Tag Archives: AM Radio

“AM radio matters more than you might think”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Fahey, who shares the following piece from Politico:

The Lo-Fi Voices That Speak for America

For decades, AM radio has felt as commonplace as a utility, such a basic fact of life that it’s taken for granted. But that’s changing: Across America, AM radio stations are dwindling in number and profitability, as better-sounding FM signals become cheaper to broadcast and would-be listeners turn to the internet for entertainment.

Yet even in decline, it has a strength that politicians and media insiders who want to understand America would do well to heed. In 2019, thousands of AM stations remain on the air, many of them thriving—in part because they serve unique sets of people whose voices aren’t always heard loudly. For generations, it was considerably cheaper to buy or start an AM station than any other form of mass media, making ownership more accessible to people of color, immigrants, non-English speakers and those with political views outside the mainstream. Without the line-of-sight restrictions of FM radio, AM radio can also cover vast geographic areas, and so remains a staple of rural media. Even now, if you tune into the right frequency on a clear summer night, you can hear a broadcast from half a continent away—listening in on the kinds of conversations that shape identity and politics far outside the Beltway.[…]

Click here to read the full article and view photos at Politico.

 

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Digital AM: FCC takes a closer look

Many thanks to an SWLing Post reader who writes:

Thought you and the SWLing bunch would be interested to learn about this. The promoters make it sound so go, but fail to mention all the problems and pitfalls. Hopefully, it will go nowhere, which is the best course possible!

(Source: Inside Radio)

The prospect of a digital-only AM station may still be far on the horizon, but if it one day becomes reality the first step to securing regulatory approval has just occurred. The Federal Communications Commission has put up a proposal submitted by Texas broadcaster Bryan Broadcasting last month for public comment. It’s not a formal rulemaking, but the process could lay the groundwork for a FCC decision allowing digital-only AMs in the future.

In a petition filed last month, Bryan Broadcasting VP and general Ben Downs said giving stations the option of dropping their analog signal would provide struggling AM owns an “innovative tool” with which to compete. Broadcasters will have until May 13 to chime in on what’s been docketed as RM-11836.

Downs says he’s pleasantly surprised to see the FCC moving so quickly on his petition. The proposal drew some attention among engineers at last week’s NAB Show, although agency staffers were less committal. That made it all the more encouraging when Downs returned from the Las Vegas convention to learn the Media Bureau opened it up to comments.

“It was clear from the discussion panels that unless there’s interest shown in this 30-day comment period, we will not have this approved as a licensed option,” Downs said. “I don’t think anyone questions the all-digital MA-3 option from a technical feasibility position anymore, separate from the hybrid mode that is authorized. So I would hope the Commission would recognize that this is the next logical step in the AM Revitalization effort.”[…]

Click here to read the full article at Inside Radio.

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Japan Commercial Broadcasters Association asks gov’t to abolish AM radio requirements by 2028

(Source: Japan Today via Bill Mead)

The Japan Commercial Broadcasters Association on Wednesday urged the government to allow them to abolish costly AM radio by 2028 amid falling revenues.

Many broadcasters are struggling to maintain both AM and FM radio services. “Resolving the overlapping investment for AM and FM radio services is essential,” an official of the association said in a meeting held by the communications ministry.

The association also called on the government to take measures to conduct an experiment to stop broadcasting AM radio in some areas in around 2023.

If the government approves the necessary legal change, FM complementary broadcasting, currently used for fringe areas of AM radio and as a disaster countermeasure, could be standardized as FM radio while AM radio services are terminated in most areas of Japan.[…]

Continue reading the full article at Japan Today.

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Fred Jacobs on “Rekindling Our Fading Romance With AM Radio”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dennis Dura, who shares the following article which appeared in Jacob’s Media Strategies on Dec 31, 2018. I’ve pasted an excerpt below, but you’ll want to read the entire piece by clicking here:

Rekindling Our Fading Romance With AM Radio

I know I may sound like a relic from another era, but chances are if you’re a Baby Boomer (or gasp – even older), you were inspired by AM radio as a kid growing up whether it was in a big city or a small town.  If you’re a member of a younger generation, you may not even know that AM – or amplitude modulation – has a magic power.  At night when the clouds are just right, AM signals have the ability to “skip” across geography, unlike frequency modulation (FM) which is line of sight.  “Clear channel” stations had an even easier time being heard beyond their metro confines – often covering many states during the nighttime hours.

Many of us radio veterans remember those nights, lying in bed, where your trusty bedside AM clock radio pulled in signals from all over the U.S. As a boy in Detroit and not especially well-traveled, I learned how to pronounced Des Plaines (Des-planes) and Touhy (2E) by listening to Chicago radio stations like WBBM and WLS.  Tuning in KYW in Philly (which came in “like it was next door”), I learned how to spell the quirky town of Conshohocken from listening to Phillips Ford commercials.  It was from a jingle that got in your head (CON-SHO-HO-CKEN).  At least, it got in mine.

It didn’t matter if you lived in Dallas or Des Moines, or a small town in Delaware – you were able to pick up big AM radio stations from faraway.  And if you talk to today’s broadcasters on the other side of 50, many will tell you their careers were likely inspired by these booming, exciting blowtorches on AM radio that provided a soundtrack for our teens.

AM radio was where we first heard the Beatles, the Supremes, the Stones, Stevie Wonder, and even the Doors.  Big AM Top 40 stations of the day – KHJ, WABC, CKLW, WLS – played all these cool rock songs, right next to Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Elvis, Bobby “Boris” Pickett, and the Singing Nun.  And even though the fidelity of amplitude modulation is obviously technically inferior to that of FM, there was something very different and even romantic about hearing all those songs first on AM radio.[…]

Continue reading the full piece at Jacob’s Media Strategies.

Thanks for the tip, Dennis! I think this piece speaks to so many of us radio listeners–especially this one who prefers the “fidelity of amplitude modulation” over so many other mediums.

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AM receiver design with regards to IBOC bandwidth claims

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Emilio Ruiz, who writes:

Hi Thomas,

I’m writing because found this (interesting) analysis about radio
components and the impact on radio receiver quality:

http://www.geocities.ws/shreddermanrulz/myth1.htm

I think may be are interesting topic for readers of the SWLing Post.

This is interesting, Emilio.  Thank you for sharing. Although the reason the author put together this post was to refute IBOC’s claims about testing AM receivers, it is also a fascinating look into cheap AM radio/receiver design.  Thank you for sharing!

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