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March 9, 2019 6:42 pm  #1


Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

This article in Radio Ink, suggests AM radio is dead. done, put a fork in it...and morph into FM...

But, some stations are holding their own, especially in the "6" with the recent ratings, where CFRB and 680 News are hanging in still, the FAN 590 has dropped a bit and so has AM 740...

What does AM need to do in order to be relevant?

Here is the article, it is a bit sensational...but that is what gets your attention and eyeballs on it.

Enjoy!

https://radioink.com/2019/03/07/i-repeat-am-radio-is-dead/


The world would be so good if it weren't for some people...
 

March 9, 2019 6:59 pm  #2


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

I listen to AM radio every day.  Even in this modern world of Twitter, and the twits who use it, I still find radio the best way to stay on top of what's going on.

 

March 9, 2019 7:43 pm  #3


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

AM stations have seen their audiences age out of the sales demos rapidly in the last five years. 680 is the only one locally above a 2 share 25-54. Same in the US, where the newswheel format is the only one generally not suffering the same fate. Sports radio has staved this off by moving to or adding FM signals.


 
 

March 9, 2019 11:44 pm  #4


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

AM radio is virtually dead in small markets with the exception of CKAT in North Bay, CFCO in Chatham and CFOS in Owen Sound.  If you want to stretch the definition of a small market, you could include CJOY in Guelph and CKTB in St. Catharines.

There are dozens of small market stations in Ontario that have flipped from AM to FM in the past 30 years.  If audiences for AM continue to age out, the future for legacy stations on that band will be very uncertain because of the lack of available FM frequencies.

Last edited by Chuck99 (March 9, 2019 11:50 pm)

 

March 10, 2019 12:01 am  #5


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

a few years ago, some stations in northern manitoba flipped to FM... but only for the communities themselves.  management chose to keep the AM freqs as repeaters, because the signal traveled much farther and encompassed mining/logging/hunting camps.  granted, they were single-station markets and the owner had that "out-dated view" of serving all listeners....

 

 

March 10, 2019 4:25 am  #6


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

RadioAaron wrote:

AM stations have seen their audiences age out of the sales demos rapidly in the last five years.

It might be true also for 1380 CKPC, but yet they are sticking with Country music.
I wonder whatever happened to the idea of a religious group buying air time during the day to play Christian music on that station?  
 

 

March 10, 2019 6:16 am  #7


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

Charlie wrote:

  I listen to AM radio every day.  Even in this modern world of Twitter, and the twits who use it 

       

Please be specific, Chuckie
 

 

March 10, 2019 9:16 am  #8


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

"Chuck99  AM radio is virtually dead in small markets with the exception of CKAT in North Bay, CFCO in Chatham and CFOS in Owen Sound.  If you want to stretch the definition of a small market, you could include CJOY in Guelph and CKTB in St. Catharines".

CJOY, which is owned by Corus, had applied to convert to FM but was turned down by the CRTC because of the Corus FM stations CIMJ (Guelph), CJDV (Cambridge), CKBT (Kitchener) and CING (Hamilton-Burlington) all of which cover Guelph.That decision was handed down in January 2010.

As an oldies/classic hits (70's, 80's, 90's) station CJOY is pretty good and Mike Devine in morning drive is certainly upbeat and entertaining. He also breaks format and plays hits from the 60's on occasion too and chats back and forth with newsguy Alex Gagne. CJOY also broadcasts all the Guelph Storm games. However, based on ratings, the listening audience is small and most of the Guelph population listen to stations outside of Guelph.
 

 

March 10, 2019 11:28 am  #9


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

Storm wrote:

   CJOY is pretty good and Mike Devine in morning drive is certainly upbeat and entertaining. He also breaks format and plays hits from the 60's on occasion too and chats back and forth with newsguy Alex Gagne. CJOY also broadcasts all the Guelph Storm games. However, based on ratings, the listening audience is small and most of the Guelph population listen to stations outside of Guelph.
 

Is Guelph's Mike Devine related to Barrie's Brenda Devine (who pronounces "Wasaga Beach" correctly)?
 

 

March 10, 2019 2:47 pm  #10


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

Storm wrote:

CJOY, which is owned by Corus, had applied to convert to FM but was turned down by the CRTC because of the Corus FM stations CIMJ (Guelph), CJDV (Cambridge), CKBT (Kitchener) and CING (Hamilton-Burlington) all of which cover Guelph.That decision was handed down in January 2010. 

A similar decision by the CRTC sounded the death knell for CHSC AM in St. Catharines when a proposal to move to 107.5 FM was rejected in 2000.  The commission was concerned with short spacing as Q107 in Toronto used 107.1 and the CRTC wanted to maintain a .6mhz differential between FM stations in the area. 

The station struggled financially for another ten years before its license was revoked in 2010.   CHSC had to compete with CKTB 610   At least CJOY is the only AM station in Guelph.  .

Also, I am not sure CFCO in Chatham can be compared with other stand alone AM stations since it is rebroadcast on an FM translator at 92.9 on the dial.
 

 

March 10, 2019 3:32 pm  #11


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

Would current regulations allow for News-Talk 104-5? Or Global News 102.1?

 

March 10, 2019 3:34 pm  #12


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

Kilgore wrote:

Charlie wrote:

  I listen to AM radio every day.  Even in this modern world of Twitter, and the twits who use it 

       

Please be specific, Chuckie
 

Gladly.  Specific to what?
 

 

March 10, 2019 4:09 pm  #13


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

Tim Brown 2016 wrote:

Would current regulations allow for News-Talk 104-5? Or Global News 102.1?

I am guessing that both stations would have to have their licenses amended to become news/talk stations. 

But something similar could eventually happen on the GTA FM dial.  There is so much overlap on many of the music playlists that most stations are poaching listeners from one and another, rather than generating a new audience.  Outside of country music and maybe a classic alternative format, there are no new music options for the crowded FM dial in the GTA.
 

 

March 10, 2019 4:38 pm  #14


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

The idea of all talk on FM is not without precedence.

CKO, the now defunct all news network, was mostly on FM across the country, except a few spots where they were on AM. So there wouldn't be any reason to not do it, provided the CRTC allowed the change. 

There is already an FM all sports station, run by MyFM, in Peterborough.

I think we'll see one in the GTA someday. Which current station makes that change is the big question. 

 

March 10, 2019 5:34 pm  #15


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

The problem is in GTA there’s still a crowd of AM station, comparable to the amount of FM counterparts. Most AM stations are chiefly news/talk, sports, or multilingual station (a lot of Chinese, south Asian, and European languages) at the end of the dial.

How to allocate all these AM stations to FM band is a huge task for the CRTC to consider, as the FM band is already extremely crowded in Toronto. One of the solution is to expand the FM band, to 76-88MHz, however it costs a lot to encourage people buying new radios, and the youths are moving to online platforms for audio entertainment. At least in Canada AM somehow serves as a not-so-popular choice for audiences who want to listen to talk stations.

 

March 10, 2019 7:39 pm  #16


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

Tim Brown 2016 wrote:

Would current regulations allow for News-Talk 104-5? Or Global News 102.1?

Not entirely. Both stations have to stay under 50% spoken word with their current licences. They could apply for specialty licences and they would likely be approved. But that's not how the format is going to end up on FM -- the most likely scenario is the CRTC relaxing ownership caps, paving the way for a Global News Radio 103.5 or News-Talk 88.1.
 


 
 

March 10, 2019 9:27 pm  #17


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

Some people have actually been saying AM is dead for years. I mean Tom Donahue who is sometimes called the grandfather of free form rock said this about AM in 1967 but man how far lower things have sunk since 1967:

Top-40 radio, as we know it today and have known it for the last ten years, is dead, and its rotting corpse is stinking up the airways.

The Rolling Stone Article from 1967

 

Last edited by Fitz (March 10, 2019 9:27 pm)


Cool Airchecks and More:
http://www.lettheuniverseanswer.com/
 

March 11, 2019 7:17 am  #18


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

RadioAaron wrote:

Tim Brown 2016 wrote:

Would current regulations allow for News-Talk 104-5? Or Global News 102.1?

Not entirely. Both stations have to stay under 50% spoken word with their current licences. They could apply for specialty licences and they would likely be approved. But that's not how the format is going to end up on FM -- the most likely scenario is the CRTC relaxing ownership caps, paving the way for a Global News Radio 103.5 or News-Talk 88.1.
 

Relaxing ownership is EXACTLY what Bell tried to do when they bought Astral media. 
It was a no then, and most likely it will stay a no for a good long time.
Remember, we're talking about the same CRTC that had a mission to protect AM for many years with a 49% non hit rule. THAT only went away in the mid to late 90's.

Ask yourself why a place like Buffalo NY keeps news/talk on AM.
They have the freedom to shut down the AM side any time they want and just move the station to FM.
WBEN had an FM repeater with no ratings, but that was a repeater...
 

Last edited by Radiowiz (March 11, 2019 9:39 am)

 

March 11, 2019 12:01 pm  #19


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

Muffaraw Joe wrote:

What does AM need to do in order to be relevant?

One of AM's many challenges is the long term operational costs of their transmitter site. The sites also typically need lots of land and in the GTHA, that land is incredibly valuable. With declining revenues for AM stations, their CFOs probably salivate at the thought of shutting the stations down and selling the land.

If I recall, the condo development on CFTR's former transmitter site in Mississauga is worth well over half a $Billion. I'm guessing land costs paid to the Rogers would have been in the hundreds of millions?

Also, while FM suffers from interference issues in urban areas, it's arguably more tolerable than AM. To be pragmatic, if anything is worth saving about AM, it's the programming, not the technology. I believe those with HD Radios know the answer to AM's (programming) survival:

1. Stations need to invest in state-of-the-art FM/HD Radio transmission facilities (as was the case with Freedom Tower).
2. Simulcast AM programming on HD2 with the intent of eventually shutting down the AM transmitter when audience numbers on HD2 are sufficient to do so.
3. In support of item #1 and #2, develop a program (potentially with the support of government) that expedites consumer adoption of HD Radio.

On point 3, what about a government mandate? Some European countries including Norway have mandated the shutdown of analogue radio. The alternative is to watch broadcast radio continue it's gradual decline (led by AM radio).

One detail... A number of players including Bell and Rogers will benefit financially from the TV repack. Why not divert some of that money to all three points above? They'll also cash in substantially when they sell their retired AM sites.

Last edited by Tim Brown 2016 (March 11, 2019 1:13 pm)

 

March 11, 2019 12:08 pm  #20


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

I need to listen to George Noory et al on Coast to Coast AM 

 

March 11, 2019 12:18 pm  #21


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

CKNT

 

March 11, 2019 1:12 pm  #22


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

Tim Brown 2016 wrote:

Muffaraw Joe wrote:

What does AM need to do in order to be relevant?

1. Stations need to invest in state-of-the-art FM/HD Radio transmission facilities (as was the case with Freedom Tower).

There are no FM HD facilities on One World Trade Center. There's one lonely little low-power FM translator up there, but everything else is DTV.

Instead, New York's FM broadcasters chose en masse to stay put at the Empire State Building. It's much better located for their purposes (moving south would lose coverage in Westchester County and into Connecticut and create short-spacing issues with stations in Philadelphia and Baltimore) and there was no economic justification for the investment that a new facility at 1WTC would have required. 

This has nothing to do with HD. Everyone at Empire broadcasts in HD, and the signals get out just fine from there. 

(And nobody in New York calls it "Freedom Tower," but that's another story entirely.)
 

 

March 11, 2019 1:17 pm  #23


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

fybush wrote:

Tim Brown 2016 wrote:

Muffaraw Joe wrote:

What does AM need to do in order to be relevant?

1. Stations need to invest in state-of-the-art FM/HD Radio transmission facilities (as was the case with Freedom Tower).

There are no FM HD facilities on One World Trade Center. There's one lonely little low-power FM translator up there, but everything else is DTV.

Instead, New York's FM broadcasters chose en masse to stay put at the Empire State Building. It's much better located for their purposes (moving south would lose coverage in Westchester County and into Connecticut and create short-spacing issues with stations in Philadelphia and Baltimore) and there was no economic justification for the investment that a new facility at 1WTC would have required. 

This has nothing to do with HD. Everyone at Empire broadcasts in HD, and the signals get out just fine from there. 

(And nobody in New York calls it "Freedom Tower," but that's another story entirely.)
 

Thanks for the clarification Scott. Hoping my point won't be lost in the minutia. Specifically, my impression is there's a lack of will to modernize the CN Tower broadcast facilities for HD Radio, and to some extent for DTV repack optimization. If my impression is wrong, I'd be very pleased.

Last edited by Tim Brown 2016 (March 11, 2019 1:17 pm)

 

March 11, 2019 3:05 pm  #24


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

I doubt you will ever see any attempts by the CRTC to shut down the AM band.  It will do what the government tends to do nowadays....let the free market sort itself out.

The AM band is close to defunct in small market Ontario and is dying in medium-sized markets.   CKSL in London left the airwaves a few years ago and TSN 1150 and Funny 820 are on life support in Hamilton.

In the GTA, many of the ethnic stations are located on crummy frequencies with either poor or limited night time service.  So you could see Bell, Corus and Rogers sell some of their better AM frequencies to the ethnic broadcasters and move their talk programming to some of their lower rated FM frequencies.

This would allow some of the ethnic broadcasters to have better coverage in the GTA and potentially improve the bottom line of the Big Three, if the audience for AM radio continues to shrink.

In the mid 1990s when the FAN moved to 590 AM, the old frequency, 1430, eventually became the home of ethnic programming.


 

 

March 11, 2019 3:45 pm  #25


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

Chuck99 wrote:

I doubt you will ever see any attempts by the CRTC to shut down the AM band 

I don't see the CRTC playing a role in this process because we're talking about a free market dynamic here. I see AM radio dying by attrition by shutting down due to high costs and low revenue, or moving it's programming to a sister HD Radio stream on FM.

Alternatively, perhaps Bell (for example) can make a compelling case to the CRTC to change the condition of license for, say, 104.5 to carry CFRB's content.

The latter is an analogue "solution", the former is digital. IMHO, the digital solution is much more interesting and leaves doors open for future innovation and development - two words we rarely associate with radio these days.

Last edited by Tim Brown 2016 (March 11, 2019 4:00 pm)

 

March 11, 2019 6:36 pm  #26


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

I am blown away by all the posts, thank you Tim for being helpful and informative, To Chuck99, Grilled Cheese, Fitz, Radio Active (thank you for moderating), Radio Wiz, Markow, Fybush, Charlie, Radio Aaron, Kilgore, Splunge, Adrian and Storm...

I love when I can post something that sparks the conversation...and add value to the board and all of you!


 


The world would be so good if it weren't for some people...
     Thread Starter
 

March 11, 2019 6:38 pm  #27


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

Tim Brown 2016 wrote:

fybush wrote:

Tim Brown 2016 wrote:


1. Stations need to invest in state-of-the-art FM/HD Radio transmission facilities (as was the case with Freedom Tower).

There are no FM HD facilities on One World Trade Center. There's one lonely little low-power FM translator up there, but everything else is DTV.

Instead, New York's FM broadcasters chose en masse to stay put at the Empire State Building. It's much better located for their purposes (moving south would lose coverage in Westchester County and into Connecticut and create short-spacing issues with stations in Philadelphia and Baltimore) and there was no economic justification for the investment that a new facility at 1WTC would have required. 

This has nothing to do with HD. Everyone at Empire broadcasts in HD, and the signals get out just fine from there. 

(And nobody in New York calls it "Freedom Tower," but that's another story entirely.)
 

Thanks for the clarification Scott. Hoping my point won't be lost in the minutia. Specifically, my impression is there's a lack of will to modernize the CN Tower broadcast facilities for HD Radio, and to some extent for DTV repack optimization. If my impression is wrong, I'd be very pleased.

CN Tower HD wont be modernized because I heard its too expensive, however Bell's HD attempt at the CN has been working (after they almost burned it down) 

 

March 11, 2019 7:05 pm  #28


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

Muffaraw Joe wrote:

I love when I can post something that sparks the conversation...and add value to the board and all of you!


 

Muffy, wholeheartedly agree!  It's been comfortable around here for the last while...

 

March 11, 2019 7:57 pm  #29


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

Radiowiz wrote:

Ask yourself why a place like Buffalo NY keeps news/talk on AM.
They have the freedom to shut down the AM side any time they want and just move the station to FM.
WBEN had an FM repeater with no ratings, but that was a repeater...
 

Doesn't really matter - it's an irrelevant small market. We tend to make a big deal of it here since it has, in the past, been an active part of this market. In reality, it's about the size of Saskatoon. They have relatively so few FM signals that there isn't much room beyond the obvious profitable FM music formats. 


 
 

March 11, 2019 8:10 pm  #30


Re: Is AM radio dead? Or does it still serve a purpose?

To add to this...In my opinion, one of the biggest problems facing AM radio is the absolute garbage AM tuners being installed in newer cars. The sound quality is terrible and they can't deal with the smallest amount of interference. 

I'm a pretty frequent Uber user, and I've been surprised that the last three times I've heard sports radio in the cars, it's been on HD on 92.5 or 99.9. There's next to no awareness of HD radio in this country, but I guess guys who drive all day (and frequently on streetcar routes) have it figured out.