Thursday, May 31, 2007

AM Renaissance?

I should be getting ahead in Greek so I can keep up with Annie... third day and I'm already pruning some of the homework exercises to get to bed at a reasonable hour. This is an intense course. I've managed to tackle some of the vagaries of typesetting ancient greek with the babel and teubner LaTeX packages, though.

Saw an interesting ad on a SEPTA bus the other day. It seems we've got a new alt. rock radio station: WHAT - Skin Radio. Basically trying to claim the mantle of WDRE, Philly's late, great alternative station. XPN, our college rock & singer/song-writer public station has been doing this lately, too, with their new Y-Rock programming. What's interesting about this newcomer, though, is their broadcast frequency: 1340 AM.

AM radio -- that's pretty alternative these days.

At first blush, this reminds me of when I was in high school and thought myself so frugal for blowing all my deli money on cassettes instead of cds. Sure, Philly's FM dial is pretty crowded, but is this really the best long-term strategy? Actually, WHAT's making a pretty smart gamble. AM can broadcast digital signals for HD radios, which, at a theoretical 36kb/s is supposedly equivalent to current FM quality. And if car manufacturers* pick up HD, adoption should be faster than the subscription-based satellite radio has been. I'm guessing we might even see some AM spectrum speculation if HD radio starts to gain momentum.

*Here I'm assuming that most radio consumption takes place in cars, where there's far less media competition than elsewhere. Annie and I almost always have NPR on at home, but even public radio, with its rabid fan-base, refers to their best pieces as “driveway moments,” acknowledging that their audience is captivated in more ways than one.

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