Over the years AM Radio has always been on of the most controversial topics we have written about. It always leads to a lot of discussion, comments, feedback and angst. Broadcasters are either extremely passionate about keeping AM Radio alive, or, they say it should be killed off because of how impossible it is to listen to due to the noise. Bryan Broadcasting’s Ben Downs says he has the solution.
Downs says the time has come to make a change to save the AM dial. Downs says the time has come for The FCC to allow AL licensees the option to license their stations as all-digital, using the HD MA3 mode. Bryan Broadcasting owns four AM stations, five FM stations, and six FM translators in Central Texas. He says consumers are never going back to the AM dial with the way it sounds today.
Bryan Broadcasting has filed a Petition for Rulemaking urging the FCC to initiate a proceeding to authorize the MA3 all-digital mode of HD radio for any electing AM station. “Permitting such modernization would—without impairing other competitors in the broadcasting ecosystem — give AM broadcasters a needed innovative tool with which to compete.”
In his FCC petition Downs states that he’s seen the decades-long decline of audience share for AM stations. “In BBC’s experience, the AM band has become so overwhelmed by interference and impulse noise that the resultant audio product is rendered unacceptable to modern listeners. Indeed, the noise floor generated by unlicensed devices impacting the AM band has been noticeable—and increasing—for years.”
He adds that no modern audience will accept the low audio quality that can be observed by anyone who tunes into the senior band; the noise floor problem represents an existential threat to AM radio. “On AM stations where music exists, it is in primarily niche formats; these stations are invaluable to their communities, but discovery by new, young listeners is difficult to promote.”
Downs believes that all-digital systems represent the future of AM radio and will provide the listener with a pristine audio product free of audience-eroding interferences.
He would like The Commission to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking allowing AM licensees the option of electing to transition to the MA3 all digital mode of HD radio.
Ben Downs can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]