Readers Respond to AM Drive
Longtime readers of this column know: I’m a bit crazy when it comes to AM radio. Unlike many … seemingly most … owners managers or programmers, I believe that an AM station can compete if it pays the right format. And in my opinion that usually means music … music that can’t be found on FM. Do that and you can attract new listeners, including young people who have not had an AM station program to them since the 1970s.
As I said a few weeks ago, I’ve been writing this column since 1987, and not once has anyone ever told me that they don’t listen to AM because of issues with audio quality. People tell me they don’t listen because with rare exception, the programming just isn’t appealing.
But don’t take my word for it. Here are some of the responses you sent to me in answer to the question: would you listen to an AM station if it played something you wanted to hear?
“What would it take to lure listeners back to AM radio? The answer is quite simple. Give them what they want to hear!” — Tom Murphy
“To me the most important thing about me is the radio content/format, not necessarily the broadcast quality. As long as KSRF plays 60’s and 70’s music, I’ll be listening” — Randy Ouchi
“You can’t hear new music or certain styles on any station; I’d definitely listen to AM if they played new music, metal or Prog. So would my friends in school.” — Sean Rogers
“I agree with you, the AM band should have better formats. Since we already have an oldies format, I think it would be great if we had a format on the band that would play music from the Classic Rock Era (1964-1990). We really need to have more music formats on the AM radio band.” — Russell Cinque, Jr.
“AM has nothing that would interest anyone my age. My friends don’t even listen to FM stations either. We get our music online. If an AM station played new songs and new bands, I’d definitely tune in.” — Kayleigh Marcus
“Up until 6 months ago, the only things I listened to on AM radio were broadcasts of Kings and Ducks games. Then when my favorite FM station went off the air, I discovered K-SURF. While I love their format, I would be thrilled if there were an AM station that played songs from the 60s, 70s and some 80s that were not so pop, but more folk oriented. Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Judy Collins, Joan Baez and some of the lesser-known artists like Bob Lind, Hedge & Donna, Eric Andersen etc.” — Susanne Gilmore
“I haven’t listened to an AM station for years until you told us about K-SURF. I haven’t listened to KRTH since. I love, love, love this oldies station! I have it on all day at home and in my car. What a wonderful change from all the FM stations playing songs I’m sick of. I only wish it had better reception.” — Pat Games
“There are way to many commercials and very little content. What I believe would make for better programming is a mixture of local news, interviews of people with interesting stories or new books, with various music intertwined.” — Bill Fisher
“How about a station that blends classic country with new country? Done right, this could fill a big void, as great artists like Alan Jackson and Toby Keith no longer can get played on the current FM channel.” — Steve Keller
“I would listen to AM if they played something I liked. Maybe give exposure to some artists that aren’t played anywhere else, especially if they play real instruments. There are lots of talented bands with kids my age in high schools and colleges in the area that can’t get on the radio” — Antonio A.
“Offer something that isn’t already on the radio. ‘50s music. ‘60s music. How about a comedy station? Something new can just be something old, made new again.” — Veronica Ross
There you have it. Programming will bring people of all ages back to AM radio, especially in an era when the FMs are all too scared to take chances. AM stations — like FM stations in the 1960s — have nothing to lose … and everything to gain.
Once programming is in place, we can tackle the technical issues and find that in spite of its reputation, AM can provide good, perhaps excellent, audio quality. That topic will be covered in a future column.