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‘Give ‘Em What They Want’

AM’s outlook is topic of intense interest for readers

iStockphoto/Peter Donnelly
Give ’Em What They Want

Thank you for including WHOW(AM) Clinton, Ill., and our picture in your timely story on AM broadcasting (“AM, and How!” Nov. 4). I’ve gotten lots of e-mails from my broadcast friends across the country, as well as phone calls from broadcasters I know and some I don’t.

The ones I don’t know called to ask “How did you do it?” My answer was simple: Give the people what they want.

AM is still an important source of information and entertainment for many communities large and small.

Randal J. Miller
Miller Media Group
Clinton, Ill.

Seriously Worried

I’ve been reading your articles regarding AM radio’s outlook with extreme interest. I own two AM stations, one in Phoenix and another in Denver, and am seriously worried about the long-term future of the band.

As digital receivers reach a critical number, most large broadcasters will continue moving their AM content to the FM band (let’s be honest, they don’t have enough new content to fill up all those “new” radio stations). As they do, whatever little pressure they could exert on device manufacturers will disappear.

It is clear that the future of hand-held devices does not contemplate an AM option. This will shoot down the possibility of ever attracting young listeners to the band.

It won’t happen overnight; but if this is the trend, the future of the AM band is, at best, bleak. If we consider that, in addition to digital radio, cars will have the option of Internet radio, then the last bastion for AM stations (cars) will be heavily fragmented.

You used to pay so much money to belong to the “exclusive club” of FCC license holders. When the exclusive club is no longer, how much is an AM license going to be worth? In the end, radio is a business and you need to make so much to pay the bills. If the value of AM licenses drops so much, what are we, the small radio owners, working so hard for?

Heberto Limas-Villers

Government Intervention

I am young and I like AM. I will hate to see AM radio go. I think it is time to create that new FM from Channels 5 and 6.

I recently tried to help a person start a new AM station with no success. We had plenty of listeners but when we tried to get commercials, people said “It is AM radio, we only advertise on FM.” It was a Christian station and we only had a few churches take part. We probably could have done better if the economy was not in such a mess.

The only way people will do something is if the government signs something into law, just like they did with digital television. I have never listened to AM stereo but I sometimes wonder if this would not help AM, since so many people are crazy about FM stereo.

Travis Arrington
Chancellor, Ala.

Tough Times

As a small-town operator, 2009 was the worst year we have ever encountered. We pay so much to ASCAP, BMI and SESAC, it eats up most of the profit. Since May I’m glad I get a social security check, because at this time we are just trying to meet expenses.

Locally we lost the Ford-Dodge-Jeep-Chrysler dealership, TrueValue hardware and three restaurants. Auto advertising, we’ve lost local and national. The grocery chain serving this town beat me up for twice the spots for the same price.

One local restaurant was taken to court by BMI for playing our station in the restaurant; another restaurant owner got a letter from BMI threatening him for playing soft jazz CDs. Yet it is all right to use XM for entertainment in public restaurants.

This is so screwy. Radio promotes the music yet we are penalized; while locally we are expected to do football and basketball games or we’re schmucks.

Here it’s a big deal for an advertiser to pay $150 a month for 80 spots. I can’t get 5 bucks. There is a newspaper to take what they can.

It’s a rough ride.

Harv Rees
Gunnison, Colo.