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Should We Care if AM Radio Fades Out?

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MeasurementBlues
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Terrestrial radio as a whole
MeasurementBlues   11/18/2014 10:49:02 AM
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The other day, I met a local radio executive who ran Boston Phoenix Radio WFNX for 29 years. Today, he runs an online radio station, RadioBDC. He said that the large broadcasters are putting all their effort into internet radio and not into terrestrial radio. But, he acknowledges that rural communities and ethnic groups in cities reply heavily on local radio stations, perhaps AM even more than FM. He also said to look for music to return to the AM band.

Why would music return to AM of FM sound is so much better? I say it's because with people more concerned with portability than audio quality, they're used to the poor quality they get from phones and thus AM-quality doesn;t matter.

GSKrasle
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Re: It's Deja-Vu all over again...
GSKrasle   11/6/2014 12:30:07 PM
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David, Actually, in my car the cassette-deck 'ate' the adapter (wouldn't eject it, and wouldn't 'play' it unless, for some reason, it was freshly-insertedZ). Anyway I had to use an FM modulator, and I eventually found that I had to go outside the car and push the antenna all the way in for the reception to be acceptable. But then I couldn't get radio! The BEST interface would, of course be a direct 'aux in' jack, but, last I checked, those cars so-equipped do a terrible job of it: if the MP3player (or whatever) is also connected to car power, the grounds form a noisy ground-loop. Why don't they make differential inputs?

Some Guy
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Re: Radio in emergencies
Some Guy   11/6/2014 12:06:38 PM
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"don't even need a battery"

Yeah, but you do need a great ground. That doesn't happen in a car. And you can only power an earplug which is inconsistent with safe driving.

 

MeasurementBlues
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Re: HD radio could save the AM band
MeasurementBlues   10/12/2014 10:58:22 PM
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zonnked,

I had no idea about the liscening. No wonder HD radio is a failure. You say "long live AM and FM, but commerical radio is practically useless. Yes, I want streaming audio so I sometimes listen using my phone. For a long trip, I might try my phone and a bluetooth speaker or get a cassette adapter.

mhrackin
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CEO
Re: HD radio could save the AM band
mhrackin   10/10/2014 10:28:08 AM
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That's a great point! I had forgotten about that. I worked for a major OEM supplier, and was the "point guy" for new business and new technologies for NA auto manufactuers. Every RFQ for several years included the HD radio option be quoted (along with some other new technologies). "Oddly enough," not one ever included the option in the "final final" contract because it was so expensive. It did make the cut when the target vehicle models were very high-end luxury ones, but that was not our primary business.

zonnked
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Rookie
Re: HD radio could save the AM band
zonnked   10/10/2014 4:27:31 AM
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I'm a CTO at a company that builds A/V equipment (for home, schools, and bars, not cars).

I was looking into to adding a tuner to our line of products and I thought an HD tuner would be ideal. I just installed one in my car and thought it was very cool!

After a few hours of research I quickly realized the FCC has shot us in the foot with this one. It awarded the HD radio algorithm to Ibiquity, which has 70 something patents covering it. And just to make sure the patents never expire, the chipsets licensed by Ibiquity also have internal modifications added to the patented algorithms, that are trade secrets (these never expire).

Instead of using an open source, very capable algorithm like Opus, the FCC chose to go with an algorithm that requires substantial licensing costs (in time, accounting labor, along with actual costs).

A standard AM/FM tuning module can be bought for little more than the price of the parts. I can slap one of these on my motherboard and have a working unit by the end of the month.

With HD radio, you can't even get started until you enter a licensing agreement with Ibiquity. Once you add the dreaded "licensing agreement" to the development of a product, it'd better be a product with a lot of consumer demand. Otherwise it's just not worth it. Who needs yet one more contract that allows another company to go over your books, access to your banking information, etc. To date we have not had a single request for HD radio, it's all about streaming: Pandora, Spotify, Songza, etc. I currently have no motivation to add HD radio to our product. If I added anything, it would be Sirius/XM, but that's not going to happen soon: Licensing, without demand.

I think the key thing keeping HD radio from ever taking off is that the licensing costs keeps cheap radios from being made offshore and sold at places like Walmart and Target, and cheap radios are what would drive demand for HD radio.

Long live AM and FM!

Jonathan Allen
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Manager
Re: AM car radio history
Jonathan Allen   10/8/2014 5:51:17 PM
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mhcracken,  Thank you for the correction.  I did not know that Motorola's history began with police transceivers even before their car radios.  I am somewhat familiar with the Galvin brand and a few  of the military sets they made.  Most were of excellent quality.

mhrackin
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CEO
Re: AM car radio history
mhrackin   10/8/2014 5:14:40 PM
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@Jonathan Allen: re the vibrator, I think I may even have one of those in my basement workshop, It's probably in the same cigar or shoe box that has one old thermal directional signal flasher... I worked for Motorola for 13 years starting in 1967. I also worked on a LOT of old vcar radios in high school (1958-61). My only comment on that part of your post is a minor correction/addition: those first Motorola car radios were NOT for AM broadcast entertainment; they were two-way AM transceivers for police/emergency vehicles! The "car radios" came later, and the Motorola branding happened then. Until 1940-something, the company name was "Galvin Manufacturing Company." The original "two-way radio design" was adapted and evolved into the PRC (Portable Radio Communicator) series in WWII, better known as the "Walkie-Talkie."

mhrackin
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CEO
Re: A real AM radio
mhrackin   10/8/2014 5:09:25 PM
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Those were AWESOME! But they cost IIRC about $150 in 1950's dollars. I could just adnmire from afar; it was like Annette Funicello!

MeasurementBlues
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Blogger
Re: Yes, we need AM Radios in cars
MeasurementBlues   10/8/2014 9:13:31 AM
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Another reason to keep AM radio in Boston. This from Boston Herald

The Boston Bruins' new practice facility at New Balance's Boston Landing project complements the high-glass design of the athletic footwear company's adjacent headquarters, according to preliminary renderings filed with the city.

The rink's glass facade will allow travelers along the Massachusetts Turnpike, which it fronts, to see into the Brighton practice facility for peeks of its stands and ceiling banners.

The preliminary designs by Boston's Elkus Manfredi Architects show the NHL team's trademark spoked B logo figuring prominently on the building's exterior.

The rink, which will include about 650 seats, concessions and Bruins locker room and training space, is set for completion in 2016.

More accidents coming, more traffic on the 3s for WBZ.

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