Strong Reaction to WLW Blog on AM

In an opinion piece posted to Cincinnati’s WLW(AM) website Clear Channel’s Corporate PD Darryl Parks had strong statements about AM and the FCC’s revitalization proposals that were being worked on before the government shutdown.

(To view Parks’ original blog go here.)

Specifically, Parks was apparently referring to a proposal discussed at the recent Radio Show by Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn.

Prior to his current position, Parks was PD at WLW from 1999–2010, according to the site.

The piece, now gone from the website, essentially suggested all of the commission’s proposals would increase, not reduce, interference and that nonviable AMs that clutter the band should be turned off, judging by the more than 30 comments still accessible.

“The ‘static’ you hear on AM radio is interference,” one commenter quoted Parks as saying. That particular  commenter replied that AM static comes from several sources, including lightning strikes and electrical equipment, in addition to actual interference from other broadcast stations. “Still more interference comes from such sources as poorly-made receivers,” according to this commenter.

Summit Media Corp. CE Greg Hahn suggested that Parks misinterpreted the proposals. He explains that relaxing the community coverage standards has nothing to do with allowing more interference, “unless you are referring to interference in an area that is now out of the primary coverage area. But that’s always been the case. This is simply allowing the station to operate without necessarily covering their city of license at the previous minimum level,” he writes in his opinion.

SHK’s Paul Jellison writes “bravo, Darryl. There are laws of physics that cannot change even though the rule/law makers think they can rewrite them. Translators, while they may keep a station on life support, is a patch. Translators are secondary meaning they can be bumped off the air by a ‘real’ FM station.”

The AM band evolved from technology developed in the 1920s and 1930s, and is considered terribly flawed by today’s standards, according to Jellison, who also stresses that that is his personal opinion. “The station count should be cut in half or more and the AM band totally redesigned from the ground up. That is how to save AM. IMHO.”

This article has been updated.


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Comment List:

after working with this guy I find it hard to agree with him BUT: he is correct - most of the revitalization ideas will only help equipment vendors. MOST of AM's problems are self-inflicted. The interference that I've heard (when I listen-rarely) is IBOC/skywave related. Try airing something other than syndicated sports or reactionary talk.
By james walker on 10/13/2013
There's a lot to the whole AM fixes. 1=Content: put some niche music stations on there, and people will listen - IF manufacturers put decent AM sections back in radios with variable (wider) bandwidth and impulse noise DSP filters. 2= the FCC needs to enforce rules for switching power supplies and LED traffic lights that spew out AM noise. Last: allow large power increases. That's just a start.
By John on 10/4/2013
Simply, analog AM suffers from impulse noise & lo-fi when compared to FM. Even on "good" older AM radios, FM is still better. Even when AM was still king & radios were better, the listener torrents that abandoned AM stations for the quality of FM speaks for itself. AM most suffers not from overcrowding, but from impulse noise & LACK of AM stations on the local dial.
By Kyle Magrill on 10/3/2013
Parks is on to something. Canada and Mexico 'get' the reality about AM that the U.S. doesn't. In both of those neighboring countries (and there are others around the world, as well), they are shutting down AM stations and migrating them to FM. I am one of those in the industry who thinks the FCC needs to mandate the conversion of the current TV Channel 5 and 6 bandwidth to FM Radio...ASAP
By Robert on 10/2/2013
Parks is absolutely right. Furthermore, if one listens to AM on a "vintage" receiver--a tube radio or early transistor model-he or she will be astounded by the fine quality of reception and the pleasing audio capable of being produced by an AM radio station. The reason it sounds so bad today is the poor (make that "cheap") technical quality of the AM section of modern day receivers. Intentional?
By John Figliozzi on 10/2/2013

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