Written Jun. 23, 2009 by Larry Rosin in Terrestrial Radio with 32 Comments
I live and work firmly within the New York metropolitan area. I happen to love much of the programming available that emanates from New York on the AM band -- sports on WFAN and ESPN Radio, News on WCBS and WINS, talk from WABC and WOR, business news from Bloomberg, and Radio Disney especially when I'm with my daughter.
There is only one problem -- I can BARELY HEAR ANY OF THIS. To listen to these stations from my metro, I usually have to listen through all manner of scratch and hiss. Often, I can hear nothing at all. If it is raining (and it has been non-stop for several weeks), almost nothing comes in. And let me restate -- I'm not 'DXing' radio stations from hundreds of miles away. I'm trying to listen to my market's own radio stations!
At last year's Jacobs Media Summit in Austin, I was privileged to be asked to run for "President of Radio" and to give a speech with policy suggestions for the radio industry. In my speech I proposed a plan for 'sunset-ing' the AM Band. Let's pick a time period, perhaps five years, for a date certain when AM Radio will cease. At that time the bandwidth can be sold and a fund created to compensate license-holders. During those five years, any AM brands worth their salt would likely make the transfer to the FM band, replacing duplicative FM music stations, and allowing people to actually listen to that great programming.
I honestly thought I might get some traction with this idea, or if nothing else some attention. But for a variety of reasons, few of the many good suggestions made that day got onto the industry's agenda. So I thought I would give it another go.
AM radio's secondary purpose of providing communication to rural America has long since obsolesced. There is too much radio advertising inventory chasing too few advertising dollars. All manner of fabulous programming -- programming that compels listeners and advertisers -- is going unheard on the AM band.
So what do you say readers: Is it time to start the sun setting on AM Radio? Your comments are welcome.