Chesapeake Home Theatre & Hi-Fi

Larry Dent is the owner of Chesapeake Home Theatre & Hi-Fi.

These articles were written for the Islander Weekly.

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EFF-EMM, No Static at All

What a crazy week! First we had an earthquake. That was a first for me. Then Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple Computer. Then a hurricane the size of Texas blew up the east coast. And that was all in the same week.

The hurricane was so vast and dangerous that Queen Anne’s county ordered businesses closed and mandatory evacuations in certain areas. That was a first for me too. I was really surprised when the mayor of New York City closed the city and shut NYCs mass transit down. Don’t mess with Mother Nature I guess.

So if you did stay in your own home, you probably looked forward to a family night with home entertainment. Except what if the electric power went out? I have to admit that my electronic component rack is pretty obnoxious. But without electricity, it’s all worthless! I haven’t invested in a generator because Delmarva Power does a great job in my neighborhood. But the few hours that we are without power everything shuts down. Except FM radio that is!

I remember back in the 70s a friend of mine bought a new car that had an am/fm radio. We didn’t know what FM was all about at the time, maybe just a new set of stations to listen to? Then we stumbled across an FM station from Bethesda that played album music. That was cool, but the real difference was the sound quality when compared to AM radio. This was the post Woodstock era, and a major music renaissance was taking place. The typical AM radio format was to play 1-3 minutes songs and then go to commercial. Maybe that’s one reason The Beatles were so popular. Their songs fit the AM radio format perfectly.

Then a group named Led Zeppelin recorded an 8 minute song we all know as “Stairway to Heaven”. Led Zep’s management told the band it was a ridiculous idea because radio stations wouldn’t play an 8 minute song. But FM radio was on the rise and renegade stations like the one in Bethesda wanted to set themselves apart from the norm. Of course Stairway to Heaven was a huge hit and sounded fabulous on FM.

DJs named John Hall, Damian, and Cerphe played music from groups like The Allman Brothers Band, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, and Jimi Hendrix. This wasn’t your 1-3 minute AM radio music. Those guys played album rock n roll jams. And it sounded great!

Howard Stern calls FM radio “terrestrial radio”. The FCC enforces censorship and strict territories. FM radio has huge competition now with Satellite Radio, Internet radio, iPods, and services like Pandora that we can listen to at home or in our cars. But somehow FM hangs on. And if your power goes out while you’re waiting for a hurricane to pass, an FM radio will work just fine. Maybe keep a few extra batteries on hand and you will be set.

Remember that Steely Dan tune?

“nothing but blues and Elvis
and somebody else’s favorite song
FM, No Static at All”