If you ask a young person today whether or not they listen to radio, sometimes you'll get a response "what is radio?" Yes as unbelievable as this sounds, it's true. It happened to me one day while I was substitute teaching. Now I'll take it a step further, if some of the much younger generation doesn't even know what radio is, they will NEVER understand what AM radio is.
The other day I was scanning the AM dial just to hear what was going on and I found that NOTHING was going on. I heard conservative, hateful right wing talk, static, more static more right wing talk, some sports talk and an oldies station from Atlantic City, NJ that was totally "canned." There were noDJ's, promos, excitement or really anything, just music.
Technically AM is more complex than FM. A key element to distribution of AM signals is their ground system. These systems must be maintained periodically because when when the ground cables corrode, the on air signal is greatly affected.
Today, just by listening, it's obvious that most of these AM ground systems are not maintained at all! It appears as if AM radio is becoming a waste land.
There are a few exceptions especially in large cities where all news and sports stations still do quite well in the ratings.
So what about the future of AM? Let me say this, unless the FCC makes major changes in the very inefficient bureaucratic ways they do things, AM will continue to be a useless appendage of FM and other radio services.
My opinion, AM could possibly be a good outlet for micro and local broadcasting but the rules for this kind of service, limits power and renders this outlet really useless in most cases. AM could possible serve as means of education. There are many ideas floating around but again the FCC is the gorilla in the room and unless major rules are changed don't expect anything to be done anytime soon!