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For most people, an enjoyable part of driving their cars is listening to their favourite music while on the road. For those of you still using your radio instead of your MP3 player, it is nice to be able to easily go directly to a good station without having to scan through the dial first.  If your car only has AM, there are still stations playing music but they're becoming scarcer every year. Another issue with AM stations is that many stations reduce power or go offline at night, which adds to the challenge.


Chryco AM Radio, 1965 Barracuda


The internet makes it easy to create a radio station playlist for the route we are taking.  This starts by going to Wikipedia and looking up radio stations in the jurisdiction you'll be driving.  In my case, I live in the Niagara Region and regularly drive to Kingston and Ottawa to visit my children.  I often take the 401 on my way out and the NY State Thruway on my way back so I therefore need to find Ontario and New York radio stations.  A search for Ontario radio stations and New York radio stations on Wikipedia yields:

Each of the above pages has a table that lists all of the radio stations in Ontario or New York state.  The table may be sorted by each column in ascending or descending order.  Since my preference is for certain formats, I need to extract information from the table and this is more easily done with a spreadsheet (these have data functions).  Most stations also broadcast over the internet, which allows you to test drive the stations before you add them to your own list.  Radio Station Classes give you more information about the broadcast signal.

I use desktop PC Microsoft Office Excel but this program is not free.  If you have an online Outlook or Gmail email account, you should be able to use their free online spreadsheets.  A free spreadsheet you can download to your PC is LibreOffice, which includes their Calc spreadsheet.

The first thing I do is copy the entire list of radio stations table in Wikipedia and paste it onto a sheet in a new workbook.  Ontario and New York each get their own workbooks.  To avoid messing up the original data, create a new sheet by copying the original sheet and give the new sheet a suitable name (eg, AM stations, FM Stations, Local Stations, Circle Route Stations, etc).

The Wikipedia radio station list includes the frequency but I like to separate the AM and FM stations.  To do this, add a new column to the spreadsheet (call it "Band") and use Excel's text function (eg, =RIGHT(B2,2)) to show whether the station is AM or FM.  This function extracts the rightmost 2 characters of the value in cell B2.  Since spreadsheets allow multiple levels of sorting, I can now sort first on BAND and then by CITY OF LICENSE.

You can print directly from the spreadsheet but I copy the data to my word processor (MS Word) to give me some additional formatting features.