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Wall-to-Wall Buzz

A reader responds to Guy Wire’s musings on the AM band

I usually look forward to my copy of Radio World Engineering Extra arriving. The June 12 edition was no exception. Where else but in this publication can I as a 46+ year veteran of broadcast engineering find columns by a “veteran broadcast radio engineer” who refuses to identify himself — no doubt as a ego preservation device to keep from having most of the real veteran broadcast engineers laugh in his face?

I of course refer to the rantings of one “Guy Wire,” who in this edition stated with his air of pompous authority and implied condescension, to those of us who dare to disagree with the self-appointed AM prophet, that “most clear-thinking owners and operators … see this option (referring to an all-digital AM band mandate) as the best long term solution for saving AM.” (See “Last Stand for the AM Band”)

Well, Guy, I hope you don’t get tendonitis from patting yourself on your own back. I probably think a whole lot more “clearly” than you’ll ever be able to, especially on the subject of AM engineering.

Are you really that stupid to assume (I know it’s not thought on your part) that because a very small minority of “digital-at-all-costers” want to make the final destruction of the senior broadcast band, that all of us think that way? When the digi-disaster of IBOC was introduced, it was hailed as the “savior” of all things broadcast. Yet after years of field trials on stations of all power levels, many operators finally realized what an unmitigated disaster this foolishness is. Many have thankfully abandoned it all together.

And worse, those such as you, Guy, along with your mentor Walden, refuse to believe all of the hundreds of reports of not only far less-than-advertised performance, but also the horrendous first- and second-adjacent channel interference the buzz saw causes. The one irrefutable fact is math. Even using a 100 percent iBiquity digital modulation scheme on the MF AM band, the coverage will not even come close to what full DSB AM has, assuming equal power levels. The interference on first- and second-adjacent channels, especially at or near sunrise and sunset, will further degrade performance, to say nothing of nighttime.

If there is hope for AM, it would be two-fold: The first part was, surprisingly enough, clearly stated in the same June 12 edition by Darwin Long of Louisiana, that the real problem is the content. Digital drivel will sound just as bad as analog drivel, if not worse. It’s the message, not the medium. The second part would be to actually use one of “Guy’s” suggestions, just not in the way he wants. Take the old TV Channel 5 and 6 and make a new AM digital-only band where Guy and his ilk can have all the IBOC nonsense they desire, but mandating NO digital broadcast modulation schemes on the MF spectrum. Twelve megahertz of wall-to-wall buzz saws ought to bring a gleam to your eyes, right “Guy”?

Jerry Arnold
Terre Haute, Ind.