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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

AM

I grew up on AM radio.  I worked in AM radio.  I will always love AM radio.  Unfortunately, I'm in the minority.  AM radio is struggling.

The Federal Communications Commission has come up with some ways to help AM operators and revitalize the struggling band.

Some of the ideas are technical, and frankly, way over my head.

Here's the way I see it.

If station operators want to revitalize the band, it's simple.  Program things people want to hear.  That's it.  End of story.

But, I am a practical person, and I know that will never work because that takes money and vision.

There are other ideas.  The FCC wants to give AM operators a crack at FM translators, even moving them around to different parts of the country.  All that will do is make a crowded FM band even more cluttered.

Here's an idea.  Give tax breaks to failing operators.  Let them turn in their licenses.  Throw them a few dollars.  The AM band becomes less crowded.  The remaining stations can increase power.  Part of the problem is solved.  And don't say the public will suffer with fewer stations.  The strong community stations won't go off the air.  The weak ones, the ones that will disappear likely weren't serving the community, anyway.

As I've said here before, a wise old news director once taught me that the prosperous stations (TV or radio) are the ones that do the best job of reflecting their community.  The AM band hasn't been doing a great job of that.  Yes, there are exceptions.  Some stations, sadly wouldn't be missed and there wouldn't be much of a job loss.

AM isn't dead yet, but it's close.  It can be saved.