Unless you would rather hear more about the elections – Let’s talk baseball!!!

There’s nothing like playoff baseball. It has all of the makings of a good drama, the happiness, the love, the heartbreak, the meltdowns, the fights and the rivalries. We have some die hard baseball fans hear at C. Crane, since we’re in Northern California, we have a lot of Giants lovers (who were elated when they got the Wildcard and then heartbroken when they didn’t make it out of the division series playoffs) but we also have a few folks who root for the A’s, the Dodgers and the Cubbies.

Baseball and radio have a long history and some of the best voices in radio (in our humble opinions) are sportscasters. Just listen to Jon Miller from the San Francisco Giants call the game, or recently retired Vin Scully who had called the games since 1950. We get comments from customers regularly who buy one of our radios so they can get their favorite baseball game or take it to the games with them so they can listen to the play by play.

When sitting in on a conference about Sports Talk Radio, we learned that in order to be successful in a popular sports market like Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles, sports radio hosts had to be some of the most knowledgeable and well-studied hosts in the market. Where else would radio show callers expect the host to know everything about a pitcher from 50 years ago, even if the host is only 40? That host has to know who the pitcher was, if they won any awards, how they compare to the current pitcher, if there were any scandals, etc. And that’s just one position! They need to know the history of the franchise and the management and the owners. You’ve heard a great host. It wouldn’t do and the market wouldn’t accept someone who had no idea about those kinds of details. The panelists at this conference brought up how difficult it is for an outsider or someone who didn’t grow up in the area to come in and be successful because they have to learn so much vs. someone who grew up going to the games and listened on the radio and is really passionate about their team and their city.

Sports Talk is one of the few areas where radio has seen growth and we believe a big part of that is the local talent. It can’t be syndicated (at least not widely) because it’s specific to the market. Most people in New York DO NOT want to hear about the Dodgers and people in Los Angeles really, really don’t want to hear about the Giants. We think maybe regular radio would do well to take a page out of Sports Talk’s programming book and look for and develop strong local talent with content that’s specific to their market. From what we’ve seen, the most successful stations do this.

We would love to know if you listen to baseball on the radio and who’s your favorite team?

Throwing a Party This Holiday Season?

If you’re throwing a party this holiday, C. Crane has some products for you! Whether it’s your annual Halloween Spookfest, a Thanksgiving Feast, or National Lampoon’s Christmas – we’ve got you covered.

The Senta Ally Bluetooth Speaker is a great addition to any party. Load up your favorite Pandora station or your playlist and you’re ready to go. The music will fill a medium sized room though it’s small enough to sit on a shelf out of the way.

If you have a more specific audio preference, we have the AEGO Speaker System which offers amazing sound for the money.  It even comes with a remote so you can control what is heard and when you hear it.

The FM Transmitter comes in particularly handy, especially if you want to send ghoulish sounds or great music around your home. Setup a handful of FM Radios in strategic places and let the good times roll!

And last but certainly not least, the small, indispensable Power Vivid LED flashlight. This is the go to flashlight for all your party needs. Don’t get stuck using your phone’s flashlight, this little guy is so much better and doesn’t drain your phone battery! Great for trick or treating or as a stocking stuffer.

What parties are you planning this season? Tell us in the comments and be entered to win two Power Vivid LED pocket flashlights. Drawing will be October 27th. Please only one entry per person.

Let Your Ears Be the Judge

“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt
32nd President of the United States


Not since 1908 has the U.S. voter turnout risen above 65% according to information posted on Wikipedia. Really? Surely with all of our transportation improvements, and immediate political info access, the modern American can match the efforts it must have taken folks over 100 years ago to “get out the vote”. Perhaps time has allowed us to take the process for granted.  After all, the biggest threats to our freedom have originated in foreign nations this last century. The stories we heard from our elders were of that period, not of the internal turmoil suffered in the 19th century. We have no connection to the time when voting was earned. It is a right many Americans carelessly squander.

So why aren’t more of us taking advantage of the privilege so many have fought for?  According to an article on Bloomberg.com, a common thread among the explanations given is down to basics – location, location, location.  We just can’t seem to get ourselves there for one reason or another.  The most logical solution that would cover almost every circumstance is to vote by mail.  A quick visit to the www.vote.org site and you can have the necessary form to register for an absentee ballot.  No more musty school libraries or echoing fire halls need be endured.  Just fill it out, mail it, and you will get your ballot.  Then you can do your voting in the comfort of your own home before mailing it in.  “Who wants to do that every year?” you ask.  Well, probably no one, which is why you can check a box on the form to permanently vote-by-mail.  No doubt Americans the 1800’s would have vastly appreciated the ease of this option.

This brings us to the conscientious American voter of today.  They demand to know information about what they consider important, and want to hear what candidates have to say on those issues.  This was proven when the first presidential debate of this election broke TV viewer records with an audience of over 84 million, according to the L.A. Times.  Who wants to bet they worked on their body language a little in preparation?  The safe money would be that they worked on it a lot.  It is easy to get distracted by how someone looks, their facial expressions, and hand gestures.  It is human nature to evaluate others on how we visually perceive them.  Which is why political candidates work on body language a lot.

Should you be interested in catching the next debate, try listening to it instead.  Without visual distraction, the brain can truly focus on what the candidates are telling us.  In the web article “Mindful Listening”, one of the key components is to “Listen without judgement or distractions to absorb what is being said”.  By simplifying the experience with a radio, you may gain a whole different perspective.

Regardless of your views on this election, you can still flex your voting muscle at C. Crane. Vote in the poll below for which radio you want on sale the most, and your voice will be heard!  The item with the most votes will be put on sale November 8th for election day. Poll closes October 12th so get your vote in!!!


Top 10 Emergency Preparedness Tips


To finish out the month of National Preparedness we wanted to give you a short checklist of what to do for being prepared:

  1. Know your area and what disasters you might encounter – this will help you plan appropriately
  2. Create a plan (even something as basic as knowing exit routes and local emergency numbers)
    • Include in your plan any unusual items you might need like medications or hearing aids as well as prescription information and doctor’s info.
    • Consider adding a communication plan in the event everyone is in separate locations
    • Consider adding a meet-up plan if members become separated or if the house is uninhabitable
  3. Create a printed or written contact list and include at least one out of town contact
  4. Create a 72-hour emergency kit with the essentials for each family member:
    • First Aid Kit
    • Portable emergency radio
    • Flashlight and extra batteries
    • Cash
    • Duct tape (really – you’ll never be sorry you included duct tape J)
    • Toilet Paper, wet wipes, personal hygiene items
    • Notepad and pens or pencils
    • Blankets or sleeping bags
    • Bottled Water
    • Pet Food (if applicable)
    • Children/Infant Items (if applicable – think diapers, wipes, formula, inhalers, etc.)
  5. Know where your electric, gas and water shut off valves are and how to turn them off and make sure you have the tools needed nearby.
  6. Meet your neighbors and find out if there is a neighborhood or community plan in place
  7. Create copies of important documents and store them in a secure location, preferably off site
  8. PRACTICE your plan – nothing beats a real live drill especially if you have any kind of special needs or young children or grand children.
  9. Put a reminder in your calendar for twice a year to check your kit and your plan and update or modify as necessary.
  10. Stay – calm. If you’ve followed the steps above you have a plan and a kit. You’re in GREAT shape to survive a disaster.

Long Time Radio Host Dr. Joy Browne Has Passed Away

Dr. Joy Browne
was a gracious and intelligent radio host. She was exactly the same in person. We were fortunate to meet her several times throughout the course of our attendance at Talker’s New Media Seminars. Her show was a welcome alternative to all of the political talk. She talked about real life and real life issues with real people. We know she will be missed on air.

Here’s a great article Retrospective: The Life and Career of Dr. Joy Browne from Talker’s.

Her show will continue to run with Michael Harrison filling in until a permanent replacement is found. Some details about the show and Michael Harrison filling in from Talkers News.

“Beginning Monday, September 19, the time slot will indefinitely be hosted live by Michael Harrison until a permanent replacement is named.  Upon agreeing to keep the seat warm, Harrison states, “It is an honor to serve as interim host of Joy’s program.  I deeply believe in her mission and the importance of keeping generalist, non-specifically political talk programming alive within the context of ‘news/talk’ during the daytime hours.  I will do my best to provide her wonderful affiliates and audience with a meaningful listening experience within that time-honored radio tradition.”  Harrison says he has cleared his schedule during that time slot for at least the rest of 2016 but will step out during that time frame if and when “a permanent replacement is named.”  Simultaneously, GCN will be continuing to offer Dr. Joy Browne’s radio show, podcasts and archives to radio stations and listeners worldwide on a separate channel.”

Keep Your Family Safe – Prepare Ahead of Time


Not many people are really prepared for a disaster, especially in areas where they aren’t common. Maybe folks in areas where there are regular hurricanes, tornadoes or winter storms that shut everything down have a good handle on being prepared or people like the Preppers, but the rest of us find it easy to slack on preparedness and then find ourselves scrambling when a real disaster strikes.

It’s easy to make a case for being prepared. Look around at all of the unexpected emergencies like the recent flooding in Louisiana and tornadoes in the Midwest. Emergencies don’t have to be only weather and naturally caused. In California, recent fires that destroyed entire communities have been attributed to arson. With record breaking temperatures across the US and people using electricity like crazy or an even more sinister possibility – an energy grid hack, our next disaster might be extended blackouts or there is the very real possibility of terrorism that continues to plague the entire world.

Here’s a few questions to ask yourself to see how you fare on the preparedness scale:

  • What essential supplies do I need?
    If you are missing some, it might be time to re-think priorities since stores often sell out, are out of service, or have no way to process payments (even cash).
  • Do I have a written list of important phone numbers?
    If you answered no, then you have some work to do. An electronic list on your cell phone isn’t going to do you much good once the phone dies and the power is out.
  • Do you have any cash or would you need to go to the ATM?
    If you answered no to the cash and yes to the ATM then you need to stash some cash. ATMs go down and require power and banks are so automated now and reliant on computers, they often can’t even provide cash from the tellers if there isn’t any power.
  • Do you have copies of important documents stored safely somewhere else?
    As cumbersome as this sounds, having copies of things (think insurance policies, passports, deeds, titles, etc.) stored in a safe deposit box or at a relatives’ home will really reduce the headache and time spent in the event you lose your home to a disaster. It can help even if it’s just a time where you’re out of town and you end up with a water leak that damages your ceiling.
  • Do you have a good emergency radio and flashlight? How about spare batteries?
    No? Well this is the one we can actually help you with! Call us or visit the links above and order online. We’ll get you set up right away.

We’ve written several articles on how to be prepared and what that might look like. REI has a great article on basic concepts with some important additions that people often forget like medications, infant formula and diapers, and pet food.

If nothing else, at least create a basic plan, get a radio and flashlight, write down the list of phone numbers and read about Bob’s potable water trick with your water heater.

Tell us about your emergency plans in the comments below and be entered to win a CC Solar Observer October 11th– the best all-around emergency radio. It covers AM, FM and Weather and has a built in flashlight. You can even use it without batteries and if it came down to it, it even will charge most cell phones.

National Grandparents Day: Do Something Grand

In 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed the proclamation that established the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day.

Since beginning a campaign in 1970 to set aside one special day recognizing grandparents, Marian McQuade spearheaded the movement that focuses on three main goals:

  1. To honor grandparents
  2. To give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children.
  3. To help children become aware of the strength, information, and guidance older people can offer.

It is the third goal of National Grandparents Day that a radio buff can really take and run with.

Do you remember when a cloud was something you saw floating in the sky and tried to decide if it looked like a dolphin or a motorcycle?  Perhaps they caught more of your childhood attention because you were actually outside.  Admittedly, today’s youth faces a more complex world full of different challenges than previous generations, but they lack hands-on experience beyond a keyboard.  Most people’s grandkids are a wiz with all things internet and computer related, but few can tell you how any of it actually works.  By contrast, radio wave reception is a readily explainable concept that can be demonstrated, experimented with, and shared with one’s grandchildren.

Since the line between entertainment and education can be on the thin side, the wisest path is to find a way to combine the two.  Most grandparents don’t even attempt to achieve “cool” status since they learned long ago through their own children what a no-win game that is, not to mention expensive.  But without the day-to-day stresses of the parent/child relationship infringing on your time together, the passion that grandparents show for the world of radio can then spur excitement for further discovery.  Your grandchildren need you to pass along this important information.  One day the cloud may rain torrents of megabytes, and then where will they be?

Crane has a free library on our web site that may prove helpful:  http://www.ccrane.com/University?by=University

These links help explain AM reception facts:

This link is great for those looking to share a hands-on experiment:

This year the holiday falls on Sunday, September 11th.  To find out more about the history of Grandparents Day, visit http://www.grandparents-day.com/.

We’d love to hear about the favorite thing you’ve taught your grandchildren or learned from your grandparents! Tell us in the comments below.

Listening Fatigue: Are Your Ears Tired?


We’ve often debated here at C. Crane what exactly listening fatigue is, but then Bob (yep, Bob Crane, founder of C. Crane) mentioned something that struck a chord. Bob has some hearing loss due to years of working around loud equipment and growing up in an era where the louder the music, the better (and Bob is REALLY excited we’re making a public announcement to everyone – yes that’s sarcasm). He said “Listening fatigue is real. It’s caused by your brain trying to piece together the missing parts of the audio. Having hearing loss does not help but if an audio source has poor bass response I find myself trying to fill in the missing low tones and make them whole. If an audio source has poor mid-range then voices are muffled and difficult to understand.”.

Wikipedia’s definition: Listener fatigue (also known as listening fatigue) is a phenomenon that occurs after prolonged exposure to an auditory stimulus. Symptoms include tiredness, discomfort, pain, and loss of sensitivity. Listener fatigue is not a clinically recognized state, but is a term used by many professionals.

C. Crane has always tried to tailor our audio for voice clarity. Meaning that we manipulate the bass and tone to accentuate consonants which can make voices more legible. Since it seems many of you are listening to talk a good percentage of the time, having clear words is a no brainer. We’ve also heard a lot of people say things like “I’m finally able to hear the words to my music” or “Your radio is the only one I can listen to all night” and “Your pillow speaker is a life saver; I can now fall asleep listening to my audiobooks”. In our research we found some great sites that give far more in depth explanations that we could, but these quotes from a site about hearing loss in relation to listening fatigue really stood out “…Processing and constructing meaning out of half-heard words and sentences. Making guesses and figuring out context…. ’s like doing jigsaws, Sudoku and Scrabble all at the same time. And “…with the addition of hearing loss, the brain has to work, think and concentrate harder than it would with normal hearing and this teamwork is disrupted, increasing the challenges of communication and leading to listening fatigue.”

We believe that comfort also plays a role in the fatigue. If something is irritating or doesn’t fit well, energy is expended to compensate or negotiate that factor. If it’s really uncomfortable whether due to poor audio quality (think harshness or distortion), additional noise (like noise in a line or hum or buzz) or poor fit, the timeline to listening fatigue can be shortened dramatically. This is where figuring out the correct tool for the job comes into play. Much like being a craftsman and knowing when to use which tool, the same can be said for listening. While some of it is subjective, some isn’t. If you’re listening at night, a pillow speaker might be a great choice. This allows you to keep the volume at an appropriate level, have the privacy you desire and eliminates the discomfort of wires in your ears and around your head. If you plan to sit and listen for an extended period, headphones might be a better choice for comfort of your ears. If you’re in an area without a lot of background or other noise, a radio may be better. If you walk or jog, finding a good pair of earbuds that don’t introduce noise in the cables is a big deal.

Last but not least, consider turning down the volume and/or taking a break. It seems counter-intuitive but your body is amazing and will do things to protect itself including shutting down. Keeping the volume at an appropriate level, especially when listening to earbuds, can make a huge difference.

Have you experienced listening fatigue? Enter your tips for preventing or reducing it in the comments below.

What is Shortwave?

Shortwave radio
is a radio transmission using shortwave frequencies, generally 1.6–30 MHz (187.4–10.0 m), just above the medium wave AM broadcast band. Many of SW’s properties are similar to AM like the ability for the signal to travel long distances.

Since the early 1900’s, there have been significant advances in radio. One of the biggest advances that has had the most impact on shortwave, is streaming on the internet and through internet enabled devices like smartphones and Internet radios. Many of the most popular shortwave broadcasts in the late 90’s and early 2000’s have almost disappeared from shortwave and switched to streaming. If stations are still broadcasting, they often no longer broadcast to the Americas or much of Europe.

At any one moment, there are literally hundreds of millions of signals now transmitted from a wide range of devices. Cell phones, garage door openers, AM and FM broadcast stations, police, fire, airlines, TV stations and even the AC power to your home all occupy a part of the frequency spectrum. Time, propagation and the ionosphere all have an impact on what you are able to receive. Because all signals are affected by these things, it is important to understand the basics of radio transmission.

If you really want to learn about shortwave, the best way to learn, is to listen to it. ShortwaveSchedule.com provides a list of all the signals currently broadcasting at the time of your search and is a great starting place for your shortwave listening quest.

Why Would I Listen to Shortwave?

  1. Governments often use shortwave “utility” bands. Utility bands are where the action is on shortwave and are used for reliable long range communication. Coast Guard Search and Rescue, coordination of US military aviation and spy networks all use this band. One reason it continues to be used, is it is very difficult to block these transmissions. Utility stations generally operate in upper sideband mode. Virtually none of these type of transmissions is on the Internet.
  2. During a big crisis, whether it be an earthquake or hurricane, your best source of real news can be shortwave. Ham operators do an excellent job of contacting emergency services and handling messages between people. You may have experienced “all circuits busy” situations or failed text messages in a large scale emergency situation due to cellular towers being down or overloaded. Amateur radio is the only communication that works well under all circumstances and for that reason, it will continue to be used for the foreseeable future.
  3. News from other countries will give you a new perspective on the world. Following shortwave closely over a few months will give you information that approximates the political information the President and staff have at their disposal to make global decisions. When you listen to shortwave you find out how difficult it is to make decisions with global consequences. The political bent of a country slips out providing you with an alternative point of view. There is a whole world of listening and very little of it may be found on the Internet.
  4. You might stumble across a Pirate Radio station

If you have the urge, you can even take to the air waves yourself by becoming a Ham operator through the American  Radio Relay League (ARRL). You don’t even have to learn Morse code anymore unless you go for an advanced classification.

SWLING.com is probably one of the most comprehensive sites in regard to shortwave and advocating for it. This article on Does Shortwave Radio Have a Future really outlines what’s available and what’s not and why.

Share with us the most interesting shortwave broadcast you’ve heard.

Earworms – The Science Behind Songs Stuck in Your Head

earwormpiechartRegardless of who you are or what you do, it happens to everyone at some point in life: earworms.  Not to be confused with that pesky larva that destroys corn and tomatoes, an earworm is defined by Wikipedia as “a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person’s mind after it is no longer playing”.  This annoying condition is formally referred to by experts as involuntary musical imagery (IMI), and a great deal of research has been done on this particular phenomenon.  This is no surprise since earworms are experienced by about 90% of us at least once a week, according to the Earworm Project conducted by the University of London.  Though most of us regard earworms as merely irritating, research indicates that 15% of people consider them so disturbing that they disrupt thought patterns and interfere with their lives.  This is a more serious condition known as intrusive musical imagery (IMI).

While it is still not understood exactly why we get them, analysis reveals that the type of song and your situation definitely influence the probability of catching an earworm.  In a Discover Magazine article, Professor James Kellaris, also known as “Dr. Earworm”, asserts that we are more susceptible if we are stressed, tired, or exposed to music repeatedly or for long periods of time.  And catchy songs with an upbeat melody or repetitive lyrics are more likely to get stuck in our heads than music without such patterns.  Which explains why so many of us are significantly distracted by the innocent verses of Disney’s “It’s A Small World”, doesn’t it?  Oops, sorry about that.

So what can you do to unstick that bothersome song?  Suggestions made by HowStuffWorks in “Getting Rid of Earworms” include some of the following:

  • Sing another song, or play another melody on an instrument.
  • Switch to an activity that keeps you busy.
  • Listen to the song all the way through (this works for some people).
  • Turn on the radio to get your brain tuned in to another song (or news program).

Here is where C. Crane can help you cure the dreaded earworm syndrome.  We have great radios for audio and reception, and have a number of options depending on your priorities.  Keep one of them handy for the next time you get that annoying commercial stuck in your head.

Enter to win in the comments on this blog by answering this question:

Tell us the most irritating or unusual earworm that ever got stuck in your head.

Win the CC Pocket Portable AM FM and Weather Radio. Drawing will be held August 31st. Only one entry per person.

Congratulations Emily Taylor! Thank you All for participating!