Totality Gave Unexpected Signal Boost to Casper AM Radio Station
There are quite a few things that people anticipated during the total solar eclipse. There was a general understanding that Casper would get an influx of tourists visiting from all over the world. Everyone knew the moon would block the sun for about two and a half minutes, but we didn't expect our sister radio station KTWO-AM to get a signal boost.
During the totality, we had a confirmed report that K2 Radio reached Idaho over 500 miles away. At the day power, the signal covers most of Wyoming. Full disclosure, the 1030 AM transmitter was having issues. It was one of those times where a $400K machine breaks down because of a $20 part - Murphy's Law in full effect. Normally K2 Radio broadcasts at 50,000 watts. On the backup transmitter, the station was only putting out 10,000 watts. That makes this even more impressive. Here is the email sent to K2 General Manager, Bob Price:
Was able to get your station at our eclipse max. ( about 97 % ) in Twin Falls Idaho Yesterday, we are about 588 miles from you. I play with radios at night looking for distant radio stations and I don't always get you then.
It was quite the eclipse bonus - J.N.
Listeners to AM radio know that some stations are better at night. Why? The AM radio signal bounces off the earth's surface and the atmosphere, specifically the ionosphere. At night the ionosphere rises, and AM radio signals travel much further.
That is why some radio stations must power down at night or even sign off the air. During totality, this same phenomenon happened, and the AM signals traveled much further for at least two and a half minutes.
Apply a little logical deduction, anywhere across the path of totality where there was an AM radio signal, that radio station received a short boost. Most likely radio signals had interference from distant and nearby marketers. It would have been most unfortunate if a reporter decided to cover the eclipse live on air, then to have the nearby stations splatter their signal all over the reporter's broadcast.
There are even a group of hobbyists who listen to the AM band at night to try and pick up distant radio stations from all over the world. It is not uncommon that DXers will email or send postcards from all over the world. K2 gets frequent correspondence from Finland and sometimes Japan.