Are radio station call letters a purely North American thing?

I’m sitting here listening to Capital Radio from London over the internet.

It occurred to me that all stations I ever listened to while in England were just refered to by names: “Capital Radio” , “Radio 1”, etc.

Those in North America know that while many of our popular stations have
“names”, they are mostly unofficial/transient and that the stations call letters are
more-or-less their official ID. WXRK-FM as opposed to 92.3 K-Rock, etc.

Do UK stations have call letters, and perhaps they’re not really used the same as here?

At the naval station in Gtmo, Cuba, we used to listen to

CMKC, desde Santiago de Cuba; con emisoras en Guantanamo…” etc.

Loaded with commercials, but the music was wonderful.

(You don’t count Cuba as part of North America, do you?)

For the purposes of this thread, yes.

I was more interested in the workings of radio station “names” in Europe, and the lack of call letters.

UK stations are known by name only, and don’t have call letters.

What about BRMB? :slight_smile:
Actually you’re more or less correct, the vast majority do have a name attached to them but they often have the frequency too.
Just as an example here is a list of some UK radio stations

Is there a reason for this? Perhaps just the size of the US? For example, you could have a KTEG (which I believe is 104.7 FM The Edge in Albuquerque) but on the other side of the Misssissippi you could also have a WTEG. I woudn’t be surprised if there is a WTEG. Is this difference an effect of factors like size or more because of the FCC?

The early radio conventions assigned call letters to all countries. I think some ammended version of this is still in effect.

Amateur radio stations have assigned call signs:

The Perfect Master speaks om radio call signs.

Radio call letters are not limited to North America. I believe all member countries of the International Telecommunication Union, which includes most if not all countries, follow this practice. Since I’m from the Philippines, I’m most familiar with the system there. The country has been assigned the initial letter “D”; commercial stations are assigned the second letter “W”, “X”, “Y”, or “Z” depending on where they are in the country, e.g., “DXYZ”.

In Australia AM radio stations have a numeral designating the state (we only have 6) and a two-letter code. FM is the same except 3 letters.

So in Sydney AM stations include 2SM, 2UE, 2WS, etc. FM stations include 2JJJ, 2MMM, 2MBS, etc. Commonly they will have names as well.

Japan doesn’t seem to have any rule for radio or TV.

Radio in Tokyo: NHK-FM (NHK is the equivalent of PBS), Tokyo-FM, J-WAVE, FM Yokohama, Bay-FM, NACK 5, and AFN (US Armed Forces Network)

What is the range of frequencies on the Japan FM dial? I took my portable radio with me when I went there and couldn’t pick up anything. I wound up buying a local one, but I’ve forgotten the frequencies.

Also, IIRC Japanese radio consisted of playing about 45 seconds of a song, then talking about the song in excruciating detail (while the song played softly in the background) for, like, half an hour or so. At least, the one station that I could pick up consistently in Kashiwazaki, Niigata-ken did it like this.

To the best of my knowledge, under the International Telecommunications Union treaty, most radiotelecommunication services are required to have call signs. The ARRL has a list of countries’ call sign prefixes, sorted by prefix. The UK has the prefix block GAA-GZZ. The Philippenes has the prefix block DUA-DZZ. Feel free to check the list for other countries’ blocks.

I checked the list again. The UK has the prefix blocks GAA-GZZ, MAA-MZZ, VPA-VQZ, VSA-VSZ, ZBA-ZJZ, ZNA-ZOZ, ZQA-ZQZ, and 2AA-2ZZ.

I don’t know the actual numbers, but it’s slightly different than the American range (it overlaps with the TV band to some extent). As for the songs, that was probably just a particularly annoying station you happened to find. Most of the Tokyo music stations play the whole song, albeit from an annoying limited playlist.

I guess the question has been answered - yes, all countries have call signs.

The reason American station use them is that they’re required to: FCC regulation 47 CFR 73.1201 requires that

(which I found here)

And here’s a Word document detailing action taken against a station which failed to comply.

If you took your Japanese radio home to the US, you’d better hope that your favorite stations are below 89.9FM. The FM bands here in Japan go from 76.0 to 89.9mHz.

For comparison, in the US that would overlap with VHF TV channels 2 thru 6. That also overlaps with some US tactical military bands which run from 30 mHz to 87.975 mHz.