Why pay all the expenses to operate and staff 23 radio stations, with questionable signal quality, when you know the majority of your target audience is listening through another platform? That may have been what the team at Radio Disney was thinking when they decided to put 23 facilities up for sale. According to Disney?s internal research, 37 percent of listeners (6 years old and up) listen to radio via satellite, 35 percent listen on the Internet and 31 percent listen using mobile devices. Only 18 percent listen to radio via AM and FM. Radio Disney has been on SiriusXM for over a decade now.
For two years the FCC has been saying it plans to revitalize the AM dial. However, whatever it may be doing is being done at a snail's pace as modern, clearer technology improves alomst daily. Getting a new generation to start listening to AM radio now would seem to be a monumental task. AM broadcasters have to wonder if it can ever be revitalized to a point where it attracts new listeners.
When broadcasters reconvene for the Radio Show in Indianapolis in a few short weeks, those Disney numbers will surely be discussed. The Indy show will mark one year since FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn made this announcement: "AM listeners are migrating to newer, higher-fidelity, media services. The number of stations is decreasing, AM listenership is dwindling, and young people just are not tuning in." Then she introduced a six-point plan to help AM Broadcasters, including a one-time filing window for AM licensees to apply for FM translators.
AM broadcasters are still waiting for action and it appears, at least for now, that FM translator window is spackled shut.
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