The Traveling Life

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With summer looming on the horizon, we start to hear from more and more of our customers who are preparing to travel. We get to speak with quite a diverse group – from folks who travel seasonally throughout the year and stay in one location for several months or weeks; those who only travel during the summer; others who travel every weekend; or some who now only travel only through books and radio listening.

Whether your travel involves RVs and campgrounds; airplanes, hotels and exotic locations; or books and radio, we have heard some great tips from your fellow travelers on what you need for the best experience.

First, having a radio that also includes the weather band and alert is a priority. As the weather has continued to show this year, it can be completely unpredictable, and sometimes dangerous. If you are traveling somewhere new there is nothing better than a radio that can alert you to weather related incidents that might impact your travel plans (or your life). The local radio is often the best place to learn about where to go and what to do in the event you are caught in a weather related emergency like a fire or tornado.

Second a flashlight or our spotlight can come in really handy. If your vehicle has broken down, or you have a flat tire, or you’re at a campground with less than fantastic lighting and paths, then you will be so thankful you bought that flashlight and stashed in your glove box or emergency bag next to the jumper cables.

And last but not least – this is more for the RVers, campers and long haul truckers than anyone else. If you are at parks or gas stations where the WiFi is weak or spotty, we do have a couple of options that can help you improve the signal reception.

Enter to win:
Are you a traveler? Where are you heading and how do you prefer to travel? Tell us your best vacation story in the comments and be entered to win the CC LED Spot XB. Drawing will take place Friday June 3rd. Limit one entry per person.

CBS Radio Division May be Sold

What make a great radio station? A great station becomes the fabric of a community over time. Great stations mean more to their listeners than 99% of all websites because they have heart and real people behind them. They serve and entertain their listeners. Bob Crane and Jessica Crotty visited WCCO in Minneapolis MN recently and were thrilled to get to see one of the greats.

There are respected news websites that we want to see every day but there is not the direct connection you can have with a great radio station. Great stations can be 50,000 watts and cover several states or they can be a small local station making sure the local news and events are reported. Either way, they serve a community of listeners, connecting people in a unique way.

The question that visiting WCCO brought up, since WCCO is a CBS owned station – what impact will CBS selling their radio division have on these great stations? CBS Radio is the second largest radio chain. They reach an estimated 70 million listeners nationwide each week. 117 stations in 26 markets. What is really interesting about this potential sale – is CBS radio isn’t deep in debt. In fact, their radio segment has a profit margin somewhere around 35% according to Forbes. We are hoping that these changes will help bring back more local and regional talent.

We are inclined to agree with Joan Warner, of Commercial Radio Australia “Radio will live on playing to our strengths – free to air, live, local, 24/7, sports, news, information, community – creating a real connection and engagement with the audience.”

Did you know CBS is considering this? What are your thoughts on this? And what is your favorite great radio station?wccowccosignwcconabaward2016wcco2

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

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We know it’s still early, but we wanted you to have plenty of time to find the perfect gift for Mom. After a quick internal poll here at C. Crane, we’ve compiled a list of what employees have purchased and would recommend as Mother’s Day gifts. We hope this helps you find a great gift for your mom this Mother’s Day.

John recommends the PowerVivid Pocket Flashlight. He’s given them as gifts and everyone loved them. They are the perfect size for purses and glove compartments.

Christine loves the CC Solar Observer Wind Up Radio. Her perennials that survived the record rain fall are popping up all over the garden and of course there are plenty of weeds which need attention now and this radio allows her to power it with the solar panel. She can listen to music all day long while gardening and not using any batteries or electricity.

The Senta Ally is always a favorite. Whether doing the dishes or cleaning the house, being able to stream your favorite audio like Pandora through the Bluetooth® speaker definitely makes the work go by more quickly.

Carolyn recommends the CC Pocket Radio. She gave one to her sister when her iPod® died. Her sister likes to take morning walks with music as motivation. The CC Pocket overcame her initial skepticism because this unit brought in plenty of FM stations from her city, and she was able to program her favorites into the preset buttons to easily switch between them while on her walks.  Now she also tunes to the AM band for news updates and information about what is going on in her city – something she had not done in a long time.  When asked if she ever bought another iPod®, she said the CC Pocket Radio worked out so well for her that she had forgotten all about it!

Many of you may know Bob Crane always recommends the CC Radio-EP because that’s who he built the radio for – His Mom. She wanted a radio that was easy to use without all the extra stuff, so that’s what he gave her.

Isaiah recommends the CC WiFi internet radio. His mom has her radio on every day for several years. It only goes off at bedtime and when “The Voice” comes on television. Jessica’s grandma loves this radio as well. She gets to listen To St. John’s out of Newfoundland Canada and it brings her information and music from her home country.

Sue recommends the CC Witness Plus – whether she rides a motorcycle, works in the yard or loves to shop – she can record her favorite music, talk shows or even her language lessons and take it with her and listen at her leisure.

So many options for you to choose from, you’ll have no problem picking a great gift this year! Tell us what your plans are for this year’s Mother’s Day!

Spring is Here!

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SugarLoaf – Petrolia, CA. Photo courtesy Colton Stokesberry

Well, at least in Northern California it is. The daffodils and tulips have been blooming and now the Rhododendrons are here. With all the rain this past winter things are looking more beautiful than ever. We are so fortunate and blessed to live where we do. We swear we aren’t trying to rub it into our friends in the Midwest and the South that have been battling late winter storms that include snow, flash floods and even fires possibly caused by lightening.

With Spring in the air, household projects ensue. Yard work, windows, cleaning out closets or even more ambitious projects like new flooring or decking– you name it – the honey-do list is getting long! One thing that can make any project more enjoyable and go by faster, is good audio. Listening to your favorite music like Bob’s good old old rock and roll from Russia, your favorite radio show or even audio books or podcasts will make the time fly by and studies have shown music can improve your mood and make you more productive.

Several of us here at C. Crane have preferences but the Senta Ally always comes out near the top because of its versatility. Great for listening to Pandora or MLB through Bluetooth from your smartphone. Listen to your playlist or downloaded podcasts on your iPod or even an SD Card. If the whole house doesn’t want to listen to your choices (we think you should barter for help, but in the event that isn’t an option…..) we have great earbud and headphone choices. Get that book you’ve been wanting to read off your list and have a beautiful yard at the same time! And of course, the faithful stand by – a good radio. We even have a kit for people who need some noise reduction.

What’s on your honey-do list and are you listening while you work? If yes, what do you listen to? Enter your answer in the comments to win your choice of the Senta Ally or Senta Wooden Headphones. Winner will be drawn on May 5th. Limit one entry per person.

Congratulations to winner Wanda Welsh! Thank you for participating in our blog post Spring is Here!

Earth Day is on the Horizon


Earth Day
 is an international event designed to raise awareness and concern for the environment. Started April 22nd in 1970, it is one of the largest grassroots movements in U.S. history.  C. Crane is fortunate to be based in Fortuna, CA, which is surrounded by state and federally protected areas such as the Headwaters Forest, Pacific Ocean Coastlines, the Eel River and so many more.  With so much abundant beauty it’s no surprise that people here feel strongly about conservation.

Many people in our area and elsewhere faithfully practice sustainability as a way of life. Where every day is Earth Day, so they are constantly looking for ways to reduce dependency on outside resources, and minimize waste. What used to be considered “hippie” counterculture has now worked its way into mainstream

The best thing about Earth Day is that everyone can participate. Take one of our pocket radios along if you are helping with a community project. The CC Solar Observer is a great outdoor radio for listening while you garden to grow food, raise chickens, or work your own sustainability program. Even something as simple as using rechargeable batteries with our Solar Battery Charger can help the environment since they use far less natural resources than disposable batteries.

We’re curious – are you a conservationist, and if so, how?

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Cheatham Grove Grizzly Redwoods State Park

KGO Radio Announces Major Changes

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Update 4/4 – It looks like management has been listening. KGO has announced live and local programming and reversed their decision and are now keeping Ron Owens. The comments we’ve read about what people are hearing so far, are very positive.

4/1 – So many people this morning were upset and outraged at KGO’s announcement and the current layoffs that ensued. Phone calls were made, panic! People thought it was an April Fool’s prank, but it isn’t. We saw posts and comments of people who have listened for 10, 20, 30 years and more who woke up this morning to an odd sounding KGO radio. If you take the time to read the comments, you will see just how upset the listeners are.

Veteran talk show host Ronn Owens will be moved from KGO radio (his home for 40 years) to KSFO.

On their Facebook Page there is an announcement stating “The next generation of KGO 810 is coming Tuesday morning at 6 am”. We aren’t sure what that means, so we’ll be waiting to see just like you.

C. Crane’s very first radio ad, aired on KGO 810 and we continued advertising with them until their first format change several years ago when they laid off much of their local talent. We still have people call to this day, telling us that they first heard about us on KGO. We were fortunate to work with Mickey Luckoff and Jack Swanson in the hay day of KGO & KSFO. Both stations have a long history and are two of the greatest stations ever formed. We hope and pray the Cumulus management endeavors to carve a path with the creativity and talent that the radio hosts and the former management have previously done because we’d LOVE to advertise again!

Tell us in the comments how you feel about this change!

Work Around Hearing Loss

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Since hearing loss is the third most common condition in people over 65 years of age, it is likely that you or someone you know suffers from it.  The Digital FM Transmitter-2 by C. Crane has brought relief to many individuals with this affliction under a number of circumstances.

We have heard from customers that their church purchased our Digital FM Transmitter-2 so members of the congregation with a hearing loss wouldn’t miss the sermon.  The worshipers tune a pocket radio to match the open FM frequency on the transmitter and listen through headphones or earbuds at a volume that meets their needs.  Making the sermon accessible to everyone keeps those with a hearing loss engaged, while helping to retain attendance.

A customer shared with us that the television in the exercise center at the senior citizen facility where his mother resides was becoming a source of conflict.  Some residents needed very loud audio while others found high volumes and resulting speaker distortion disruptive to their workout.  The Digital FM Transmitter-2 with a pocket radio was the perfect solution in creating a harmonious environment.

Numerous customers have reported that the audio from their television was no longer adequate after they experienced hearing loss.  Straining to hear their favorite programs created listening fatigue, and background noise from the household or outside made the problem even worse.  Using the Digital FM Transmitter-2 to send the signal to a tabletop radio close by restored their ability to enjoy television again. A pocket radio with headphones would work well too.

At $49.99 plus shipping, the C. Crane Digital FM Transmitter-2 is a low cost solution that enables individuals with a hearing loss to avoid isolation and stay connected to their world.

What is your favorite way to use the FM Transmitter?

Most unique entry will win a brand new FM Transmitter 2. Winner will be chosen by April 6th, 2016. One entry person.

Radio Buddy for the Garden by Bob Crane

20160311_08145720160311_081649_007I’m not able to weed eat my yard like I used to so my long time gardener, Bill, comes in every two weeks and helps with the grueling part. He is as bad as I am about the necessity of having a radio to listen to while he works. He is also a fantastic radio tester for me. He has broken about eight radios and radio headsets over about as many years. It has been over two years now since we built him a chest harness to hold the CC Pocket, a heavy duty audio cable and a set of noise cancelling headphones. And nothing’s broken! If you are a hard working gardener then you will understand the gravity of a long lasting radio setup you can depend on!

For myself there is a certain educational show on Sunday I hate to miss. Unfortunately I am always running around the yard on Sundays trying to catch up with plants, weeds, leaks and “fall aparts”. With my hands full there is one radio I can clip on my pants… The CC Pocket! All AM radio signals are directional so I occasionally need to crab walk down the driveway to keep good reception. I try to arrange my chores so I am somewhat stationary between commercials so I can stand the little guy up next to me. The CC Pocket is a small, convenient go-to radio when nothing else does the job! By the way, the show is Bob Brinker’s “Money Talk”. Along with the Dave Ramsey Show, they have created more financial security to the average American than probably any other two individuals in the U.S.

Is AM Radio Still Relevant?

C. Crane started in 1983 selling AM antennas. We have progressed so we now manufacture a range of high quality radios of most types. We were one of the first U.S. distributors of Internet radios, but the vast majority of customers still prefer the instantaneous free convenience of radio.

If you don’t have time to read this but want to help keep AM stations capable of long distant night time broadcasts here is a link to KFI who has organized a petition to keep it the way it is: http://www.kfiam640.com/features/save-am-radio-1919/

Is AM Radio Still Relevant?

The FCC is proposing radical changes to AM radio signals. They have already adopted some of the proposed changes, but others that could have a more noticeable impact are still under review and are now open for comment. Currently smaller stations generally have to reduce power and sometimes change the direction they broadcast their signal so they don’t interfere with more powerful stations. What this means is larger 50,000 Watt stations like KGO, San Francisco; WGY, New York; KDKA, Pittsburgh; WGN, Chicago and many, many  more are capable of transmitting several hundred miles at night and early morning.  Those stations have a “protected” status during those specified hours.  They’re known as clear channel stations (not to be confused with Clear Channel Broadcasting).

This proposal is being called the AM Revitalization plan and some of the reasoning behind it stems from what is called the AM radio noise floor level. With the increase in all things electronic (think smart phones, televisions, Bluetooth and even LED light bulbs), the noise produced by all of these things has impacted AM Radio and not for the better. In many areas (you may be in one of them) the noise is so bad that AM, and in some cases FM, is almost not listenable.  Another argument in favor of these changes is to allow room for more local stations or to expand coverage for existing local stations.  In theory, this expansion would give listeners a wider choice of programming. A lesser understood impact may include these larger powered stations losing up to 46% of their listenership due to the change in the late night coverage where their signal currently travels hundreds of miles. One of the biggest concerns for losing this protection is the unintended consequences.  The FCC claim of how these changes will work out is actually a theory while the reality of implementation will be different. Unfortunately this is not a “try again” situation if the results are considered horrible by some listeners. It is a situation best served with the idea of “doing no harm”.

C. Crane has talked first hand with over one million AM radio listeners concerned with improving their AM reception. There is a considerable group of listeners who enjoy or by circumstance choose to use radio as their primary source of news and entertainment. They many times live in a more rural setting listening to distant stations. They are generally satisfied watching the world go by with radio as a companion. We would compare them to a sleeping bear that might take a remarkable exception to being poked with a stick. You might take this as a challenge until you meet some of these fine people and realize the misplaced destruction caused by eliminating their signal of choice.

There is a lot of discussion about AM being dead or being much less important than it was before cellular phones, WiFi, satellite radio and even FM Radio. There are many people who can’t afford, don’t have or don’t want access to WiFi or cellular services.  The proposed FCC changes could irreversibly affect those who rely on that AM radio signal each night to be informed and entertained.

You may not know why AM radio is very important to the United States, Canada, Australia and China but it is because all of these countries are too big to be covered with a free source of news. All of these countries also have a large relatively unknown group who listen at night. Taking clear channel stations away would affect a great many people.

Possible remedies to improve AM reception:

The FCC could consider a power increase for local stations one at a time. If you look at the comments on this topic, you can see it is too complex to make this kind of change with one general stroke of the pen. A one size fits all approach isn’t going to work. Guidelines can be developed to help the submission process and make this work better for all.

Local stations can stream when their signal goes down in power. The cost is low. A small subscription and/or advertising would be more than adequate.

New technology has given us at least one possible simple solution but it would take 10 years to implement. Bandwidth filters for receivers are quite good and inexpensive now since one chip supplier went into making AM/FM chips. They also make one that has a noise blanker that will likely work well on radio noise. So if broadcasters were able to keep their signal contained to bandwidth specifications and receivers matched it could work much better than it does now for the listener. If it works as well as we expect then the FCC could reduce the AM bandwidth to 8KHz and add more stations. Intelligent offsetting the stations geographically would mean less interference. All we would need is receivers capable of 1 Kilohertz resolution which would be mandated by the FCC.

Last reasons for AM stations

We all take the Internet for granted and in our opinion it is unlikely it will ever fail catastrophically. If it did fail the U.S. has no backup system which would plunge our great country into complete chaos. Until we are sure it can’t fail why eliminate 50,000 watt clear channel AM stations. They would be the only possible backup source of information capable of spanning the nation. Our military still installs and uses sophisticated High Frequency AM radios as a backup for a reason.

Here are some places you can go to learn more and form your own opinion

http://www.timesunion.com/business/article/A-wave-of-discontent-over-AM-radio-proposal-6854910.php#photo-9458937

http://chicagoradioandmedia.com/news/8012-fcc-s-proposed-am-revitalization-plan-could-have-impact-on-many-chicago-radio-stations

http://swling.com/blog/2016/02/am-radio-proposal-has-class-a-broadcasters-upset/

http://www.radioworld.com/article/questions-for-the-fcc-about-am-class-a-protections/277341

There are stations and individuals for and against these proposed changes. Some arguing that the only local programming is religious, some stating that in localized emergencies, only local stations report on it and others offering what seem like reasonable compromises or suggestions. One thing is clear: Times are changing and there is a limited opportunity to be heard.

We are curious on your take, tell us your opinion – please share in the comments, but if you really want to be heard, you can file a comment either electronically or through the mail http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/proceeding/view?name=13-249  Comments are being accepted through March 21st 2016 and replies through April 18th.

What’s So Great About a Pocket Radio?

Sometimes referred to as a transistor RAD-CCRADIO-CC-PCKTradio, a pocket radio is a small portable receiver that – you guessed it, can fit in a pocket. The capabilities and coverage will vary depending on the manufacturer and the price, but usually a pocket radio will receive the AM and FM bands at a minimum. Some models include more bands like NOAA Weather or Shortwave. Features might include built-in speaker, digital displays, clocks, sleep timers, and memory presets, while others are more basic with analog tuning and earphone operation only.  The transistor radio forged the way for today’s personal music players, proving that technology can be made smaller and designed for individual use.

One thing many people don’t realize is that size does matter when it comes to reception, especially on the AM band. Generally, we wouldn’t recommend a pocket radio when you’re trying to get a weak signal. There are some things that no amount of technology has been able to solve (yet) and one of those things is the radio waves as they relate to the ferrite antenna. This is the internal antenna that receives the AM signal. No matter how you dice it, the longer ferrite antennas will provide better AM reception. FM Reception can also be impacted by length, but in this case it’s the length of the telescopic whip antenna. Most pocket radios do not have a whip antenna, but the cable for your earphones or an FM wire antenna that plugs into the earphone jack can significantly improve FM Reception.

C. Crane has carried some form of pocket radio for over 20 years. Pocket radios become personal companions for many radio listeners; the simplicity and ease of use are often cited as reasons people own one. You will see them on delivery driver’s vehicle dashboards, with people at sporting events (so they can actually hear the play by play action of the radio announcer), or combined with noise-reducing headphones by gardeners and equipment operators. The most common usage seems to be folks out walking or going for a jog. A lesser known popular use of pocket radios is as a bedtime radio. Many people like the auto shutoff or sleep timer features often found on pocket radios. This prevents the drain of batteries with the radio playing after they have fallen to sleep. Many people have sleep issues, so a pocket radio combined with a pillow speaker is the only thing that brings them relief.

It is certainly understandable why these radios continue to be a customer favorite given their ease of use, desirable features, versatility, and compact size.

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