn of a card..

That determines the song the musical guest performs live, usually acoustically, right there in the studio as the answer to the question which was asked.

Discussion ensue on how that synchronicity-selected song related to the question which had been asked.

There are also several special tribute episodes to famous old school artist like Joni Michell, Tom Petty, Harry Nilsson and The Posies.

The show always begins with the same theme song (written by Andras Jones), with each musical guest performing there own version so it always sounds different.

Here's a sample of one version (from the Nilsson tribute) which I particularly like, there's another that I thought kind of sounds like the Beatles, and plenty of other cool renditions of it...
The lyrics explain the show: 


I'll have more to say about this show in my blog, but for now let's move on to airing it on your own stations.. After several communications with Andras Jones (Pronounced On-Dross Joe-n's) the creator and host of Radio8Ball, concerning making the show freely available to broadcast, he ultimately granted the rights with only the following stipulations:

"...I'm totally down (with these provisions):
1. Stations can download the podcasts without my help
2. Stations get in touch with me before they start broadcasting the shows and keep me informed about changes to the broadcast schedule
3. I'd like to approve the language and artwork on our listing before it goes live
4. Note: The podcast is rated "explicit" due to the occassional shit or fuck but most of the shows are FCC clean.

It took me a little time to get my head around what you're doing but now that I get it (I hope) I think it's very cool and am honored to be invited.

Andras Jones"

*Allow me to mention here that I've already listened to a good number of the episodes and as of yet have not noticed any use of explicit language, but you'll have to take it upon yourself to give an episode prior review before airing. I have more to say about this show but that will be in one of my blog post. For now, here's a text copy overview history of the Radio8Ball show: 

Below is from a text copy describing Radio8Ball as provided by the creator and host of the show. Don't forget you can click any of the images to get a closer look.
RADIO8BALL: Questions Answered. Answers Questioned.

Radio8Ball is a musical divination format created by Andras Jones in which questions are answered by picking songs at random and interpreting the musical synchronicity of the experience. Currently, Radio8Ball is a daily podcast distributed by Starburns Audio and hosted by Andras Jones. Radio8Ball features live songwriters lik Inara George, Allen Toussaint, Jon Auer, Myra Flynn, The Essex Green, Mary Lou Lord performing and interpreting their songs as the "Pop Oracle" answers to questions from celebrity guests like John Trudell,  John C. Reilly, Tig Notaro, Patricia Arquette, Rae Dawn Chong & Viggo Mortensen.

Radio8Ball began on the airwaves at KAOS FM at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington where the dream seminars led by his father, Richard M. Jones, formed the philosophical underpinnings of what would become his son's creation. Radio8Ball ran on KAOS from 1998 to 2008 at which point events took place at the station which are detailed in Andras' book
"Accidental Initiations: In The Kabbalistic Tree of Olympia" from Sync Book Press, that changed the trajectory of the evolution of the format. What followed was 5 years of live theatrical productions of Radio8Ball in Boston, Seattle, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Joshua Tree and Olympia and eventually, what we consider to be its natural home, as a daily podcast.

There is a Radio8Ball app which, as of this writing, is only available to Android users. Coming soon to iTunes. The R8B app welcomes listeners to ask a question and shake their phone which generates a randomly chosen song from the over 1800 tracks recorded over the history of Radio8Ball. These include famous folks and wonderful unknowns, as well as Andras Jones's own music (which falls somewhere between these two poles). The app also features the daily podcast and allows listeners to shuffle through the entire catalog. It's free. We invite you to give it a shake.
Visit Radio8Ball at:
 To include the RadioBall Show in your programming contact Andras Jones at:

(This program is also listed under our MUSIC SOURCES category)