A Radio Station You Can’t Listen To, or Live Without

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[Photo 1 - Engineers working in the early days of WWVB. Credit: NIST]

[Photo 2 - The WWVB antennae field outside of Fort Collins. Credit: NIST]

Fifty years ago, the US government flipped the switch on a radio station outside of Fort Collins that's so powerful, its signal travels beyond North America, but at such a low frequency, human ears can't tune in. Its intended audience is the nation's atomic clocks, radio-controlled timepieces that never lose time.

That station, WWVB, is turning fifty, and while other technologies have overtaken some of its functions, the men and women behind it are busy dreaming up new uses that could keep the station relevant for another 50 years.

Host Ryan Warner talks with John Lowe, who oversees WWVB at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder.