Pulling the Plug on AM Radio

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    In the last decade, there has been an increasing number of entire countries that have shut down all of their mediumwave AM operations or that are in the process of completely phasing out use use of the band. Some of these countries have simultaneously shut down their longwave and shortwave transmitter sites. I had been wondering where AM is disappearing. I recently found an up-to-date list: http://www.bamlog.com/darkcountries.htm

    Some of the ones that stick out in my mind are:

    • Singapore – The AM band has not been used here in over 20 years.
    • Norway – The last mediumwave transmitter signed off in 2012. The country will phase out analog FM broadcasting this year.
    • France – All France Bleu and France Info broadcasts have left the AM band. The 162 kHz longwave frequency formerly occupied by France Inter now broadcasts a signal for synchronizing clocks. The only remaining AM stations in France are run by Trans World Radio (a Christian broadcaster).
    • Germany – The only remaining AM stations are Armed Forces Network stations.
    • Austria – The last AM station signed off in 2009.
    • Iceland – The last AM station closed in 2006.
    • Vatican City
    • Sweden – The last AM station closed in 2010.
    • Lebanon – The last AM station closed in 2006.
    • St. Kitts & Nevis – This island was home to the last of the “split frequency” radio stations operating in the Americas, at 555 kHz. The station last broadcast in 2013 and decided not to repair its severely corroded tower.

    Having visited South America last summer, more specifically Arequipa Peru, both the FM and AM bands were alive and well although the AM side needed lots of help.

    Dan Packard

    It’s inevitable, I guess. I do lament the long range dx capability of AM stations, especially at night. But due to deregulation, declining engineering standards, non-local programming, the internet and other factors, it looks like the flame of a once strong American cultural tradition is extinguishing.


    I have a hunch that the USA will be the one of the last countries where AM broadcasting disappears because most of the AM stations here are privately owned. I’ve noticed that in a number of these countries where AM is gone, most of the AM stations were owned by the national public broadcaster, and a decision was made (due to economic factors or diminishing listenership) to shut down the AM network. In some of these countries, licenses were awarded later to private broadcasters, but only on FM.

    Nonetheless, it boggles my mind to think that a city the size of Paris has no AM radio stations, whatsoever.


    Having spent a few days in Paris in my life and listened to the FM dial there…there was a station at “every notch” on my radio in the city…in the mid-90’s…also very few stations on the AM heard then too…strongest was BBC.


    I have a wifi radio and with it, I can plug in a city like Paris, London, Melbourne, Moscow, NY, you name it and tune across the AM & FM dials. The variety is amazing. Almost any format may be available. Like from London, news, talk, sports, pop, the usual, but also there are several stations with ethnic programming, Arabic, French, programming from Africa, you name it. There are even Women stations, Gay stations. A lot more variety than we have over here. I often will just tune in a dial from different places. Following politics in different countries can be interesting on how they view the U.S.


    I imagine that many native Parisians might react, “Onde moyenne? Onde longue? Qu’est-ce que c’est que ça?” At least for younger people there, radio has “always” been FM.

    In 2015, I made a trip out to Quebec City. On the hotel radio, I could only hear atmospheric noise during the day. I hit the scan button on the car radio, and it just wrapped around the AM dial endlessly. It was surreal and sad to watch. The only groundwave signal that I could receive was 690 CKGM from Montreal (about 160 miles away). The last AM station in Quebec City, CHRC 800, signed off in 2012.

    Andy Brown

    AM licensees that have survived are going to hold on if they can until the big buyout. The AM dial will then be repurposed into wideband channels (kind of a misnomer since the whole band is so narrow by today’s standards) numbering less then a dozen and auctioned off to the tech sector which will have already competed with their ideas as the FCC will have issued a RFP on what to do with the band. The auction will provide the funds to pay off the existing licensees and finance the launch of the new service(s).

    You can expect the discussion over this to ensue right after the government realizes that the AM Revitalization program is a failure. My guess, probably about 2025.


    Hey mwdxer1!! What is the brand and model of that WiFi radio? Sounds cool!


    It is a Logitech UE Smart Radio. But they do not seem to be made now. If I need to get a new one in the future I will replace it with a Grace Digital. They are even better. A couple friends have those and they work well. With 10-20K stations available, they are a lot of fun. They run a bit over $100 to a couple hundred. Depending on what you want. Mine is a small table radio that sits next to my bed, as I like to listen to the radio before I go asleep.

    Steve Naganuma

    Here is a interesting article.

    Why Electric Cars Are Ditching AM Radio



    Electrical noise hash filters do work. I’ve been building and installing them for decades. But pi or T filters in the milli-farad and milli-henry sizes are big and expensive from manufacturers’ point of view. De-contenting little things like radio antennae happened before (remember windshield antennas).
    The 1.15 MHz medium (ground wave) band is not worth re-purposing except for aviation. Besides, FCC 600 MHz re-pack ain’t goin’ that good and the EU has been know to make a few mistakes.
    Digital FM works but as with digital TV the bit curtain (coverage area) can hurt.


    Isn’t that why they formed Motorola in the first place?


    Motorola was the first company to make a commercial radio product designed to be installed in motor vehicles (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorola#History ). Before that, some hobbyists were trying to put radios in their cars, but doing so was rather awkward because the radios of the era required multiple battery voltages.


    I will add that for the last few months, I have owned a Honda Civic where the designers did a very good job of keeping the vehicle’s electrical noise out of the radio’s front end. By comparison, I previously owned a Honda Fit, where the vehicle’s electrical power steering put relatively strong interference around 1000 kHz. Any time that I turned the wheel, I would hear a “whrooo-whroo” sound on either KOMO or KXPD. I suspect that the interference was due to a ground loop issue, as the antenna and its pre-amplifier were located on the vehicle’s roof near the tailgate.

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