Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Evans, Mike S, and a number of others who have contacted me regarding the FCC’s Authorization of All-Digital AM Radio. Below, you’ll find the FCC press release:
For Immediate Release
FCC AUTHORIZES ALL-DIGITAL AM RADIO
Action Will Improve Listening Experience and Provide Consumers with Enhanced Services
WASHINGTON, October 27, 2020—The Federal Communications Commission today
adopted a Report and Order that allows AM radio stations to operate using all-digital broadcast
signals. AM broadcasters will be able to voluntarily choose whether and when to convert to
all-digital operation from their current analog or hybrid analog/digital signals.
All-digital broadcasting offers AM listeners significantly improved audio quality and more
reliable coverage over a wider listenable area than analog or hybrid digital broadcasts. It also
allows broadcasters to provide additional services to the public, such as song title and artist
information. These enhancements will enable AM broadcasters to better compete in today’s
Today’s Order establishes technical rules to protect existing AM broadcast stations from
interference. In addition, stations converting to all-digital operation will be required to notify
the Commission and the public 30 days in advance of their transition. These stations must
provide at least one free over-the-air digital programming stream that is comparable to or better in audio quality than a standard analog broadcast. They also must continue to participate in the Emergency Alert System. The Order envisions that AM broadcasters will decide whether to convert to all-digital operation based on the conditions in their respective markets.
Action by the Commission October 27, 2020 by Report and Order (FCC 20-154). Chairman
Pai, Commissioners O’Rielly, Carr, Rosenworcel, and Starks approving. Chairman Pai, and
Commissioner Rosenworcel issuing separate statements.
Radio Waves: Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio
Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers. To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’sRadio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Marty, Martin Butera, and the Radio Survivor for the following tips:
Transistors, the electronic amplifiers and switches found at the heart of everything from pocket radios to warehouse-size supercomputers, were invented in 1947. Early devices were of a type called bipolar transistors, which are still in use. By the 1960s, engineers had figured out how to combine multiple bipolar transistors into single integrated circuits. But because of the complex structure of these transistors, an integrated circuit could contain only a small number of them. So although a minicomputer built from bipolar integrated circuits was much smaller than earlier computers, it still required multiple boards with hundreds of chips.[…]
[…]The cabin on a rocky peninsula in Northwest Ireland might not have had all the letters for its Scrabble set or a microwave, but it did have another marvel of 20th century technology. It was a little CB/AM/FM radio crouching behind a box of matches on top of a kitchen cabinet.
I decided to put the switch on FM and started swirling the dial. As soon as I heard a lilting woman’s voice underneath a sheet of static, I began carrying it around the tiny room while adjusting the rabbit ears.
Now the signal was as clear as the peat-rich water was brown, a farmer was being interviewed about the economic downturn. It was a quick piece — just some brogue-ish assurances that one doesn’t choose agriculture for an easy life. Then came a trio playing an Irish ballad, and then came North West Hospice Bingo: a bingo game that allows listeners from across the broadcast range of Ocean FM’s two regional frequencies to play bingo, including the residents of the hospice.
I’d bundle up for walks outside where the wind was loud, blustery, and sacred. The ocean crashed against the rocks in a way I never conceived as being real outside of movies. But when I was inside, the radio might as well have been a Soviet relic with only a volume control and no tuner because I simply couldn’t touch that dial. I learned the schedule quickly, timing walks and firewood runs so that I’d be back in time for Country Jamboree, a boy-girl-boy-girl style line-up of Irish and American country tunes.
As I’d stand by the wood-stove, taking off my cold wet socks to put on the toasted, at time singed socks that I’d been roasting, I felt the fulfillment of the promise of radio. I could hear Fessenden making history with the first radio broadcast of music, Oh Holy Night transmitted on a rocky coast on Christmas Eve of 1906 and heard by ships at sea.[…]
Coffee and Radio Listen is an investigation of Brazilian radio listener, by Martin Butera.
How they began listening to radio, the local or international stations that influenced them, the interests they have when tuning to a station, the languages they like to listen to, if they send listeners reports and collect QSLs, their antennas and receivers, and all aspects related to the radio listen both in shortwave and in other bands and modes.
Each month they will have in this blog, an exclusive interview with a Brazilian radio listen. At the end of this project, a free downloadable e-book will be available, which contains all the interviews and statistical references.
Every month there will be a new interview, this month of March launch month we start with 2 interviews
Martin is Argentinian, born in the city of Buenos Aires capital. He currently lives in Brasília DF, capital of Brazil. He is also a journalist, documentary maker and founding member of Radio Atomika 106.1 MHz (Buenos Aires, Argentina).
To know more about CREW 15.61 Radio Listeners’, please visit the following link.
National Public Radio “generally supports” allowing stations to transition, if they wish, to all-digital AM transmission using HD Radio in the United States. But it believes the commission needs to go further on how it would handle interference complaints from neighboring analog stations in the band.
About 80 AM public radio stations are affiliated with NPR or receive operational funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, including WNYC(AM) in New York City.
NPR says it has significant interest in any measures to help AM broadcasters better serve the public by improving the listening experience.
“Facilitating the expansion of HD Radio and its additional functionality for program and public safety information and services would serve the public interest, provided the transition to all-digital HD Radio operation does not cause harmful interference,” NPR wrote in comments filed with the FCC this week.
“As it has in the past, NPR supports the expansion of HD Radio, but not at the expense of current analog AM service.”[…]
The FCC approved today the adoption of a rulemaking allowing AM stations to transition to all-digital operation.
Hubbard Radio’s “The Gamut” 820 WWFD Frederick MD has been operating in all digital mode since July 16, 2018 in collaboration with HD Radio owner Xperi. The new rulemaking will allow AM stations to go all-digital and establish operating parameters for doing so.
The FCC today also is opening a comment period on the removal of the programming duplication rule adopted in 1992. The rule limits AM or FM stations from airing more than 25% of total hours in an average broadcast week of duplicative programming. The rule applies to commercial stations in the same service (AM or FM) with substantial contour overlap that are commonlyowned or subject to a time brokerage agreement.[…]
All-Digital on the AM Band? The FCC Might Allow It Soon
AM radio station operators in the United States may soon have the option of switching their transmissions to all-digital.
It’s not a done deal; but the concept is about to take a step closer to reality, because the Federal Communications Commission will consider a proposal at its next meeting that would start a process. It will take comments on whether to allow AM band licensees to make the switch if they want.
Ben Downs, VP/GM of Bryan Broadcasting in Texas, petitioned the FCC in March to initiate a proceeding to authorize the all-digital mode of HD Radio.
Allowing stations to use all-digital transmission is an idea that some broadcasters feel could give business-challenged AM stations in the United States new life or at least another option. Turning off their analog signals would mean that most existing receivers could no longer pick up that signal; but many AM broadcasters are currently heard on FM translator simulcasts now. And adding the all-digital AM option could open up new possibilities for them as the number of digital receivers in the marketplace continues to grow.
[…]Chairman Ajit Pai described the proposal in a blog post Monday: “Just as the FCC is trying to keep pace with changes in the market, so are AM radio operators, and the commission wants to give them as much flexibility as possible to compete in the digital age,” Pai wrote.[…]
THE YEAR WAS 1906. On Christmas Eve of that year, Canadian inventor Reginald Fessenden carried out the first amplitude modulation (AM) radio broadcast of voice and music. He used a high-speed alternator capable of rotating at up to 20,000 revolutions per minute (rpm). Connected to an antenna circuit, it generated a continuous wave with a radio frequency equal to the product of the rotation speed and the number of magnetic rotor poles it had. With 360 poles, radio waves of up to about 100 kHz could be generated. However, Fessenden typically used a speed of 10,000 rpm to produce 60 kHz signals. By inserting a water-cooled microphone in the high-power antenna circuit, he amplitude-modulated the transmitted signal. On that Christmas Eve, he played phonograph records, spoke and played the violin with radio operators being amazed at what they heard.
Fessenden had earlier worked with spark-gap transmitters, as these were standard at the time for the transmission of Morse code, or telegraphy, the wireless communication method already in use. But they couldn’t generate a continuous wave and couldn’t produce satisfactory AM signals. But as telegraphy was the chief means of communication, they remained in use for many years along with high-powered alternators and the Poulsen arc transmitter, which could also generate continuous waves.