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February 14, 2021 11:33 am  #1


Alan Cross on why he treasures the magic of AM radio

A brief look back at the magic of AM radio, which, like a distant signal, is fading away with every passing year. (Not sure when this was written, although it's newly posted to the web. My only quibble with it is that he still lists CFRW in Winnipeg as a TSN all-sports station, when it's sadly just been reformatted as all-comedy.)

Alan Cross on why he treasures the magic of AM radio

 

February 14, 2021 12:29 pm  #2


Re: Alan Cross on why he treasures the magic of AM radio

As someone who once yanked in ZNS Nassau in the Bahamas from Chatham-Kent, I enjoyed the article. Of course, WLW is licensed to Cincinnati, not Cleveland. 

 

February 14, 2021 1:26 pm  #3


Re: Alan Cross on why he treasures the magic of AM radio

One wonders what the future holds for AM radio. Today's generation barely knows it exists, and the folks who grew up with it and may still listen to it aren't getting any younger. I wonder if all-digital AM may be the answer? Does anyone know what's up with that?


"Life without echo is really no life at all." - Dan Ingram
 

February 14, 2021 3:08 pm  #4


Re: Alan Cross on why he treasures the magic of AM radio

Dale Patterson wrote:

I wonder if all-digital AM may be the answer? Does anyone know what's up with that?

It would be impossible to transition to since it requires, by definition, shutting off the existing analog signals. You're basically starting a new band from scratch, and there's no demand for that.


 
 

February 14, 2021 3:11 pm  #5


Re: Alan Cross on why he treasures the magic of AM radio

From Radioworld.com

Digital Outlook for AM

     Thread Starter
 

February 15, 2021 9:19 pm  #6


Re: Alan Cross on why he treasures the magic of AM radio

AM can sound good but the equipment is not widely available and static filled environment is also a problem.

A new test for a reasonable AM signal. This time I tried the internet stream for AM 540 The Goat and put that through my AM stereo transmitter and it sounds good still short of FM. My basement is static city for AM but having the transmitter 2 feet from the receiver seems to mostly alleviate the static problem. This station BTW actually transmits in AM stereo.  My antenna was misaligned for the first few minutes resulting in a recption problem.

I have also included a second sample on a mono receiver that has been with the family since at least 1975 and the AM signal strength on that was at 5, a reading that receiver has not seen since the days of cable FM. The pic below is of the receiver on AM mono.

AM can sound go but the technology has by-passed us and I guess you have to be close to the transmitter to reap the benefits but a pro outfit would of course sound good a few miles out.


The Goat Album Rock in Stereo

MONO


https://lettheuniverseanswer.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Marantz.jpg


 

Last edited by Fitz (February 15, 2021 9:38 pm)


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February 15, 2021 10:09 pm  #7


Re: Alan Cross on why he treasures the magic of AM radio

RadioActive wrote:

From Radioworld.com

Digital Outlook for AM

He pointed out that about 30% of cars in his area have HD Radio receivers, then echoed a comment we’ve heard from Dave Kolesar of Hubbard’s WWFD: “Our thinking is, would we rather be in a third of the cars sounding phenomenal, or in all of the cars sounding sketchy and marginal? We chose to be in the cars sounding great,” Ardman said.

Just ridiculous. It's great that Hubbard is letting Dave Kolesar have his play-thing, but this is going nowhere. It doesn't matter how good it sounds. There's nothing HD-only AM can do that FM HD isn't already doing. 


 
 

February 15, 2021 10:20 pm  #8


Re: Alan Cross on why he treasures the magic of AM radio

Speaking of HD on FM, this is about public radio stations in the U.S. but I found this rather interesting.

"Crane estimates that the combined weekly cume for the stations that were turned off was fewer than 500. The decision caused minimal outcry, aside from a volunteer at one station whom Crane described as an “audiophile” and who said he was disappointed because he “loved how it sounded.” Otherwise, the response was “pretty muted, and that probably was telling,” Crane said."

As some stations end HD Radio signals, others hold out hope for audience adoption

     Thread Starter
 

February 15, 2021 10:24 pm  #9


Re: Alan Cross on why he treasures the magic of AM radio

RadioAaron wrote:

RadioActive wrote:

From Radioworld.com

Digital Outlook for AM

He pointed out that about 30% of cars in his area have HD Radio receivers, then echoed a comment we’ve heard from Dave Kolesar of Hubbard’s WWFD: “Our thinking is, would we rather be in a third of the cars sounding phenomenal, or in all of the cars sounding sketchy and marginal? We chose to be in the cars sounding great,” Ardman said.

Just ridiculous. It's great that Hubbard is letting Dave Kolesar have his play-thing, but this is going nowhere. It doesn't matter how good it sounds. There's nothing HD-only AM can do that FM HD isn't already doing. 

'

The problem is the FM band is crowded in most urban centres so there is potential for a revitalized AM if it's sound quality can match FM (assuming, of course, that audiences for FM don't drop off as well). Since AM is much less crowded there should be enough room for AM stations to simulcast an analog and HD signal on different frequencies until enough cars are equipped with HD-AM to make it commercially viable - if the FCC or Congress requires car manufacturers to equip new cars with HD AM.
 

 

February 15, 2021 10:34 pm  #10


Re: Alan Cross on why he treasures the magic of AM radio

An even bet right now that HD both AM and FM goes the way of AM stereo.  Streaming radio seems to be already eclipsing it. 


Cool Airchecks and More:
http://www.lettheuniverseanswer.com/
 

February 15, 2021 10:35 pm  #11


Re: Alan Cross on why he treasures the magic of AM radio

Hansa wrote:

RadioAaron wrote:

RadioActive wrote:

From Radioworld.com

Digital Outlook for AM

He pointed out that about 30% of cars in his area have HD Radio receivers, then echoed a comment we’ve heard from Dave Kolesar of Hubbard’s WWFD: “Our thinking is, would we rather be in a third of the cars sounding phenomenal, or in all of the cars sounding sketchy and marginal? We chose to be in the cars sounding great,” Ardman said.

Just ridiculous. It's great that Hubbard is letting Dave Kolesar have his play-thing, but this is going nowhere. It doesn't matter how good it sounds. There's nothing HD-only AM can do that FM HD isn't already doing. 

'

The problem is the FM band is crowded in most urban centres so there is potential for a revitalized AM if it's sound quality can match FM (assuming, of course, that audiences for FM don't drop off as well). Since AM is much less crowded there should be enough room for AM stations to simulcast an analog and HD signal on different frequencies until enough cars are equipped with HD-AM to make it commercially viable - if the FCC or Congress requires car manufacturers to equip new cars with HD AM.
 

To what end? Making existing AM stations sound better doesn't really change anything. Making it sound good enough to put a music format on it? Not going to happen. If your FM dial is already full, there isn't audience room for that.

It's all too late. It's over. The future of AM is the tower sites being worth more than the business. The current AM brands that have a future longer than that will find their audiences elsewhere.


 


 
 

February 15, 2021 10:45 pm  #12


Re: Alan Cross on why he treasures the magic of AM radio

RadioActive wrote:

Speaking of HD on FM, this is about public radio stations in the U.S. but I found this rather interesting.

"Crane estimates that the combined weekly cume for the stations that were turned off was fewer than 500. The decision caused minimal outcry, aside from a volunteer at one station whom Crane described as an “audiophile” and who said he was disappointed because he “loved how it sounded.” Otherwise, the response was “pretty muted, and that probably was telling,” Crane said."

As some stations end HD Radio signals, others hold out hope for audience adoption

Yep. Even the most obvious use of the technology isn't getting traction.


 


 
 

February 16, 2021 12:05 am  #13


Re: Alan Cross on why he treasures the magic of AM radio

RadioAaron wrote:

It's all too late. It's over. The future of AM is the tower sites being worth more than the business. The current AM brands that have a future longer than that will find their audiences elsewhere.
 

agreed

The future is in streamed, subscription services, not expensive transmission facilities.
 

 

February 16, 2021 12:47 am  #14


Re: Alan Cross on why he treasures the magic of AM radio

In Phase wrote:

The future is in streamed, subscription services, not expensive transmission facilities.
 

Not everyone wants to pay a subscription for radio but those that do would simply get Sirius XM.
 

 

February 16, 2021 9:37 am  #15


Re: Alan Cross on why he treasures the magic of AM radio

PwrSurge wrote:

In Phase wrote:

The future is in streamed, subscription services, not expensive transmission facilities.
 

Not everyone wants to pay a subscription for radio but those that do would simply get Sirius XM.
 

yes you are correct

I don't want to (and don't) pay a subscription for radio.  I enjoy local "free" radio which provides great content supported by local commercials.

Unfortunately, the business model for just about everything is moving to a subscription and advertising based business.  The automotive industry will easily install systems (such as cellular/WiFi/bluetooth access points) where they can get a piece of the monthly action verses traditional broadcast receivers that provide no ongoing revenue stream (remember DAB verses Sirius XM).

"Broadcast" radio and TV, with their expensive infrastructure, is no longer sustainable in today's connected and data driven world.  Businesses (such as Bell and Rogers) are driven by profit margin.  Broadcast used to be a "licence to print money" but this is no longer true.  There are much better margins in other sectors than traditional broadcast.  True, you can still make money in broadcast, just not at the level big business requires with their quarterly dividend payments and 10% year-over-year growth demanded by absentee shareholders.
 

 

February 16, 2021 2:57 pm  #16


Re: Alan Cross on why he treasures the magic of AM radio

Did anyone else read that article in his distinctive voice?


- Not an industry person.  Just a guy with a love of Toronto radio. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/cute.gif
 

February 16, 2021 10:00 pm  #17


Re: Alan Cross on why he treasures the magic of AM radio

Fitz wrote:

AM can sound good but the equipment is not widely available and static filled environment is also a problem.

A new test for a reasonable AM signal. This time I tried the internet stream for AM 540 The Goat and put that through my AM stereo transmitter and it sounds good still short of FM. My basement is static city for AM but having the transmitter 2 feet from the receiver seems to mostly alleviate the static problem. This station BTW actually transmits in AM stereo.  My antenna was misaligned for the first few minutes resulting in a recption problem.

I have also included a second sample on a mono receiver that has been with the family since at least 1975 and the AM signal strength on that was at 5, a reading that receiver has not seen since the days of cable FM. The pic below is of the receiver on AM mono.

AM can sound go but the technology has by-passed us and I guess you have to be close to the transmitter to reap the benefits but a pro outfit would of course sound good a few miles out.


The Goat Album Rock in Stereo

MONO


https://lettheuniverseanswer.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Marantz.jpg


 

Fitz: That sure is a nice receiver. I once owned a Marantz AM / FM tuner and was pleasantly surprised by how nice a strong static free AM signal could sound. 

 

February 17, 2021 11:37 am  #18


Re: Alan Cross on why he treasures the magic of AM radio

darcyh wrote:

Fitz wrote:

AM can sound good but the equipment is not widely available and static filled environment is also a problem.

A new test for a reasonable AM signal. This time I tried the internet stream for AM 540 The Goat and put that through my AM stereo transmitter and it sounds good still short of FM. My basement is static city for AM but having the transmitter 2 feet from the receiver seems to mostly alleviate the static problem. This station BTW actually transmits in AM stereo.  My antenna was misaligned for the first few minutes resulting in a recption problem.

I have also included a second sample on a mono receiver that has been with the family since at least 1975 and the AM signal strength on that was at 5, a reading that receiver has not seen since the days of cable FM. The pic below is of the receiver on AM mono.

AM can sound go but the technology has by-passed us and I guess you have to be close to the transmitter to reap the benefits but a pro outfit would of course sound good a few miles out.


The Goat Album Rock in Stereo

MONO


https://lettheuniverseanswer.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Marantz.jpg


 

Fitz: That sure is a nice receiver. I once owned a Marantz AM / FM tuner and was pleasantly surprised by how nice a strong static free AM signal could sound. 

Thanks and that is one of my favorite pieces of equipment that I own and was probably the receiver I recorded some of the vintage CHUM FM, CFNY and Buffalo air checks that I have.

I always preferred FM to AM but I think there are a lot more static inducing factors now on AM. I was listening to a History of British Rock that I recorded off WGR 55 I believe on that receiver and even though it is on slow speed reel to reel, it sounds quite good. The amazing thing about that air check is that they played things like the first Jethro Tull single credited to Jethro Toe and stuff like Cream and Hendrix and more. Sounds even more incongruous than hearing the Grateful Dead on Zoomer.

Anyway here is a full pic of the receiver :

https://lettheuniverseanswer.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Marantz-Two.jpg

 


Cool Airchecks and More:
http://www.lettheuniverseanswer.com/
 

February 17, 2021 8:14 pm  #19


Re: Alan Cross on why he treasures the magic of AM radio

Here's a sample of that Brit Invasion special played on WGR 55 around 1983/4. The station ID is not on the clip but it is on another part of the Tape. There's a few seconds of JR on CFNY at the beginning. Jethro Toe played on WGR. 

Recorded on slow speed reel to reel and thus if I had recorded it at fast speed it would be three times better but I would have used a lot more tape and been without the many hours of recordings I have amassed. I believe this was recorded off the Marantz receiver. 

Brit Invasion Special Snip WGR


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February 23, 2021 8:07 pm  #20


Re: Alan Cross on why he treasures the magic of AM radio

Fitz wrote:

darcyh wrote:

Fitz wrote:

AM can sound good but the equipment is not widely available and static filled environment is also a problem.

A new test for a reasonable AM signal. This time I tried the internet stream for AM 540 The Goat and put that through my AM stereo transmitter and it sounds good still short of FM. My basement is static city for AM but having the transmitter 2 feet from the receiver seems to mostly alleviate the static problem. This station BTW actually transmits in AM stereo.  My antenna was misaligned for the first few minutes resulting in a recption problem.

I have also included a second sample on a mono receiver that has been with the family since at least 1975 and the AM signal strength on that was at 5, a reading that receiver has not seen since the days of cable FM. The pic below is of the receiver on AM mono.

AM can sound go but the technology has by-passed us and I guess you have to be close to the transmitter to reap the benefits but a pro outfit would of course sound good a few miles out.


The Goat Album Rock in Stereo

MONO


https://lettheuniverseanswer.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Marantz.jpg


 

Fitz: That sure is a nice receiver. I once owned a Marantz AM / FM tuner and was pleasantly surprised by how nice a strong static free AM signal could sound. 

Thanks and that is one of my favorite pieces of equipment that I own and was probably the receiver I recorded some of the vintage CHUM FM, CFNY and Buffalo air checks that I have.

I always preferred FM to AM but I think there are a lot more static inducing factors now on AM. I was listening to a History of British Rock that I recorded off WGR 55 I believe on that receiver and even though it is on slow speed reel to reel, it sounds quite good. The amazing thing about that air check is that they played things like the first Jethro Tull single credited to Jethro Toe and stuff like Cream and Hendrix and more. Sounds even more incongruous than hearing the Grateful Dead on Zoomer.

Anyway here is a full pic of the receiver :

https://lettheuniverseanswer.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Marantz-Two.jpg

 

You might like this article out of California. 

Why old radio and TV consoles are the hot new thing

     Thread Starter
 

February 25, 2021 10:02 am  #21


Re: Alan Cross on why he treasures the magic of AM radio

The above linked article mentions Shango066's You Tube channel and I find his restoration videos fascinating. In fact I posted his rant about HD only AM in Los Angeles on Sowny a few months ago. 


Cool Airchecks and More:
http://www.lettheuniverseanswer.com/