As 2017 begins, my Facebook is filled with repeating stories about how Norway is shutting off FM radio. For gosh sakes, folks…will you read the article? It’s not because FM has no audience there. It’s because they’re all going digital!
Can AM radio survive? I’d like to think it can. But, I also think the FCC has its work cut out for it. So many people (who put politics above all else) seem to think if we just get rid of the talk shows and start playing Beatle records on it again with “superjocks” and “jingles”, AM will turn around and revive itself.
Wish that could happen. But, before any music can be successfully played on AM in a competitive market situation (remember, many small town AM’s are still financially successful, and music can be and is part of that equation in those towns), AM’s technical issues MUST be addressed. The major reason AM has such a small share of the listener pie anymore is that it sounds like crap! Who will put up with the interference caused by florescent lights, computer monitors, trolley bus lines, the car next to you with a bad spark plug, lightning, etc. Not to mention so many AM stations that roll off their audio at 3,000 hz. (that’s telephone quality for those of you who don’t know)!
In my way of thinking, interference needs to be cleaned up as much as possible, so AM stations can go back to broadcasting in wide-band. If a few unprofitable stations in areas that cannot and don’t support them must go away in that effort…sorry, but so be it. Thin the herd! You might even be able to turn the AM stereo back on. It sounded great in wideband.
The cheap receivers being made by manufacturers must also be addressed. Taking a “let the market decide” attitude won’t work if you truly want to “revive” AM. Translators help, but are a band aid on an almost mortal wound.
Get it all fixed…THEN new, innovative programming (with proper promotion) may have a reasonable chance of bringing some of the audience back around. But not until.
And will any of today’s consolidated owners put the necessary investment in it…when they’re spending tons on digital? I have my doubts.