Whither (Or Wither?) AM?
Beginning in the late 1960s, AM's listenership declined as FM fine-tuned its sound. AM signals have wider geographic reach, but FM stereo sound is better. Poor fidelity, static, inadequate fine-tuning, programming difficulties and other factors all contribute to the withering of AM, and more investigation clearly is needed to pinpoint possible solutions. Technical parity with FM obviously tops the list of AM's problems. Signal interference remains a formidable obstacle to better AM reception. Many see digital audio broadcasting (DAB) as another possible panacea, but the optimists neglect the fact that the improved in-band DAB signal for AM may be matched by even greater sound improvements in competing FM. Internal competition is fierce throughout broadcasting, of course, and adding to radio-operator angst in the 1990s is the introduction of cable audio services, such as Digital Cable Radio and Digital Planet and the seemingly inevitable advent of direct-to-listener satellite radio formats.