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January 13, 2021 9:37 am  #1


Second U.S, AM Station Goes Fulltime All Digital Only

It's WMGG, an all Spanish format in Tampa, Florida. They're only the second station to disappear from normal AM radios in favour of a better sound. But the question remains - how many people will hear it, know how to find it, or even care? 

And while this move seems like a bold choice, it's really not. The station maintains a FM signal in the market, which means most people probably weren't listening to them on 1470 anyway. 

From spokesman Neil Ardman, via Radio World:

"Among reasons for making the switch...is the receiver penetration of HD Radio in cars in the market, which he said was in the 30% range and growing. Ardman said he expects that over time, major broadcast groups in the country will come to embrace the all-digital format."

There is only one other all digital AM station in the U.S. - WWFD in Frederick, Maryland has been in digital AM only since the summer of 2018 (but it also hedges its bet with an FM repeater and several FM HD piggybacks in Washington, D.C.)

While it's nice to see someone trying to save the band, I have numerous doubts this is the way to do it. If AM Stereo didn't work, I'm not sure this will be any more successful.  

WMGG Has Turned on All-Digital AM

 

January 13, 2021 2:55 pm  #2


Re: Second U.S, AM Station Goes Fulltime All Digital Only

Is the FCC requiring vehicle manufacturers to include AM digital receivers in new car stereos? If so then this will be like UHF on TV (or FM radio for that matter) which lagged far behind initially but eventually became viable once UHF on TVs and FM receivers in vehicles became common enough. Otherwise, if digital AM inclusion remains optional for manufacturers it'll be about as successful as voluntary Metric conversion was in the US. 

 

January 13, 2021 3:48 pm  #3


Re: Second U.S, AM Station Goes Fulltime All Digital Only

Even if it were mandatory in new receivers, digital-only AM won't ever get off the ground. And hybrid analog/digital AM seems to be not worth the trouble.


 
 

January 13, 2021 5:07 pm  #4


Re: Second U.S, AM Station Goes Fulltime All Digital Only

RadioAaron wrote:

Even if it were mandatory in new receivers, digital-only AM won't ever get off the ground. And hybrid analog/digital AM seems to be not worth the trouble.

It's funny but the same arguments that long hit FM "will never work" really show their head on these conversations.   

For AM, I tend to agree an hybrid option isn't going to work...     I do feel though should digital only MA3 format does show promise.   The main issue is compatible radios should be the only thing available to buy.  Once the radios are in place at a number worth taking the risk, it then will be possible to move to an all digital format.    

MA3 format stays within frequency, unlike hybrid.   It also will drop to a lower bandwidth if the signal becomes weak vs flipping back and forth analog to digital.     The nighttime and regular interference does not affect MA3 format like hybrid as well.   Most stations that dropped hybrid format, did so due to the limitations of hybrid. MA3 all digital, does not experience the same issues.  

I think sadly MA3 is the only way AM will work for the future, and should have been started as an effort to move there 5 years ago.   Programming will also need to adjust as well in same cases.    We may not see 2-3 sports stations and 4 talk stations in a market, but instead more music formats...   

But until the radios are there... it can't happen. 

 

 

January 13, 2021 10:11 pm  #5


Re: Second U.S, AM Station Goes Fulltime All Digital Only

FM happened when the only other option was AM.

I've never even heard the term MA3, and all the technical justifications are irrelevant. If it requires new receivers, it's essentially a new entrant, and there's just no demand for that now.

If the brands currently on AM haven't found their way elsewhere by the time digital-only AM theoretically becomes ubiquitous, it's too late.

Total waste of energy and time.
 


 
 

January 13, 2021 10:30 pm  #6


Re: Second U.S, AM Station Goes Fulltime All Digital Only

RadioAaron wrote:

Total waste of energy and time.
 

  yup
 

 

January 14, 2021 8:44 am  #7


Re: Second U.S, AM Station Goes Fulltime All Digital Only

I have bee tweaking and experimenting with my home use AM stereo transmitter that I wrote about recently. I tried a different kind of hybrid  AM stereo. Took the FM HD feed of a station that is also on AM and ran that through the AM C_Quam transmitter and the end result in a convoluted way is AM stereo. Just to demonstrate that AM stereo is possible without HD even at this late date.

FM HD Via AM Stereo 

Last edited by Fitz (January 14, 2021 8:48 am)


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