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Thread: The Future of AM

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by PTBoardOp94 View Post
    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).
    Here is the problem: the Nashville market is 8 counties. WSM covers all of it with a 5 mV/m signal day and night, but does not cover it all with a 10 mV/m signal... and in Nielsen, indoor listening at home and at work just does not occur outside the 10 mV/m contour. WLAC by day reaches 55% of the market with a 5 mV/m signal, and only about 30% at night... less for the needed 10 mV/m signal.

    No other station comes even close to covering the whole market day and night. And that is the problem all across America. The "better" signals were licensed to serve cities before the post-WW II urban sprawl, and most markets have outgrown all or nearly all of their AM signals. And man made noise has reduced the effective coverage considerably, as well.
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  2. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by DavidEduardo View Post
    The "better" signals were licensed to serve cities before the post-WW II urban sprawl, and most markets have outgrown all or nearly all of their AM signals. And man made noise has reduced the effective coverage considerably, as well.
    As I've said many times, any kind of serious AM revitalization needs to address those two things if they are to succeed. The fact that the FCC hasn't even discussed them says to me that they're not really serious about AM revitalization. They need to find a way to make AM signals practical for the way markets have changed, and for the way people use radio. It's not easy. It may even cost some money. But it's the only solution.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigA View Post
    As I've said many times, any kind of serious AM revitalization needs to address those two things if they are to succeed. The fact that the FCC hasn't even discussed them says to me that they're not really serious about AM revitalization. They need to find a way to make AM signals practical for the way markets have changed, and for the way people use radio. It's not easy. It may even cost some money. But it's the only solution.
    Any AM revitalization should be based on a major reallocation of the whole band, such as was done in 1937-1928.

    A computer study might show how AMs that are in small unrated markets could be changed to translator-like operations that would give signals no better nor no worse than the current status. Larger market small signal and daytime stations could do the same. The AM license would be traded for the new FM.

    Any AM with an existing translator that covers about as much as the AM would have the AM cancelled.

    Then highly directional in medium markets AMs could be offered translators that offer better total population coverage with FM only. The AM would be cancelled. Daytimers would be offered translator equivalent FMs that could run fulltime, maybe with less coverage, and allowed changes in community of license so the translator could serve a viable market.

    Once these moves are made, then all the remaining stations would be reallocated with, perhaps, new night interference standards and acceptance of minimum skywave antenna systems such as the Kintronics system being used to reduce land use as well.

    This could depopulate the AM band by 50% to 60% and the allowance of low-skywave antennas universally might improve night coverage of many remaining AMs.
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  4. #24

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    I certainly have to agree. What were once major stations are not 'inner city' stations where the signal does not reach the suburbs. Houston is terrible because of it's mere size. Driving across Houston is about like Richmond, Virginia on one end and Washington DC on the other end. Then add all the noise and you've put salt in the wound.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by b-turner View Post
    I certainly have to agree. What were once major stations are not 'inner city' stations where the signal does not reach the suburbs. Houston is terrible because of it's mere size. Driving across Houston is about like Richmond, Virginia on one end and Washington DC on the other end. Then add all the noise and you've put salt in the wound.
    There are also cases where the signal serves a shrinking inner city. Recent news on the population decline in Baltimore and the consequent social problems and issues is a case in point.

    I am most familiar with Cleveland, OH. In the 50's, the population extended, at most, to Lyndhurst to the East, Parma to the South and Lakewood to the West. And still, the 30-year old directional signals of stations like WHK, WERE, WDOK and even WGAR were "iffy" at night due to interference.

    Since then, the city has moved out another 10 to 15 miles in all directions, and none of the signals except 1100 WTAM cover it fully at night. Of course, noise has increased considerably. But the real issue is that the city of Cleveland itself has declined in population and the "good signal" areas of the AM stations actually have less people living in them than they did 4 to 5 decades ago.
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  6. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by DavidEduardo View Post

    This could depopulate the AM band by 50% to 60% and the allowance of low-skywave antennas universally might improve night coverage of many remaining AMs.
    It all makes sense to me.

  7. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigA View Post
    They need to find a way to make AM signals practical for the way markets have changed, and for the way people use radio.
    Why should the American taxpayer have to pony up to support private businesses which, by popular opinion, are marginal services to begin with and non-essential?
    Illegitimi non carborundum

  8. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by landtuna View Post
    Why should the American taxpayer have to pony up to support private businesses which, by popular opinion, are marginal services to begin with and non-essential?
    The airwaves are owned by the public. Private businesses are merely licensees. If broadcasters were allowed to own their frequencies, I'd agree with you.

    Reallocation of the AM band is the proper role of government, and they've done it many times before. It can't be done without them.

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by landtuna View Post
    Why should the American taxpayer have to pony up to support private businesses which, by popular opinion, are marginal services to begin with and non-essential?
    Adding verbosity to BigA's concise response, a change in the AM band is no different from the ongoing spectrum auction in the range used by certain TV channels and the repacking of the existing and remaining channels. The greater good of the public is the core issue.

    Under my suggestion, there is no significant cost to existing small and substandard AM stations other than building a 250 watt FM and putting it on, most likely, a leased tower or building near the population center. The sale of AM transmitter land will give some more than enough, and the ability to do music formats and be where listening is more than justifies a small investment.

    All the government would do is regulate the change. The actual "changing" would be each station's obligation. In a sense, like the use of eminent domain where you have to get off AM and the government will compensate you with a comparable FM in cases where this is technically feasible.

    In the late 20's, the Federal Radio Commission actually forced about half the stations in the US off the air, and mandated frequency changes for almost all the rest. Then in 1941, about 90% of all US radio stations (AM of course) had their frequency changed so the US and its neighbors could deploy the NARBA treaty, which benefited all stations by limiting interference and better regulating frequency use.

    So the idea of migrating many AMs to FM is in the public's interest. It also preserves jobs and guarantees forms of local radio service. It clears much of the AM band, which is becoming obsolete due to lack of enhanced rules. In fact, they could start by allowing AMs with translators to close the AM forever and operate the translator as the only licensed facility and grant is protected status.
    Last edited by DavidEduardo; 04-08-2017 at 08:39 PM.
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  10. #30
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    Last edited by joebtsflk1; 04-08-2017 at 08:37 PM. Reason: superfluous post

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