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judochop's avatar

What has happened to AM radio?

Asked by judochop (16070points) February 20th, 2010 from iPhone

A long time ago AM radio was sought after talk show slots, advertising, etc. Now it is like a ghost town for bad 80’s music, weird leftest and rightest evangelists, the Mexican hat-dance and a fuzzy weatherband. What happenend? What will become of AM radio?

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14 Answers

gemiwing's avatar

I don’t know, but I think we need to start buying some radio bandwidth and make Fluther Radio.

Nullo's avatar

FM radio is much sexier, so everybody who could moved. AM is a wasteland inhabited by those who must broadcast, but cannot afford an FM-band license.

Zen_Again's avatar

Is there a difference technically/technologically between AM and FM? Just curious and don’t feel like googling it.

LostInParadise's avatar

I can’t tell you how it works, but AM and FM are two different ways of transmitting. Maybe my lame response will inspire someone more knowledgeable to provide more details. They stand for amplitude modulation and frequency modulation. AM is actually fairly easy to understand. It just takes sounds and adds a constant frequency to them. I never did understand how FM works. If I remember right, FM takes up twice as much bandwidth and produces a better signal.

Zen_Again's avatar

Probably why it became more popular – like anything else. Cassettes play music – but MP3 sounds so much better and is much more affordable today should you want to compare the two for some reason.

Bluefreedom's avatar

It’s still there but it is certainly archaic compared to FM and Satellite radio.

thriftymaid's avatar

It’s still there.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

It’s still there and I still listen to it on occasion ;)

CyanoticWasp's avatar

In the summer, in the car, it’s the way I keep my Sox on: WEEI 1080; and I can catch it almost all over New England. (In the car the next morning sometimes, though, I wonder: “What the hell happened to the radio?” if I forget to re-tune it when I get home.)

nisse's avatar

Radio transmission works by transmitting a carrier sinus wave, and then modulating (changing some properties) of that carrier with another signal, which is the information content. The frequency you tune in on your radio (i.e. 103.5 MHz) is the carrier frequency, the modulation is the sound content (a signal with frequency between 0–20kHz).

AM works by modulating the strength of the carrier wave, like this

The signal superimposed on the carrier frequency (i.e the strength of the sinus) is the actual sound content.

FM works by modulating the frequency of the carrier wave slightly, like this

The deviation from the carrier center frequency is what constitutes the information content.

AM is alot more sensitive to disturbance than FM (and thus produces lower quality sound in the presence of disturbance or low signal strength than FM). FM is on the other hand alot more robust towards disturbances.

That’s why AM is being left behind.

gasman's avatar

The AM radio band occupies much lower frequencies than FM (measured in KHz vs. MHz) so the wavelengths are much longer. This allows broadcasts to be received over much greater distances than FM, especially at night. For that reason I think AM will always find a market and not simply go away.

The problem with amplitude modulation is that it’s subject to interference a great deal more than frequency modulation. That’s why FM has replaced AM almost entirely. Attempts to create an AM stereo standard apparently never caught on.

Zen_Again's avatar

I love fluther.

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