Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Phil Brennan (VK8VWA), who shares the following:
I spotted this bit of research from the Australian Communications and Media Authority regarding radio listening habits of people living in remote Western Australia.
Click here to download report (PDF).
It shows that radio very much remains a big part of people’s lives in the bush, particularly AM radio. I’m sure these findings would be replicated in the Northern Territory where I live, but as you are only too aware, we’ve had our remote SW radio service axed by the ABC. Anyway, it may be of interest to you and your readers.
Thank you for the tip, Phil. This is a pretty fascinating report. As you mention, the use of AM radio is quite heavy–no doubt due to the vast broadcast footprint. It’s this sort of report that should have been done prior to any decision about axing ABC’s NT shortwave service.
Sadly the ABC wouldn’t bother to consult the ACMA or anyone else before making this decision.
The ACMA have recently granted the request of several bush AM radio stations in WA to move to the FM band.
As part of that, they also revisited the rules around FM translator stations to infill AM radio broadcast areas and issued new guidelines which are linked on the page above. The public consultation for those changes ended in December.
If the ABC has read this report from the ACMA hopefully they can apply to the ACMA or the government to provide more AM radio transmitters in the NT where it is badly needed, but the ABC’s management is just too arrogant for that since AM radio plays second fiddle to DAB+ digital in the centre of Sydney where they are based.
Instead they expect those who work on the land to strap a satellite on their backs or go without. That’s ridiculous. It’s not their ABC that’s for sure.
I’m wondering how wide a net these radio stations create? Is there any standard formula for calculating the range of a signal given its wavelength and broadcast power? My main question, which I’ve not found an answer to, is how much of a given area is in the range of radio broadcasts. I have always lived in a semi urban area, where there are lots of signals around, but how common is it for people who live in remote areas to not have radio broadcasters close enough to hear? I’d imagine those living in areas like Australia’s more remote areas, the North American west, or maybe places like Eastern Russia or North Africa would have the experience to answer this question. I’ve never been anywhere where that happened.
Depends on frequency, power, terrain, and other factors. Usually, VHF FM has an average range up to about 50-60 miles, like I said, depending on power output, antenna height, and terrain, some get a little further some not as much, but where I live in the eastern United States, most FM stations seem to get out to about 50 miles. On MF AM, you’re looking at more like 70-90 miles on average, but there are some stations at the lower end of the AM broadcast band that get out to about 150 miles. On HF, like the NT service was, you’re looking at a couple hundred to a couple thousand miles, depending on frequency, antenna, and propagation.