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August 07, 2020

KYW Newsradio cuts teletype background noise from radio broadcast

Gone are the comforting clicks and clacks of the 1060 AM station

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KYW Newsradio teletype Entercom TWIN Traffic Channel/YouTube

KYW Newsradio 1060 has jettisoned the signature teletype sound that accompanied its AM radio broadcasts in Philadelphia for decades.

A familiar sound in Philadelphia radio vanished from the airwaves in recent weeks, as KYW Newsradio 1060 chose to ditch the clicking teletype noise that has filled the background of broadcasts for decades.

The track, a relic from the era when teletype printers were common in newsrooms, had long been digitized and played on a loop from a flash drive for some time prior to its recent disappearance. An example of the unmistakable noise can be heard in the 1983 broadcast snippet below.

KYW brand manager and program director Alex Silverman gave the Inquirer a facetious explanation for the move on Thursday.

"They stopped making the ribbons for the trusty teletype in 1986, and our supply finally ran out – so alas, old reliable is out of commission until further notice," Silverman said. "As technology has evolved over the years, so has KYW Newsradio, and the sound of the station should reflect the modern, nimble, multi-platform news organization we've become."

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The part about running out of supply created a bit of confusion on Twitter, where some people may have taken it literally. SportsRadio 94WIP brand manager Spike Eskin appears to have faked outrage over Silverman's comment. Both KYW and 94WIP are owned by Entercom, which switched the AM station's partnership from CBS3 to NBC10 earlier this year.  

Silverman apologized for being tongue-in-cheek in addressing the change. 

In a back-and-forth with former NBC and CBS news executive Steve Capus, a Philly-area native, Silverman said he acknowledged the nostalgic attachment listeners have for longstanding institutions in Philly, including the teletype. 
In 2020, of all years, Silverman was able to rid KYW of the teletype — though he apparently wasn't the first to try it. A previous attempt was met with such strong backlash from callers that the station relented and restored the clicking sound. 

The change is part of a broader effort to modernize the station, including the introduction of an updated KYW jingle last year. 

While the teletype sound has functioned as a form of heritage branding, defining a specific way Philadelphians hear the news, it appears KYW Newsradio is ready to shed that identity, whether Philadelphians are ready for it or not. 

Even unprompted, people have spontaneously shared their love for the teletype sound over the years.
Well, what can you do? If you close your eyes, you'll still be able to remember sitting in a car with a parent, the defroster blasting and snow melting from the roof down the windshield. The radio volume is dialed up absurdly loud, and as the teletype clicks and clacks, you gravely accept that your school's snow day number will not be called. At least your parents didn't make you wait for the bus that day.

Oh, that's right, KYW stopped announcing school closing numbers a few years ago, too. May the forsaken teletype join them in peace.