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Thread: The Future of AM

  1. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Kelly A View Post
    It's doubtful that the whole digital AM thing will be revisited, because the assumption is AM has one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.
    Because digital AM would require consumers to buy new radios, and that's not going to happen. As I said, if it's not receivable on existing devices, it's DOA.

  2. #12
    Existing radios that have HD radio tuners can receive full digital already. Not large numbers like it was in the 20th Century, but there are a fair amount of HD- capable tuners in cars on the road starting in 2014.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigA View Post
    Because digital AM would require consumers to buy new radios, and that's not going to happen. As I said, if it's not receivable on existing devices, it's DOA.
    Yes. I have a device that will receive more radio services than I can ever even sample, and which has access to daily new services as well as podcasts and on demand programming. It is my smartphone. Why would I spend additional money to get just a few local stations on a different band when I have too many options already?
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  4. #14
    In some markets -- like mine -- a lot of popular sports talk and play-by-play remains on AM . It's the only programming on that band that could conceivably attract under-55 listeners. Should CBS ever decide to move WTIC's sports to FM, it would be game over for AM here. But with no format duplication on FM and all of CBS's music FMs being safe, advertiser-friendly-format money makers, that's not likely to happen soon.

    How long is the AM-FM simulcast of WFAN New York going to continue? The FM is already being mentioned first in the IDs.

  5. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by CTListener View Post
    How long is the AM-FM simulcast of WFAN New York going to continue? The FM is already being mentioned first in the IDs.
    More recently, when the value of the property the AM transmission facility occupies, exceeds the value of the AM station.

  6. #16
    The future of AM radio is very bleak. AM listening is so low that almost no one would notice if the FCC did mandate all digital broadcasts.

    Examples: Indianapolis has only 4.3 AM shares (and that's including WFNI and WNDE's FM translators!). Nashville has only 5.9 AM shares (including translators for WQZQ & WNVL). Atlanta has 12.5 AM shares, including a the full power simulcast of WSB and WSBB-FM. Take away WSB/WSBB-FM and it's a 2.6 share - still including FM translators for WCNN & WGST.

    What is the business case for keeping a band with only 3-6% of total listenership?
    "Its music what makes a radio station, and at Live FM, we play the last music around."
    After receiving that copy, I quit the VO industry.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelly A View Post
    More recently, when the value of the property the AM transmission facility occupies, exceeds the value of the AM station.
    In the case of New York City, the Meadowlands sites are not suitable for commercial or residential use, and the little island where WCBS and WFAN is located is not of prime value, either. But where cites have grown around large sites this is very true. I am looking at the future of the 710 AM site in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles.
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  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by PTBoardOp94 View Post
    The future of AM radio is very bleak. AM listening is so low that almost no one would notice if the FCC did mandate all digital broadcasts.

    Examples: Indianapolis has only 4.3 AM shares (and that's including WFNI and WNDE's FM translators!). Nashville has only 5.9 AM shares (including translators for WQZQ & WNVL). Atlanta has 12.5 AM shares, including a the full power simulcast of WSB and WSBB-FM. Take away WSB/WSBB-FM and it's a 2.6 share - still including FM translators for WCNN & WGST.

    What is the business case for keeping a band with only 3-6% of total listenership?
    The listening in markets with no good signals is very low. But in markets with several good signals it is much higher.

    New York, for example, has 15% of all listening on AM and around 40% of all adults cume AM every week. There are at least 4 really good AM signals there. San Francisco has nearly 20% of AQH listening on AM, and that is mostly due to three good signals and several nearly-good signals.

    Places like Washington, DC, which have no good day and night signals have very low shares on AM because listeners can't get them consistently and thus the major formats have migrated to FM, including all-news.

    So at this time, there are still many viable stations on a band that is, for the most part, not viable.
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  9. #19
    Nashville has numerous viable AM signals. Indy & Atlanta, not so much.

    WSM, WLAC are class A stations with good coverage of the entire metro day and night. There's 3 or 4 other AM stations with good coverage in the daytime, and poor coverage at night. (1160, 1200, 1300, which are all currently broadcasting religion, and an NPR talker on 1430).

    Of these good day and poor night signals, none has been operated commercially in over 15 years. 1160 and 1300 went to religion in the 80s, 1200 was a rich guy's polka and big band play toy until his death a couple years ago, and 1430 became NPR talk around 2002 or '03.

    I wasn't around to watch the slow de-commercialization of Nashville AM radio unfold, but my general impression today is that there is little reason in Nashville to press the AM button, because all the mainstream formats are covered on FM. News/Talk, sports, about 8 varieties of country, classic hits, oldies, etc.

    That seems to me like the biggest difference between Nashville and New York: there remain several strong stations on AM. I know this isn't in the cards, but hypothetically if Entercom were to sell off 1010 WINS to a religious or foreign language broadcaster, the vitality of the whole band in the NYC market would decline.
    "Its music what makes a radio station, and at Live FM, we play the last music around."
    After receiving that copy, I quit the VO industry.

  10. #20

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    We left Nashville when I was 5 but with relatives there, I was frequently back in Nashville for days at a time.

    1300 was once WMAK, a top 40 that battled for the honor as the top 40 favorite with WKDA, then 1240 if I recall correctly). As a side note, I had a real strange thing happen. I found some old airchecks of Nashville stations online. As I listened to one of WKDA, I recalled hearing it before. My memory flashed back to a night around Christmas listening carefully to the radio in 7th grade on a visit to a relative's home in the Green Hills area for the holidays. The aircheck I heard years later was a recording of the station I heard live as it happened...a very strange feeling. They sure sounded 'big time' as I heard them live but much more 'small market sounding' years later but the jock was sure having a blast on the air.

    The William Barry station with the nostalgia format might have made some money. I just never listened enough to know. He did have a pair of other AMs that were leased. When I visited the station, it was sort of crowded in the station. What looked like a closet for a couple of teletype machines was one of the AM stations and the other was in what looked like a production studio, then the WAMB studio. Add a couple of offices and that was it. If WAMB sold few commercials, the other two AM stations with their monthly checks from leasing the airtime likely kept the station in the black. If I recall correctly they got a nice rate for some college sports broadcasts. Local alumni groups where I manage a station these days will pay dearly to clear their college's football games on your station.

    And actually, Mr. Barry was the first guy to actually get an AM translator, sort of. He was wiped out by a Cuban AM at night. After sending a letter a day to the FCC for 5 years, the FCC gave him a 75 watt FM that was allowed to operate only after sunset and before sunrise. Officially it was WAMB-1. It ran a beautiful music format sponsored exclusively by one sponsor that got a 30 second commercial every quarter hour. It was 58 minutes of music each hour all night on WAMB1.

    It seemed like 980 in Nashville had a decent signal throughout the metro (the BBN station). When AM was viable, it was WSIX.

    I've never heard as much noise on AM as I have heard in Nashville. I'm guessing I have lived in places where more electrical lines were not overhead but rather underground. I could sit at a red light on Charlotte Pike and have an AM's otherwise clean signal wiped out by buzz from the power lines.

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