The Broadcasters' Desktop Resource

FM Tuners and AM Radio

The article on FM tuners that will work in high RF environments is timely for me as I had a similar problem but with a 100 kW at 500 feet and a 25 kW at 200 feet, 1/2 wave spaced about 500 feet behind the studio, hearing our Class A 30 miles away was impossible even with the Dayton.

I got a test drive with one of those little Inovonics Ino 632. Works absolutely perfect and at about $800, it gives HD, RBDS and anything else you could want.

Meanwhile, here we go, letting the silly auto makers dictate broadcast facilities again.

Wrong People in Charge

GM did a great job with OZ4 (remember them)12 Volt plate tubes that had the sensitivity of a crystal set, horizontally polarized antennas in the windshield.

Later, AM stereo radios that picked up half of the stations (none of the 50 kW Clears that were using the Kahn system on the East Coast) and now, no broadcast antennas at all, just a rubber duckie stuck in the middle of the satellite radio antenna. (Yes, the car dealers get a percentage of every satellite radio contract they sell.)

I personally love AM radio. Why? Because FM for the most part is a barren wasteland of programming and over processed MP3 annoying audio. Yes it is a step above satellite radio quality but more and more that step is getting smaller and smaller.

AM on the other hand rolls off in most radios at 3-5 kHz. I expect that, I know what it will sound like, I am ok with that because that rolloff masks all of the rotten artifacts of poor digital audio.

AM is not dying from technical deficiencies. AM radio is still a place where I can find real formats, not the usual corporate crap on FM. By far, AM is now the “experimental” band where I can always find something that I like.

AM is what FM was in the 60’s its variety. Sure, there is a lot of talk, too much in my book, I listen to AM a lot between 1 and 6 am and if I liked sports, which I do not I would be in my glory.

Real Radio

But deep down in all of that nonsense is real radio, easy listening, classical, alternative rock, oldies, everything you could want.

I am an audiophile, having engineered several classical music stations – and those are critical listeners – but I do not care if it is FM, HD, quad or something from the Moon: if I do not like the format, I will not listen.

I am not saying that all FM stations stink. There are still some good ones around, mostly the ones not gobbled up by big money.

If people tolerate 8-track tapes, cassettes, satellite and MP3 audio and think it is good, they have no clue. AM failures were caused by its success: 40 minutes of commercial time an hour when FM had no commercials at all led people gravitated to FM to get away from the commercials.

Now the coin has flipped. I like AM for the coverage, no multipath, no picket fencing and I can tune in one station out here in the Midwest where the conductivity is 30 for 200 miles.

Besides what old timer cannot say that listening to a baseball game on AM in a thunderstorm does not remind them of a summer day on the front porch as a kid with Dad’s radio tuned to the Yankees game.

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Ron Schacht