AM: Setting an FM translator precedent?

I was well into my next blog on the state of AM radio when I got distracted by this possibly precedent setting story I first noted as an application on the FCC’s daily release. I was amused by the ingenuity & creativity of the applicant & thought it a stretch. Later however, I gave it more serious thought & realized the sense it made. Regular contributor Steven Smith sent me a link to this in news story form from “Radio Inside”.

An AM applicant, 1470 KVSL Show Low AZ has an FM translator on 100.5 FM – K263CA. KVSL has asked the FCC to grant an STA to allow the AM to go silent for 1 year while continuing to operate the translator as the primary signal source! In addition, they want the feds to allow them to grant“KVSL” as the temporary call sign instead of K263CA. This is intended to be an experiment in a small community to see the effects on listeners, advertisers & the station’s bottom line should AM’s be allowed to permanently shut off & migrate tho their new FM translator frequencies.

My take on this is that it’s an interesting experiment that should go well in a city of 10,000 that isn’t inundated with an over-saturated FM dial crammed with signals. I think asking the FCC to temporarily suspend the proper translator call sign is pushing one’s luck however. They can legally still identify with “K263CA” at the top of the hour while using the imaging & ‘moniker’ of their AM – KVSL. Trying this experiment here in over-saturated northwest Wash. & southwest BC may not go as well. I personally think AM’s should have been given consideration for open FM frequencies back in the 1980’s or 90’s when they were available, as has happened in Canada, the UK, Germany, Switzerland & others. This should have occurred BEFORE the proliferation of translators, including the abuse by a few religious organizations. It should have also taken place before the FCC’s implementation of LPFM – all too little too late at this point. Even in our region, there WAS at one time space to accommodate a number of AM’s wishing to ‘flip’ to FM. This move would have, of course, forced the FCC to relax their now silly rule about non-commercials having exclusive use of 88-92 mHz. Yet again AM O/O struggle to maintain some relevance in a 21st century soundscape & get the short end of the stick. I’ll be watching with interest as this progresses & will refer back to this news item in future blogs discussing AM radio.


Author: Mike Cherry

retired broadcaster: on-air, MD, PD, asst PD, Prod Mgr, IT, station technician/engineer, pioneer Internet webcaster, station installation/maintenance; 12 years in commercial radio, 17 years volunteer in campus/community radio in B.C., Alberta & Wash. Amateur radio operator & "DXer" specializing in AM night-time DX, short-wave DX/listening & remote SDR DXing/listening

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Some comments may be held for moderation. (New users)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.