The UK AM Stereo Experiment, Why was it jettisoned

By Willie Bone
Posted 12 February 2016, 2.41am est

By the start of the 1990s, the Independent Broadcasting Authority supervised the frequency splits on most Independent Local Radio stations with separate programming on AM and FM in each ILR area.
The IBA realised there was a mini renaissance to medium wave listening at that time and started experimenting with AM stereo using the Motorola format.
Judging by the old IBA Engineering announcement about its prototype AM stereo transmission at Foxall Heath, the regulator was over the moon about its results. The IBA then wanted to roll out the AM stereo service in designated areas within the UK!

The question is, why was the AM stereo proposal jettisoned by the government of the day?


3 years, 10 months ago

Hi Willie,

I'm not positive but it could be due to lack of suitable receivers available in Europe at that time.
Still less than a handful out there capable of receiving AM stereo.
I have a 2.5kW BE transmitter with a CQUAM stereo card if you need one:-)
You'll probably be broadcasting to yourself though.


3 years, 10 months ago

Radio stations in Stereo?! Jesus what a radical concept. It'll never catch on.

It was popular in the States and in Oz. Airchecks I've heard, allowing for tape transfer etc. sound very good and certainly supercede 80k Mono DAB for fidelity.

Not sure what the reception was like compared to conventional AM, though one assumes it suffered similar issues at night.

3 years, 10 months ago

Listen to this AM Stereo off-air recording onto a cassette then uploaded to YT:

Of course it was never going to last but it gives you an idea of the fidelity.

I don't care what the bit rate is I'd like someone to show me 'warmth' from DAB.


3 years, 10 months ago

Thanks for the correspondence to date!

My impression was that the IBA regulator and the conservative government did not have a happy relationship back at the time of the AM stereo experiment!
So, the IBA rollout of their AM stereo ambition was halted!
You may remember the fallout between the government and the IBA about allowing the ITV screening of a documentary called 'Death Of A Princess'! The programme was about the beheading of a Saudi Arabian princess which our government of the day wanted cancelled, but the IBA stood up against censorship! The IBA won in the short term, but was a victim of its own success when it was later abolished! Another reason for its abolition was a desire to deregulate the commercial TV and radio services.
Coming back to AM stereo, the IBA with its blotted copy book was never going to get its stereo service for medium wave ILR!

Okay! My assumption of the above could be wrong. So why was the AM stereo rollout cancelled?
Is there any former IBA engineers on this forum who can shine a light on the reason for this jettisoned project?

AM stereo was a missed opportunity for the pre-digital age!

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