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Letters on Leonard Kahn, AM Digital Radio

Send letters to [email protected].

Leonard Kahn, Remembered
I met Leonard when I was an assistant attorney general at the New York State Department of Law in lower Manhattan. In June of 1990, the Hon. Robert Abrams, New York’s attorney general, directed me to consult with Leonard as he explored several antitrust claims against firms with whom he had prior business dealings.

Shortly afterwards, my United States Marine Corps Reserve unit was activated and I spent the next year overseas on the front lines. Although I am now retired, I served as a communications and electronics officer in the Marines for more than 20 years.

During that combat tour, I encountered service-affecting problems caused by RF ducting, a problem common in hot climates. I called Leonard and asked for his help, and he not only explained to me the physics of RF ducting, he also gave me sage advice on how to work around it.

The results were improved communications range and reliability that ultimately assisted Marines in directing supporting arms and medical evacuations, leading to success in combat. Leonard’s recommendations also helped medical regulating communications that improved medical services to the wounded and saved many U.S. and Iraqi lives.

The Leonard Kahn I knew and will always remember loved his country and the people in it. He is a hero and an American patriot. May he rest in peace with his beloved wife, Ruth.
David Ward
Senior Legal Advisor

Ahead of His Time

I am certainly sorry to hear about the passing of Leonard Kahn. He was a man ahead of his time. While the AM world was all topsy-turvy over the AM Stereo debate, Leonard was not bashful about promoting his system, arguing the merits of his system over other contenders.

I am sure the others all had some merit, but all one had to do was to compare all the competition side by side to understand that the Kahn AM stereo was, hands down, the best-sounding system.

I installed two systems at KNBR in San Francisco, one on the main and one on the alternate transmitter. Leonard was very helpful and made a couple trips to San Francisco to assist in the setup. All three AM stereo receiver owners in the Bay Area were very complimentary about the big improvement to KNBR’s signal.

I mention this with a bit of sarcasm as the lack of enthusiasm by the receiver manufacturers was what killed AM stereo. I should probably also give some credit to the FCC for helping to kill it.

Leonard was a visionary engineer whose shoes will not be easily filled. He will indeed be missed.
Bill Newbrough
RF Specialties of Washington Inc.
Las Vegas

AM Digital Dilemma
The $5 analog AM radio that will run for days on a 9 Volt battery has been the last ditch save-all for disaster survivors (aka Hurricane Katrina and WWL). Digital radios thus far have been too expensive and power-hungry and without user-replaceable batteries.

As tempting as an all-digital AM sounds, it is a bad idea removing the last inexpensive lifeline to live radio by taking it digital and rendering hundreds of millions of analog AM radios useless. I’m of the opposite view: I believe we should be moving AMs that want to move to FM to Channels 5 and 6 and the remaining AM stations all become wide-bandwidth AM superpower stations of 750 kW+ and run analog AM stereo without any digital components other than using the stereo pilot tone for low-speed data for ID and EAS text only.
John Frank
Toledo, Ohio