There is this prominent blinking wart sticking out of wall, right by the door. It is hideous. The wires that jut in and out of it are a menace.
And it sprays electromagnetic noise like a firehose shoots water.
Get an AM radio within 10 feet of Verizon’s Fios carbuncle and the noise that comes out of the speakers sounds like the “music” played in hip clothing stores.
It isn’t only the cable box, but the damn phone broadcasts electronic noise, too, as do the television even when it’s off, the computers, the microwave, and every other “device” which runs on electricity. Finding a spot where the AM radio can both pick up a signal and not be overwhelmed by noise is becoming next to impossible.
In other news, AM radio is dying. Why?
For one, all that EM racket which is overpowering radio signals. For another, have you tried to buy a radio recently? I mean a radio. Not a “device” which does a dozen things, but a radio. A machine that plays only AM/FM (or possibly shortwave) broadcasts, and doesn’t have slot into which you can plug your cell phone, or that doesn’t have a CD player (do they even make these anymore?), or etc.
Radio Shack is gone, but even they stopped selling many models years before they closed. Major stores sometimes sell clock radios, but these often only play FM. The toys on bedside tables in hotels often have no radio capability, or they have only iffy FM.
Cell phones, some of which play FM, can’t do AM, of course, because of the antenna demands of AM (they need to be big or long or both). And who wants to carry a phone and a radio? (Though I’ve seen plenty of folks with two phones.)
Cars are the last best place to listen to AM, because the engineers responsible for the radios know how to reduce noise.
Programming must account for the other major reason AM is dying. Much programming is geared to people listening in cars, which means listeners who aren’t paying full attention and don’t listen for long. That leads to programming which isn’t especially interesting or which is repetitive.
1010 WINS: “Gives us 22 minutes and we’ll give you the world!” At all-news stations, three times an hour the same stories are rebroadcast, all day long, along with helpful information about which roads to avoid. Helpful to drivers. For those sitting home, it’s not necessary. How many all-news stations are necessary in any one area? Not many, you’d think, but you’d be wrong judging by the number that actually exist.
Sports broadcasts are fresh and evergreen, but sports talk is numbing. It’s far, far worse than even NPR (whose banal tones leak out over FM). You haven’t learned the meaning of the term numbingly repetitive until you’ve listened to “analysts” and “callers” discuss sports.
Political talk is an interesting case. Shows are usually three hours. Three. Is there really three hours worth of new politics to discuss each day? I’ll answer that for you: no. No there is not. Yet three hours of Rush is followed by three hours of Hannity who is followed by three hours of Savage who is followed by three hours of Levin who is followed by et cetera, et cetera.
The lack of new content is partially why half (more?) of every hour is commercials. And those commercials are necessary to prop up the behemoths who bought up all the stations at premium and who are now all near bankruptcy.
It isn’t all politics. Nights and weekends have “Discuss your Financial Prostate Health” shows. And most of these, like the political shows, sound the same. Where is the “diversity”?
It can’t be that syndicating itself is at fault. Think about Sunday nights at seven, which is when most of the nation tuned in Jack Benny, the most popular show of all time.
Benny’s show, like the bulk of programs in radio’s heyday, was thirty minutes. There was also variety back then. Quiz shows, drama, whodunnits, music, comedy, and on and on.
Why can’t AM now have shorter, more varied, more entertaining shows? Shows that are broadcast and later available on-line? Even NPR has a quiz show! Why not AM?
This works. And it’s being done, for example in England. The Archers is a serial that has been airing for decades, and it’s still going strong. As are many other programs.
Radio should have independent producers selling to syndicates, like on television. None of this will happen the way the money is now structured, naturally.
Much more to say on this. Stay, as they say, tuned.