FCC allowing AM stations to go full digital (1 Viewer)

radio

"On the Air" in MI
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Oct 13, 2007
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West Central Michigan
The "Average listener" is who you make it, my friend! Market TO them, instead of abandoning them, and they'll stay! I'm glad your plan worked for you, NGeorge, but to me, it all boils down to marketing what you HAVE. With us, AM is an asset, something people treasure, enjoy, tune-into and even compliment on the web since it's source is AM. Many people stop me in a bar, restaurant or on the street proud of how "far" they can enjoy our AM when they travel. A simple 5kw signal. If one HAS an AM, why not make it the BEST it can be, tell people you have, it, advertise it, and watch them appreciate both YOU and the product you so lovingly maintain and take pride-in? NO blanket statement about AM is true, NONE. (Things like, "AM is Dead" or, "AM isn't even noticed anymore"...) and we have proven for 16 years that AM can be viable, enjoyed, and even something the LISTENERS are prideful-in because it's in their town. It's all about the CARE, FEEDING, and MARKETING of the product, not the kind of medium on which the product is carried. That is, If an operator takes CARE of that medium's physical plant from mic to towers and takes pride.) I will claim to be expert in this, my station was dead and gone when I bought it. We brought AM back to the local community, worked hard, and without an FM for over 5 years, were successful on a horribly directional signal before we invested in our AM and went non-directional. It cost money for engineers, FCC, and materials, but we did it. To go from graveyard to well-known and not just locally is certainly a testament to the fact AM can, indeed still make it if owners have passion for it, and PROGRAM it for the listeners, not just "fill the air' with "something." There's enough of that crap out there on the large corporate stations. Our AM call letters come first before mentioning the two FM translators, and they always will. We're proud of the parent product that spun-off two tiny signals on FM. I can see you're proud of your decisions and progress as well you should-be. Any independent operator today has to have passion and direction. Thanks for contributing to the thread!
 

Yespage

SatelliteGuys Master
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Feb 27, 2010
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Does a digital AM signal have the same potential for broadcasting distance as analog?
 
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N5XZS

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Pro
Jan 23, 2005
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Yes, similar to DRM as long the digital 's signal is above noise floor and depending on how much QRM is out there.

Yes, you can DX all you want, with better audio with text IDs! :) :hatsoff
 

Phil T

SatelliteGuys Pro
Sep 8, 2003
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Littleton, Colorado
I listen to a digital AM station (KLVZ 810 Denver) a lot. I live probably 30 miles from the transmitter. It is an oldies station and I enjoy the sound quality in my 2018 Nissan Murano. There are low terrain areas near me where it drops out and I believe they reduce power after sunset because I never get HD from them at night. I noticed last year in the Tetons that KSL Salt Lake came booming in with a HD signal around sunset.

I don't understand why more AM HD is not available, but I do feel it is wasted on all talk AM stations.
 
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radio

"On the Air" in MI
Pub Member / Supporter
Oct 13, 2007
3,659
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West Central Michigan
Phil T, good post, good questions.

First and foremost, you're hearing what's called "HD" not "all digital. HD means hybrid digital. 1/2 of the available AM bandwidth of 10khz is assigned to the digital signal, 1/2 remains analog. At night, most AM's have to reduce power to not interfere with other stations on the same frequency as AM bounces off the ionosphere and can land almost anywhere, causing interference to other local stations on the same frequency. I'm surprised to hear of an HD carrier is even being RUN at night...many bigger stations shut theirs off at night WHEN they had it turned on due to interference and drop outs. You're basically taking the properties of AM bouncing around, then making it digital which at night will drop in and out worse than hearing a "weak" signal can be. Then there's the issue...if the system is not set up properly, when dropping back from HD to analog if the synchronization is not perfect, the listener will be driven nuts.

The Reason HYBRID DIGITAL (again, this is not to be confused with the handful of stations broadcasting in the NEW all digital format) is not popular is that: 1) It requires a license from Ibiquity which costs stations money, and the equipment is not inexpensive. It adds really NO return on investment to the station. 2) , when it's activated, HD on AM causes noise on both the adjacent frequencies. For instance, we're 1430. IF we were to do the current HD format, it'd make nose on 1420 and 1440. It's not "neighbor friendly" on the AM dial. Then there's 3) Unlike FM HD, it adds NO extra programming possibilities to AM, all it does is duplicate (while reducing sound quality of) the ANALOG AM signal. You cannot separately program an HD on AM like you can on FM.

In nutshell, AM HD is a toy that costs money. It's a waste on both talk AND music stations. it's just not economically smart, nor listener-gaining for an AM to do this. A properly processed AM analog signal will sound better than the HD does, (believe me, I know)....CAN be stereo, (received by many HD radios with some limitations) and, the analog -only signal has no extra licensing fees beyond each station's yearly FCC regulatory fees, which is fancy for, "Pay us or lose your license."

AM HD comes and goes, but is more on the "goes" side these days. And, we probably won't see many AM stations opt for the new "all digital" for the reasons already outlined in this thread of economics and loss of analog listenership.

AM analog stereo can be found here among other places: WION
(best in the daytime when broadcast on a single tower, night array is being tuned-up for better after-dark sound.)
 

navychop

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Jul 20, 2005
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Sad about AM radio. Certainly useful for those short range roadside alerts “Tune to xxxx for traffic/weather alert/tourist info.” Any chance this function will move to FM?

But I bought a Y anyway, knowing I’d lose that capability.
 

radio

"On the Air" in MI
Pub Member / Supporter
Oct 13, 2007
3,659
895
West Central Michigan
Nothing "sad" here, really. Market will determine if this catches on or not, Navychop. AM is at it's highest and best use, but not being "cared for" as well as it should by owners. MOST owners are not going to go all-digital, it will NEVER be a mandate because many stations would just throw in the towel and tell the FCC to shove it....and they'd lose HUNDREDS of stations' regulatory fees. They're money hungry and they only see dollars. This effort was to quell people who wanted a buzzword and their (somewhat use-less) engineering approved to justify it's existence and possibility. What AM has needed for years is creative programmers and owners who would care for the medium and their physical plants. AM will be fine for many years yet. It's income to the FCC and to many people in the broadcasting industry. My personal belief is this "buzzword" will pass quickly. The bucks are not there at the "station" level in most cases to go all-digital, and the loss of audience would be huge. It's the ol' chicken and the egg thing, and we've seen it all before.

Doubt there's a need of this on FM. FM has a good range without noise already. Nothing is on the FCC's plate regarding that question.

Cheers!
 

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