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AM broadcasting is the process of radio broadcasting using amplitude modulation. AM was the first method of impressing sound on a radio signal and is still widely used today. Commercial and public AM broadcasting is carried out in the medium wave band world wide, and on long wave and short wave bands also. Once AM was the only commercially important method for broadcast signal modulation. Today, it competes with FM broadcasting for mobile reception of music and speech, as well as with various digital modes distributed from terrestrial and satellite transmitters.
AM was the dominant method of broadcasting during the first eighty years of the 20th century and remains widely used into the 21st. AM broadcast radio (as opposed to point-to-point communication) began with the first, experimental broadcast on Christmas Eve, 1906, by Canadian experimenter Reginald Fessenden, and was used for small-scale voice and music broadcasts up until World War I. San Francisco, California, radio station KCBS claims to be the direct descendant of KQW, founded by radio experimenter Charles "Doc" Herrold, who made regular weekly broadcasts in San Jose, California, as early as June 1909. On that basis KCBS has claimed to be the world's oldest broadcast station and celebrated its 100th anniversary in the summer of 2009. The great increase in the use of AM radio came late in the following decade as radio experimentation increased worldwide following World War I. The first licensed commercial radio services began on AM in the 1920s. XWA of Montreal, Quebec (later CFCF, now CINW) claims status as the first commercial broadcaster in the world, with regular broadcasts commencing on May 20, 1920. The first licensed American radio station was started by Frank Conrad, KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Radio programming boomed during the "Golden Age of Radio" (1920s–1950s). Dramas, comedy and all other forms of entertainment were produced, as well as broadcasts of news and music.
AM radio technology is simpler than frequency modulated (FM) radio, Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB), satellite radio or HD (digital) radio. An AM receiver detects amplitude variations in the radio waves at a particular frequency. It then amplifies changes in the signal voltage to drive a loudspeaker or earphones. The earliest crystal radio receivers used a crystal diode detector with no amplification. In North American broadcasting practice, transmitter power input to the antenna for commercial AM stations ranges from about 250 to 50,000 watts. Experimental licenses were issued for up to 500,000 watts radiated power, for stations intended for wide-area communication during disasters including Cincinnati station WLW, which used such power on occasion before World War II. WLW's superpower transmitter still exists at the station's suburban transmitter site, but it was decommissioned in the early 1940s and no current commercial broadcaster in the U.S. or Canada is authorized for such power levels. Some other countries do authorize higher power operation (for example the Mexican station XERF formerly operated at 250,000 watts). Antenna design must consider the coverage desired and stations may be required, based on the terms of their license, to directionalize their transmitted signal to avoid interfering with other stations operating on the same frequency.
or even to suspend broadcasting entirely during nighttime hours.. and is typically specified in mV/m (signal strength). this band is mainly reserved for aeronautics navigational aids. limiting their target market to their own local area. from an old telegraph abbreviation for "distance". MF signals travel by groundwave. In Australia medium wave stations are not required to reduce their power at night and consequently stations such as the 50. The hobby of listening to long distance signals is known as DX or DX'ing. This phenomenon can be easily observed by scanning the medium wave radio dial at night. The higher the NIF value. Africa. Because of the bandwidth taken up by the sidebands. enabling radio stations to be heard much farther from their point of origin than is normal during the day. In the United States and Canada.S. Broadcast frequency bands AM radio is broadcast on several frequency bands. Several nonprofit hobbyist clubs are devoted exclusively to DXing the AM broadcast band. The frequency ranges given here are those that are allocated to stations. and U. allowing an extended coverage area when skywave propagation takes over at night. territories. the stronger the local signal must be to override nighttime interference. by each country's telecommunications administration (the FCC in the U. including the National Radio Club and International Radio Club of America. Long wave is only used for radio broadcasting in ITU region 1 (Europe. Bermuda. In the United States. due to noise and a mish-mash of other stations propagating in via skywave after dark. During the day. and is not allocated elsewhere. However. meaning that they broadcast on frequencies with few other stations allocated. The area covered by a local station at night without significant skywave interference is known as the nighttime interference-free (NIF) contour. Relatively few stations enjoy clear-channel status. Similarly. for example) subject to international agreements. • Long wave is 153–279 kHz. diffracting around the curve of the earth over a distance up to a few hundred miles (or kilometers) from the signal transmitter. the range allocated for the band as a whole is usually about 5 kHz wider on either side. The allocation of these bands is governed by the ITU's Radio Regulations and. people listening to short wave transmissions are SWLing. As a result. starting at or near local sunset. HF) radio signals act differently during daytime and nighttime. on the national level.S. Non-clear channel stations typically have reduced coverage at night. though a small section of the band could theoretically be used for microbroadcasting under the United States Part .000-watt 3LO can be heard in some parts of New Zealand at night. after sunset. some radio stations are granted clear channel status. and parts of Asia). are required as a condition of license to reduce their broadcasting power significantly (or use directional antennas) after sunset. many broadcast stations An example of the difference in range of an AM radio signal at different times. with 9 kHz channel spacing generally used.AM broadcasting 2 Medium-wave (medium frequency. resulting in a smaller coverage area and fewer listeners able to hear the station without interference. changes in the ionosphere cause MF signals to travel by skywave. MF) and short-wave (high frequency. Canada. Such stations are commonly referred to as daytimers. The vast majority of local MW stations rely on ground-wave coverage only.
Medium wave is by far the most heavily used band for commercial broadcasting.S. AM is used mostly by broadcast services – other shortwave users may use a modified version of AM such as SSB or an AM-compatible version of SSB such as SSB with carrier reinserted. while Digital Radio Mondiale is a more open effort often used on the shortwave bands. BBC Radio 4 (a largely speech channel) had an FM location. In the United States.1 MHz. AM radio signals can be severely disrupted in large urban centres by metal structures. in the late 1960s and 1970s. ITU region 2 also authorizes the Extended AM broadcast band between 1610 and 1710 kHz. and a theoretical frequency response of 0–16 kHz. AM broadcasting now attracts mainly talk radio and news programming. tall buildings and sources of radio frequency interference (RFI) and electrical noise. AM radio generally cannot. and 540–1610 kHz in ITU region 2 (the Americas). and hybrid digital broadcast systems are now being used around the world.4 kHz. such as electrical motors. This is the "AM radio" that most people are familiar with. and in many cities is now relegated to news. while music radio and public radio mostly shifted to FM broadcasting in the late 1970s in the developed countries. nostalgia and ethnic music – survive on AM. whereas BBC Radio 1.AM broadcasting 15 rules. However. although an AM station can be converted into an FM cable signal. Frequency response is typically 40 Hz–5 kHz with a 50 dB Signal to noise(S/N) ratio. Frequencies between the broadcast bands are used for other forms of radio communication. As a result. religious and talk radio stations. Both of these standards are capable of broadcasting audio of significantly greater fidelity than that of standard AM with current bandwidth limitations. Short wave is used by audio services intended to be heard at great distances from the transmitting station. sports. divided into 14 broadcast bands. with 10 kHz spacing. successfully attracting huge audiences. In the UK during the 1980s. 3 Limitations Because of its susceptibility to atmospheric and electrical interference. The long range of short wave broadcasts comes at the expense of lower audio fidelity.3–26. • Medium wave is 531–1.2 kHz by a National Radio Systems Committee (NRSC) standard adopted by the FCC in June 1989. a music channel. The limitation on AM fidelity comes from current receiver design. While FM radio can also be received by cable. Some musical genres – particularly country. and can be used alongside many AM broadcasts. maximum transmitted audio bandwidth is limited to 10. or lightning. with 9 kHz spacing. to fit more transmitters on the AM broadcast band in the United States. Moreover. and Canada such as WABC and CHUM transmitted highly processed and extended audio to 11 kHz. AM radio in many countries has lost its dominance as a music broadcasting service. The mode of propagation for short wave is different (see high frequency). the frequencies are used most effectively in latitudes north of 50°. The former audio limitation was 15 kHz resulting in a channel occupied bandwidth of 30 kHz. was confined to AM broadcasts over much of the UK. top 40 rock and roll stations in the U. Due to the propagation characteristics of long wave signals. resulting in a channel occupied bandwidth of 20.611kHz in ITU regions 1 and 3. Other distribution methods Stereo transmissions are possible (see AM stereo). In Switzerland a system known as "wire broadcasting" . and are not broadcast services intended for reception by the general public. fluorescent lights. in addition to stereo sound and text data. Shortwave broadcasts generally use a narrow 5 kHz channel spacing. cable operators that offer FM cable services are required by the CRTC to distribute all locally available AM stations in this manner. oldies. In Canada. iBiquity's proprietary HD Radio has been adopted and approved by the FCC for medium wave transmissions. • Short wave is approximately 2. especially in areas where FM frequencies are in short supply or in thinly populated or mountainous areas where FM coverage is poor.
which is designed to cover only the immediate property and perhaps nearby areas.com/article/chrome-and-glass-shine-again/17197) . is connected to a computer or music player.oldradio. Collins. com/archives/general/buildbcb. especially those in the United States under the FCC's Part 15 rules. Hobbyists also use low-power AM transmitters to provide local programming for antique radio equipment in areas where AM programming is not widely available or is of questionable quality.AM broadcasting (Telefonrundspruch in German) transmitted AM signals over telephone lines in the longwave band until 1998. On mediumwave (AM). broadcast on AM to achieve greater range than is possible on the FM band. biennophone. when it was shut down. such radio stations are often found between 1610 kHz and 1710 kHz.radioworld. htm External links • "Building the Broadcast Band" the development of the 520–1700 kHz MW (AM) band (http://www.html) • Chrome and Glass Shine Again: Hams Give Second Life to Legendary Transmitters With Names Like RCA. in such cases the transmitter. References  http:/ / www. Gates and Raytheon (http://www. 4 Microbroadcasting Some microbroadcasters and pirate radio broadcasters. ch/ telefonrundspruch.
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