This article points out that one of the most important aspects of revitalizing the AM band is better AM receivers, something most of us have known for years. Since all the modern technology which clutters the AM band with noise isn't going away, I think the best solution to RFI on AM is to offer more receivers with selectable bandwidths available at the touch of a switch or button. I have several Sangean radios with selectable bandwidths, which really helps reduce adjacent channel "hash" and RFI noise on AM:
The first thing we need to address is that what the FCC has done is not actually "AM revitalization". It doesn't address the problems with the AM band itself. It just turns AM station owners into sortof FM station owners.
Honestly the writing on that article was so bad I didn't even read most of it. The writer is still missing most of the point. There are a few things that could be done to truly make significant improvements in fixing AM itself. The very first thing that needs to happen is to weed the garden. There are so many stations crammed into the AM dial that it creates a mash of noise. 1230 here (before the real tower went bye-bye) was inaudible 15 miles from the transmitter at night. This is nuts. Electrical noise isn't the problem. Other stations are. This reality won't make WGTO's owner happy. He's got a 1000 watt pea shooter in the middle of nowhere. At night he might as well turn off the transmitter and go home. It's those stations that are polluting the dial and they need to go away. This isn't going to happen, but it needs to if AM has any real chance outside of the big 50kw flamethrowers.
The other thing that needs to happen after the polluters get thrown off is to allow whoever is left to increase their frequency response to 15kHz like it used to be. AM can have the same fidelity as FM (which is also 15kHz) but doesn't and arguable can't until the dial gets cleaned up. Then we can really start talking about the quality of receivers.
That isn't even needed to get that ball rolling. The quality of sound issue ironically doesn't even need FCC involvement. This would be a good place for groups like the NAB to stop making pests of themselves and do something good. They can start an "HQ AM" campaign much like what they tried to do with IBOC. Market that AM stations can sound as good as FM (assuming the 10kHz mask is lifted of course) but you need a radio that produces high quality sound, so look for the HQ AM(tm) logo on the next radio you buy to enjoy just how good AM can sound. Done.
This stuff isn't hard to figure out, it's just painful and requires some effort. Nobody is willing to do that. They better or there's going to be a lot more pain later on.
Last Edit: Oct 22, 2017 3:15:48 GMT -7 by CAwasinNJ
I agree that "AM revitalization" is a misnomer for what Chairman Pai is trying to accomplish, but that's what the FCC has decided to call it. What do you expect from a government agency--clarity?
Part of the plan for AM revitalization (unless it's been scrapped) is to allow some non class A stations to increase nighttime power and reduce signal protection for the 50 kw clear channel stations. I think this is a step in the wrong direction, as it will mostly just increase nighttime and critical hours co-channel interference on the band. The FCC's reasoning behind allowing some non class A stations to increase power after sunset is that they will be better able to serve their community of license, which is already being accomplished to some degree with FM translators.
I personally think that 15 kHz is too wide a bandwidth for AM, especially for stations like KSL-AM which already have sidebands that extend for 20 kHz on either side of 1160. Anything is better than a 5 kHz bandwidth, which is probably what most AM stations are limited to these days. AM can definitely sound better than it does now even without the addition of an FM translator. I've never forgotten how good the Minneapolis stations broadcasting in AM stereo sounded when I drove a rental Chrysler K car for a few days in 1985 while my car was being repainted. It was a truly amazing sound for someone that had grown up listening to AM on a cheap single speaker transistor radio. Too bad the FCC let AM stereo die a silent death by not deciding on a single transmission standard--but that's a topic for another thread.
Thank you for reminding me. The 20kHz sideburns of IBOC definitely need to be scrapped. That's not doing anyone any good and it's making things far worse. If Pai wants to revitalize the band, get rid of the trash almost nobody cares about.
I'm not sure exactly when it was, but I don't think it was more than 2 or 3 decades ago at most that the AM bandwidth WAS 15kHz, so that may very well have been what you heard in Minneapolis.