Even Tom Ray (!) is backtracking on AM IBOC. - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 08-12-2010, 10:47 AM - Thread Starter
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http://www.rbr.com/radio/26662.html
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post #2 of 16 Old 08-12-2010, 03:37 PM
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Broadcasters who own both AM & FM facilities have learned that adding IBOC to AM is of no advantage when they can add their AM audio to their FM IBOC signal and achive better, more reliable results. AM radio outside of the major markets is on the decline. Large market stations, such as WOR appeal to elderly listeners and no amount of audio tweaking is going to resolve their slide into oblivion. AM broadcasters who run IBOC can turn off their exciters but in reality it isn't too many year in the future that they'll also be able to turn off their transmitters as their audience dies off. Using NYC as an example, why would listen to WFAN AM when I can hear the same contant with better quality on WXRK's HD-3 channel. I brought my Zune portable to Tampa, Florida with me and listened to a Mets game on WFAN via one of the CBS owned local HD-3 channels. That sort of thing can't happen without HD Radio and is one reason my 81 year old father (a transplanted NYer) told me that he was interested in purchasing a HD Radio.

Face it, saving AM radio is like asking the maritime services to start monitoring CW again. I love code but its time has passed as newer easier methods of emergency communications have evolved. At one time many clocks used roman numerals instead of numbers on their face. You don't see that too often either.
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post #3 of 16 Old 08-13-2010, 03:26 AM
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My arguments for this would be:
- AM radio has a lot of listeners. A lot of popular syndicated talk shows are on AM.
- AM radio is also great for news/weather/sports/traffic info. FM radio is more for the idiotic DJs and sexual innuendos in the morning, although NPR is a good source for weather/traffic.
- AM radio on FM HDRadio sub-channels is great for the home. I listen to it most days. HDRadio for my car (back when I had it) cut in and out. That means that the subchannels would also be cutting in and out.
- AM Radio (analog) works really well in cars.
- HDRadio still has that problem of you asking the guy on the street about it and getting an answer back like: "Wasn't that some kind of paid-satellite service, thing?" (notice the 'wasn't' - I don't think people think of HDRadio as any kind of current working technology).

I'd say podcasting has a better chance of doing damage to AM Radio but it's still missing the news/weather/sports/traffic.
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post #4 of 16 Old 08-13-2010, 07:47 AM
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AM is and probably forever will be the realm of talk. What has a more likely chance of driving AM to HD will be advertisers. They're a strange breed. I still remember how quickly we had to scramble for stereo cart machines once our competition started running ads in stereo. Sooner or later, some business owner's gonna buy a Mercedes and notice that his spots sound muddy on one AM station over its competition.

However, AM HD might still have a shot at going niche. Here, Radio Disney is on AM and has one of the best HD implementations I've ever heard. With AMs audience aging, perhaps it's time to find a niche. I know if I had a cluster and an AM that wasn't doing squat, I'd flip it ethnic. Not going to get a lot of ratings playing Korean fare, but if you have a large enough Korean community, you'll make some money with it.

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post #5 of 16 Old 08-13-2010, 11:27 AM
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The growing niche for AM is ethnic broadcasting (is that the politically correct term for it?). We have lots of Spanish AM stations around here and I've noticed AM stations in big cities have lots of Russian and other foreign language programming. If you want to listen to Salsa music here, you need an AM radio because there isn't any on FM stations.

It's interesting that one of our Entercom stations started simulcasting a non-commercial HD-2 broadcast on an AM station (the opposite of what's happening everywhere else). Apparently they don't think they can make money with any kind of format on AM but they don't want to shut down the station.

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post #6 of 16 Old 08-13-2010, 01:00 PM
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I had an owner early in my career - probably the smartest broadcaster to ever live - who said there's no such thing as a station you can't sell advertising on. There's only lazy salespeople.

And that's really true in a cluster. No AE's going to hawk $10 spots on an AM when he also reps several FMs that pull in $100/spot. Bigger commission checks.

I have seen junk stations priced so low, the pitch was "you can't afford NOT to buy us." Things never showed up in the ratings, didn't really deliver results, but paid the bills with buck-a-spot deals. Drove OUR AEs nuts because clients would actually play that against our rate card.

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post #7 of 16 Old 08-13-2010, 10:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDon View Post

I had an owner early in my career - probably the smartest broadcaster to ever live - who said there's no such thing as a station you can't sell advertising on. There's only lazy salespeople.

And that's really true in a cluster. No AE's going to hawk $10 spots on an AM when he also reps several FMs that pull in $100/spot. Bigger commission checks.

I have seen junk stations priced so low, the pitch was "you can't afford NOT to buy us." Things never showed up in the ratings, didn't really deliver results, but paid the bills with buck-a-spot deals. Drove OUR AEs nuts because clients would actually play that against our rate card.

The proper response to that is "you get what you pay for." Want to buy a advertising solution instead of just air time? Buy with us.

A station at the Jersey Shore sells $5 spots on one of their signals that covers LBI...trying to get a foot in the door there was like pissing in the ocean to change the tide.

Oh yeah...the topic. AM HD sounds great, when it works. Unfortunately, there are way too many stations crammed on the dial, an obscene amount of man made noise, and in many cases a lack of programming, to get AM HD to fly. With the HD radio in the center of the room & the supplied loop, I can only get WOR to lock in HD. WPHT, WIP, WFAN & WCBS blink the light, but wont lock. None of the Philly & NYC AM's that aren't the big blowtorches are lost under a sea of noise, analog OR digital.

How many people are going to get a select-a-tenna to pull in Dr. Laura in digital stereo? If there was a AM oldies station running IBOC, I'd have the pro select-a-tenna already being shipped to my door....
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post #8 of 16 Old 08-14-2010, 06:19 AM
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You might get exactly that. Ad agencies still haven't lost their love affair with the 25 - 54 demographic, which many oldies stations are starting to overshoot as their listeners age. Some are learning they gotta dump the 50s and 60s stuff and add some 80s and 90s. Which leaves an opportunity for an AM HD station to pick up the 50s and 60s music and actually target the older audience in ad sales. Harder sell given the age of the audience, but not impossible.

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post #9 of 16 Old 08-14-2010, 11:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDon View Post

I had an owner early in my career - probably the smartest broadcaster to ever live - who said there's no such thing as a station you can't sell advertising on. There's only lazy salespeople.

To have commercials on this AM station, they would have to change the non-commercial format of their HD-2 station it simulcasts to include commercials. Since Entercom barely has the man-power to program the stations they already have in town (after the layoffs), they don't think they have the resources to program this AM station.

Everyone believes it's a temporary thing. They'll find something better for their AM station eventually.

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post #10 of 16 Old 08-15-2010, 06:01 AM
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I never really thought of it:

AM can have HD subchannels, too?

I'd imagine that as the hardest sale of all. Seems like it'd be like selling advertising over walkie-talkies. "Yes, at any one time we may have 1-3 people listening!"
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post #11 of 16 Old 08-15-2010, 06:42 PM
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If I remember right, a fully digital AM HD Radio signal can have a single low quality mono subchannel about the quality of an FM HD-3 subchannel.

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post #12 of 16 Old 08-16-2010, 10:16 AM
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The three or four major AM stations here in the D.C. area that were broadcasting IBOC have all long since abandoned it. Now, there are only two fringe AM stations in this market using IBOC according to hdradio.com: A 1,000-watt gospel station, and a 370-watt talk station. But unless it's to listen to a sporting event, I never listen to AM anymore.
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post #13 of 16 Old 08-16-2010, 11:49 AM
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Looking at the Ibiquity doc, there is a hybrid mode that allows a two mono subchannels and a stereo difference channel but it severely reduces their reliability. The fully digital modes can either send an extremely reliable mono subchannel with a fairly reliable mono subchannel or three fairly reliable mono subchannels.

There are no AM modes that are equal to FM HD Radio quality even in fully digital mode.

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post #14 of 16 Old 08-24-2010, 06:55 PM
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I would say AM is largely dead...way back in the day if AM stereo had created a long term plan it would have improved but we can't go back in time 25 or so years.
here's my take on your arguments
"- AM radio has a lot of listeners. A lot of popular syndicated talk shows are on AM."

That's true but that's also what's wrong...lack of diversity. I can probably tune in a number of am stations with the same content at the same time..or worse yet the same content at a different time.

"- AM radio is also great for news/weather/sports/traffic info. FM radio is more for the idiotic DJs and sexual innuendos in the morning, although NPR is a good source for weather/traffic."

WBZ 1030am is legendary going back decades..probably 2/3rds of the country can hear it at night...but it's easier to get it as a hd 3 on 98.5fm Gradually I've seen more sports go onto fm and onto hd. It might not sound like that big of a different at first but when you hear the tackles in football or the slapshots in hockey it's good.

"- AM radio on FM HDRadio sub-channels is great for the home. I listen to it most days. HDRadio for my car (back when I had it) cut in and out. That means that the subchannels would also be cutting in and out."

Depends on the location. I know where stations will tend to drop out..it's odd like that.

"- AM Radio (analog) works really well in cars."

To a point but sometimes just the engine can cause interference.

AM is great for dx'ing. I've received stations as far south west as wwl and as far west as michigan...but dx'ing doesn't mean someone is of that market...the money really isn't there.

I like hd on fm because there's much more content. there's only a handful of am hd's near me...wbz...disney and a spanish station..

I get plenty on the fm side (I miss the comedy but the live rock is great..live shows etc)
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post #15 of 16 Old 09-06-2010, 02:16 PM
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AM is far from dead out here in the grain belt. Farmers are old folk who refuse to change, not to mention change the radio in the barn or tractor just for "better sound" which isn't there on a radio of that size.

Here in MN, AM is biiiig money too, WCCO, KSTP-AM, KFAN, etc. So, to say that AM doesn't bring in any money is silly. I'm willing to bet that WOR-AM bills out quite high...

Then again, the AM i took care of in Albany, MN (KASM-AM), a 2100 watt daytimer only, the home to the country's largest vinyl polka collection, if they're lucky sees about $20/spot, or a AM/FM combo buy for $30 ($15/station).

Fear not, AM is alive and well, people like Rush, Beck, Hannity, etc make a living on it's survival. Terrestrial radio in general is very much becoming a target for extinction though.
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post #16 of 16 Old 09-06-2010, 04:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goobenet View Post

AM is far from dead out here in the grain belt. Farmers are old folk who refuse to change, not to mention change the radio in the barn or tractor just for "better sound" which isn't there on a radio of that size.

Yes still does OK in thinly populated areas. Here, we don't have any stations that are targeting listeners who spend their days in barns or on tractors. If someone doesn't own an FM receiver, most likely they're not going to purchase a new car.

Quote:


Here in MN, AM is biiiig money too, WCCO, KSTP-AM, KFAN, etc. So, to say that AM doesn't bring in any money is silly. I'm willing to bet that WOR-AM bills out quite high...

The Spanish stations that dominate the AM band in my area are not bringing in a lot of money. Probably every area has one AM station that's at least breaking even but are still making a fraction of what FM stations are making.

Quote:


Fear not, AM is alive and well, people like Rush, Beck, Hannity, etc make a living on it's survival. Terrestrial radio in general is very much becoming a target for extinction though.

AM is fine but terrestrial radio is dying? Don't you see a contradiction in what you just said?

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