AM broadcasting

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"AM Radio" redirects here. For the song by Everclear, see AM Radio (song).

AM broadcasting is the process of radio broadcasting using amplitude modulation (AM). AM was the first method of impressing sound on a radio signal and is still widely used today. Commercial and public AM broadcasting is authorized in the medium wave band worldwide, and also in parts of the long wave and short wave bands. Radio broadcasting was made possible by the invention of the amplifying vacuum tube, the Audion (triode), by Lee De Forest in 1906, which led to the development of inexpensive vacuum tube AM radio receivers and transmitters during World War I. Commercial AM broadcasting developed from amateur broadcasts around 1920, and was the only commercially important form of radio broadcasting until FM broadcasting began after World War II. This period is known as the "Golden Age of Radio". Today, AM competes with FM, as well as with various digital radio broadcasting services distributed from terrestrial and satellite transmitters. In many countries the higher levels of interference experienced with AM transmission have caused AM broadcasters to specialize in news, sports and talk radio, leaving transmission of music mainly to FM and digital broadcasters.

History[edit]

Main article: History of radio

The technology of amplitude modulation (AM) radio transmission was developed during the two decades from 1900 to 1920. Before this, the first radios transmitted information by wireless telegraphy, in which the radio signal didn't carry audio (sound) but was switched on and off to create pulses that carried text messages in Morse code. This was used for private person-to-person traffic, similar to telegrams.

The entrepreneurs who developed AM "radiotelephone" transmission did not anticipate broadcasting voice and music into people's homes. There was no concept of "broadcasting", or that radio listeners could be a mass market for entertainment. Promoters saw the practical application for AM as similar to the existing communication technologies of wireless telegraphy, telephone, and telegraph: two-way point-to-point commercial voice service, a wireless version of the telephone.[1] Although there were a number of experimental broadcasts during this period, these were mostly to provide publicity for the inventor's products. True radio broadcasting didn't begin until around 1920, when it sprang up spontaneously among amateur stations. AM remained the dominant method of broadcasting for the next 30 years, a period called the "Golden Age of Radio", until FM broadcasting started to become widespread in the 1950s. AM remains a popular, profitable entertainment medium today and the dominant form of broadcasting in some countries such as Australia and Japan.

Early technologies[edit]

Farmer listening to US government weather and crop reports using a crystal radio. Public service government time, weather, and farm broadcasts were the first radio "broadcasts".
A family listening to a crystal radio around 1920. Crystal radios, used before the advent of powered vacuum tube radios in the 1920s, could not drive loudspeakers, so the family must share earphones.

The first AM voice transmission was made by Canadian researcher Reginald Fessenden on 23 December 1900, using a spark gap transmitter. Fessenden is a significant figure in the development of AM radio. He realized that the damped waves produced by the existing spark transmitters, which transmitted text data by wireless telegraphy, could not be used to transmit sound, and continuous wave transmitters were needed.[2] He helped develop one of the first - the Alexanderson alternator.[2][3][4][5][6] He also discovered the principle on which AM modulation is based,[7][8][9][10][11] heterodyning,[2] and invented one of the first detectors able to rectify and receive AM, the electrolytic detector or "liquid baretter", in 1902.[2]

The early experiments in AM transmission, conducted by Fessenden, Valdemar Poulsen, Ernst Ruhmer, Quirino Majorana, Charles Herrold, and Lee De Forest, were hampered by the lack of a technology for amplification. The first practical continuous wave AM transmitters were based on versions of the Poulsen arc transmitter invented in 1903,[1] and the huge, expensive Alexanderson alternator, developed 1906-1910. The modifications necessary to transmit AM were clumsy and resulted in very low audio quality. Modulation was usually accomplished by a carbon microphone inserted directly in the antenna wire. The limited power handling ability of the microphone severely limited the power of the first radiotelephones. At the receiving end, the unamplified crystal radio receivers then in use could not drive loudspeakers, only earphones, so only one member of a family could listen at a time.

Vacuum tubes[edit]

The discovery in 1912 of the amplifying ability of the Audion vacuum tube, invented in 1906 by Lee De Forest, solved these problems. The vacuum tube feedback oscillator invented in 1912 by Alexander Meissner and Edwin Armstrong, was a cheap source of continuous waves and could be easily modulated to make an AM transmitter. Nongovernmental radio transmission was prohibited in many countries during World War 1, but AM radio technology advanced greatly due to wartime research, and after the war the availability of cheap tubes sparked a great increase in the number of amateur radio stations experimenting with AM transmission of news or music, giving people more to listen to. New vacuum tube receivers coming on the market could power loudspeakers, so the entire family could sit and listen together, and people could dance to broadcast music. Vacuum tubes remained the central technology of radio for 50 years, until transistors replaced them in the 1960s, and they are still used in broadcast transmitters.

Beginning of broadcasting[edit]

German man listening to subscription radio receiver. Broadcasting in Germany began 1922 as a Post Office monopoly, which provided this receiver which could only receive one station.

These changes caused radio listening to evolve explosively around 1919-1922 from a high-tech hobby to a hugely popular social and family pastime, the first electronic mass entertainment medium. In the US, the first broadcast stations were hobby and voluntary efforts without advertising, started by a variety of local organizations: amateurs, local businesses looking for promotion, newspapers, schools, clubs, political parties, and churches. Some naval radio stations broadcast programs of music to the public at certain hours. Later businesses learned to use this new medium to sell products, paying for on-air commercial advertising. US radio broadcasting developed into a private, profitmaking business, with minimal government control on content.

Atlanta club holds a "radiophone dance" in 1920 to music broadcast from a band across town, with dancers wearing earphones. The "radio frenzy" during the early "Roaring 20s" inspired stunts like these.

In Europe, broadcasting took a different course. Radio transmission had always been more tightly controlled by government in this region; for example, in the UK receiving equipment as well as transmitters had to be licensed. There was a feeling in countries like the UK and France that the radio spectrum was a national resource which should not be surrendered to private interests, motivated by profit, who would pander solely to the desire for entertainment. Radio should serve higher purposes of public information and education. In addition, totalitarian countries for political reasons kept mass communications media under government control. So in much of Europe, broadcasting developed as a government-owned or government-supervised monopoly. It was largely funded not by on-air commercial advertising as in the US, but by taxes on sales of radios, and user fees in the form of an annual "receiver license" that anyone owning a radio had to buy.

The first broadcasts[edit]

Who made the "first" radio broadcast is a contentious issue. In the chaotic, freewheeling, experimental atmosphere of early AM wireless, it is difficult to draw a distinction between "private" and "public" transmissions. In many cases, radio listeners tuned into experimental transmissions by the first stations developing AM modulation, and the stations began to cater to their unexpected audience with news and music. Some of the early milestones:

  • 1906: G. W. Pickard invents the crystal detector, the first cheap radio detector device that is able to rectify an AM signal. Homemade crystal radios spread rapidly during the next 15 years. Before this, most receivers used coherers, and only a few radio listeners were equipped with the electrolytic or Fleming valve detectors which could also receive an AM broadcast.
  • Christmas Eve, 1906: Reginald Fessendon broadcast an experimental program of Christmas music and bible reading, including him playing "O Holy Night" on the violin, from his Brant Rock, Massachusetts 500 W alternator-transmitter at about 50 kHz[12] to ships of the United Fruit Co. and Navy ships, which were equipped with his electrolytic detectors.[2][3] It was heard as far south as Norfolk, VA. This is usually considered the first entertainment broadcast to the public. There is some doubt whether this event took place because the only evidence is Fessenden's own account many years later, however he was clearly the first to broadcast voice and music.[13]
One of the first photos of a radio broadcast, French soprano Mariette Mazarin in 1908 singing into De Forest's arc transmitter.
  • 1907: Radio entrepreneur Lee De Forest, an opera buff, between 1907 and 1912 held a half-dozen promotional events in New York in which he broadcast live performances of famous Metropolitan Opera stars such as Mariette Mazarin, Farrar, and Enrico Caruso with his AM arc transmitter.[1][14] Very few radio receivers were equipped to receive it. In another stunt he broadcast phonograph music from the Eiffel tower.[1] A "futurist" and publicity hound, De Forest was one of the first to realize the possibilities of entertainment broadcasting, which he promoted in speeches, newspaper articles, and experimental demonstrations.[1][14] In 1906 he wrote: "My present task is to distribute sweet melody broadcast over the city and sea so that in time even the marine far out across the silent waves may hear the music of his homeland".[15] When he equipped the US Navy Great White Fleet with experimental arc radiotelephones for their 1908 around-the-world cruise, he broadcast phonograph music as the ships entered ports like San Francisco.[1][14]
  • June 1909: Radio experimenter Charles Herrold and his students began making regular weekly broadcasts from his "School of Radio" station KQW in San Jose, California.[13][16] on 750 kHz. San Francisco, California, radio station KCBS claims to be the direct descendant of KQW, and on that basis has claimed to be the world's oldest broadcast station.
  • March 29, 1914: An experimental radio station in Laeken, near Brussels, Belgium began broadcasting regular concerts with an arc transmitter installed in 1913, which continued until it was destroyed in WW1.[17] It had begun experimental telephony broadcasts as early as 1910, which from audience demand evolved into gramophone music, then live concerts.
  • November 1916: De Forest perfected the Audion transmitter and made weekly broadcasts of music from his New York station 2XG until radio transmission was prohibited in 1917 at the US's entry into World War 1. One of the most important prewar US radio events was his debut broadcast of the Hughes-Wilson presidential election in November 1916, with updates provided by wire from the New York American offices. An estimated 7000 radio listeners as far as 200 miles from New York heard hourly election returns interspersed with patriotic music.
  • November 6, 1919: The first scheduled (announced in the press) radio broadcast is said to have been made by Nederlandsche Radio Industrie station PCGG at The Hague, which began broadcasting concerts. It found it had a large audience outside the Netherlands, mostly in the UK.
  • January 15, 1920: Broadcasting in the UK began with impromptu news and phonograph music over 2MT, the 15 kW experimental tube transmitter at Marconi's factory in Chelmsford, Essex, at a frequency of 120 kHz.[18] On June 15, 1920 in the UK's first scheduled broadcast, the Daily Mail newspaper sponsored a concert by the famed Australian opera diva Nellie Melba.[18] Although not many British heard it because of a lack of receivers, it was picked up in Berlin, Paris, The Hague, and Newfoundland, and caught the public's imagination. Chelmsford continued broadcasting concerts with noted performers. A few months later, in spite of burgeoning popularity, the government without warning shut the experiment down, ostensibly because of interference with military aircraft radio.[18]
  • May 20, 1920: Experimental Marconi station XWA of Montreal, Quebec (later CFCF, now CINW) began regular broadcasts, and claims status as the first commercial broadcaster in the world.
  • November 2, 1920: Westinghouse asked an employee, Frank Conrad of Pittsburgh, PA, who during the war had used Westinghouse's exclusive radio test license to clandestinely broadcast gramophone music, to set up a radio station to help sell their radios. The enormously popular KDKA (originally 8XK) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was the first commercial radio station in the US. It began broadcasting (a phrase coined by Conrad) on election day, November 2, 1920. People learned the results of the Warren Harding-James Cox election from radio stations before they read it in the newspapers. KDKA is said to have been a pioneer in a number of areas, such as broadcasting the first religious services and sporting events.

Market concentration[edit]

New Yorkers on Wall St. listening to the 1922 World Series from a radio installed in a car. In 1922 radio broadcasting was an exciting high-tech novelty.

World War 1 brought home to nations the strategic importance of long-distance radio; in addition to its military uses in keeping contact with its fleets and overseas forces, a country that didn't have radio could be isolated by an enemy cutting its submarine telegraph cables. In the US, before the war, the radio industry was fragmented by patent monopolies held by competing giant firms, so the best long-range radio technology was owned by two European firms: the British Marconi Co. and the German Telefunken. At its entry into the war in 1917, the US government temporarily took control of the entire US radio industry for the war effort, including the transatlantic wireless stations of these foreign firms. After the war, due to fear of foreign ownership of the US radio industry, there was an abortive effort to create a federal radio monopoly. Instead, in 1919 the US government brokered a patent cross-licensing and market-sharing agreement between the competing US corporate giants AT&T, Westinghouse, United Fruit, and General Electric. Foreign firms were forbidden to own US radio stations, and US assets of Marconi and Telefunken were sold to a newly created firm, RCA. AT&T, Westinghouse, and GE would manufacture radio equipment, and RCA would be the marketing and transmitting arm. This "radio group" oligopoly controlled the US radio industry into the 1940s.

As the US audience for "broadcasting" grew in 1919-22, it caught the interest of the big radio corporations, and they began buying stations. They established "flagship" stations in major cities to promote their corporate image, which during this period broadcast top-quality entertainment and news without advertising.

Radio networks[edit]

Main article: Radio network
A live radio play being broadcast at NBC studios in New York. Since recording technology was primitive and costly during the 20s, most programs were broadcast live.

Since longwave radio frequencies were used for international wireless telegraphy, broadcasting stations were mostly given the medium waves, whose limited range restricted them to local audiences. Corporations around 1922 realized that long distance telephone lines, another innovation made possible around 1915 by the vacuum tube, could be used to link local radio stations into networks (the word "chains" was used until the 1930s) broadcasting the same content, giving corporations a nationwide audience.[19]

United States[edit]

In the US, the nationwide telephone carrier AT&T was the first to create a network and take the radical step of commercial advertising. It developed a broadcasting model based on its telephony business: "toll" broadcasting. Its flagship station, WEAF in New York, in August 1922 was first to air commercial advertising, selling half-hour and hour blocks of airtime to commercial "sponsors" that developed entertainment shows containing commercial messages. It had a monopoly on quality telephone lines, and by 1924 had linked 12 stations in Eastern cities into a "chain". RCA and Westinghouse attempted to organize their own network around their flagship WJZ, but were hampered by AT&T's refusal to lease them lines. In 1925 court decisions stripped AT&T of its monopoly over broadcasting, and it decided to get out of radio. AT&T sold WEAF to RCA, which formed the nucleus of the new NBC network. In 1927, to reduce the "chaos" on the airwaves, the government came down on the side of the advertising model, establishing two classes of broadcast licenses: the "A" or "general public interest" stations which sold time impartially to anyone, received favorable frequency assignments and flourished, and the "B" or nonprofit "propaganda" stations, mainly special-interest, political or religious stations which represented a point of view, were phased out.

The adoption of the commercial sponsorship model made radio broadcasting profitable, bringing in a lucrative stream of income that could be used to buy top-quality talent. The new business of advertising agencies acted as middlemen, and by the late 1920s modern radio advertisements were developed. Networks began to see their true product as their audience, and began to tailor shows to bring in specific demographics desired by their advertisers. By the 1930s, most of the radio stations in the country were affiliated with networks owned by two companies, NBC and CBS. In 1934, a third, the Mutual Radio Network was formed as a cooperative owned by its stations.

Great Britain[edit]

A BBC receiver license from 1923 (the words BROADCAST LICENSE at top are misleading; it only allowed reception). Anyone with a broadcast receiver had to have a license.

The other country which pioneered broadcasting, the UK, and its national network the BBC, became the prototype for state-managed monopoly broadcasting.[20] The abrupt shutdown of the 1920 UK experimental Marconi broadcasts had caused increasing pressure on the Post Office to allow broadcasting.[21] The government wanted to avoid the "chaotic" US experience, but also feared a monopoly by the giant Marconi.[21] On 18 October 1922 it allowed 6 large radio manufacturers to form a consortium, the British Broadcasting Company, which was given a monopoly on broadcasting, supported by a tax on radio sets and a license fee on receivers collected by the Post Office.[21] Initially its 8 stations were allowed regional autonomy, but its visionary general manager, John Reith, centralized production in London and lobbied for the removal of advertising and commercial interests. During Britain's General Strike of 1926, when the newspapers were shut down, the BBC was first allowed to broadcast daytime news, and the country was impressed by its impartial reporting.[22] In late 1926 Reith's proposals were adopted, the BBC was nationalised, and an independent nonprofit chartered corporation was formed, the British Broadcasting Corporation supported solely by a 10 shilling receiver license fee.[22]

Under Reith, the BBC enforced strict broadcast standards on its channels. Both the National and Regional programmes were required to carry a mixture of populist and high brow programmes.

Other nations[edit]

During the 1920s AM broadcasting extended to the rest of the world. In general, the Middle East, Asian, and African countries adopted the European model of centralized government-run radio networks, while Latin America adopted the US model of private commercial broadcasting.[20]

Shortwave broadcasting[edit]

The discovery in the 1920s of the "skip" or "skywave" propagation mechanism, in which high frequency radio waves are reflected back to Earth beyond the horizon by the ionosphere, made the shortwave frequencies above 1 MHz, previously considered useless, a useful band for medium distance broadcasting.

"Golden Age of Radio"[edit]

Main article: Golden Age of Radio

During the 1920s, '30s, and '40s, a period called the "Golden Age of Radio", AM radio was the main source of home entertainment, filling a role similar to the one television plays today. This was a big change in people's lives; for the first time people were getting entertainment from outside the home. Instead of having to settle for more traditional forms of entertainment such as oral story telling and music from family members, they could listen to Bing Crosby's crooning, a BBC Shakespeare play, or a baseball game at New York's Ebbets Field. New forms of entertainment were created for the new medium: radio plays, mystery serials, soap operas, quiz shows, variety hours, situation comedies, children's shows. Radio news kept people up-to-date, and remote reporting allowed them to be vicariously "present" at notable events, such as the famous 1937 Hindenburg disaster. Radio eased the isolation of rural life, and allowed people on farms and in towns to keep up with what was happening in the cities. Politicians could speak to millions of citizens at a time; during the Depression Americans gathered around their radios to listen to Franklin Roosevelt's "fireside chats". This period saw the rise of radio propaganda as a powerful tool of governments, contributing to the rise of fascist and communist ideologies.

Competition from other media[edit]

In the 1950s, the dominance of AM radio over home entertainment was ended by the introduction of two new broadcast media: FM radio and television. Television replaced AM radio as an evening family pastime; instead of sitting and listening to the radio, families would watch television. By the 1970s FM radio, due to its superior audio quality, attracted serious audiophiles.

The AM radio industry suffered a serious loss of audience and advertising revenue during this time. It coped with this by developing new "narrowcasting" strategies. Network broadcasting gave way to format broadcasting; instead of broadcasting the same programs all over the country, AM stations specialized in different "formats" which appealed to different audience segments: regional and local news, sports, "talk" programs, programs targeted at minorities. Rather than live music, they played cheaper recorded music, and developed the "Top 40" format, which capitalized on (and created) the popularity of new rhythm and blues and rock music.

Listening habits changed in the 1960s due to the introduction of the revolutionary transistor radio, made possible by the invention of the transistor in 1946, which allowed people to listen to radio anywhere. Radio transformed into a ubiquitous "companion medium" which people could take with them, and listen while at work, driving, gardening, or at the beach.

Operation[edit]

AM radio technology is simpler than frequency modulated (FM) radio, Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB), satellite radio or HD (digital) radio. An AM receiver detects amplitude variations in the radio waves at a particular frequency. It then amplifies changes in the signal voltage to drive a loudspeaker or earphones. The earliest crystal radio receivers used a crystal diode detector with no amplification.

In North American broadcasting practice, transmitter power input to the antenna for commercial AM stations ranges from about 250 to 50,000 watts. Experimental licenses were issued for up to 500,000 watts radiated power, for stations intended for wide-area communication during disasters. One such superstation was Cincinnati station WLW, which used such power on occasion before World War II. WLW's superpower transmitter still exists at the station's suburban transmitter site, but it was decommissioned in the early 1940s and no current commercial broadcaster in the U.S. or Canada is authorized for such power levels. Some other countries do authorize higher power operation (for example the Mexican station XERF formerly operated at 250,000 watts). Antenna design must consider the coverage desired and stations may be required, based on the terms of their license, to directionalize their transmitted signal to avoid interfering with other stations operating on the same frequency.

An example of the difference in range of an AM radio signal at different times.

Medium-wave (medium frequency, MF) and short-wave (high frequency, HF) radio signals act differently during daytime and nighttime. During the day, MF signals travel by groundwave, diffracting around the curve of the earth over a distance up to a few hundred kilometers from the signal transmitter. However, after sunset, changes in the ionosphere cause MF signals to travel by skywave, enabling radio stations to be heard much farther from their point of origin than is normal during the day. This phenomenon can be easily observed by scanning the medium wave radio dial at night. As a result, many broadcast stations are required as a condition of license to reduce their broadcasting power significantly (or use directional antennas) after sunset, or even to suspend broadcasting entirely during nighttime hours. Such stations are commonly referred to as daytimers. In Australia medium wave stations are not required to reduce their power at night and consequently stations such as the 50,000-watt 3LO can be heard in some parts of New Zealand at night.

In the United States and Canada, some radio stations are granted clear channel status, meaning that few other stations have been granted permission to broadcast on or near their frequency. This allows an extended coverage area when skywave propagation takes over at night, starting at or near local sunset. Relatively few stations enjoy clear-channel status; most local MW stations rely on ground-wave coverage only, limiting their target market to their own local area. Non-clear channel stations typically have reduced coverage at night, due to noise and a mish-mash of other stations propagating in via skywave after dark. The area covered by a local station at night without significant skywave interference is known as the nighttime interference-free (NIF) contour, and is typically specified in mV/m (signal strength). The higher the NIF value, the stronger the local signal must be to override nighttime interference, resulting in a smaller coverage area and fewer listeners able to hear the station without interference.

The hobby of listening to long distance signals is known as DX'ing, from an old telegraph abbreviation for "distance". Several nonprofit hobbyist clubs are devoted to DXing the AM broadcast band, including the National Radio Club and International Radio Club of America. Similarly, people listening to short wave transmissions are SWLing.

Broadcast frequency bands[edit]

AM radio is broadcast on several frequency bands. The allocation of these bands is governed by the ITU's Radio Regulations and, on the national level, by each country's telecommunications administration (the FCC in the U.S., for example) subject to international agreements. The frequency ranges given here are those that are allocated to stations. Because of the bandwidth taken up by the sidebands, the range allocated for the band as a whole is usually about 5 kHz wider on either side.

  • Long wave is LF waves from 153–279 kHz, with 9 kHz channel spacing generally used. Long wave is used for radio broadcasting only in ITU region 1 (Europe, Africa, and northern and central Asia), and is not allocated elsewhere. In the United States, Canada, Bermuda, and U.S. territories, this band is mainly reserved for aeronautics navigational aids, though a small section of the band could theoretically be used for microbroadcasting under the United States Part 15 rules. Due to the propagation characteristics of long wave signals, the frequencies are used most effectively in latitudes north of 50°.
  • Medium wave is MF waves from 531–1,611 kHz in ITU regions 1 and 3, with 9 kHz spacing, and 540–1610 kHz in ITU region 2 (the Americas), with 10 kHz spacing. ITU region 2 also authorizes the Extended AM broadcast band between 1610 and 1710 kHz. Medium wave is the most heavily used band for commercial broadcasting. This is the "AM radio" that most people are familiar with.
  • Short wave is HF waves from approximately 2.3–26.1 MHz, divided into 14 broadcast bands. Shortwave broadcasts generally use a narrow 5 kHz channel spacing. Short wave is used by audio services intended to be heard at great distances from the transmitting station. The long range of short wave broadcasts comes at the expense of lower audio fidelity. The mode of propagation for short wave is different (see high frequency). AM is used mostly by broadcast services; other shortwave users may use a modified version of AM such as SSB or an AM-compatible version of SSB such as SSB with carrier reinserted.

Frequencies between the broadcast bands are used for other forms of radio communication, and are not broadcast services intended for reception by the general public.

Limitations[edit]

Because of its relatively low audio quality due to audio bandwidth limitations, and its susceptibility to atmospheric and electrical interference, AM broadcasting now attracts mainly talk radio and news programming, while music radio and public radio mostly shifted to FM broadcasting in the late 1970s in the developed countries. However, in the late 1960s and 1970s, top 40 rock and roll stations in the U.S. and Canada such as WABC and CHUM transmitted highly processed and extended audio to 11 kHz, successfully attracting huge audiences. In the UK during the 1980s, the national speech station, BBC Radio 4, had an FM location, whereas BBC Radio 1, a music station, was confined to AM broadcasts. Frequency response is typically 40 Hz–5 kHz with a 50 dB Signal to noise(S/N) ratio.[citation needed]

The limitation on AM fidelity comes from current receiver design. Moreover, to fit more transmitters on the AM broadcast band in the United States, maximum transmitted audio bandwidth is limited to 10.2 kHz by a National Radio Systems Committee (NRSC) standard adopted by the FCC in June 1989, resulting in a channel occupied bandwidth of 20.4 kHz. The former audio limitation was 15 kHz resulting in a channel occupied bandwidth of 30 kHz.

AM radio signals can be severely disrupted in large urban centres by metal structures, tall buildings and sources of radio frequency interference (RFI) and electrical noise, such as electrical motors, fluorescent lights, or lightning. As a result, AM radio in many countries has lost its dominance as a music broadcasting service, and in many cities is now relegated to news, sports, religious and talk radio stations. Some musical genres – particularly country, oldies, nostalgia and ethnic music – survive on AM, especially in areas where FM frequencies are in short supply or in thinly populated or mountainous areas where FM coverage is poor.

Other distribution methods[edit]

While uncommon, AM stereo transmissions are possible using a variety of means. In addition, hybrid digital broadcast systems, which combine (mono analog) AM and digital broadcasting technology, are now being used around the world. In the United States, iBiquity's proprietary HD Radio has been adopted and approved by the FCC for medium wave transmissions, while Digital Radio Mondiale is a more open effort often used on the shortwave bands, and can be used alongside many AM broadcasts. Both of these standards are capable of broadcasting audio of significantly greater fidelity than that of standard AM with current bandwidth limitations, and a theoretical frequency response of 0–16 kHz, in addition to stereo sound and text data.

While FM radio can also be received by cable, AM radio generally cannot[why?], although an AM station can be converted into an FM cable signal. In Canada, cable operators that offer FM cable services are required by the CRTC to distribute all locally available AM stations in this manner. In Switzerland a system known as "wire broadcasting" (Telefonrundspruch in German) transmitted AM signals over telephone lines in the longwave band until 1998, when it was shut down.[23]

Microbroadcasting[edit]

Some microbroadcasters and pirate radio broadcasters, especially those in the United States under the FCC's Part 15 rules, broadcast on AM to achieve greater range than is possible on the FM band. On mediumwave (AM), such radio stations are often found between 1610 kHz and 1710 kHz. Hobbyists also use low-power AM transmitters to provide programming for vintage radio equipment in areas where AM programming is not widely available or does not carry programming the listener desires; in such cases the transmitter, which is designed to cover only the immediate property and perhaps nearby areas, is connected to a computer, and FM radio or an MP3 player.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Lee De Forest as Early Radio Broadcaster" on De Forest.com website exerpted from Adams, Mike (1996). "The Race for the Radiotelephone:1900-1920". AWA Review (Antique Wireless Association) 10: 78–119. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Fessenden, Reginald", Sterling, Christopher H.; Cary O'Dell, Michael C. Keith, Ed. (2011). The Biographical Encyclopedia of American Radio. Routledge. pp. 136–139. ISBN 0415995493. 
  3. ^ a b Davis, L. J. (2012). Fleet Fire: Thomas Edison and the Pioneers of the Electric Revolution. Skyhorse Publishing Inc. ISBN 1611456592. 
  4. ^ Klooster, John W. (2009). Icons of Invention: The Makers of the Modern World from Gutenberg to Gates. ABC-CLIO. pp. 399–400. ISBN 0313347433. 
  5. ^ Sarkar, T. K.; Robert Mailloux; Arthur A. Oliner; M. Salazar-Palma; Dipak L. Sengupta (2006). History of Wireless. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 373–374. ISBN 0471783013. 
  6. ^ Belrose, John S. (September 1994). "Fessenden and the Early History of Radio Science". The Radioscientist (IEEE) 5 (3). Retrieved September 10, 2013.  on Inst. of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Canada website
  7. ^ "Superheterodyne Receivers". ES310: Introduction to Naval Weapons Engineering. Federation of American Scientists. 1998. Retrieved September 10, 2013. 
  8. ^ Verghese, George; Hari Balakrishnan (2013). "Ch. 14: Modulation and Demodulation, p. 189,192". Lecture Notes - Introduction to EECS 2: Digital Communications Systems. Electrical Engineering Dept., Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved September 10, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Ch. 1: Amplitude Modulation, p. 2,10-11, 42-43". Navy MARS Operator (NMO) course. Military Auxiliary Radio System - National Tranining and Skills Development Website. 2011. Retrieved September 10, 2013. 
  10. ^ Bertrand, Ron (2011). "Reading 30: AM Transmitters and Receivers". Online Radio and Electronics Course. Arcade archive. Retrieved September 10, 2013. 
  11. ^ "The process of combining two frequencies in a nonlinear device and producing new frequencies is called mixing, modulating, heterodyning, beating, or frequency conversion" Bureau of Naval Personnel (1973). Rate Training Manual 0087-C: Basic Electronics. Courier Dover Publications,. p. 338. ISBN 0486210766. 
  12. ^ Lee, Thomas H. (2004). Planar Microwave Engineering: A Practical Guide to Theory, Measurement, and Circuits, Vol. 1. Cambridge Univ. Press. p. 11. ISBN 0521835267. 
  13. ^ a b Adams, Mike (2011). Lee de Forest: King of Radio, Television, and Film. US: Springer. pp. 99–101. ISBN 1461404185. 
  14. ^ a b c "De Forest, Lee", Sterling, Christopher H.; Cary O'Dell, Michael C. Keith, Ed. (2011). The Biographical Encyclopedia of American Radio. Routledge. pp. 94–96. ISBN 0415995493. 
  15. ^ Richter, William A. (2006). Radio: A Complete Guide to the Industry. Peter Lang. p. 12. ISBN 0820476331. 
  16. ^ "Herrold, Charles D.", Sterling, Christopher H.; Cary O'Dell, Michael C. Keith, Ed. (2011). The Biographical Encyclopedia of American Radio. Routledge. pp. 169–170. ISBN 0415995493. 
  17. ^ "The First Radio Broadcast". The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, Australia: Fairfax Media). March 29, 1939. p. 19. Retrieved 27 September 2013. 
  18. ^ a b c Street, Sean (2002). A Concise History of British Radio, 1922-2002. Kelly Publications. pp. 17–24. ISBN 1903053145. 
  19. ^ Jim Cox (2009). American Radio Networks: A History. McFarland. pp. 5–. ISBN 978-0-7864-5424-2. 
  20. ^ a b Hilmes, Michele (2011). Network Nations: A Transnational History of British and American Broadcasting. Routledge. p. 6. ISBN 0415883857. 
  21. ^ a b c Street, 2002, p. 27-28
  22. ^ a b Street, 2002, p. 34-36
  23. ^ "Sammlung alter Biennophone-Radios". Biennophone.ch. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 

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