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FAQ, Trivia and Information on Life in America: Ask-A-Desi

This section will attempt to address some of the Frequently Asked Questions on Life in the US, Canada and North America that immigrants, visitors and others from different cultures attempt to address. If you have any additional inputs or wish  to see more topics addressed, mail us at

Here we present the basics of broadcasting. You may also be interested in special sections of

Radio and TV Broadcasting in US

On the hour...every hour...This is WBEZ Chicago public radio........ reporting live from from 'Ground zero' ..........over to CNN Newsroom in from White House....

From Wireless to Web

What are those WFLD, WLS, WBEZ, KQED … letters identifying Radio/TV stations?

Every commercial Radio/ TV station in the world has unique call letters, as suggested by the Berlin International Radio Convention of 1912. Radio/TV stations that have transmitters in Mexico have call letters starting with "X". Canadian stations, "C", in France "F" and so on. In the US, station call letters are approved by the Federal Communications Commission. U.S. has so many stations that fairly early in the history of radio, all stations west of the Mississippi river were given "K," and east ones "W." The letters do not stand for anything (they are not initials). First letter just tells you where the transmitter is located. Army stations have "A" and Navy stations have "N".

Radio and TV

Some of the earliest radio stations, though, defied this rule. WSUI in Iowa city, is west of the Mississippi river. KDKA in Pittsburgh (The first commercial radio station in the United States to begin broadcasting in November 1920) is on east. They were "grandfathers," allowed to keep these call letters...:-). The only radio station in the United States with call letters that spell out the name of its home city is WACO, Texas.

Interesting: WGN is a TV station in Chicago. Also there is a WGN radio station here. Both belong to the media giant Warner Brothers. Do you know what WGN stands for? This again is for one more Warner Brothers' property - Chicago Tribune, the newspaper. WGN = World's Greatest Newspaper (that's what Chicago Tribune claimed itself when it was launched in 1847).

Why is there no Channel 1 on television in US?

Television, as you know, uses the same spectrum of FM (Frequency Modulation) wavelengths, but mostly the ones on higher end. Channel 1 occupies the 44-50 MHz VHF band. In fact, Television once had a Channel 1, but lost it in 1945. The F.C.C. decided TV was taking up too much of the broadcast spectrum and gave it (Channel 1) for people with land-mobile and two-way radio (walkie-talkie) system. So now we have Channel 2 to 13 on VHF and Channel 14 to 69 on UHF.

Radio Locator in Web

TV Viewership Ratings

How do they measure the ratings that reveal on Tuesday morning what Americans watched on TV Sunday evening?

Nielsen Television Index

The A.C. Nielsen Company’s Nielsen Television Index (NTI) is one of the most important and powerful rating services in US, as the entire commercial television industry relies upon the ratings to determine both its programming and its advertising rates. Nielsen, founded in 1923, originally performed surveys for manufacturers of industrial machinery and equipment. But by 1950 the company had expanded into communications and developed the NTI system for network television. By 1954 the company was providing the Nielsen Station Index for local stations.

Nielsen's TV Ratings Today the Nielsen TV service includes over 4500 households in more than 600 counties across the United States. NTI statisticians, using US Census figures on the number and location of households nationwide, select representative households on the basis of location alone. The specific demographics within each household become known only after the selection process, when each member is asked to fill out a form including such information as age, sex, race, income, and occupation. NTI claims that its sample very much reflects national figures on population diversity. Each year 20 percent of the representative households are replaced by another group; one household could thus contribute information for five years.

The base of the Nielsen Television Index network is the Storage Instantaneous Audi meter (SIA). The SIA, which can be placed out of sight in a cabinet or in the basement away from the television set, measures all TV set usage within a household. According to Nielsen, the SIA “stores in its electronic memory exactly when each TV set in the household is turned on, how long it stays on the channel tuned, and all channel switching.”

The members of the NTI household are required to do nothing for Nielsen except watch TV. Each SIA unit is connected to a special phone line used only by NTI. At least twice a day, a Nielsen computer “dials” each home unit and retrieves the stored information. These data are then immediately processed in Nielsen’s central TV research computers and, because the phone hookup is foolproof and immediate, ratings for, let’s say, “Dr. Doolittle movie” on ABC channel on Sunday evening are returned to the computer promptly, processed, and printed out. By Tuesday at 11:00 am, the ratings are released to terminal outlets in Nielsen’s clients’ offices and made available to the press.

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Trivia and Questions for Indians and Immigrants in America

General Trivia : Introduction //Dollars and Cents // Social Security Number // About Mail and USPS // Story of The Old Glory // Green Card– Why Not Green? // Telephone Area Codes // Convex Mirrors and Caution // Bankruptcy and Chapter 11 // Radio and TV Broadcasting // Consumerism: Trivia on Wal-Mart. // Retail Trivia // Gas Prices– What's 0.9 Cent? // Roads and Interstate Highways // Road Driving Trivia // Finance 101 // Daylight Saving Time // Trivia on Etiquette

FAQ Disclaimer: All information provided in these FAQ’s is deemed to be accurate by the author.  Due care has been exercised to ensure the veracity of this information and guidelines. However, there may be error (s) and omission (s) and all information is subject to change., and its affiliates do not assume any liability for the information provided herein. The reader is strongly recommended to confirm this information from official sources.

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