RadioWaves: 2/5/16

Starting the FM Shutdown in Norway

Norway, which announced last year that all analog FM transmissions will cease in 2017 — the start of the end is to be January 11, 2017 — is already seeing some FM stations disappear.

In their place is all-digital broadcasts on an entirely new band known as DAB+ which is being used in Western Europe, Australia and China but which was not authorized for broadcasts in the United States.

Radio in Norway is far different than in the United States, with broadcasts dominated by networks affiliated with the government. The first stations to shut down, though, are independent, and seem to be doing so out of cost-cutting motives; RadioWorld.Com says that the FM stations owned by Bauer Media featured two local broadcasts while the replacements will be just one national digital station.

Prior to the decision to adopt the HD Radio system for digital broadcasts in the United States, there was debate on whether we, too, should go with DAB. In the end FCC was swayed by arguments that keeping traditional radio alive benefits listeners today, while HD Radio can broadcast in a fully digital mode as well, making today’s frequencies viable in the future.


I gave BMW engineers some flak last year for being unable to do what engineers at other carmakers can do: provide AM radio reception in a hybrid car. Yet still the BMW i3 arrives in the hands of buyers without that AM capability. It would seem that BMW shares engineering with the diesel group over at at Volkswagen.

It turns out, however, that AM reception is not impossible, it is just turned off. BMW considers this a “feature,” as explained by company spokesman Dave Bunchko when the issue first materialized:

“We learned from our experience with MINI E and BMW ActiveE that the electric motor causes interference with the AM signal. Rather than frustrate customers with inferior reception, the decision was made to leave it off. HD Radio is standard on the i3 and through multi-casting, many traditional AM stations in key markets are available on secondary and tertiary HD signals.”

Interesting that Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Nissan and all others were able to make it work. Regardless, AM is available on the i3 after all, as long as the owner can do some tinkering. You can read about it here:, though without owning one I have no clue what is involved in accessing the system.

And, He’s Gone … Again

I’ve gotten a few letters and emails on the subject, so it’s worthy of an explanation.

Fans of Art Bell, original host of Coast to Coast AM heard overnights locally on KFI (640 AM), were excited when he returned to the air via SiriusXM satellite radio in September, 2013. That show lasted six weeks before he decided to end it. Then they were excited when he launched an internet program — later carried by KABC (790 AM) — in July of last year. That program ended December 11th.

As always, the reason was “security,” as he and his family  were allegedly subject to trespassing on his property — and threats — from someone he believes wants him off the air. Far be it for me to doubt him, but personally I think he — while a popular host with a true knack for entertainment — is a few kilohertz short of a frequency.