Remember, translators are secondary. A full power station is not. If a fringe area of reception lost to a translator generates complaints from the fringe station's listeners, the translator can be forced to move to another frequency or go away completely.
I'm not going to say AM radio is healthy. In fact it is similar to a neighborhood I grew up in. When growing up it was the pride of middle class suburbia. Today it is poorly maintained homes, an area of high crime and a few pockets of still nice neighborhoods. AM still works in some parts of the country and some stations are still quite viable. In my part of the country, AM is not as the original poster indicated.
I wonder if the original poster owned an AM station how he'd feel. Would he be in a position to operate a stellar facility or would he see his investment he worked so hard to develop struggling and welcoming the FCC to find a few things wrong that would force him out of the business? I think it might compare to the guy down on his luck, flipping burgers at McDonald's and driving the beat up car with a burned out tail light and headlight, plus an expired inspection sticker. The car is the only way to get to work to make the money to fix it, and provide some of the income for his family. So, do you impound the car and send the driver to jail?
The translator is a boon to AM stations. Night power, if you're lucky enough to have anything at all, ends at, say 7:30 am and begins as early as 4:45 or 5 pm in the winter months when advertising sales are at their annual peak (Christmas season). You have a station with minimal coverage in crucial commute hours and possibly hurt by the station you protect even in the first and last hour of daytime coverage. Thus, a station that cannot adhere to the typical radio listener lifestyle, means regardless of what you do, you are severely handicapped. That is not to mention other factors. My point is the translator, although not full coverage, gives you a shot to at least make ends meet.
A translator, regardless of the coverage it actually has, is a plus. Talking to a friend that works deals between programmers and stations, when a business is looking to lease a station on the AM dial, a translator always means a higher lease price even if the coverage area of that translator is so insignificant when compared to the AM's daytime coverage. How much? An extra 20-30% a month depending on the market. With a good percentage of the AM's daytime coverage it can be much more.
There have been so few FCC inspections in recent years that the rules almost mean nothing anymore, and now the out of compliance owner is being painted as a victim. AM is dying as it is an antiquated medium that has been surpassed by many other options, and many of the stations have made very poor programming choices that hastened their demise. This situation has been developing for decades, so the struggling owner didn't find out about these problems yesterday.
The original question was are translators actually helping the AM band, or actually finishing it off as the listeners are all moved over to FM? You have stated that FM will help with night coverage when there are historically far fewer listeners anyway, but the reality is that it will siphon those remaining AM listeners over to the higher quality of FM in most areas. So how does that help AM? It really just helps the AM owner, not the AM band itself, which may actually be beyond help.
I agree with you on what you say. I recall the early days of being a DJ. My old car had worn tires, too worn for an inspection sticker. I was making minimum wage and had 2 roommates in order to get by. The shop that did inspections in that town said I had to have a set of tires on my car to get the inspection sticker. Payday was Friday. It was Monday when the 'last day of grace' happened. The police chief pulled me over to 'remind me' the sticker was out of date. I explained. He kindly said he'd pass word along to his guys but he wanted to see new tires on my car the next week. That certainly helped. I was not only DJing but I sold as well, so the car in use during this time was crucial in making my paycheck all it could be.
Keep in mind the average translator covers only a small segment of the average AM station. I agree many will go to FM but if that is wrong, what is right? How is AM made viable?
Last edited by b-turner; 09-06-2016 at 02:49 PM.
Take your broken down car example one step further. The police insisted that you replace those tires and get your sticker valid, and you did. But what if the troubles were worse and you needed brakes, suspension work, a new windshield, and the tires - like they are at many beat down AMs that are still in operation. You can't afford to make the repairs, or it may not even be worth making them. Should you be able to keep the car registered despite these facts, or should your registration be withheld until you make the needed repairs? Remember that just like a FCC broadcast license, the automobile registration is a privilege not a right. You don't meet the requirements and you don't get registered. Why should this be any different? If you don't need to keep the station legal to keep the license, why should anyone care about the FCC regs?
The painting of an AM station owner that is struggling as a victim in my proposal is absurd. Just like a car - either fix it, sell it, or turn the license in. This situation has developed over a long time, so anyone who hasn't reacted to it by now has no right to complain if the existing rules were enforced. Those rules are very clear and have been pretty much the same for years so why should anyone get a pass at this point?
Originally Posted by David Eduardo
Do you think the Federal government is very concerned about the AM band for emergency and disaster reasons?
I just read a chilling report on what will happen when the Cascadia Fault slips and a 9.0 earthquake makes Washington & Oregon west of I-5 "toast" (FEMA's words).
In the report they mentioned that AM radio will be an important emergency broadcasting tool because of its long distance capabilities. Local coastal FMs will could be powerless, or possibly out of commission otherwise, for who knows how long. Skywave nighttime AM and some ground wave AM will probably be the only real broadcasts many of the survivors will be able to receive in the most damaged areas.
Even if I-5 corridor stations are damaged, there would be reception of stations east of the Cascades, some of which put in listenable level signals every night.
Is this emergency capability on the Federal government's radar? How does it fit in with 'revitalization'?
Last edited by boombox4; 09-08-2016 at 12:33 PM.
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