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Fun Fact February 11, 2020

11 February 2020


What’s all that static about?  Today we’ll look at AM radio.  First of all, what in the world does AM stand for?  Amplitude Modulation.  Simply stated, it is the measurement of a wave or radio signal from it’s central point to the top of the wave.  In AM the length of the wave form remains the same, but the height of the wave form varies depending on what is being modulated, or broadcast.  It was the first method developed for making audio radio transmissions, and is still used worldwide, primarily for medium wave, also known as “AM band” transmissions, but also on the longwave and shortwave radio bands.  The earliest experimental AM transmissions began in the early 1900s. However, widespread AM broadcasting was not established until the 1920s, following the development of vacuum tube receivers and transmitters. AM radio remained the dominant method of broadcasting for the next 30 years, a period called the “Golden Age Of Radio,” until television broadcasting became widespread in the 1950s and received most of the programming previously carried by radio. Subsequently, AM radio’s audiences have also greatly shrunk due to competition from FM radio, Digital Audio Broadcasting or DAB, satellite radio, HD, digital, radio and Internet streaming.  AM transmissions are much more susceptible than FM or digital signals are to interference, and often have lower audio fidelity. Thus, AM broadcasters tend to specialize in spoken-word formats, such as talk radio, all news or in the case of WFTR, all sports, leaving the broadcasting of music mainly to FM and digital stations.  WFTR-AM went on the air in September of 1948 and currently broadcasts with a power of 1000 watts day and night.  Other examples of the use of AM signals is aircraft VHF radios, some HAM radios, portable two way radios and citizens band radios.


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