The lo-fi demise of AM radio


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Today we live in a very noisy world. Most every electrical device is also a low-level RF transmitter. Clear AM reception in the average home is getting rare. And with many daytime stations authorized to sign on pre-sunrise, morning drive is a jumble of signals in the winter months in much of the country. Receiver manufacturers have realized this and most every receiver made has a bandwidth of 2.5kHz — the same as a telephone. While there are a few of us AM fans out there with wider radios, there is a grain of truth to Jeff Littlejohn's statement that he “can find no good reason to maintain 10kHz audio bandwidth.” And despite the fact that my 1938 vintage McMurdo Silver Masterpiece has a 16kHz bandwidth, I cannot disagree with him, as the net result of the bandwidth reduction will eventually result in better reception for 98 percent of the listeners.

To use another example, I am a collector of old 78rpm records. While I enjoy the sound, I would have no case to argue that their 6kHz bandwidth is better than the 20kHz reproduction capable from more modern analog and digital recording media. But with properly applied technology they can sound very life-like. In fact, better than most people ever realized. Possibly this reduction in bandwidth will make some people in and out of the business realize that AM really does sound good. Kudos that AM has earned and should enjoy in its twilight years.
John Landry
CBS Radio/ Westwood One
New York


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