AM Rejuventation: Why Wyoming Matters To Washington

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LAS VEGAS — Just one hour after FCC Chairman Ajit Pai received a standing ovation for his oratory declaration that the FCC will do whatever it takes to remove onerous oversight for radio and television broadcast companies, a North Hall meeting room filled to capacity as engineers and radio station owners eagerly awaited Doug Vernier, a telecommunications consultant who for 24 years has served as President of V-Soft Communications.

While Pai discussed AM radio revitalization in his address, joking that not doing so “would be like Barry Manilow doing a show in Las Vegas and not singing ‘Copacabana,’” Vernier took a much more serious and drier look at how FM translators are impacting fully licensed AMs and FMs alike.

Pai revealed that we should see the first application window for Class C and Class D stations this summer, while thanking Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn for launching FM translator legislation in 2013, as acting FCC Chair, in a bipartisan manner.

Meanwhile, the first question to come from broadcasters in Vernier’s session was from an owner of a Class C station who claims he’s getting interference from a Class D translator.

“They have to cause real interference,” Vernier says, when asked what to do about the alleged problem.

These discussions are more likely than ever to crop up in big markets, such as Los Angeles, where the FM dial is at near-capacity across the entire DMA. However, the discussion of FM translators – and the continued value of AMs – is one of America’s heartland.

For Steve Sisson, Operations Manager of Sheridan, Wyoming-based Lovcom Inc., and David Smith, Contract Engineer with Dave’s Electronics in Pinedale, Wyoming, AM radio is valuable. Of the 10 stations operated by Lovcom out of Sheridan, two are AMs. Those are the company’s cash cows.

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