Monday, March 31, 2008

AM radio not feeling buzz of digital

We always expect technology to come running to our rescue. The latest cell phone or computer always packs more power or features, so the last thing you'd expect would be a technological advance that takes us a step backward.

But that's the story when it comes to digital AM radio. Now, don't be confused: Digital FM radio is being rolled out -albeit very slowly - without problems when it comes to reception. It's on the old AM dial where the trouble is.

You remember AM - where top 40 once ran free with jabberjaw deejays, jangling jingles and near-constant promotion. Today's youth are probably barely aware of the band's existence, living in their "I" world of iPods and iTunes.

Yet AM radio now faces a problem more insidious than just being ignored. A so-called technological upgrade - the conversion to a digital delivery system - threatens to turn the dial into a sea of static.