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Are the C-Band Changes the Death Knell for Radio?

Karen Johnson’s article reinforces discussions a fellow engineer and I had in the 1980-90’s. The discussions addressed all broadcast, cell phone, amateur radio, and a common band plan for public service – government communications.

Digital AM/FM/TV was in its infancy. Cell phone modulation was in a state of flux. Amateur Radio Operators and engineers were experimenting with digital. We discussed the increasing volume of users and need to optimize spectrum use.

Changes in the Band?

Was realignment of assigned bands in the future? What would be the fiscal impact to broadcasters and how would consumers react to the analog to digital changes? Weaker analog TV gave you snow, but digital signals would either be strong or not make the receivers work.

And Who is in Control?

Would mega companies rule with unlimited funding? Would lobbyists influence FCC, and Congress, or would citizens and broadcasters be sheep unto slaughter and given no real voice? Analog broadcasting was still king, though AM was having fiscal and real estate problems. There was a concern over exposure to all forms of RF radiation. Cell phones, RF, MRI’s CT scans, and X-Ray radiation all were said to cause brain and other cancers.

We questioned if all this was a ploy by mega companies to intimidate citizens and tacitly and overtly control Congress and the FCC. What did the FCC and government want to do with all forms of broadcasting? Were they planning to shift all entertainment and communications to the Internet, effectively silencing all broadcast and private radio communications?

We realized the importance of radio in our lives as the cornerstone of quickly informing the public in emergencies, and it’s value as entertainment. Broadcast AM was plagued by natural and man-made interference and propagation.

We concluded all radio was on its death bead and it was only a matter of time before broadcasting and amateur radio met its death. It appeared cell phones would survive and most communications be shifted to other modes (the Internet.)

Broadcasting’s Headstone would read: RIP – You didn’t die without fighting.

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Ronald Johnson

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