By Sidney Underwood

I have listened to late night AM radio broadcasts for many years. It may have started when my children were born in 1978 when we were living near Cabot Station in Calhoun County. With newborn twins, a boy and a girl, it was almost impossible for Judy and me to get any significant sleep. One child would awaken in the night and cry out waking the other. For us parents getting out of bed at some ungodly hour became a routine fact of life. As a result, I was often drowsy grinding through the work day as best I could. I was envious of fellow workers who stated that they had gotten a good night's rest.

1978 was also the year when it seemed everyone discovered jogging. I had read somewhere that in order to have energy to get through the work day, you have to expend energy. The thinking was that by exercising, jogging etc., it would restore a person's sense of well-being and the tiredness would go away.

Hoping that might work for me, I bought a pair of Nike Waffle Trainers in brilliant blue, each with a gold swoosh. After work weather permitting, I started running up and down RT#5. In the short term it seemed to be working and I did feel refreshed.

But, my problem was the fact that I would start jogging and, for whatever reason, end up sprinting becoming short of breath. I would have to stop at Cabot Yard and lean against the railing while sucking air, then run on up to the old Cabot Station School and repeat the process by sitting on the steps.

After eventually learning to pace myself, I was able to jog a longer distance sometimes going as far as SAV-A-Tool.

One time when I was headed home above Shirley Hosey's house, Big Jim Morford, retired Postmaster, happened along, stopped his car and insisted I get in his car as it was not safe to run on the road. Meekly, I climbed into his car and he delivered me home.

I remember another time when a driver asked me if I was alright or if I had an emergency! I replied that I was just exercising. Now that I think about it, a tall skinny legged fellow flapping along like some kind of strange bird wearing shorts, tee shirt and brilliant blue running shoes would seem to be a strange sight.

One day when I was walking back toward the house too tired to run anymore, my neighbor Dewayne Black who had a wry sense of humor, asked me if I was running up and down the road so I would have the strength to make more babies? I assured him that was not the case since I had enough responsibility with the twins! Seeing my shocked reaction, he started laughing. I could tell that he was pleased with the rise he got out of me.

As a result of my attempt at jogging, when I did manage to get to bed, in addition to being tired, my legs and feet ached and I was constantly reaching for the aspirin bottle. There had to be a less strenuous way of getting some sleep.

One day at work at DHHR in Grantsville, I happened to be in Ila Gray Snider's office and mentioned that I felt like a zombie due to lack of sleep.

She told me that she had been listening to late night radio for years. She said that the constant chatter of late night talk radio made her sleepy and most nights she drifted off to sleep with the radio on. She suggested that I try her unique system to get the rest I so desperately needed. She recommended I tune to AM because generally FM featured only music from nearby stations.

So, I bought a small battery powered radio with simple controls and the required headset. The last thing I wanted to do was annoy my wife with phantom sounds in the night.

I remember that first night when I went to bed with my new radio tuned to the AM band, I discovered a wealth of stations across the country, especially in the southeast. Most of them 50,000 watts of power and able to be received from several states away. As I turned the dial, it seemed there was chatter everywhere.<}P> I listened to conservative talk shows, stations with all news all the time such as WCBS New York, financial news stations and other stations specializing in sports talk when not actually broadcasting games.

One southern AM station, WWL in New Orleans, prided itself on being the truck drivers' all-night companion. The host encouraged the truckers to stay with him until his shift ended at 5:00 am. I remember he would encourage them to call in and give their location. He would talk about anything the truckers had on their minds. It didn't take long to learn they were suspicious of the general driving public. They spoke of cars swerving from lane to lane as well as tailgating and not using turn signals.

One night a trucker near Waycross, Georgia called WWL to say he had witnessed a hit and run and had called the highway patrol giving description of the vehicle. He then stopped and rendered aid to the jogger. Luckily, the jogger was not seriously hurt and almost avoided the car receiving only a glancing blow knocking him off his feet. Thanks to the trucker contacting the highway patrol, the driver was soon apprehended.

Another trucker's station was WIBC AM Indianapolis. When I dialed in, I would hear truckers calling in from all points as they rolled down the Interstates. Two radio sponsors that I remember were Kenworth of Indianapolis and The Midwest Truck stop. An employee of the truck stop called the station each night advising of the dinner special. Quite often it was meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy with a side of green beans. It was about $5.00., drinks included.

Does anyone remember the drag races from Muncie, Indiana? The jingle sounded something like this on WOWO AM out of Fort Wayne. "Sunday, Sunday, the Sox and Martin Racing Team will be at the drag way. Come out and see the MOPAR HEMI'S compete." The announcer went on the state when the gates would be open. About to fall sleep, that jingle would awaken me out of my daze.

On a typical night, Judy and I would get out of bed and attend to the kids usually only once except when they were sick. She remembered that on most nights when I returned to bed, I would listen through my headset a few minutes and then start snoring while she struggled to get to sleep. She never could understand the logic of what I was doing, but admitted it did work for me. I would later awaken just enough to turn the radio off.

I remember the first time that we slept through the night without being awakened. The twins were maybe five months old. We awoke at dawn and were immediately concerned when we realized we had slept all night. We rushed into their room and found them still sleeping. From that moment on with a few exceptions our sleep was no longer interrupted. But, I had formed a habit and continued to listen to my radio.

Sometimes even now when there is nothing on TV that interests me, I will retire early and listen to Michael Savage's commentary out of San Francisco. He can be heard on WHAM 1180, Rochester, New York. Michael is very opinionated about a variety of topics. His outspokenness has gotten him in trouble several times.

He has been banned from entering England. He often refers to San Francisco as, "San Fran Sicko." He talks a lot about his little dog, "Teddy." Together, they often walk along the piers of the harbor watching the commercial ships arriving and departing.

In no particular order on a typical night I browse the following stations: WWL New Orleans-AM 870, WHAM Rochester-AM 1180, KDKA Pittsburgh-AM 1020, WPHT Philadelphia-AM 1210, WTAM Cleveland-AM 1100, WCBS New York-AM 700 {All News all the time} and WBZ Boston-1030 AM. Most nights the stations come on strong and then fade. It takes patience to listen to AM broadcasts. But, on clear nights the stations lock right in and you have multiple choices.

In years past, I remember listening to the Golden Age of Radio and hearing old shows rebroadcast such as FIBBER McGEE AND MOLLY, JACK BENNY, BOB HOPE, SUSPENSE THEATRE, and RICHARD DIAMOND-DETECTIVE. I cannot find those programs anymore although they may be available through AM stations beyond my reach.

Another program that I cannot find anymore is COAST TO COAST. Not surprising since it was broadcast really late at night or early in the morning when I am asleep. Formerly hosted by Art Bell who passed away last April, it is now hosted by George Noory. It delves into the paranormal, UFO's and speculation about Area 51 in New Mexico. (Not a program to encourage sleep.)

Someone once told me that there are three types of people who listen to late night radio. First there are the Insomniacs. Then, there are the people who work at night and need the radio to stay awake. For them the constant noise is the stimulant that helps them maintain full function. Did you know there are approximately 20,000,000 of them working somewhere each night? The final group consists of people who are alone and need the reassurance of the radio. In addition, there is an occasional subgroup that consists of college students cramming for exams.

For me the radio is like a sleeping pill. There have been times when I had to get out of bed and change out the batteries. Evidently I didn't get enough of a fix before the batteries quit working. I'm weird like that.

I have mentioned my unique habit of late night listening to many people over the years. Most of them say if they did the same thing, they would never get to sleep.

We are all creatures of habit with our own peculiarities and now you know one of mine.