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Radio station KMAT

HY MTTHW LC!

Why do radio stations have those consonant-filled names, like KQVO or KFMB? And why is there a disproportionate amount of the letter K?

-- VWL-HNGRY IN NRML HGHTS

THR R 5 VWLS ND 21 CNSNNTS. When you dip into the alphabet, odds are you'll come up with a non-vowel. But it's actually a little more complicated than that. Since the 1920s all radio broadcast stations have had to identify themselves with three- or four-letter call signs. At least once an hour they have to broadcast those signs. A worldwide system was set up to divide the alphabet among countries; the US got N, K, W, and a share of A.(Canada got C, Mexico got X.) That meant all U.S.-related broadcasters had to use one of those letters as the first letter in their call sign. N went to the navy, A went to the army and air force, and K and W went to everybody else (commercial broadcasters, amateur radio operators). W was reserved for stations east of the Mississippi, K for the West (KDKA is Pittsburgh, PA, is one of the few clinkers in that system). The FCC gave commercial broadcasters the right to select the other two or three letters that made up their whole call sign. Rather than picking any old letters, when it was possible, stations picked memorable or meaningful designators. WNBC was the National Broadcasting Company's choice. WGN in Chicago was owned by a newspaper, so their letters stood for "World's Greatest Newspaper." A religious station in Kentucky picked WMTC, "Win Men to Christ."

There are more than 2000 stations in the U.S., so eventually you're going to run out of available combinations. POP and WOW and JOY and all the good words with vowels are probably going to go pretty fast. And you can make longer words by omitting vowels, which our brains tend to fill in automatically. KHRT certainly could stand for KHEART. So that's the story of all the Konsonants.

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HY MTTHW LC!

Why do radio stations have those consonant-filled names, like KQVO or KFMB? And why is there a disproportionate amount of the letter K?

-- VWL-HNGRY IN NRML HGHTS

THR R 5 VWLS ND 21 CNSNNTS. When you dip into the alphabet, odds are you'll come up with a non-vowel. But it's actually a little more complicated than that. Since the 1920s all radio broadcast stations have had to identify themselves with three- or four-letter call signs. At least once an hour they have to broadcast those signs. A worldwide system was set up to divide the alphabet among countries; the US got N, K, W, and a share of A.(Canada got C, Mexico got X.) That meant all U.S.-related broadcasters had to use one of those letters as the first letter in their call sign. N went to the navy, A went to the army and air force, and K and W went to everybody else (commercial broadcasters, amateur radio operators). W was reserved for stations east of the Mississippi, K for the West (KDKA is Pittsburgh, PA, is one of the few clinkers in that system). The FCC gave commercial broadcasters the right to select the other two or three letters that made up their whole call sign. Rather than picking any old letters, when it was possible, stations picked memorable or meaningful designators. WNBC was the National Broadcasting Company's choice. WGN in Chicago was owned by a newspaper, so their letters stood for "World's Greatest Newspaper." A religious station in Kentucky picked WMTC, "Win Men to Christ."

There are more than 2000 stations in the U.S., so eventually you're going to run out of available combinations. POP and WOW and JOY and all the good words with vowels are probably going to go pretty fast. And you can make longer words by omitting vowels, which our brains tend to fill in automatically. KHRT certainly could stand for KHEART. So that's the story of all the Konsonants.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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