Close AM Loophole - Radio World

Close AM Loophole

The FCC in Washington is sound asleep when it comes to license-free AMs.
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Radio World wrote earlier this year about efforts at KPFK(FM), Los Angeles, to build a small AM radio network using low-power license-free AM (“LPAM”) transmitters for a Spanish-language feed. (See the article at

According to the story, “LPAM broadcasts are limited to an effective service range of approximately 200 feet.” Pay no attention to that statement. A big technical loophole in the license-free rules permits these stations to often cover a range of a mile or more daytime. Consider, for example, a “Part 15 legal” low-power AM transmitter mounted onto and coupled into a tall metal light pole — the pole acts as a big antenna.

The FCC in Washington is sound asleep when it comes to license-free AMs.

What the commission needs to adopt is a simple field strength rule for licensee-free AM stations. Either an LPAM passes the test or it does not. Anyone with a calibrated hand-held field strength meter could make the pass/fail determination on short order — even FCC inspectors who have no convenient way to deal with the current complex rules.

Robert Gonsett
President, Communications General Corp.
Consulting Radio Engineers
Fallbrook, Calif.


How to Fix the AM Band

Forget HD Radio, forget moving AM broadcasters to a new FM expanded band, forget requiring satellite receivers to carry HD Radio, even forget the old AM stereo.