Click here to listen online!
Listen Online
Now in our 26th year of broadcasting high quality old time radio shows free of charge 24 hours a day
Donate Money Now Listening Options Home About YUSA DJ Bios Two Week Rotation Program Schedule Contact Info

About Bill Bragg

Members Only Area

Recommended Links



How To Receive Old Time Radio Shows On Cable TV

by Bill Bragg

About YUSA

It's easy, and best of all, it's free! Just turn on the cable, and instead of HBO or ESPN, tune to YUSA. Remember, we're talking "old time radio" here, so there will not be any pictures. Most of the time you will see the bulletin board channel (scrolling text), while you enjoy the old radio shows. The programs are always there, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, free of charge and without commercials. (The original old time commercials within the programs don't count. We always leave them in because they were a part of the program too. You may even hear cigarette commercials, but we do not endorse the use of tobacco in any form). From time to time you will hear announcements, for and about the people or companies who make YUSA possible, but even PBS does that now days. There is even some vintage music (big band, old country, doo-wop, etc.) just like in the good old days, but 90% of the time it's old time radio. One great old show after another, 24 hours a day, all year long.

Get Hundreds Of OTR Shows A Year

In an average 2 week period you could hear as many as 45 different shows, all with excellent sound quality, and all in the public domain. You can record it all on audio cassettes and build your own library, or trade with other collectors. Play the cassettes in your car, when you're stuck in traffic, or while driving on vacation. The tapes make nice Xmas or birthday gifts, and some listeners donate their tapes to hospitals or rest homes for others to enjoy. The 26 YUSA DJ's are all collectors themselves, and their combined collections include over a half million different shows; perhaps the largest library of old time radio shows in the world! There is live programming too, six nights a week, and the DJs even take requests. YUSA is one of the few stations left in the world that still reads every letter it receives on the air (unless you mark it personal).

Live Interviews!

And, every Sunday night, we feature live interviews with the stars of OTR. The list of past guests reads like a "Who's Who" from the golden days of radio, plus you'll get valuable tips from the experts when we visit with professional historians or persons who are active in the hobby. The phone lines are always open, and on Sunday nights (believe it or not), every caller gets on the air!

Visit The Studio And Become A Star!

Listeners are referred to as "family members", and once each year, everybody is invited to come to the Studios in Richardson, Texas for a giant family reunion. They meet one another and the station staff in person, trade radio shows, swap stories & tips and visit the world's largest broadcast and communications museum. There is even an "on air jam session & party", and everybody gets a turn at being a radio star. This has been going on for 9 years, and several people have perfect attendance records, while others travel from as far away as Canada to enjoy the fun and fellowship. If you can't make the Reunion, the welcome mat is always out year round. Give us a call ahead of time to make sure we are going to be here. It is not unusual to see a travel trailer or motor home with out-of-state license plates parked at the YUSA studios.

Thousands, perhaps even millions, of persons listen via satellite on backyard dishes. Some of these people have spent hundreds of dollars to install a second satellite system so they can listen and/or record the old programs without interruption; leaving the other unit available for news, weather or whatever. And remember, all of this is free of charge to you and the Cable TV Company! Your only cost is for blank tape to record the old shows.

Once a day, "Yours Truly" comes on the air to announce program titles, tell how the station works and to read letters. I also invite listeners to pledge their monetary support to help us "keep on keeping on". The begging for money (gosh I hate that word begging) is only a tiny part of what you hear on YUSA, less that one half of one percent. "I'll shut the Station down, rather than turn it in a beg-a-thon", and you can quote me on that! Pledge only what you can afford or feel it's worth to you, and if you want (or need) to decrease or cancel your pledge...then do it! No hard feelings whatsoever, and no mention over the air. "Always take care of yourself first, then do whatever you can to help out". As long as we receive donations to cover the cost, we'll continue to be on the air. As founder of the station I do not receive a salary, nor do any of the DJs. We are all volunteers!

Oh, I forgot about the Auction each December, with bargains galore and fun for everyone. And so ends all talk of money, and I won't take up your time by telling you how neat old time radio is; or all about "the theatre of the mind". I'll assume, that because you are reading this article, you're already sold on the value and rewards that OTR has to offer people of all ages and interests.

Here Is The Catch!

Now, does all of this sounds too good to be true? Well I am sad to report, that for most of you reading this article, it's not true. As a matter of fact, we are only on a hand full cable systems in the US. Unfortunately, YUSA is the best kept secret in the world. But you can change all of that...with very little effort or expense!

Don't bother to tune to the Billboard Channel, because you won't find YUSA on your cable system. Instead, all you're going to hear is "elevator music". When you call in, and get past the voice mail down at your cable company, you'll get the usual answer.....YUSA what?". And that brings me to the real reason for this article, "How To Get Your Cable Company To Carry YUSA". I know that this is my job, but my hands are full. It's all I can do to keep the station on the air, 24 hours a day.....7 days a week. Please, I need your help and I need it now! Not your money...only your help! We're only talking time, some letters, a few telephone calls and a couple of postage stamps. You have already missed 13 years of old time radio shows, and I'll bet you're tired of "elevator music". I am going to tell you, step-by-step, how and what to do, so please read on!

Why Should You Bother To Help?

Be selfish! Do it for yourself and for your family. Surely you have grown tired of all of the violence, sex, endless talk shows and "trash" on modern day television. But most important, do it for your community, your neighbors and your friends. This is the best way I know to change the world for the better, and to make a positive impact on society. Let me show you how, and all it will cost is your time.

The average cable system serves thousands of households, about a quarter of a million people. Even more in the larger cities! Mr. Ken Badt, working single handed, got YUSA on (not one but two) cable channels in Dallas, Mesquite & Garland, Texas. That's over 2 million households, with up to 4 persons per house! That could have almost as much impact on the local population as getting a law passed at City Hall. Ken tells me he had fun with the project, spending only a few hours a week for a couple of months, and not having to fight City Hall. What a legacy to leave behind for future generations! Congratulations to Ken Badt of Dallas, Texas!

Now, Let's Get Started!

As of March 1st, 1996, YUSA began feeding it's program audio live on the Internet worldwide! Our web page has links to most all OTR sites on the Internet. There is even a live OTR chat room! YUSA has quickly become one of the most popular sites on the Internet! We went to over 500 hits a day during our first week on the Net, and our numbers continue to increase daily. Our Internet audio address is:

First, you'll need to know a bit about YUSA. The signal is broadcast from my home in Richardson, Texas, via several satellites. It can be heard throughout the entire North American Hemisphere using a backyard satellite dish, or by persons who live in limited areas that are served by cable television companies or radio stations that re-broadcast the signal. YUSA is an audio only service; transmitted to the North American Hemisphere.  We are heard on the audio sub-carrier of WGN, at 6.8 Mhz. narrow band, on Transponder #07 of the C Band satellite named Galaxy 5 (also known as satellite G5).  If your cable company now carries  WGN  then they are automatically receiving the Yesterday USA signal and discarding it rather than passing the service along to YOU. YUSA is free of charge, without commercials, and all program material is in the public domain. It is the official nationwide radio voice of The National Museum Of Communications, Inc. of Irving (near downtown Dallas), Texas. Our purpose is twofold, "tell the world about the Museum and preserve the history of broadcasting". The Museum is the largest of its kind in the world, a non profit organization, tax exempt under section 501 (c) 3 of the IRS Code. In 1994, over 100 thousand persons toured the museum. YUSA is not tax exempt yet, but I am working on that too. (I told you I have lots of stuff to do, and oh yes, I'm founder of the museum also) We can also be heard anywhere in the world via the Internet!

Cable Lesson "101"

Here is a quick lesson on Cable TV, how it came to your town, how their management works, a little technical info, and how to get through to the person who has the power to say YES to your request for old time radio shows.

When your City Council decided it was time for you to have cable TV, a request for bids was made public. Cable companies came from far and wide, with a slick proposal and a fast talking salesman. This is not a "put down" to the cable industry. Instead, this is how we do business in America. To make a long story short, the company with the most benefits to the community (lots of public access channels for schools, churches, etc.), the best selection of programming, the best service package for customers and the lowest price got the long term contract. Since there were millions (perhaps even billions) of dollars to be made during the life of the contract, they spent big bucks to set up fancy cable access studios. They handed out channels to the city, schools, churches, area colleges & universities and even to non profit theatre groups. And while they were busy building the system, and/or collecting the money from subscribers, along came the "Must Carry Rule" from the FCC. That rule says that the Cable Company must provide every signal to their subscribers that is available over the airways. (Even the low power "rinky-dink" ones that nobody watches). Well suddenly, they were short of channels, and that is why you may have a poor choice of programming in your area. Over all however, I think the Cable Industry is doing an excellent job! With the above in mind, lets finally get started.

Step #1

If you don't have cable, get it! Request only the basic service if cost is a factor. Then, start looking for vacant channels, and especially for the local (not national) public access channels. Keep a log, and "channel surf" daily at different times of the day and night. You will be looking for a channel to put YUSA audio on, 24 hours a day. The ideal location would be an Access Channel that has no audio. The second choice is an Access Channel with "elevator music", the kind of music that only a few people would miss if it were to be replaced with YUSA audio. Keep in mind that the audio on some access channels has a large audience now because it is the only outlet for opera music or weather forecasts, for example. The object of the game is: to add YUSA audio to a cable access channel with no audio now, or replace the present audio on an access channel without generating a large number of viewer complaints to the cable company. And, at the same time we have to keep the cost to the cable company, for making the necessary audio changeover, at a minimum! Don't worry, this can be easily done and I am going to show you how! Your best bet is to try to get YUSA audio as the replacement sound on a public access channel, rather than one of the "regular channels".

Sometimes an access channel is vacant, or the audio is silent for only part of the time. That won't work for us, because we're on 24hrs., and listeners would miss a big part of our programming. If putting YUSA in cable access won't work in your area, then you must find a vacant "regular channel " location. Do your homework well, so you'll know what you're talking about when you make that all important telephone call to the Cable Company or the Access Channel Manager! This may take up to 30 days, and during that time you will want to call and get a program schedule from each access channel (city, school, college, etc.) Ask lots of questions too, like, "Where does your background music come from" or, "Do you have to pay a fee for the background music" and, "Have you signed a long term contract for the rights to use that background music", etc. Always ask to speak to an Engineer or Technician, not the Program Director or Manager! If the cable access channel does not have a Tech, then call the number for reporting trouble on your regular cable system. You will always find a Tech here, and he or she will likely become your best friend! Tell the Tech about YUSA, and what you are trying to do. The Tech will know how to direct you; as to whom to call, when to call and what to say. Chances are, the Tech will even be an OTR fan already! Don't make any calls or do anything until you have read this entire document! There are still things you need to know, even before you call a Technician at the public access channel.

So far, all I have really asked you to do is watch a little TV. That is a small price to pay for the opportunity to receive old time radio shows free of charge, 24 hours a day, in the comfort your home! If after several weeks of "channel surfing", you can't locate access or vacant channels, then you may want to consider giving up the fight. I doubt that any cable company would go to the time, trouble and expense to add a new channel for YUSA. And that is the only negative thing I will ever say about the cable industry! If you're quitting at this point, thank you very much for your efforts and good luck! If you are still in the game, it's time for another quick lesson.

How The Cable Channels Get To Your Cable Company

Every cable company has a master control room filled with equipment. This area is called the "head-end". Remember this (and all other) terms listed in quotes in this article. Use these terms when you talk to the cable companies, so they will know that you're informed about the system and understand what is involved in making your request a reality.

Out back, behind the "head-end", is an area known as the "dish farm". This is where the big satellite "dishes" are installed. The Channels you see and enjoy on your cable system (HBO, MTV, CNN, etc.) are transmitted to the world via satellite from the main (HBO, MTV, CNN, etc.) studios. Each satellite in the sky (and there are many) can transmit up to 24 different networks at the same time. Every cable company in America has several satellite receive dishes in the "dish farm", pointed at different satellites. One dish may "look" (as we say in the business) at the satellite that "carries" HBO, MTV, and CNN. Another dish may "look" at still another satellite that "carries" TNN, Showtime or The Discovery Channel. There are wires, one from each "dish", leading into the "head-end". These wires are connected to a number of "satellite receivers" simultaneously, just as you can connect several TV sets in your home to a single TV antenna on your roof. The "satellite dishes" in the "dish farm" are like your TV antenna on your roof, and the "satellite receivers" are like the TV sets you have located in your home.

Think of it this way: If you cable company carried only 24 channels, and all of those channels were on the same satellite, then the cable company would only need one "dish" and 24 "receivers" connected to that one dish. But your cable company "carries" many more channels than 24, and the programs on these different channels are transmitted to the cable company on several different satellites. Therefore, it is necessary for the cable company to have more than one "dish" and a bunch of "satellite receivers." Now you know the reason for the many satellites in the sky and why a Cable Company needs more than one receive "dish". And remember, if your cable company offers WGN they are receiving YUSA at this very moment!

While the above information is fresh in your mind, let's get a bit technical for a moment. While I have told you that YUSA is free to your cable company, they will have to install an extra "satellite receiver". The trouble and expense for the cable company to do this could be compared to the effort you would put forth to purchase a small black & white TV set for your child's room. In other words, "it ain't no big deal!" Since almost every cable company in America carries WGN, here is all the cable company will need to do:

  1. Connect a second "satellite receiver" to the "dish" that they are now using to receive the WGN signal.
  2. Tune this second "receiver" to WGN.
  3. Like the "Separate Audio Channel" (SAP Channel) on new TV sets, you can also tune the audio on a "satellite receiver" separate from the picture. So, they will need to tune the audio from 6.2 MHz to 6.8 Mhz and push the "narrow band button", so they can receive YUSA audio instead of WGN audio. The end result will be a receiver that has an output with WGN picture and YUSA sound.
  4. Finally, they need only to feed the YUSA sound ("audio") to the vacant channel that you are going to help them locate.

See how easy this is, and most cable companies have a closet full of spare "satellite receivers!" Don't call yet! Please continue reading so you'll have all the facts.

Continue to concentrate on the public access channels, because they will be the most receptive to the idea and they will have the most to gain. The above information will be needed and useful if you fail to sell your idea to one of the public access channels, so continue reading so that you will understand the mechanics of how the access channels reach your home.

The signals from the access channel studios (located at City Hall, the Schools, or wherever) are transmitted to the "head-end" via telephone lines, fiber optics lines (or perhaps broadcast by "microwave transmitters"). Some of the larger cable companies even have an access studio down the hall, or in the next room from the "head-end". If that is the case, the signal from the studio is fed via wires directly into the "head-end". Regular TV antennas, connected to an expensive TV receivers (one for each local TV station), are located on the roof of the "head-end" building. The outputs from these TV receivers contain the local off-air TV stations' signals. Now, the outputs from these TV receivers, all satellite dishes and the access studios are combined into one signal, and that becomes the main output of the "head-end" that travels down the cable wire to your house.

How The Channels Get From The "head-end" To Your House

In small communities, the output from the "head-end" is sent, via a giant network of wires, to the home of everyone who subscribes to cable. In large cities, with several suburbs, there is a "head-end" for each suburb. Theses "suburb head-ends" receive the output from the "main head-end", delete some or all of the incoming access channels and pass on the main channels (HBO, CNN, etc.) and the local TV station signals. At the same time, the "suburb head-end" will also insert signals from other access channel studios within their own suburb, to replace the access channels they have deleted. Then the output of the "suburb head-end" is sent to subscribers within that suburb area, via the giant network of wires I spoke of earlier. This process is repeated in every suburb within the area served by the cable company. The end result is: every suburb within a large metropolitan area receives the main channels, plus all off-air local TV channels, along with access channels that pertain to that individual suburb. Is that slick or what? Now, you are almost ready to talk to the technician manager of the public access channel or channels that you have chosen to contact

How Is The Best Way To Insert The YUSA Signal Into The Cable Network, And Have It Become The New Sound Source Of A Public Access Channel?

The YUSA signal is a part of the normal WGN signal. That is to say, YUSA is the "audio sub-carrier" of WGN. That is why I said earlier, "if your Cable Company offers WGN they are currently receiving the YUSA signal". Using WGN only as an example, it is transmitted as one of the channels of the Satellite named "Galaxy 5". (Each satellite has a name). The cable company could simply "patch in" the "audio sub-carrier" from WGN in place of the "elevator music" audio that they now receive from one of the access channels at the "head-end". This is all well and good, except for one thing! Once the "patch" is in place at the "head-end", the access channel can not broadcast their own audio unless they call the "head-end" and have the the "patch" removed. This situation can sometimes make the access channel feel uneasy. That is why it would be wise to pick an access channel that broadcasts "elevator music" only as a courtesy to viewers. Then remind the access cable technician/manager that their audio be replaced automatically at the "head-end". That translates to less equipment to maintain at the access channel studio and lower overall operating costs at the access channel site.

Also, YUSA audio will bring an entire new audience to the access channel; people who would have otherwise never tuned in! Thousands of new people will see the picture automatically even though they tuned in just to hear the old radio shows; so the access channel will continue to serve the people and do an even better job of getting their valuable information to the community. Access channels are always looking for ways to cut cost and increase the size of their audience. Perhaps that is the line you should use when you make your initial call. If the access channel is not willing to let the "head-end" insert the YUSA audio as described above, the only other alternative is to install a satellite dish at the cable access studio, at a cost of about $500. Then, they can tune in the YUSA signal from WGN using a satellite receive dish (or from a computer sound card via the Internet) and have the choice of sending YUSA audio (or their regular audio) to the "head-end" themselves, thereby retaining control of their audio signal at all times. You'll have to sell them on the idea that the potential audience is well worth the added cost of a dish or computer and Internet access. I am willing to bet the rent that there is bound to be at least one access channel that is willing to give up playing and maintaining "elevator music", in return for lower operating costs and the possibility of a larger audience. Don't give up until you have contacted every access channel in your community!!!

If you have no luck with any of access channels, then contact the main operator and suggest that the "head-end" could (after installing a satellite receiver as mentioned above) just "patch in" the YUSA audio on that vacant channel number "such n' such". Do your homework so you can always rattle those channel numbers off quickly, each time you need them! Only one more tiny step, then you will be ready to make your first call to the access channels or the cable company technician/manager!

Step #2.

Spend about 4 bucks and get a Satellite Guide (it's like a TV Guide for satellite) at the Newsstand. "Satellite Orbit Magazine" is a good example. Turn to the fold-out page, the one that lists the satellites by name and the Networks located on each satellite. Under the column for Galaxy 5, you will find the following: Disney, Playboy, Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), Sci-Fi Channel, CNN, TBS Superstation, WGN (YUSA is on this audio sub-carrier), HBO, ESPN, MOR Music TV, The Family Channel, Discovery, CNBC, ESPN-2, Cinemax, TNT, The Nashville Network, USA Network, Black Entertainment TV (BET), CNN Headline News and Arts & Entertainment (A&E). Your Cable Company can receive all of these Networks by having just one "dish" at the "head-end" aimed at the Galaxy 5 satellite! Inside the "head-end", they have many satellite receivers connected to to each "dish", with each receiver tuned to one of the above listed networks. Think of it this way: You have a TV antenna on your roof at home, connected to several TV sets within your house, and each set could be tuned to a different TV channel. It's the same way at the "head-end". The "dish" is the their antenna, and the satellite receivers are like your TV sets. Remember at all times, that if your cable company offers (even only one of) any cable channels that are broadcast on satellite Galaxy 5, then they are automatically receiving YUSA at this very moment!

Let me say that one more time: "If the cable company offers even one of the above listed services, they are able to receive the YUSA signal right now!" Compare the above list with your Cable Guide so that you will know otherwise...if the cable company gives you their stock answer, "It is not possible for us to receive the YUSA signal".

Now, you are ready to call the Service Department, (as if you were reporting trouble with your cable) and ask to speak with the Chief Engineer (Head Technician).

First: Make sure you've done your homework and remember that the YUSA live audio on the Internet can be used as a super marketing tool. If any one should ask the question, "What does Yesterday USA sound like?" give them our Internet address!!!! Chances are, that once they listen in, they will get hooked like you did!

  1. Research what access channels are offered by your cable company, ie., (schools, colleges, churches).
  2. Determine if there are any vacant channels.
  3. Determine that the Galaxy 5 signal is offered by your local cable company.

Things you will want to say and questions you will want to ask your Head Technician:

  1. Introduce yourself and tell him/her what you are wishing to accomplish.
  2. Ask if there are any other suitable access channels that would be perfect for YUSA, other than the ones you have located.
    1. Ask if an access channel the best location for YUSA or should it put it on one of the other vacant channels.
  3. Ask who you should call first at the cable company and what are his/her name(s) and title(s).

    If you have to work directly with the cable company (instead of an access channel), hopefully you will be supplied with the following:

    1. Community Affairs/Public Relations Director
      This is the person responsible for the Cable company's "image" within the community.
      1. When you reach this individual say words to the effect, : "YUSA is family oriented programming and this makes for "good press."
    2. Sales Manager
      This person supervises the Sales Staff that sells cable subscriptions to the public.
      1. When you call, suggest that "YUSA would make a great incentive for new cable subscribers, or an incentive to get current subscribers to purchase additional services".
      2. Also, point out the competition from DBS (Direct Broadcast Satellite industry), and suggest that YUSA is a service that cable companies can offer their customers. YUSA is not available on the DBS system.
    3. Program Director
      The person who picks the programs (channels) you receive on your cable system.
      1. All of the above would apply to this person.
    4. General Manger
      The person in charge of the entire cable operation within your community.
      1. Again, all of the above applies to this person, in addition to any "tips" you may have picked up along the way in any of your previous conversations.
  4. (Without putting your Chief Technician on the spot), ask your Technician if there is any other advice he/she may have to offer, and invite them to get involved with you.

Step #3. Prepare Your Presentation To The Cable Company

  1. Call the managers of your local hospitals and nursing homes. Ask if old time radio would be beneficial to their patients/residents. If they like the idea, ask them to put it in writing or give you permission to quote them. Find out if they are current cable subscribers.
  2. Call the antique malls and shops. Ask them if they think YUSA would be good background material in their retail outlets and point out how it would get their "buyers" in the "proper mood". Ask if they would be willing to become a new cable subscriber if program channels like YUSA were available? Again, ask for letters of endorsement or permission to quote.
  3. Call your "fifties" style restaurants and shops. Repeat the suggestions in #2 above.
  4. Call the organizations in your community (churches, schools, civic clubs, the boy scouts, or anyone you can think of) that is concerned with violence and sex on TV. Dedicated OTR fans should be able to have lots of fun with this one!
    1. Explain that YUSA is wholesome, family type entertainment.Continue to collect letters of endorsements and/or quotes.
  5. Last of all, you may even want to contact local, state or national political leaders. Be creative. The rule is, "there are no rules". And don't forget to use the live audio on the Internet as a selling tool!

Step #4 Get Ready To Make That "All Important" Call To The Cable Company!

Using the advice and information from your technician, along with your good common sense, decide which person to contact first. I suggest that you start with the access channels and work your way up to the general manager of the main cable company. However, you are now the expert, because it's your community, your cable company and you now know how the system works! You make the decision.

Send me, by US Mail, an address label for yourself. Then I will send you a packet of information (about YUSA and the Museum) that you can copy and use in your presentation.

Tips to use as you present your "case":

  1. Call the main operator at the cable company and ask for the name of the secretary of the person with whom you plan to contact. Make friends with the secretary as they are going to be the one putting you directly through to the person you are trying to reach.
  2. Never "cold call". Instead, send a short letter stating your intentions and requesting an appointment to visit the person you have selected to call on.
  3. If an office visit is not your "forte", then go ahead and contact them by telephone.
  4. Never argue! Always "agree and proceed". Example: If you are told "that YUSA will not, in their opinion, generate new subscribers"...., respond with, "yes, but what about using YUSA as an incentive?". Etc.,etc., etc.

Well, that's all there is to it! If this sounds like a lot of work (really, it's not) remember one thing: "anything worthwhile takes effort, Rome wasn't built in a day". If you have any questions or suggestions, (or would like to share your successes in any of the above areas), please call, write or send email.

Thank you and good luck!

Bill Bragg
c/o Yesterday USA Radio
2001 Plymouth Rock Drive
Richardson, Texas 75081 USA

Voice: (972) 889-BILL
Fax: (972) 889-2FAX
Audio via Internet:

This page was written by Bill Bragg.