Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Spooky Halloween

Halloween is Almost Here

If the real world isn’t scary enough, there are plenty of shows that are willing to help spook you into staying awake all night.

Coast to Coast will offer their legendary Ghost to Ghost show, you can view some archives here

NPR has some Halloween tricks and audio treats we love that folks are even gathering playlists so you can make your haunted house or Halloween party complete!

If you want some nostalgia, this is a great post with 31 scary old time radio episodes for Halloween.

If you’re looking to try something new, we’ve found a couple things for you to try:

The Nosleep Podcast  comes with this warning:  This is a horror fiction podcast. It is intended for mature adults, not the faint of heart. Join us at your own risk.

The Black Tapes Podcast is a serialized docudrama about one journalist’s search for truth and paranormal activity.

Let us know how you will be spending your Halloween and you’ll be entered to win a Unity Plus LED Flashlight to help you see in the dark.

Do you have a party or go to one? Take the kids or grand kids trick or treating? Listen to spooky radio or watch scary movies? Tell us in the comments below. One entry per person please. 3 winners will be chosen on November 2nd.

It’s Officially Summer – Time to Travel!

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Summer solstice was June 21st and we hope you were able to enjoy the long hours of daylight (and maybe some sunshine too). With summer comes travel. Whether you’re chasing sunshine or trying to get away from the heat, we have some ideas of essential items for your traveling:

CC Spot XB LED Spotlight – Even if you’re only traveling a few hours this light is perfect for changing a tire or finding the spot for your RV hookups. It’s bright, easy to hold, runs a long time on standard C batteries and has a kickstand for stability if you need it.

C. Zimmerman says Sturdy and powerful spotlight  “This is a very powerful spotlight that is well built but lightweight. I took it out and compared it to an incredibly bright 750 Lumen flashlight I have, and this has to be at least 100 Lumens on the bright setting. It lights up a large are to make it look like the sun came out. I don’t think you will be disappointed with this spotlight.”

CC Skywave Radio – This has become a favorite for those who want all the various communications and functionality with good reception in a small size and the weather alert comes in VERY handy if you’re traveling in areas with unpredictable weather.

N. Rosas says Perfect travel radio “This is the perfect radio for travel. I’ve had several, and this is the best. I tend to go to the same places, so the page memory feature is great for saving stations by location. The lighted display is a great feature. I would recommend this radio.”

Senta Ally Bluetooth® Wireless Speaker – There’s nothing better than being able to play your own tunes! Works with your iPhone™, Android ™, or any Bluetooth device or you can plug it in directly from any line out or earphone jack using the included stereo patch-cord.

TD says My 2014 favorite gadget of the year! “I use it pretty much every day. By following the instructions it paired easily with my iphone. Once I started using it, I realized it also paired wonderfully with my CC Witness. I record radio programs all week with the CC Witness using sandisk cards (the witness is able to screen out hours of commercials if you program the timers). I can play the disks in either unit at my convenience. I also use it to play The CBS Radio Mystery Theater, episodes that are available for free download on the internet, the voices are crisp and easy to listen to with the Senta. Navigation is a little tricky, but once I got the hang of it, its very simple. Also pairs great with the pillow speaker!“

And for those of you who struggle with WiFi at campgrounds, RV parks or hotels – the CC Vector Systems are a great solution for extending WiFi to multiple devices or the Super USB WiFi antenna is great for a single Windows Computer.

B. Freeman says Exceeded My Expectations “We travel full time in a motor home. Often RV Park WiFi is weak or unable to connect. This ‘kit’ makes it strong and stable and fast. Super easy to use and setup. Couldn’t be more satisfied.”

Whatever your travel plans are this summer – stay safe and make some amazing memories! If you missed it before, and your AM listening is leaving a lot to be desired with all that daylight – check out the tips on our blog.

Tell us your summer plans in the comments below and be entered to win a Senta Ally Bluetooth Speaker. Drawing will be held July 3rd. Please only one entry per person.

Congratulations Julie Horner winner of the Senta Ally Bluetooth Speaker!

Spring is Officially Here?

dreamstime_xl_86642419At least that is what the calendar says! The first official day of Spring was March 20th. Here in Northern California, where spring storms bring a return to winter-like conditions, that is definitely being called into question. It’s supposed to rain on us for the next several days and our California pals to the East are still shoveling ALOT of snow (see the pictures below). Once again, the unpredictable weather brings having a battery operated radio with the weather band and considering one with weather alert to the forefront.

Flooding and mudslides are wreaking havoc not only here in the states (California has been hit hard), but even internationally. Peru was recently hit with huge flooding and mudslides that have left thousands homeless. There a severe weather alerts issued across the Midwest and the South for tornadoes and harsh weather. We think mother nature missed the memo about Spring, but C. Crane has not missed Mother Nature’s memo on why we should be prepared.

We’ve heard from many customers about how their radio alerted them to potential weather threats so they could plan accordingly. If you don’t have a plan make one. If you don’t have a radio, now’s the time to get one – don’t miss the memo! Make sure you’re ready for whatever Spring throws at you.

World Radio Day – Radio is You!

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Celebrated February 13th just in time for Valentine’s Day World Radio Day! The theme this year is “Radio is You”.

This couldn’t sum up our founder’s belief about radio any better. Radio is you! Bob and Sue Crane, founders of C. Crane, continue to be avid radio listeners.  The main reason they love to listen is because radio can be a very personal medium.  Even though it reaches the widest audience of any medium in the world, there is an individual connection to it that is unavailable elsewhere.

This synopsis from UNESCO in regard to their theme this year for World Radio Day really says it all:

Radio is still the most dynamic, reactive and engaging medium there is, adapting to 21st century changes and offering new ways to interact and participate. Where social media and audience fragmentation can put us in media bubbles of like-minded people, radio is uniquely positioned to bring communities together and foster positive dialogue for change. By listening to its audiences and responding to their needs, radio provides the diversity of views and voices needed to address the challenges we all face. Radio informs us and transforms us, through entertainment, information and audience participation.  Having a radio means you are never alone – you always have a friend in radio.  

C. Crane is proud to be a friend to many in radio from customers to stations to hosts and shows! We hope you celebrate World Radio Day, and if not, don’t worry about it – it’s never too late to celebrate radio (we do it here every day!).

Tell us how radio is personal to you in the comments section and be entered to win the CC Pocket Radio! Please one entry per person. Drawing will be held 3/10/2017.

Congratulations to Lee Horner, winner of the CC Pocket Radio. Thank you all for participating!

National Grandparents Day: Do Something Grand

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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:
http://www.ccrane.com/University/am-reception-1
http://www.ccrane.com/University/Sky-Wave-Radio

This link is great for those looking to share a hands-on experiment:
http://www.ccrane.com/University/How-To-Make-a-Simple-Powerful-AM-Loop-Antenna-For-Free

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?

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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?

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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!

Evolution of the CCRadio- Survival of the Fittest

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Select-A-Tenna – AM Antenna

C. Crane started in 1983 selling AM antennas. After starting to gain momentum selling mostly antennas and radio accessories, we received our first real technological challenge when customers starting asking for recommendations on the best radio. It was pretty easy to select the Sangean 803A as the first radio we offered to our customers. Tuning was precise and voice audio was sharper and more legible than most other radios on the market. With the Select-A-Tenna that we sold, it turned into one of the best radios made for reception. It was a little complex to use as a regular daily radio but it met many customer’s needs. We also carried the GE Super Radio which was much easier to use but lacked some of the functionality customer’s wanted and supply was erratic. It seemed that there wasn’t a good blend of features, performance and ease of use.

In the background we went about acquiring and testing just about every popular radio made at the time. It turns out that most radios are tuned for music and FM. There are many that have too much bass or filtering which distorts the human voice for talk radio and even voices found in music tracks. It turned out nobody was making a radio that made voices sound realistic and very few had good reception. If they did, they were so complicated that you needed a PhD just to turn it on or they were so expensive you needed a small loan to pay for it. It took 10 years to convince a manufacturer to help us make the radio we knew our customers needed and wanted. Something that had some of the most desired functionality (memory presets, clock, alarm), audio tuned for voice, excellent reception and wasn’t too difficult to use.

ccradio2eWe started the CCRadio by selecting a speaker and an amplifier designed to react well with voice frequencies. Trying to make a sensitive radio that picked up weak stations was the real challenge. The new solid state chips generated their own static noise that masked the weak signal so that is all you heard. It took months to reduce the noise and make the radio quiet so a weak station was above the noise level. The original CCRadio was introduced in July of 1998 and we haven’t looked back. Grandma Faye gave the best compliment; “you can hear the voices with this radio”. It’s gone through a few different iterations based on customer feedback and changes in technology but the idea behind it remains and it continues to be one of the most popular radios we offer. Models based on our design are still popular worldwide. It took several more years but we eventually invented and received a patent for the Twin Coil Ferrite AM antenna. This allowed us to exceed the reception of our original AM antenna and radio.

Our line of CC Radios has expanded to include different types and styles but the focus on reception and audio remains. C. Crane has talked first hand with over one million radio listeners concerned with improving their 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.

In honor of our anniversary month, 18 years of CCRadios, you can enter to win, tell us your if you own any of the CCRadio line and which one, how long and your favorite thing to listen to on it in comments on this blog and win the CCRadio of your choice. Drawing will be held July 31st. Only one entry per person.

Congratulations winner SoCalPal! Thank you for participating!

How To Get Your Groove On

Senta_Ally-0901While the long daylight hours of summer give us a chance to enjoy the outdoors, many people use that opportunity to tackle those outside chores that just can’t be accomplished during the other wet, cold seasons. Music, news, audio books, or talk programs can make those monotonous tasks like mowing, weeding, painting, or cleaning seem to go much faster. And a lot of research has been done that support what most folks already know from experience; listening to music relieves anxiety and improves your mood.

Earbuds are good for listening during some activities, but the wires tend to get tangled up in gloves, tools, and handles while gardening or working in the garage. And while smart phones, tablets, and notebooks offer access to your favorite music streams, audio books or podcasts, the audio from those small built-in speakers usually leaves a lot to be desired for voice and lyric quality.

The Senta Ally Bluetooth Stereo Speaker is a great solution that gives you crisp, full range stereo sound with bass performance. It is unique from similar models because of the varied ways you can connect to your audio source: USB, SD card, auxiliary input through a 1/8” jack, or paired with a Bluetooth enabled device. It is small enough to sit on a window sill, and would easily fit in a work cart. The 6-8 hour battery life means you will probably be done with your chores before requiring a recharge!

Don’t miss out on getting audio clarity when you are taking care of those summer jobs around the house and yard. And when you are done, use the Senta Ally while lounging out on the deck or entertaining. This speaker is loud enough to fill the area with rich audio that everyone can enjoy.

Tell us your favorite “Summer Song” in the comments and you will be entered into the drawing for a FREE Senta Ally! One entry per person. Drawing will be held July 8th.

Congratulations to winner l w c!