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Zebadiah Smith

Now Broadcasting: FCC Broadcast Data in Wolfram|Alpha

October 8, 2010 —
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From gathering around the family radio to listen to “The War of the Worlds” broadcast in 1938 to watching the local weather forecast on your 52-inch plasma TV, wireless transmission has been a primary source of information, communication, and entertainment for the past century. Today, thousands of radio and television stations are broadcasting around the world. Beyond your favorite songs, news broadcasts, and shows, how much do you know about the broadcast stations you listen to and watch? The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has a large amount of information on the radio and television stations broadcasting in the U.S. as well as a number of stations in other countries in the Western Hemisphere, and recently this data was added to Wolfram|Alpha.

Try out the call sign for your favorite radio station. You might be interested to know who holds the license for that station or find out that it’s being broadcast from that antenna you drive by on your way to work. The local map not only shows you the location of the antenna, but is also zoomed in to show the approximate listening area. How tall is that antenna? Wolfram|Alpha has the answer, as well as a lot of other technical details about the station antenna.
Radio station WLS-FM

On a road trip and stumble upon an interesting AM station broadcasting on 1010 kilohertz? You don’t need to know the call sign to get the information. Try “1010 am radio”, and Wolfram|Alpha will give you the information for the station broadcasting on that frequency closest to you. If it’s a long road trip, you might find a couple stations broadcasting on the same frequency along the way. All the stations broadcasting on 1010 kilohertz are shown, along with their locations and distances from you.Stations broadcasting 1010 kilohertz

Or maybe you are staying at a hotel overnight and find out that the news you are watching on “channel 8” is being broadcast from an antenna you’ll see on the way out of town. Take a look as you drive by. It might be about the same height as the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Channel 8 antenna height

These are just a few examples of how you can explore FCC data in Wolfram|Alpha. But don’t touch that dial, because there are more handy Wolfram|Alpha topic areas on the way.


I think it would be nice if one could specify the area to look in. eg: 101.5 FM near Ogdensburg, NY. This query ought to return WRCD, but instead it just “using closest interpretation ’101.5 FM’.”

Posted by reg.doug October 10, 2010 at 12:10 pm

The output information should be more detailed.
1) AM stations have different antennas day and night, many are directional only at night.
2) When a station has a construction permit to change facilities, that should be noted.
3) It would be good to show the service area of the station, simple to do for FM and TV
4) If Alpha improves its geolocation function (“current location” returns my local non-routed ip, not the wan address of my network, which would be more useful) then “Channel 23″ should bring up the nearest TV 26 to the wan address)

Posted by Ted Schober October 15, 2010 at 1:04 pm

re New tool to explore US Brodcast station data

1) Could you please tell me how much it would cost us to have the following licence:

“technological world/ communications et satellites

2) could you please tell me If you have a standing offer with the Federal government Canada?

Administrative Officer | Agente d’administration
Directorate Broadcast Engineering (DBE) | Direction du Génie des services de radiodiffusion (DGSR)
Engineering, Planning and Standard Branch (DGEPS) | Direction générale du génie, de la planification et des normes(DGGPN)
Spectrum, Information Technologies and Telecommunications Sector (SITT) | Secteur du Spectre, des technologies de l’information et des télécommunications (STIT)
Industry Canada | Industrie Canada
Room 1458C, 300 Slater Street, Ottawa ON  K1A 0C8 | Pièce 1458C, 300 rue Slater, Ottawa ON  K1A 0C8
Telephone | Téléphone 613-990-3653;
Facsimile | Télécopieur 613-991-6691; Teletypewriter | Téléimprimeur 1-866-694-8389
Government of Canada | Gouvernement du Canada

Posted by Lucie Thibodeau October 20, 2010 at 2:36 pm

please reply to my request. Merci.

Posted by Lucie Thibodeau October 20, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Hello Lucie,

    We just sent you an email in regards to your request. Thank you.

    Posted by The Wolfram|Alpha Team October 20, 2010 at 4:59 pm