Should a Failing AM Radio Station Switch Back to Playing Music?
This coming weekend legendary DJ Cousin Brucie will return to his home base WABC 770 AM in New York City. He will be doing what he does best, playing the greatest hits of the 50s 60s and 70s.
WABC was once a powerhouse in New York with it's 50,000 watt clear channel signal covering most of the east coast at night and most of the northeast during the day. In the early 80's as FM was stealing the ratings away from most AM stations, WABC swtiched to talk. As of late, lots of hate talk shows air on WABC and their ratings are in the toilet.
So what do you do with a station that has no ratings? Pull the plug and take them off the air or use the that powerful signal to create a specialty format serving an older audience? I would go with the latter. I believe that music not currently heard on FM and that appeals to an older audience might fill in the AM wasteland a bit. I also think that AM may be a good source for local programming. If local communities could run their own station that serve their community, AM may offer some opportunity.
Although LPFM has a long litany of rules and regulations, that I believe contribute to the ineffectiveness of the service, many of these stations are mere jukeboxes and are really poorly run. Sometimes if the rules are so strict, you break them! For instance, LPFM requires a board run operation. If I owned a radio station, I'd be damned if I would hand over my ownership to a board. It just wouldn't happen. So what are some stations doing, they are appointing family members and friends to be on the board and they are running their station the way that they want to. LPFM isn't the answer and can actually be a hindrance!
So that leaves the antiquated AM band that I believe could be revived to a certain extent to serve an older audience that has little source for entertainment these days.