Friday, 24 June 2011

The Future of A.M.

The Future of A.M.

Poor old AM sure took its hits, Tom. But there's a lot afoot these days, First off, the consolidation of ownership has in its way changed many stations from local issue-orientation to regional broadcasters. And, the way telecommunications has become a commodity, we find those regional owners having a set of studios in which programs for a dozen or more stations are generated, I've just been in Tampa, to find a studio center of Clear Channel, one of the largest owners, running nine studios with programs for a dozen stations in and around Tampa and Florida's West Coast, for example.
More recently, on an auto trip from here to Dallas via Atlanta, I noticed several AM's which individually could not cover the Atlanta metroplex, but which carried the same program all day. One pair was even on adjacent channels, 1060 and 1070, so it took but a flick of the dial to continue to hear their program when driving across the entire city, as I did.
And, there's the newly emergent matter of IBOC- In-Band On-Channel digital AM stereo transmission. As with most technologies, there's a American way that's incompatible with the European "world standard" way, but if you heard the results of either, you'd be amazed. There's a website somewhere that I stumbled on that plays audio from both ways, and the digital result is nothing short of amazing! One of the demos is a movement from a full orchestra classical piece, played on a shortwave broadcast station, The analog sample is full of all the noises, fades and distortions of shortwave radio, while the digital rendition is crystal clear the whole time.
Will that save AM? Will satellite-delivered radio kill both AM and FM? Who knows? All I can say is I'm not scrapping my old Hallicrafters just yet. If nothing else, it may become a museum piece! If you'd like to see more about me, see my (out of date) personal website: (external link)

"My interest in telecommunications spans the earliest forms of electric telegraphy in 16th century Spain up to the early 20th century.

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