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Letter: AM Migration Is Still a Good Idea

Lower FM band still offers the simplest solution to revitalize AM stations

The author has been a chief engineer in the Chicago market for 26 years.

Responding to the story “Urban One Disappointed by FCC Action on AM Multicasts”:

Someone please put Ajit on the shoot and ask him why the commission won’t support expanding the FM band in the lower end!

It’s the simplest way to revitalize the AM stations in a way that is most easily supported by radio and transmitter manufacturers, and applying the same or similar rules governing the existing FM band.

This band could be designated all-digital and allow the AMs time to build their facilities ahead of and during the manufacturing of radios, while working toward a migration of the existing FM stations to an all-digital mode as well, with the possibility of fixing some allocation variances, like grandfathered overlaps that become meaningless in some cases once the stations are all digital.

I’ve been saying this for two plus decades now. Has we started one decades ago, we’d be settled in pretty good by now!

I’ve also spoken about the future use of the existing AM band being given (allocated) to local municipalities for their public notifications, information and other messaging.

Nothing serves the public better than the city council and other divisions, having a direct connection to their citizens. We used to have this on our cable TV providers, but those have pretty much all dried up. But, being able to access this from anywhere (car, home, portable) is a better solution than the cable ever provided.

Traveler’s Information Stations are well programmed in some cities, but not many exist. A 250 watt TIS could serve two or three suburbs, or an entire community of small towns, especially when they aren’t all piled on top of each other’s frequency.

In light of recent and past events, maybe a local municipality’s TIS could be a platform for protests, rather than unsafe disruptions of traffic in the streets! That doesn’t work now because you can barely hear them, basically making them a waste of energy as just noise generators. At a minimum, they would sure be public service if they provided the city official’s updated information regarding those and other events.

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[Related: “FCC Officially Proposes to Allow All-Digital on the AM Band”]