Tony, thank you for your thoughtful post directed towards fans of Alternative Rock.
I would like to address a different point brought up within it:
I still want my dance/EDM station to happen but let's look at the BIGGER picture here of where things have been going and even I can admit this. FM radio as a whole is going to "spoken word". It might have been a shock that WFAN-FM is going on 101.9 but it was NO SHOCK AT ALL that WFAN was going to appear on the FM dial sooner or later, this after ESPN parked itself on 98.7. Eventually CBS radio will sell off 660 to make up for this after the WLNY-TV purchase. But down the road, you can also kiss Newsradio 880 and WINS goodbye too. Why? Because it will eventually be Newsradio 92.3 and 102.7 WINS. Watch PLJ be the new home of WABC 770 down the road. I could see another station try "hot talk" again and this time around it actually MAY succeed.
If the FCC wants to KEEP the AM band, it will be a radio "ghetto" of leased programming. I could see Arthur Liu buying up those AM frequencies so that he can sell more time to groups wanting to air whatever they're putting out there (religion, news from abroad, multi-ethnic). He'd be smart to do so.
Musically, terrestrial radio is dying. Even the Clear Channels know this...why do you think there's an iHeartRadio? If you want your alternative, there it is. If I want my dance, there it is. There are THOUSANDS of outlets for everyone out there on the Internet. You can stream it in now with that cable going into your aux port (or cassette player, or CD adapter). But eventually you will have the streaming car stereos down the road. Watch the phone companies sell data packages for it. You have Sirius XM out there and they do a fantastic job with the rock coverage (only 4 outlets for dance).
There is a slight problem with the argument that eventually ALL of FM radio will be spoken word, and programmed with content presently heard on the AM band. The argument suggests that the market for music programming has shrunk to levels of which are financially unsustainable for the licensees, or that such a fate is near realization. If this were the case, why is there such an outcry right now over the inevitable loss of Alternative Rock on WRXP? And why does Arbitron continue to record more than respectable numbers for music programmed stations, such as WCBS-FM which recently has ranked as high as second-place? By the way, the #1 station in the #1 market happens to be another music programmed station, WLTW.
The problem is not that music isn't viable on FM, the problem is that the trending demographics aren't optimistic on AM. Therefore, the quick and easy solution for these companies is to move the successful radio stations presently on AM to a new spot on the FM band. Simple. I disagree...
Does anyone actually believe that ClearChannel, who will be facing the exact same demographic problem that Buckley Broadcasting faced with WOR, would seriously contemplate displacing any of their five FM stations to move the programming from WOR onto FM in order to improve its demographics?
I discussed this in an earlier post, but will repeat my comments here:
If the future for AM is so hopeless that a large company, such as CBS Radio, feels a successful format cannot survive much longer on a prime clear-channel 50kW non-directional signal licensed to New York, it is time to ask, what will become of ALL the stations who presently reside on that band and presently do not have an FM signal to migrate to?
I think the best answer lies in an eventual expansion of the FM band. TV channels 5 and 6 are no longer desirable in the ATSC Digital Television era. Seeing as they are situated immediately below the present FM band, expansion of FM service into those frequencies is something that should seriously be under consideration by broadcasters and the government. In fact, other countries are already using these frequencies for this purpose.
Monetarily, there would probably be a slight devaluation of existing FM signals due to a surplus of new electromagnetic real estate. However, certain terms and conditions could be placed on eligible licensees for being assigned a broadcasting license. This would help mitigate any negative financial impact this could have on present FM radio licensees.
But it is very clear: If a heritage, high-billing, and high-rated New York radio station cannot survive on the AM band, it is imperative to plan now for what could soon be a mass exodus.
The audience will not listen to a station simply for it being on the FM band. Disney is proving that with WEPN-FM, CBS proved it on WNEW-FM and then again on WFNY-FM, and Merlin really highlighted, proved, and underscored the point with WEMP. In nearly all of those cases (except WEPN-FM), those FM stations musical predecessors outperformed their talk successors, each of which eventually was put out of their misery.
Lastly, it has been said that the Hispanic audience makes extensive use of modern technologies to receive content. If that is the case, that would eliminate a significant portion of the ethnic leased programming presently heard over AM radio, further reducing a ROI for any potential licensee. And don't forget in which band the pirates like to hang out with their Caribbean/Trinidad and other ethnic programming...
The hard question that is going to have to be addressed is this: What is the to become of all of the stations presently programming on the AM band?
If the answer is simply, "move to FM", then the FM band needs to be expanded. There are only 80 channels upon which a commercial broadcaster can set-up shop, and over half of those cannot be used due to short-spacing, other FM broadcast stations, and ERP regulations. That leaves the band with just over 30 potential opportunities for a full-power class B or B1 FM to operate effectively. And in major markets, EVERY one of those stations is presently occupied.
I don't think the "just move to FM" answer is as simple as it is being presented...