With the imminent rollout of nighttime AM-IBOC now slated for September, I conducted an experiment last night. I put WYSL in DA-N 500-watt mode during critical hours, to measure the impact of nighttime adjacent-channel interference with a neighboring station's IBOC exciter operating. I have long fought this "innovation" in industry trades and on the WYSL website, but now must add: the destruction of AM analog service will be much worse than even I thought. The interference from a 50kw adjacent was terrible, but it's interference that's far more obnoxious than a competing carrier with the usual modulation chatter. Its effect is exactly like the old shortwave jammers set up for political purposes - the roaring noise under your station will never be tolerated by listeners.
HD-AM is junk-technology unwanted by just about everyone, except Ibiquity, captive big-group corporate engineering exectutives who have been "recruited" by Ibiquity and who have no personal stake either way, the bumbling, amateur political hacks known as "the FCC" and a tiny handful of HD receiver enthusiasts blogging from their mothers' basements.
AM broadcasters have everything at stake here. In less than 30 days the AM band at night is going to turn into an unlistenable quagmire of noise for 99.98% of listeners, who will leave AM in droves, forever. The aforementioned HD-AM boosters who think the earth is flat and that consumers will dash out and buy new radios just to get the ballgame clearly, are living in fantasyland. Many secondary AMs, many of which have a proud history of decades of service to their region - WYSL comes to mind here - will essentially be relegated to involuntary daytimer status.
Without concerted action by those who believe in AM, by the time the FCC wakes up to the chaos, the damage will be done. Perhaps this is what the IBOC lunatic-death wish lobby wants: drive away the existing analog audience so there's nothing left to lose, and then make HD-AM manadatory. Of course you're smart enough to know - the listeners will never come back, analog, digital, Ibiquity, CAM-D or otherwise; they'll have figured out other ways to get their favorite programming via the Internet or satellite. Now and forever, HD-AM has all the consumer appeal of a $200 electric fork.
This is a call for AM broadcasters - and those who respect the band's 85 year heritage of service - to take action. Here's what we all can and must do:
1. Check to see if adjacent-channel IBOC interference is stepping on your nighttime interference-free protected contour. Have your attorney and consulting engineer prepare and file a complaint with the Commission PROMPTLY.
2. Run anti-IBOC promos on your station, urging listeners to complain to the FCC about the reduction in nighttime service. Because of the technical complexities involved this can be a little challenging, because the average listener's eyes roll back in their head when IBOC is explained. But I have some promo copy which I think works. You're welcome to use my copy on your station gratis. E-mail me: email@example.com
3. Like most local broadcasters, you must have a connection with your Congressional delegation. Explain the IBOC interference issue as succinctly as possible and ask for their help in getting relief for your station. Again, you've got to think this out beforehand. If you get too technical with politicians they'll just cut you off with "I don't understand all this technical radio stuff. I'm sure the FCC will work it all out." You need to hammer home the point that your station can't be helpful to him/her if it's no longer financially viable, and that IBOC is an ill-conceived idea which must be modified or stopped. Ask him/her to contact the Commission.
4. Contact local politicians - your County Executive or Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Mayor, etc. Point out that the technical "innovation" called IBOC is threatening local radio's survival. Mention the economic impact, potential of loss of jobs. Have them complain to the Commission.
The idea here is to inundate the Commission with a tidal wave of complaints.
Stop talking about HD-AM. Do something about it. Before we all lose everything.