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Should We Care if AM Radio Fades Out?

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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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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.

mhrackin
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CEO
Re: Yes, we need AM Radios in cars
mhrackin   10/7/2014 10:36:23 AM
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@Andy_I:  There IS a high-tech alternative that really works (at least in areas like the Northeast where the traffic information exists, it's just a matter of getting it in a usable form). 

"....being the somewhat old fashioned sort that I am..."

Are you too old-fashioned to have a GPS nav system?  These days, even low mid-range units offer models with FREE "Lifetime traffic" (and in some models also lifetime map updates).   These operate in an interesting way: although they do offer dispaly of traffic problems on your active route, they also (if you set them to) will continuously change the route to avoid the snarls!  This is truly amazing as it is doing all this in real time.  BTW, the mechanism for getting this info is with the data channels on FM HD radio! 

The first time I saw this demonstrated in a real-world situation was in mid-2000s in Germany.  I was a passenger in a new high-end Mercedes with a prototype of a new nav system. The driver was the EU VP of my then employer, and we were en route to a meeting with GM EU at the main Opel facility. We were flying low  (>>200kph)on an unlimited section of an autobahn when the nav system "spoke up" with a congestion warning and directed us to get off at the next exit.  As we did so, I could just see a major multi-vehicle accident just a few hundred meters or so past the exit!  At that time, this feature was only available in high-end vehicles at an option cost of about US$3,000. 

Now I have a 2 year old Garmin with lifetime traffic and map updates that cost me about $150 that works as least as well. When I first got it, I used it for a couple of weeks all the time, even on my normal commute.  I found it strange that my commute route frequently was different from the day before. It took a while before I figured out that this was the traffic monitor doing its job.  Unfortunate part: my route options are severely limited by geography, and ATL traffic has gotten to the point where the feature is not that useful; with the radio traffic reports and GPS traffic info, when trouble strikes all routes quickly get overloaded.

Andy_I
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Rookie
Re: Yes, we need AM Radios in cars
Andy_I   10/6/2014 8:04:53 PM
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> Driving to NYC from Boston means approaching from southwestern Connecticut. In my experience, both WCBS and WINS ignore Connecticut and Westchester so they are really no help.

I guess it depends how bad it is.  On my last trip, they (one of the two) had traffic reports going up as far as Bridgeport or thereabouts.  Not Bridgeport local traffic, but of the major access roads into and out of NYC, which is exactly what I needed.

If they took away the AM radio, then I, being the somewhat old fashioned sort that I am, would have no traffic reports.

mhrackin
User Rank
CEO
Re:MORE It's Deja-Vu all over again...
mhrackin   10/6/2014 4:09:08 PM
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I should add that considering the disaster communications like tornado alerts, this MUST be localized to be useful!  You wouldn't want to blast this over the entire country (or even the 1/3 or so covered by one satellite if SXM could figure out how to use only the bird in the right place of the constellation for an alert).

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