AM Broadcast to the Rescue
— Almost every country in the world
operates medium-wave transmitters. In fact, many countries use several
transmitters with an output power above 500 kW.
wave offers large-area propagation, including coverage of neighboring countries,
and today there is no alternative technology available.
and cable are vulnerable due to government control in certain regions, Internet
radio needs large bandwidth and is not designed as a “one-to-many” medium,
while technologies such as DMB, DVB and DAB, can only reach relatively small
areas due to the limited coverage of the frequencies they use. These “modern” options
are also more costly and are thus mainly utilized in highly populated areas and
by countries where advanced infrastructure and large propagation networks are
Many nations have
decided to switch off (either partially or fully) AM broadcasts. In doing so,
they are giving up a field-proven opportunity to inexpensively reach listeners
with a relatively “small” infrastructure — even if these installations are physically
huge, they also offer extended coverage.
is no lack of AM receivers. The technology, established some 100 years ago, is identical
worldwide, where any available AM receiver can function. This is a big
advantage, particularly in disaster or emergency situations, since a large
population can be reached at minimum cost and effort.
situations where inhabitants flee their home countries such as the Syrian
refugee crisis, for example, it is important to reach these people before they
leave home and provide them with current information. The refugees need to be
informed about what awaits them at their destination — the political situation,
they arrive, the task at hand then becomes to help them successfully integrate
in the country of adoption. In Germany, some public broadcasters have begun producing
programs targeted at refugees in their native language, airing them locally
over the Internet.
this is certainly a step in the right direction, the dissemination of these
programs, which are created for those who have already made their way to
Europe, depends on Internet coverage and the availability of Internet radio-capable
cellphones or computers.
broadcasters used AM technology, with its easy-to-use, available and cheap receivers,
they could increase their audience and reach a large number of people in
various countries, without the need for expensive cellphones and cellphone
contracts. Another option is Digital Radio Mondiale technology. DRM would allow
broadcasters to transmit the broadcasts in additional languages and with more information.
However it would also require the appropriate receivers — a small investment
really for such a big savings.
Using analog (or digital)
AM would make it possible to touch the listeners in their home countries and
also on their way to us. This is possible without new installations since
everything is mainly in place. All that is needed is the determination and some
money to switch it on — quite efficient!
providers and network operators should maintain AM broadcasts for such
political challenges. The willingness to help the refugees integrate into their
new world is apparent in many governments and it is a question of humanity to
use such ways of communication in order to educate effectively.
Ing. Jochen Huber is president
JHBC Broadcast Consulting and honorary member of the DRM consortium.
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