Kudos to Matthew Lasar for unearthing an ex parte gem from the FCC files. Clear Channel’s top engineering executive and chief lobbyist had a sit-down with FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai earlier this month in which they covered a wide range of issues related to the state of AM broadcasting. Pai is pushing for an "AM Revitalization Initiative" at the FCC, which would consider several ideas related to finding sustainability for the nation’s oldest broadcast band.
The National Association of Broadcasters’ annual convention just wrapped up in Las Vegas, and HD Radio proponents used the event to begin the push to make the AM dial all-digital.
At a panel on "AM Band Revitalization" moderated by Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai – the first Commissioner to moderate a panel at the NAB Show – CBS Radio Senior Vice President of Engineering Glynn Walden told attendees that there was no sustainable future for analog AM broadcasting and that the FCC should set a date for an "for a digital AM sunrise and for an analog AM sunset."
Walden has been one of the broadcast industry’s point-people on HD Radio from the very beginning. He helped develop the system’s core technical design and specifications, co-founded the company from which iBiquity Digital Corporation was born, and was instrumental in lobbying the FCC to approve HD as the U.S. digital radio standard. With three HD patents to his name, Walden would like nothing more than to see his baby actually fly after languishing all these years.
There’ve been more developments regarding the radio industry’s potential plans for “modernizing” the AM band. Radio World reported last month that the NAB’s Radio Technology Committee and CBS have selected an unnamed AM station “in an area that could be characterized as a medium-sized market” to be a guinea pig for all-digital AM-HD Radio test broadcasts.
This is the first of “three or four” AM stations that may be tapped to test the all-digital protocol. The experiments are likely to be done by an “outside engineering contractor” and primarily financed by HD’s developer, iBiquity Digital Corporation. They could begin before the end of the year.