Looks like the end is near for FM as we know it

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Regarding “iBiquity Digital urges FCC to immediately allow FM power increase”, I note RBR has stepped up about 3 notches in information and reporting during the recent world economic slowdown. However the main pages neglect to address the truth about digital transmissions from both radio and TV. But I also notice that relatively few of our readers and friends will click on the link to check out comments by broadcasters commenting on this industry especially articles that complain about the modern switch to digital broadcasting. This sleeping sickness has taken a huge toll over this industry with respect to total package from technical to sales and operations. So this makes it possible for lying and deception to easily take control at the top and deliver rather quickly on misinformation that pulls at the purse-strings of this industry for more investments that are cutting staffing and management personnel.


Enter digital radio and the last 10 years of marketing brilliance aimed not only at the broadcast industry, but at the auto radio makers via the support of the CEA  introducing this digital era, giving broadcasters the chance to maintain control of the expanded marketing of digital devices.  Recently the NAB released their “blessed” report from 3 tech guys wearing fresh bed-sores from the digital quarters claiming the 10db boost has not caused much problem thus far with the stations they’ve observed. Now our friends at NPR allegedly have released a modified study switching from the original claim that more digital power might be a bad deal to maybe it will work after all.

Here’s the truth that has been avoided during this entire digital era that has not, nor will be discussed by any of the “sold out” digital guys forced to hide under the coattails of their regional and national technical directors winning the awards for their promotion of digital radio in the USA:

Digital modulation on FM and AM increases the interference to adjacent stations. Listening does not magically go away at the 1 millivolt level and common sensed people understand we once had “guard bands” that allowed skewing of the coverage areas and protection during “bad air” days. And jamming gets worse the more power output of digital carriers are increased. During atmospheric interference conditions the interference is unavoidable and at least 3 times the current analog interference level. And nothing will repair the laws of mother nature regardless of the hired hands writing as if their lives depended on it. None of the research justifying digital radio has addressed this massive interference during “ducting” or atmospheric conditions unfavorable to normal coverage contour predictions. The skilled techs will also raise questions about intermodulation distortion and receiver induced distortion that digital is known to enhance by multiple numbers on both AM and FM thus far totally ignored although still required in new analog FM and AM station applications. So when does this featured jamming problem show the ugly head?

The FM and AM band receivers are now filled with noise floors beyond anything imaginable because of the current level of digital broadcasting and the future will become even darker as stations are next forced to go digital by government mandate, even if the contours fall short or become unusable during bad weather conditions. Fortunately the general public is still somewhat unaware as to the cause of these noisy conditions and simply turn off the radio or select a less noisy entertainment medium. Problem number 3: the chipsets being installed in the car radios will not go away even after digital is shut down for lack of interest. Thus analog coverage and quality will have difficult times recovering the longer broadcasters keep quiet. I encourage those with ears to hear not to quit observing and speaking out where possible to perhaps bring a few believers to the table awake, not sleeping.

A growing number of mostly retiring broadcast technical men and women are speaking out as they exit into the next job or retirement status. To those who know the truth and refuse to speak it, heaven help you. You leave nothing for the wolves to devour but a decaying corpse whose gender is indeterminable were it to matter. The view will not be pretty. Where the animal falls could be so close to home the observers will have little doubt the attackers came from within.

In closing, a compliment to digital equipment dealers and manufacturers: You now have AM and FM sounding exactly as satellite radio does almost to the amount of technical failures the atmosphere can create. FM digital has audio quality to about 7 kilohertz quality or about half what it once was 20 years ago. And FM digital does sound about as bad as Compact Discs played at room levels without the benefit listening on the radio provided with good audio level control and maximum modulation limits preventing speaker damage. So your claim to the approaching quality of digital is somewhat true sad as it really is to anyone compelled to sample the decent analog signals to your new “we all sound the same don’t we” concept. Radio drew a crowd because we could make music listening simple and not constantly changing between each music source. Perhaps you just forget that benefit in your efforts to expand the number of channels. Now where are the folks in hiding during this effort to take down real radio?

— Jerry Smith, Technical Observer