Noise killing AM radio
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Thread: Noise killing AM radio

  1. #1

    Noise killing AM radio

    I found this article on the HuffPo website discussing the noise on the AM bad. The author, Fred Lundgren, talks about firing up his SuperRadio III after the power died and marvel at how clear the AM sounded without all the interference from other devices in the house.

    I especially loved this paragraph: "I think it can be successfully argued in a federal courtroom that AM Station licensees and AM listeners have not received “due process”. The FCC, by its failure to regulate interference, has aided and abetted those who are causing the interference. Their inaction has allowed every POS imaginable to take a steaming crap on the sound of AM Radio."

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/fred-l..._13876742.html

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimbo View Post
    I found this article on the HuffPo website discussing the noise on the AM bad. The author, Fred Lundgren, talks about firing up his SuperRadio III after the power died and marvel at how clear the AM sounded without all the interference from other devices in the house.

    I especially loved this paragraph: "I think it can be successfully argued in a federal courtroom that AM Station licensees and AM listeners have not received “due process”. The FCC, by its failure to regulate interference, has aided and abetted those who are causing the interference. Their inaction has allowed every POS imaginable to take a steaming crap on the sound of AM Radio."
    Totally disingenuous article.

    The biggest problems with AM began right after W.W. II when cities began their urban sprawl and soon outgrew nearly all the AM stations licensed in the 20's and 30's using power levels adequate for covering a much smaller geography. Then FM came with better quality that put most AM stations to shame, plus the fact that most of them covered much more than all but one or two AMs in the average market and fate of AM was sealed about 45 years ago.

    Additional interference from CFLs and CPUs just added to the problem.

    Further, the writer talks about reception of stations from other markets... who would listen to such out of town stations even if they were "listenable signals?" And the idea that KGOW is a "powerful signal" sitting, as it is, up at 1560, is just silly.

    Faulty logic at its best. Fake news.
    Last edited by DavidEduardo; 01-09-2017 at 02:19 PM.
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  3. #3
    And don't forget the horizontal sync noise from analog TVs spaced every 15.75 kHz throughout the Ancient Modulation band, beginning after the war. Mostly gone now, replaced by other (and much more) digital hash.
    We have to save the Earth! It's the only planet with football and beer.

  4. #4
    Maybe, but the prohibition against AM interference is in the rules.... just one more thing the FCC hasn't kept up on and, at this point, may be too big an issue for them to tackle.

    One has only to drive through downtown Seattle. By themselves, the city's street cars and trolley buses generate enough noise to block out several 50kW signals, transmitting from just a few miles away.

    Would the FCC go after the City of Seattle? Probably not.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by DavidEduardo View Post


    The biggest problems with AM began right after W.W. II when cities began their urban sprawl and soon outgrew nearly all the AM stations licensed in the 20's and 30's using power levels adequate for covering a much smaller geography. Then FM came with better quality that put most AM stations to shame, plus the fact that most of them covered much more than all but one or two AMs in the average market and fate of AM was sealed about 45 years ago.

    Major Armstrong had actually proposed that the AM band/transmission be replaced with FM back in the late 30's:
    http://www.theradiohistorian.org/Apex/Apex1.htm

  6. #6
    Totally disingenuous article.
    How is the article disingenuous? I've experienced the same thing as the author.

    I live about 50 miles from NYC, and 45 years ago I could listen to WMCA, WOR, WABC, WCBS, WINS, etc. with virtually no interference. Today, except for WCBS, these stations are a real challenge to listen to.

    I recently bought a 2012 car and, right after I took delivery, I found that there's a loud 3-sec. squealing sound on the AM band when I take my foot off the brakes, probably caused by the ABS/traction control emitting RF noise from the car's computer. The dealer and the manufacturer, to their credit, are trying to track it down. Meanwhile, the last time I had it in for service they loaned me a 2016 model and, guess what? -- there's a warbling high-pitch tone on WOR that's so loud the station is completely unlistenable. This kind of stuff didn't exist back in the 1970s.

    My first reaction when I heard the noise in my car was, "Oh, s**t, this will never be fixed," and so far I'm correct. AM Radio today is so unimportant, such an afterthought, that manufacturers are turning out cars that create so much interference that they block their own radio's signals. Car dealers are keeping very busy trying to explain all the electronic bells and whistles to customers. AM Radio is way below their radar.

    And you know what? During the several months it's taking to try to resolve this problem I'm getting used to listening to TV channels on XM/Sirius instead of talk shows on AM Radio. I've been a huge AM Radio fan for years but enough is enough. Sometimes we have to settle.

    Either AM Radio should have been retired years ago or it should have been protected by aggressive interference regulations. The former would have made the most sense, IMO, but I also wonder if the RF interference AM Radio has been exposing for us over the years may have other unintended consequences in the future. Time will tell.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by wadio View Post
    How is the article disingenuous? I've experienced the same thing as the author.
    The article points to interference as if it were the sole and unique cause of the decline of AM.

    AM's decline began well before CFLs and CPU's and wall warts and the like. And the defection to FM for music reached critical mass with over half the music station listening having moved to Maj. Armstrong's system in the 1974-1975 period.

    I live about 50 miles from NYC, and 45 years ago I could listen to WMCA, WOR, WABC, WCBS, WINS, etc. with virtually no interference. Today, except for WCBS, these stations are a real challenge to listen to.
    But the move to FM occurred in the late 60's and 70's, well before interference became as big an issue. As a result, two generations of listeners have grown up unaccustomed to listening to AM, knowing that it sounds "sucky".

    I recently bought a 2012 car and, right after I took delivery, I found that there's a loud 3-sec. squealing sound on the AM band when I take my foot off the brakes, probably caused by the ABS/traction control emitting RF noise from the car's computer. The dealer and the manufacturer, to their credit, are trying to track it down. Meanwhile, the last time I had it in for service they loaned me a 2016 model and, guess what? -- there's a warbling high-pitch tone on WOR that's so loud the station is completely unlistenable. This kind of stuff didn't exist back in the 1970s.
    Likely so few people listen to AM that they were not even aware of this.

    My first reaction when I heard the noise in my car was, "Oh, s**t, this will never be fixed," and so far I'm correct. AM Radio today is so unimportant, such an afterthought, that manufacturers are turning out cars that create so much interference that they block their own radio's signals. Car dealers are keeping very busy trying to explain all the electronic bells and whistles to customers. AM Radio is way below their radar.
    Look at the case of BMW which launched an electric car that has no AM at all. Or cellphones that have the radio chip activated, none of which can get AM.

    Either AM Radio should have been retired years ago or it should have been protected by aggressive interference regulations. The former would have made the most sense, IMO, but I also wonder if the RF interference AM Radio has been exposing for us over the years may have other unintended consequences in the future. Time will tell.
    The FCC moved into a "spectrum for money" mode, and has abandoned enforcement. They don't have the budget for control of pirates, so they are not going to run around the country looking for noisy wall warts.
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  8. #8
    The article points to interference as if it were the sole and unique cause of the decline of AM.
    I don't think so, David. Where did you find that in the article? All he's addressing here is interference, not programming or audience preferences which, BTW, are now negatively affecting FM as well.

    And while AM's interference problems began years ago, it's within the past decade that it reached an inflection point where AM radio is unlistenable for many people. It's the so called "hockey stick" graph.

    I haven't listened to AM content on the AM band at home for several years - I stream it. But I continued listening in my circa 2000 car until I traded it in for a newer one with electronics that make AM unlistenable. Now I'm done, and I don't think I'm alone.

    I do disagree with the author's conclusion:

    The manufacturers, distributors and retailers who market AM noise makers have recklessly caused irreparable harm to AM Radio and it’s time for us to fight back as a class and make them pay.
    "Fight back?" That barn door closed years ago. But that's the author's opinion - it doesn't make his statements disingenuous.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by DavidEduardo View Post


    Further, the writer talks about reception of stations from other markets... who would listen to such out of town stations even if they were "listenable signals?"
    Sports fans. I grew up in Pennsylvania but now live in New England. The only way I can listen to "out of market" sporting events is by listening to clear channel stations in the evening.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by wadio View Post
    I don't think so, David. Where did you find that in the article? All he's addressing here is interference, not programming or audience preferences which, BTW, are now negatively affecting FM as well.
    It's a "sin of omission" and paints a picture of AM usage without man-made interference that is not real.
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