Monday, September 9, 2013

Saving AM radio, because rural folks matter?

At least that seems to be a critical reason according to this NYT story today focusing on the efforts of Ajit Pai to save AM radio.  Edward Wyatt reports that Pai, the sole Republican on the FCC, is "on a personal and quixotic quest to save AM" which is "largely the realm of local news, sports, conservative talk and religious broadcasters." Pai proposes "overhauling" AM, which is increasingly static-y due to interference from smartphones and other consumer electronics.  Pai's arguments for why AM is worth saving are both practical and nostalgic:  it's "vital in emergencies and in rural areas"and "the audible core of our national culture."  On the practical side, Wyatt writes:
AM’s longer wavelength means it can be heard at far greater distances and so in crises, he said, “AM radio is always going to be there.” As an example, he cited Fort Yukon, Alaska, where the AM station KZPA broadcasts inquiries about missing hunters and transmits flood alerts during the annual spring ice breakup. 
“When the power goes out, when you can’t get a good cell signal, when the Internet goes down, people turn to battery-powered AM radios to get the information they need,” Mr. Pai said.
As for the nostalgia, Pai recalls growing up in Parsons, Kansas, the son of Indian immigrants.  There he listened to his high school basketball team win the 1987 state championship on KLKC 1540.  Pai also talked about the role of radio as a "constant companion" on family road trips across the plains.  Wyatt quotes Pai:
AM radio is localism, it is community.

No comments: