Some comments on the AM radio revitalization initiative have come from unexpected quarters.
“I have been a USCG licensed boat captain since 1976,” said Capt. Dan Walsh of Carlsbad, Calif., “and have ferried large charter boats to and from the mainland USA to the Hawaiian Islands.”
“Back then, the type of GPS and other advanced navigational opportunities didn’t exist as they do now,” he said, sharing his thoughts with the Federal Communication Commission on proposed changes to AM radio clear channel-designated station rules. “One of the best ways to get our location while out in the open Pacific was AM radio direction finders. I would find stations in San Francisco (KGO), Honolulu (KGU), Los Angeles (KFI, KNX), and at times Phoenix (KOY) for an additional fix lineup,” he said.
According to Walsh, these signals were accessible hundreds of miles from the West Coast of the United States. While today’s satellite technology makes navigation easier and more accurate, if that system goes down for any reason, Walsh said, “myself and fellow mariners could use the AM radio signals for a location fix.”
As such, Walsh said he is against “any change to the status of the many legendary clear channel designated stations across the USA.”
The health of the AM radio band is also of interest to the athletics department at Xavier University in Cincinnati. “We connect with our fans across numerous platforms. However, broadcast radio, particularly our flagship stations 700 WLW and 1530 WCKY in Cincinnati, remains vital to ensuring Ohioans and our fans in surrounding states have access to Xavier Radio Network coverage,” said Greg Christopher, athletic director for the university.
Christopher urged the commission to reject any proposal that could result in fans losing coverage. “It is our hope that the FCC will not adopt any rules that might result in our fans losing radio access,” he said in his comment filing.
A similar sentiment was shared by Julie Sellers of Winchester, Ill., a long-time listener to AM radio station WLDS in Jacksonville, Ill. “[The station] deserves a more consistent sign on and sign off time, as they provide numerous services to the people in their listening area,” she wrote. “Many elderly people only listen to their station, and when severe weather hits the area, they are without information if it happens outside of [the station’s] broadcast day.
“It is time for the FCC to modernize AM radio requirements,” she said.