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AM Broadcasters Must Fight for Survival or Be Forced Over the 'Buffalo Jump'

Figuratively speaking, AM radio faces a similar fate. Like the Bison, a certain number of AM stations are driven over the cliff each year but unlike the Native Americans, the FCC doesn't care enough to sustain the remaining herd.
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In the days before guns and horses, Native Americans used a "buffalo jump" to harvest Bison in mass quantities. They would stampede the animals over cliffs and spear them to death when they fell upon the rocks below.

Figuratively speaking, AM radio faces a similar fate. Like the Bison, a certain number of AM stations are driven over the cliff each year but unlike the Native Americans, the FCC doesn't care enough to sustain the remaining herd.

We must come to grips with reality. The FCC has waited too long to act on the problems facing the AM band, and the agency has made so many wrong and irreversible decisions that the AM band can't be sustained in the long term.

Those of us who face this dismal future must insist in the strongest possible way that the FCC use its regulatory authority to save the diversity of programming produced and broadcast by AM stations, for it's too late to save the AM radio band.

Most AM broadcasters know they are doomed but they won't stand up and insist on action because they don't want to get on the radar screen of the FCC. As licensee of KCAA Radio, a stand alone AM station, I can clearly see the buffalo jump ahead and I refuse to be stampeded over it.

I will not sit quietly and meekly and accept the slow and certain demise of AM radio while the FCC does nothing with dozens of FM frequencies below 87.5 FM that should provide AM stations with a new home.

Can I get a witness here? To quote Benjamin Franklin, " We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately".

It's time for the Congress and the FCC to pause it's love affair with inefficient point to point communication and realize that the most efficient form of mass communication and spectrum utilization continues to be point to multipoint terrestrial radio, and unless the AM band is migrated to FM very soon, the opportunity to expand the band will be gone forever.

In my opinion, this will require Congressional action.

The FCC's decisions regarding the AM radio band have been nothing short of detestable for 30 years. The FCC has made every possible wrong decision for AM radio after waiting far too long to make any decision at all. They have allowed every conceivable type of noisy computer, TV, smart phone and related piece of wireless crap to be placed on the market to interfere with the "Senior" broadcast Service.

America's stressed and outdated electrical grid is leaking so badly that it makes AM reception virtually impossible in many urban areas. At the same time, The FCC has ignored their responsibility to set standards for AM receivers and as a result, many receivers are so deaf that they are virtually useless.

If I wanted to create a plan to destroy the AM broadcasting service, I would do exactly as the FCC has done since Mark Fowler become Chairman of The FCC under President Ronald Reagan.

Eight years ago, I wrote an article in radio World which provided a historical review of the bad decisions made by the FCC that I feared could kill the AM band. Sadly my article was prophetic but even more tragic, it was incomplete.

Here is the list.

1. The FCC adopted the wrong AM stereo standard

2. The FCC broke up the big AM clears which created more day-time only AM stations.

3. The FCC reduced AM frequency response

4. The FCC disregarded the need to maintain AM receiver standards

5. The FCC allowed 125 percent positive peak modulation although... (This rule does not apply to large group-owned stations with enough money for lobbyist and attorneys that modulate at 140 percent positive peaks or higher over major cities).

6. The FCC made changes to first and second adjacency AM rules that further crowded the AM band.

7. The FCC added an expanded band AM on the wrong end of the dial

8. The FCC adopted the wrong AM digital standard which was certain to fail.

9. The FCC allowed deaf AM receivers in imported cars

10. The FCC made such a mess of the EAS launch that it would make the start up of Obamacare look efficient and organized.

Today, this list can be stamped with our government's seal of approval because nothing has been done, or can be done in time to save the band.

This truth about the future of analog AM is a hard pill to swallow. Changes in technology and the incompetence of federal regulators has insured the certain demise of the band.

There is only one logical way to "cure" the problems of AM radio and that's to migrate all AM stations to FM frequencies below 87.5 FM.

I AM STUPIFIED that it has not happened.

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