More AM stations close

By Art Grainger
Posted 15 December 2014, 12.34am est
Steve Bentley

It's getting quieter on the AM bands (medium wave and long wave).

All of the German LW stations (153 kHz - Deutschlandfunk, 177 kHz - Deutschlandradio Kultur,
207 kHz - Deutschlandfunk) are to close at the end of this month. The DLF frequencies on medium wave are to close next year. Meanwhile, Germany's NDR stations on 702, 792, 828 and 972 are closing in January. There is still no word of WDR2 on 720 Khz but I don't suspect it will be on for much longer.

This means that next year, the only German presence on medium wave will be RTL (for as long as the transmitter in Luxembourg is on air) and possibly WDR 2, Antenna Saar and Bayern Plus. AFN is said to be closing soon as well.

So, with France Info coming off air soon, as well as Radio 5 from the Netherlands closing in September, the band will be more open to more distant stations reaching the UK at nights, as well as improved fringe reception for some local UK stations.

I did some DX-ing yesterday at around 3.30 PM and I noticed that medium wave seemed to have fewer European powerhouse stations blocking out weaker ones. Consequently I was getting better reception of some UK and lower powered European stations than I can recall having before (Belgium's VivaCite being a good example). DX-ing was done on my Sony DAB car stereo (which I bought from Halfords and is super-sensitive on all bands).


4 years, 11 months ago

Really interesting, this, Art - thank you. I understand that Scandinavia has mostly ceased any broadcasts on AM, too. I suspect that 2015 will see UK stations beginning to retreat from AM as well; BBC local radio is already undergoing trials in this regard, and I can't see much longterm future for AM, I'm afraid. I wonder if this is a good thing or not?

4 years, 11 months ago

In London, the 963/972AM licence has been re-advertised by Ofcom, and attracted six applications.

There haven't been many AM licences up for grabs in recent times. That's because most of them are on DAB, and benefit from an automatic licence extension.

Next year, if Premier Christian Radio don't secure another DAB slot on a London multiplex OR the Surrey multiplex, then the 1566AM Surrey licence is up for grabs. It'll be interesting to see if anyone else launches a competing bid.

4 years, 11 months ago

I personally don't miss it. The noise from various devices makes it as good as useless in some environments. Even when there was an AM only station that I wished to listen to, despite being in the service area, the signal would not penetrate into the office bulding, so I could only listen on the internet. They have since moved to FM which allows me to listen that way, albeit the signal is attenuated.

Apart from the occasional bit of DX-ing, the only other station that I occasionally listen to is Spirit Radio, whose signal is just about bearable enough. Other AM services are on DAB in my area or I can choose to listen at home or via the smartphone whenI'm driving.

There was a time when I would make an appointment to listen to some programs on high-powered European stations, especially their English services - but these are now all but gone.

4 years, 4 months ago

Some have closed - but one has opened............!!!!

Bretagne 5, formerly an online only station, is now broadcasting to that region of France (and the Channel Islands) on 1593 KHz, playing a selection of music in French and Ennglish. It also has specialist shows and the occasional speech program dealing with local issues. It's signal can be heard across much of the UK at nights as well, although it does reduce it's output power to 5KW (from 10KW) after 7PM.

4 years, 4 months ago

Interesting. Though what's the betting that's just to get more advantageous music rights for online? It seems all the rage these days...

4 years, 4 months ago

Admittedly, I rarely listen to medium or long waves any more, unless I am driving through a dead signal area where AM is thee exclusive way of listening in'.

AM is also handy for footbal fans in Scotland by listening to medium wave opt outs for Scottish sport. During DAB's early days, some of BBC Radio Scotland's medium wave output did stream on BBC Radio Nan Gaidheal for a time.

Before I retired last year, people working in council establishments in Ayrshire generally listened as the preferred option to ILR's Westsound on 1035kHz.

Transmitters like Westerglen were commissioned near the end of the cats whisker era and with no sign off a switch off in sight, Westerglen will probably survive well into the 2020s. The BBC are too frightened to switch off Radio 4LW.

Australia's AM stations still sound good with little or no incoming interference. As you travel away from Sydney, deep into the Blue Mountains of NSW, AM channels are the only services receivable.
Even in the digital era, the ABC relies on domestic shortwave transmission to reach remote places like Katherine and Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory.

Although it is growing old gracefully with less people visiting it, AM will be around for for a while yet!

4 years, 4 months ago

The BBC should reopen its high-power LW transmitters in Eastern Europe.
I even suggest it should open some in Turkey or that place - near Crimea, etblablabla.
You know why.

4 years, 4 months ago

'Etblablabla' will probably switch on some old soviet made jamming transmitters to ''drown out'' the BBC..

4 years, 4 months ago

Well, yeah, but I guess to quell a long wave, you'll need a long wave, so there'll be shadows because its diffraction is not so sharp, I guess. Correct me if I'm wrong.

...its effects are generally most pronounced for waves whose wavelength is roughly comparable to the dimensions of the diffracting object or slit.


If the obstructing object provides multiple, closely spaced openings, a complex pattern of varying intensity can result. This is due to the addition, or interference, of different parts of a wave that travels to the observer by different paths, where different path lengths result in different phases.

The above quotes are from Wikipedia.

4 years, 4 months ago
I am assuming the technical jargon is meaning that listeners in the target area will hear some of a jammed broadcast which is normally the case with a bit of determination!
The attached is the Russian language service of Radio Tirana, jammed by the Soviet Union at the height of the communist era.
The English service was periodically jammed on the run up to a commemoration of Joseph Stalin's birthday or death, which annoyed the Soviet Union back in the 70s and 80s.

Domestic services audience in the UK experienced jamming of the pop pirate ship Radio Northsea International back in 1970. The plucky image of RNI and its audience did assist on the demise of the BBC monopoly on sound broadcasting back in 1972..

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