September 2013
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Pai says “No fighting!”

In the putsch to revitalize AM, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai advises that it would be best if we did not argue about solutions.  Actually what was said was this:

On the other hand, if too many broadcasters allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good, our efforts could be doomed by infighting.

That is well and good, so long as the proposed solution does not make things worse.  I would posit that worse is already the enemy of the good, so any proposal that would make things worse should be protested vigorously.

I have written quite a bit about AM, its relevance and possible revitalization.  There is no one sized fits all solution to the problems facing AM broadcasters.  In the final equation, stations should be judged on their viability as a business and service to the community.  Those that fail to measure up should turn in their licenses.

Update: And so it begins. The narrative is already being shaped, as Darryl Parks (original post has been removed) has found out.  After posting in his blog a few comments on the FCC’s revitalization efforts, he was excoriated by several high profile broadcasters calling his comments “Beyond not helpful.”  For those not versed in double speak, that means it is harmful.  While Parks may not have gotten all the technical jargon exactly right, his points are valid and are in agreement with the widely accepted laws of physics.  I know, I know, quoting science is dull and boring, something that conspiracy theorists are well practiced with.


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3 comments to Pai says “No fighting!”

  • Nick Straka

    It’s about serving the community, yes, and also being viable by providing QUALITY and UNIQUE programming. Whether that is in the case of one of my clients, an AM that has 2 translators and serves the local community with news, talk programs about local issues, music and community events or an AM in larger community that serves an ethnic niche, the key is QUALITY programming!!

    The commission can increase power, hand out translators, move them to FM, magically make an IBOC radio appear in everyone’s dash, but if the programming sucks, then nobody will listen. Music jukeboxes work better on the internet where folks can have a degree of control over the playlist. Radio excels at being local and specific to the area. When satellite radio appeared, I told everyone don’t panic, just keep being yourself and being local. Satellite radio doesn’t care about any specific area, you do. You audience and advertisers (or underwriters and members) will pick up on that and continue to support you.

    In fact, look to IBOC/HD-2, 3 etc. as the classic example of why nobody rushed out to buy radios. There is nothing worth listening to on HD-2,3,4 or 7. Just a computer locked in a broom closet spitting out music, a feed from a sister AM station that drops out every time the signal gets marginal, or something feeding a translator. If there were compelling programming worth listening to, then it would sell radios. Let some kids fresh out of college experiment on the HD-2 and see what they come up with. Have community volunteers program your HD-2. Or just leave it as a glorified iPod hooked up to a digital exciter and wait for nobody to listen.

  • Paul Thurst

    The commission can increase power, hand out translators, move them to FM, magically make an IBOC radio appear in everyone’s dash, but if the programming sucks, then nobody will listen.


    Nick, be sure to e-mail your thoughts to Pai, he will listen.

  • Alan

    Nick, Paul —

    Let me apprise you of a guest editorial I wrote for Radio World about a year and a half ago:

    Its all about HD radio, but just mentally plug in “AM” where you see “HD”. See if it works for you.

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