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.