What is to become of AM broadcasting?

It's increasingly easy to find articles in the radio trade press about the demise of over the air terrestrial (especially AM) broadcasting.  It seems to be an easy case to make.  In the essential drive time sector alone there's bludgeoning competition from satellite radio, CDs, MP3 players plugged into the audio system, using a cell phone and now Internet radio in the vehicle.  What's an over the air AM station to do?  Stream over the Internet?  Yes (definitely and 24/7 please - be a part of Internet radio). Simulcast on FM?  Maybe (if qualifications are met, and again 24/7 please).  Go digital?  Maybe, maybe not.  I think it will be a slow steady fade.  By anecdotal evidence the number of silent stations is on the increase.  Just below the band, the 500 kilocycle International SOS frequency which saw use for over 100 years is no more.  In twenty years, at least, we should expect AM radio to be quite different.  With cognitive radio arriving within that time frame, the standard broadcast band may be brushed away - condemned for the better good, like housing in the late 1950s - early 1960s made way for high speed superhighways.  What we may see are a few high quality (not necessarily high power) signals - back to clear channels - AM radio could return to its 1920s-1930s roots (at night at least) providing reliable nationwide coverage.

 

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