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It’s Not Enough to “Save” AM, Ford Should Fix It

"Make your AM section the best in the business and show the others how it should be done," says Larry Langford

The author is owner and chief engineer of WGTO(AM) and translator W246DV in Cassopolis, Mich. His commentaries are a recurring feature at radioworld.com. Comment on this or any article. Email radioworld@futurenet.com.


The news that Ford reconsidered and reversed itself on removing AM from its vehicles is to me a great surprise and renews faith that sometimes corporations just do the right thing. But I am sure on the flip side Ford acted more out of surprise at the backlash created after the news they were pulling AM from even non-electric vehicles as a sort of proforma of things to come.

The news from Ford promises to stop plans to remove AM, but will also offer a software fix for cars that already had AM removed to get AM back in the dashboard. So a software fix can restore AM … it’s just that easy? Well, if that is the case, why not add a bit more pressure on Ford to not only restore AM but take the opportunity to be a leader and FIX AM at the same time?

[Read more stories about the future of AM radio in cars]

How much effort would it take to tweak that software to open the bandwidth up so it sounds less like a phone call and more like a professional medium? Many articles have been written on AM and its lousy frequency response and we all know it’s not the transmitters, but the receivers. To me this is a great public relations opportunity for Ford to make lemonade out of lemons. Not only restore AM but make Ford radios the best sounding AM radios in any vehicles. Make the frontend flat to say 5500 Hz which, while not true FM quality, will sound so much better than the typical 2500 roll-off now in the average car radio. Ford could really lead the way by going even farther and adding dynamic bandwidth that is signal strength driven — broader in high signal areas and more narrow as the signal weakens.

We know this can be done in software at NO additional cost for the radio.

I say to Ford. You did the right thing, you listened to the feedback and changed the course. Winston Churchill is quoted as using the phrase “Never let a crisis go to waste.”  Well Ford … take heed to that and use this to come out smelling like a rose. Make your AM section the best in the business and show the others how it should be done. Do it and I know my next car will be a new Ford!

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