Pulling the Plug on AM Radio

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    The UK is more than a decade into trying to convince people to switch to DAB, which is all the usual AM and FM stations (plus many more) on a new piece of spectrum. It sounds great, and the coverage is suburb. But the government didn’t mandate DAB receivers in all new radios, so DAB penetration is way behind projections.

    We Americans, of course, recall that the FCC mandate in the late 70’s that all radios receive both FM and AM. By the mid 80’s FM music stations were well ahead of AM, leading to the talk, sports, specialty and ethnic formats that now dominate AM.

    It’s probably too late, but here’s what the FCC should have done: When TV left the VHF band, the Commission should have broken off channels 5 and 6 and expanded the FM radio band south of 88.1.

    It should have mandated that all new radios include the new hunk of band. Give existing AM stations first call on new slots, and allow a ten-year simulcast before either killing AM or starting over with nothing but high-power ‘super stations’ that commit to mostly local programming.

    But the FCC has never been in the programming business – the definition of ‘service’ is technical, not related to content. It’s not The American Way.

    So we have George Noorey on 12 spots on the AM dial at night, local music stations voice-tracked from Houston and news anchors in Sacramento reading re-writes from what’s left of The Oregonian. That’s now The American Way of broadcasting.

    Oh, and get off my lawn.


    I’ve heard it repeated so often that it’s become an urban legend but there was never a mandate for AM-FM radios. I recently learned that it was discussed but it was never a mandate. There is of course the requirement that all televisions receive both VHF and UHF. Maybe you’re thinking of that.

    Andy Brown

    The AM-FM legislation that never got off the ground was called “The All Channels Act.” This was about 1971. In the article linked below it is mentioned briefly in an article mostly about quad.



    Hmm, I’ve had hybrids and EVs since 2002, all have had acceptable AM reception. I think BMW and Tesla just got lazy.


    Trinidad and Tobago has been another AM-free country since April 5 of 2015. That was the day that Radio Trinidad on 730 kHz signed off.


    In SW Idaho Eastern Oregon KSRV 1380 is gone for good.
    Two Class B full time AMs are really close to becoming daytimers. Staying on the air just to keep their FM translators. Another Class B AM will go away when the FM translators become eligible to be moved to another station, probably an HD2 or HD3 source. Same for another daytimer.


    This article reminds us how quickly things have changed in the realm of AM broadcasting…

    By Larry Meyer, Ontario (Oregon) Argus Observer Oct 19, 2017

    HEADLINE: “Former KSRV employees aim to open station”

    ONTARIO — Ontario and the rest of the populated areas of Malheur County, plus neighboring areas of Idaho, may soon see the return of a local radio station.

    Leading the effort are Dave Adams and Dale Jeffries, both former employees of KSRV radio station when it still had a physical presence in Ontario. Its current owner, Impact Radio Group, moved those call letters to its Boise operations, said Adams, who was at KSRV for 25 years.

    Negotiations are still underway on the purchase of the Ontario property, and are amicable, he said.

    Adams shared their vision before a small gathering at Second & Vine Wednesday in Ontario. He is the general manager of KYLC radio station in McMinnville.

    Although the new station would be heard again at 1380, the KSRV call letters would stay with Impact Radio, he said, with the name of the new business and call letters to be determined.

    Current plans, that have to conform to Federal Communications Commission, call for the new 5,000-watt AM station to be daytime only, providing reception to north of Weiser, west of Vale, south of Nyssa but not quite to Boise, Adams said.

    In the event of an emergency, the station could be allowed to broadcast at night to facilitate communications, he said, commenting that being able to provide immediate information about local occurrences and events would be one of the focuses of the station. The station would broadcast a variety of music styles, local sports and have community programing, he said.

    A companion 200-watt FM station, which would broadcast 24-hours a day, is projected to reach a smaller area, include Ontario, Payette, Fruitland and New Plymouth, but coming up short of Nyssa and Vale.

    Still to be decided is whether the station would be a for-profit operation or a nonprofit.

    Adams said that radio stations in small markets are more often becoming nonprofit entities. The difference is that with a nonprofit, any business support would have to be in form of underwriting time programs rather than advertisements that offer products or services, such as on a regular commercial station, he said.

    Adams and Jeffries are working with a group of local residents interested in bringing a local radio station in Ontario, they said, but declined to name them.

    “We want to be local,” Adams said, able to communicate with the community.

    “The station will never leave the city,” he said.

    If the plans and funding come together, Adams said the radio station could be broadcasting as soon as 30 to 60 days.

    Jeffries would be the “boots on the ground” in the local area for the Ontario station.

    “The city has its voice,” Jeffries said.


    Cooler heads prevailed and it never happened.


    Besides Singapore, Malaysia is pretty much off AM (MW) too. I logged and QSL’d several from Sabah and Sarawak years ago. A lot of DX on MW is now gone from the Pacific & Asia. Most have an FM now. F2 skip from the West Coast is not common, so I really doubt I would log Hawaii, let alone Malaysia on FM. :-).

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