[Other Topic] FCC talking about actions to save AM Radio

radio

"On the Air" in MI
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Oct 13, 2007
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Okay, the gloves are off for one more post in this category, then I retire from this....It's getting old here. The facts against HD (or an HD mandate) are:

HD on AM is detrimental to adjacent stations (creates loud noise) and sounds WORSE than well done analog AM Remember, HD does not stand for HIGH DEFINITION, it's "Hybrid Digital" and it's PROPRIETARY. It's like forcing you to buy your fast food at Burger King vs. your "right" to go to McDonald's. No self respecting private station wants to be told they HAVE to go "HD" so part of their money can go to a license partially owned by the (formerly named) Clear Channel. To make this simpler, a mandate to HD would be like the radio industry equivalent of Obama Care.

Now, on to the tech end of this: HD on AM takes a large portion of the sound quality (bandwidth) away from any standard AM transmission and away from standard broadcast radios (which number in the millions) already out there. The remaining analog portion when broadcasting HD on AM sounds about like a bad phone line, while making the DIGITAL side sound only as good as a BAD stereo mp3. Nobody wins in this scenario, the broadcaster, the HD listener, nor the poor person with their favorite old AM receiver.

With all the CHINESE JUNK arriving in the USA causing AM interference, AM has enemies IN YOUR HOME thanks to Americans being too cheap to buy anything of reasonable build and value. We, as a people want everything CHEAP. Almost everything you buy with an AC adapter is AM's enemy. "Switching adapters" without a small capacitor to filter the noise they generate creates havoc on the AC line which is pumped into radios and overhead lines. One small adapter can kill AM reception in a whole house or even an apartment building. WE as a country gave in to buying cheap junk, causing the high noise floor which will NOT CHANGE or go away by a switch to any kind of digital transmission. Noise will still be a reception issue. For example, newer AT&T modems have noisy adapters and can wipe out ALL local AM reception even on GOOD radios in a whole house, but AT&T refuses to do anything about it! Look around your home. You've got LOTS of these kind of adapters for your gadgets!

If you're an AM station and you want listeners, forget going digital. PROGRAM your AM well, and PUT SOME MONEY in your air chain to keep the station sounding great. Oh, and "promote" it too, instead of treating it like the bastard child of your flame throwing FM. Simple recipe, proven and it works.

And......If you're a listener and want better AM.....how about once in a while TELLING an advertiser you heard them on your local AM station so they STAY on the air, thus supporting the station, and your local AM may just see their bottom line improve! They may even want to invest in better equipment! This, too is a simple recipe, but the American Public is too lazy at times to REMEMBER to thank the advertisers who make FREE LOCAL RADIO possible. We, at our station regularly remind our listeners to do this, and we remind them that they, as LISTENERS are important to us, and this little recipe really WORKS! We see results in how our advertisers respond to us, and how more and more (advertisers) turn to local AM radio. Our advertisers' dollars and their belief in our programming and our sound have paid for our 11 years of constantly improving our station. It's a circle. Listeners support advertisers who support radio stations who serve LISTENERS.

By the way, we were nearly 6 years into resurrecting a DEAD AM and it was paying it's bills WITHOUT an FM translator and WITHOUT streaming. (AM) Radio can exist and thrive without a digital carrier. (AM) radio just needs to have less lazy owners. Like all things worth doing, AM is worth doing well and takes WORK. It doesn't need digital. That buzz word is not the "fix" for everything, but the public has been brainwashed to believe this is so.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled thread, Insert the "sign off National Anthem" here.
 

radio

"On the Air" in MI
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It says, "we were" as a statement (implying most of the BS the FCC is being fed or FEEDING people about needing to "change" the medium is not needed) because we had none of the current advantages at 6 years into ownership (now 11) and were still successful. Hope that clarifies.
 

harshness

SatelliteGuys Master
May 5, 2007
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Outside of those using crystal radio sets, FM is a lot cheaper to implement from a receiver standpoint.

AM is around because it travels (except where they have to hobble the power of one station to "protect" others).

Digital and DX seem pretty much mutually exclusive so it doesn't make sense to go digital in the AM band.

Many long for a horse and buggy but cars and motorcycles make more sense.
 

radio

"On the Air" in MI
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Oct 13, 2007
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AM is dying..time to move on to a new medium and let the frequencies be used for something else
Please, before blatantly looking uneducated to a topic, do your homework.

Okay, readers...make some coffee, grab a pizza.....whatever...

AM is at it's highest and best use. There is no better use other than very efficient mass communications The "Standard Broadcast" (AM) band would be used-for. By it's nature it's long-reaching, and has unique nighttime properties not suitable for anything except what it is today. "Standard Broadcast." It CAN, however sound almost as good as FM when properly delivered by broadcasters, and properly received by a an audience that buys and supports QUALITY receiving devices (which leaves out most Americans and every one of the radios at WalMart, other box stores, and most "modern" devices made in China.)

Now, for those of you who keep pushing AM to "go digital"...please explain why do you want to mess with the only remaining (AM and FM) broadcast medias that don't have "digital breakup" if, say, you look wrongly at your receiver, or, if the air is heavy with humidity, or if a storm is between you and your local station! Even during thunderstorms, LOCAL listeners don't hear much interruption, and for distant ones, the message still gets through. The buzzword, "digital" is NOT the answer to everything, but the modern public certainly has been brainwashed into believing this! Almost everyone has now had either their digital cable, digital satellite TV or digital cellphone "break up" it's signal due to interruptions. (A problem we didn't have before "digital" was accepted as normal.)

Remember the days when you could actually see and HEAR the intended message even if the signal was weak? ANALOG radio still gets you that message!

No, I'm not saying we should go back to heavy bag phones, electron tubes, and black & white TV. I collect antique electronics, I like to restore and display them, but I don't want to return-to most of them for daily use. I love Netflix, I own a few Rokus, and I time-shift TV via FTA and a TabloTV box. I live in the modern world, but I also broadcast on AM as my main signal, on FM locally, and provide a digital live stream from an analog tuner for people who think "radio" is old fashioned.

All that being said, I would like it if people posting on popular sites archived across our web would get facts straight with regard to our AM band. It's uneducated posts that can be misconstrued as "popular American Opinion" by our sometimes equally uneducated legislators. The FCC is well aware of AM's limitations, but also they're aware of AM's continued contributions to local economies, charities, payrolls, and their own pockets through our yearly "Regulatory Fees" (what we pay to KEEP our licenses each year, even though the length of the issue is many years at a time.) Commissioner Pai is in-touch with stations both small and large, and has heard many a success story of AM's still serving their communities, and guess what...if stations are SERVING, they're GROWING and contributing to society and economy. The BEST thing the FCC could do for broadcasters would be to back a public education campaign about local analog radio and it's role in community. If radio broadcasters had the same kind of support they gave the digital TV translation, the PERCEPTION of (Particularly AM) broadcasting could change radically, and this would go farther in helping our industry than the detrimental suggestion of changing to a method of digital transmission..

At eleven years as owner of an AM station, Six of a combo AM/FM, and nearly 30 years behind the mic having worked my way up from Sunday morning God Squad to station Owner and Morning Host, I'm uniquely qualified to ask people posting on the 'net to please, research before posting! You dirty the name of a very viable product, (AM) whose biggest problem is owners who don't treat their AM's as if they are important. They ARE. They CAN-BE. I never had a happier day than the one that my credit and my radio references allowed me to locally finance my first station, and while it's been a battle at times, we are PROOF that AM can work. We contribute in taxes, employment, we raise money for charities, we're active in making local events bigger through endorsements, and this is something EVERY broadcaster can do, not just in small towns. We even provide...drum roll please...MUSIC in our format! Holy Cow! Music on AM? Try it! It'll sound better than most of the mp3's you shove in your phone! Broadcasting needs good owners who take pride in their work.

Respectfully, to those who suggest abandonment and digital changes to AM, If you're not listening to (AM/Broadcast bands) us now, you won't even if we convert to digital. You, yourself have decided not to be our audience, though we are bound, as good broadcasters to try to serve YOU. God forbid it happens, but you're like many others who will eventually turn to local broadcasters when and if our nation's "digital infrastructure" has failed for one reason or another. I hope we're still here to help. I'll fight to keep AM broadcasting alive and viable as long as radio exists. Good stations still "serve the public interest as a public trustee"....even though that requirement has certainly been muddied by mergers and mega-corporations thinking they know "radio."

And finally, respectfully, and with no malice, I make a request, please to those same individuals: (directed at those who post without knowledge, and who just like to throw buzzwords around..not to those whose respect I've earned in radio and here on this site)

...If your attitude is bad toward our current analog broadcasting, especially AM, please close your mouths (That's a "zero," not a "one" in your digital world.) about abandoning AM and about "digital" coming to our broadcast bands. We don't need it.
 

navychop

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AFAIK, there is NO true AM digital standard, worldwide. I'd love to know if there was. And don't try to tell me "HD" or "Hybrid Digital" counts.
 

radio

"On the Air" in MI
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Correct on both statements. Digital has only been in VERY limited testing in the USA, under "ideal" circumstances. Technical details I'm not familiar-with. (whose system it may be, etc.)
 

Art7220

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Sep 20, 2004
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Of course no one will switch to AM. They just want to carry talk and sports. Where's the Hip Hop AM? The Alternative music AM? Where is even the Jammin' Oldies AM? What's with all the commercials? Why do you think CBC is switching to FM and leaving AM? At least you'll be able to get the distants there. And there's no W W V on AM either. Go back to the days of X Rock 80. That was a great AM.
 

radio

"On the Air" in MI
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Another "blanket" statement that doesn't exactly fit. This thread wasn't aimed at discussing formats. It was aimed at the discussion of the need of "digital" signals being mandated to "save" AM broadcasting.

But as long as you went there, you still have some excellent heritage AM stations in Canada. Maybe not "CBC" but still excellent. CFCO for one. A long heritage of being very conscious of providing exceptional AM stereo sound with music programming. While I cannot speak to the structure of the CBC, its fair to say that shutting of AM's is something that Canada does NOT need to teach (by example) to the USA, thank you very much. We'd like to keep government intervention in broadcasting to a minimum, and let business performance determine the health and survival of stations. (like in any other business.) THAT is pressure enough to perform if station owners (notice the return to the bottom line here...good ownership) take pride in their programming and outreach/quality of sound.

"Switch to AM?" Give me one of your signals. I'll steal your local FM's audience. It can be done! Programming + Marketing + community involvement= success. If a station fails, it's usually because of lack of listeners supporting advertisers. If they're not listening, it isn't the medium's fault, it's the stations--for one reason or another.

By the way, "all the commercials?" How many is enough that you complain about it? Just curious. Be GLAD you hear some! Without those, NO station would be on the air without 100 percent government control in MORE than just what band to which you're listening! I'll say that grouping them all together to create music "sweeps" (the rest of the hour) at the cost of 10 minutes of "spots' is not good programming if that is the practice to which you refer.

Back to our regularly scheduled thread.
 
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Cham

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Think you'll see digital showing up in the FM band (88-108MHz) before any functional AM digital format. Actually I don't know why a standard digital format has not really taken hold there yet.

In rural areas like where I live, FM is problematic, many stations are on the fringe and fade in and out, and in the morning enhanced conditions often cause stations to pile-up on one channel. I use AM all the time. I wish some FM stations would add an AM translator...

If CBC dropped their AM radio broadcasts, I would no longer be a CBC listener. They have done a lot of work lately on their 990KHz transmitter (In Manitoba) so I don't think it will be going for a while... but this is government and the people making decisions have no idea how the industry and radio waves work... so you never know. I do know their FM transmitter covers 1/10th of the area the AM signal does...

When CTV took over the CKY franchise in Winnipeg, they took down their AM station on 580KHz. A buddy of mine actually took down the towers. Very sad time. The original owners had just installed a brand new solid-state transmitter which did beautiful AM stereo. They also took down the 92.1MHz FM station on their main tower that covered as far south as Grand Forks and Fargo, east to the Ontario border and west almost to Brandon. this station had a HUGE FM array and a full 50kW transmitter, Think the ERP was about 400KW, They were doing well financially but the owners were looking to retire. End of an era for sure.
 
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radio

"On the Air" in MI
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I love your thinking, Cham..."FM's with an AM translator!" LONG distance listening IS AM's advantage, especially in hilly terrain where (even higher powered) FM is blocked! If only the phrase you used was more a reality in "selected" situations. Granted, some people are using AM's "issues" as an attempt to clear the dial, but again, when properly thought-out and deployed, the only problem with AM is awareness and quality provided by operators. Both of these issues can be fixed with reasonable attention and time.
 
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harshness

SatelliteGuys Master
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Granted, some people are using AM's "issues" as an attempt to clear the dial, but again, when properly thought-out and deployed, the only problem with AM is awareness and quality provided by operators. Both of these issues can be fixed with reasonable attention and time.
But is there any point to reaching beyond your regional boundaries unless you're a radio evangelist or trying to get widest distribution of political or social propaganda? What's newsworthy or interesting on KGO hasn't always been all that relevant outside the Bay Area. Much of that content can be had online in various formats without the need for a "quality" AM receiver and carefully placed antenna.
 

radio

"On the Air" in MI
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Oct 13, 2007
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There's ALWAYS a reason! How about positive marketing of the station's town for it's Chamber, DDA and tourism? How about inviting "new" money and new people to the town in which the AM exists?

Unless I misunderstand, you don't listen online to radio when provided, either, correct? If so, you've just demonstrated how you've left radio behind and are NOT "Radio's" audience at all. You demonstrate a lack of understanding of what radio really CAN do when programmed properly, and it's done in many towns across the country today! If I've misunderstood, I'll apologize in advance for mistaking your statements. Nevertheless:

A station when programmed properly is attractive to people both close and far in it's terrestrial reach AND the PRODUCT when locally produced has to be unique enough to be WANTED by those far away on the web to be worthy of streaming.

AM's programming is not limited to religious and political issues, but.... if that is the case in your area, it's a shame. That situation would point to some lazy operators who don't value their signals or what the signals can do for their towns. Chances are they're "ride along" AM's owned by a large FM-friendly company grasping for anything to put on the air vs. KNOWING their towns and the towns' needs and responding to them.

We've BROUGHT people to this town (not just board owners Scott and Eva) because of our programming and what we make our town "sound like" on the radio. Again, properly operating in the PUBLIC INTEREST is what makes any (AM OR FM) station unique. No, not all the distant listeners will come to any station's City of license. Many never will. They WILL, however note that the town sounds like an interesting place, and the town is effectively is put "on the map" by good broadcasters practicing their craft. Radio stations should, when programmed properly be like electronic Ambassadors for the towns in which they broadcast.

I'm not promoting US, I'm noting that AM can be compelling when properly done. I'm not defending the poor operators who slap satellite talk on to "fill time" and enter it in their public files like it's really a SERVICE to their towns. "Filling time" on the air is not "programming." I won't defend AM operators guilty of that.

I'm here to defend the AM medium against unproven accusations of obsolescence via its proven POTENTIAL. Back to the point, DIGITAL transmission is not needed for any of the "good" described here to occur....at ANY station.

At the risk of being accused of self promoting, the following two links contain NON solicited response to local programming, and are received from all over the world: ANY station putting effort in to what they do can have pages like this! The question is, how hard will they work to MAKE their AM's viable, interesting and profitable?

http://i1430.com/comments.html
http://i1430.com/comments2.html
 
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harshness

SatelliteGuys Master
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I don't imagine that the advertising dollars are going to come in from much further than an FM signal is going to reach. Whether it goes farther or not is immaterial. Advertisers in distant areas aren't going to be too happy if their customers are distracted by bigger, splashier claims from some other market so the Chamber of Commerce argument cuts both ways.

Your laments apply to commercial broadcast of all kinds, not just AM.

The post-its point out that the message is what is important, not the medium (as evidenced by several streaming listeners) so arguing that this all comes at the hands of a well-run station using the "power" of AM is not well supported.
 

Iceberg

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If CBC dropped their AM radio broadcasts, I would no longer be a CBC listener. They have done a lot of work lately on their 990KHz transmitter (In Manitoba) so I don't think it will be going for a while... but this is government and the people making decisions have no idea how the industry and radio waves work... so you never know. I do know their FM transmitter covers 1/10th of the area the AM signal does...
The FM translator is only 2800 watts. It was designed to "fill in" assuming the downtown WPG area where AM may not penetrate buildings.
Minneapolis did that for their big AM talker KTLK 1130AM. They run a FM translator on 103.5FM so the signal can penetrate buildings in downtown Mpls. But don't get me started on Clear Channel and their translators in Minneapolis

Side note. I can get 990 pretty clean during the day in North Central MN. At night it comers in great
 

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