The Demise of the FM Radio

Norway is set to become the first nation that completely switches off its FM radio network.

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Ultimate Guitar
The Demise of the FM Radio
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I guess you’ve already heard that Norway is set to become the first nation that completely switches off its FM radio network. By the end of this year, all national FM broadcasts will be closed in favor of DAB. And even though sixty-six percent of Norwegians oppose switching off FM, the technological progress forges ahead. Quite a few of the European countries plan a similar shift in the near future. Well, there’s the end of an era for you.But where does FM go in its afterlife? Straight to the Internet, obviously.

David Bowie, our dearly departed rock God, stated in his interview to The New York Times in 2002 “Music is going to become like running water or electricity”.

It appears he was right! Somehow he had predicted Internet radio and audio streaming.

In the beginning of 2017 the Nielsen Music U.S. Year-End Report confirmed that the music industry experienced steady and consistent growth in 2016, with overall volume up 3% over 2015, fueled by a 76% increase in on-demand audio streams compared to last year.

It is no surprise, considering that Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, Google Play, ­iHeartRadio, Deezer, Amazon and other on-demand streaming services offer to make an impeccable playlist for you every day for a ridiculously small amount of money.

There is even an app that can combine all of your subscriptions to various music streaming services so that you can easily switch between your playlists and mix them!

So there’s no surprise that big on-line radio stations begin to adapt to the new climate by having their own streaming channels.

For example Beats 1 Radio online live broadcast radio, which started its work two years ago, transferred its show with the famous former BBC Radio One DJ Zane Lowe to its Apple Music stream. The radio also provides exclusive interviews and shows by invited presenters. Frank Ocean, for example, recently had an hour-long song premiere exclusively streamed not that long ago. There are also numerous original shows hosted by some of the biggest artists and DJs from around the world — all for free. If you’re a member, you can listen to any show that you missed on demand on every single device that you own.

BBC Music online radio offers an “Iggy Confidential” show with the living legend serving you music cocktails to kick the weekend off. You can also listen to Iggy Pop’s Rockin' Rebels Playlist with music from the live wires who shaped rock. And then download any of his shows as a podcast.

Straight from the radio and into your pocket seems to be the way of the future; and now, with perfect categorization of content, your computer or Phone is your own private radio DJ. Is this the future, or what?

61 comments sorted by best / new / date

    ilhavanothrr
    Well, not sure about everyone else's FM stations, but roun' here in the good ole south, they play the same shit, everyday, three times a day or more. That is why FM radio is dead to me. 
    eatfresh1736
    Up here in NYC, 104.3 used to be a great rock and metal station, mixing the newest songs with a diverse mix of classics. Then they got sold to some other company. Now, it's "New York's Classic Rock Station, bringing you your favorite hits!"... ...which is code for "play Start Me Up and Back In Black 10 times a day".
    cmvideo
    Did you ever used to listen to 89.5?  Seton Hall's Pirate Radio?  It used to be nothing but hardcore metal all the time on there (and Seton Hall games).  It was a pain to get reception but on Staten Island we used to get it in and out.  I wonder if they are still on air.  The DJs were horrendous.... just monotone students with no production skills.  But they play the F out of random metal.  And way back in the day there used to be AM 1480.... and AM metal station!  
    SandKatChappy58
    Any music sounds good when I'm tightening my Sansabelt.  You have no idea how good that feels.  It makes me forget reality, and lets me pretend I'm a somebody - and that makes me happy. But my happiest moments are when I dye my two remaining grey pubies red.  That's better then sanding them off cuz I ain't into Sander Heaven.  Besides I dye my head hair red so it all matches.
    zalant
    OK, seriously, WTF, dude?! Hahaha...I'm cracking up over here and I up-voted you. Thanks.
    eatfresh1736
    I can kind of get Seton Hall reception from Manhattan, but it's pretty weak. And yeah, it shocked when I first of them, and the fact that they could get away with playing seriously heavy stuff. Whatever, I listen to my own stuff anyway.
    redhotsexmagic
    Ugh I can't do it anymore with NY radio either. Q has had the same playlist for the last 15 years I think. 92.3 K-Rock before the first format change, when Howard Stern was still on the morning drive, was my personal favorite. They had new music playlists EVERY WEEK! Damn it I miss that station. 80% of NY FM radio is top 40 now...smh...
    Mud Martian
    K-Rock was awesome and it's such a shame that it died.  I listen to 101.5 for traffic and weather on my way to work, and then I switch to my MP3s.  There's absolutely nothing worth hearing on the radio that I haven't heard a million times before. 82.3 is a solid jazz station, though.  They play some great blues tunes now and then too.
    RedLabelRecords
    The jazz station is cool as fuck.  K-rock fucking broke my heart. NYC sucks for rock radio. Last time I visited I was talking music with my cousin and all she was excited about was the trash bands. Had no idea of new bands and was still blasting 90's stuff.  Let's move on FM!!! The 90's ended 17 years ago.
    xMetalMessiahx
    Here on Long Island too.. We get some 104.3 signal out in Nassau County but for the most part we have 102.3 WBAB and 94.3 The Shark. The Shark is mostly your late late 80's to early 2000's and 102.3 is all classic rock with an hour of metal at night... but it's ALWAYS the same shit played over and over again. It would be great if they diversified their selection only because there aren't a lot of stations devoted to rock but it's this insane repetition of the same songs that's going to kill radio. I mean, cmon there are so many great songs that aren't played by the same bands they keep repeating and some classic bands that just get no love at all. It's horse shit
    RedLabelRecords
    I remember that transition. Like in 95-96. Q104.3 was tight!  Big up to Brooklyn. 
    eatfresh1736
    I'm younger than you so I don't know about those years, but it was still good up until around 2008, when they got bought out by something else.
    iAmBaTmAn65
    Same here in Wisconsin and I stopped listening to the radio 2 years ago.
    Tfritz754
    105.3 and the newly revamped 103.1 are about the only tolerable stations here in this great state. 
    mobidguitar
    test
    mobidguitar
    Alright, so the major differences i am noticing is that you are now required to PAY for the radio, rather than just tune in or switch stations. I guess it all comes down to money again. You want music? Its not free anymore.
    Anjohl
    It was never free. Radio was an advertising vehicle with the side effect of providing music to listen to.
    Jeffh40
    I would have thought AM would go before FM but it is still going strong around here. Not sure about Europe though. 
    HugoPan
    never understood the difference between AM/FM. what is it?
    Spinnerweb
    AM is amplitude modulation (signal's amplitude is varied to transmit info, goes longer distances, lower sound quality.) FM is frequency modulation (signal's frequency is changed to transmit info, goes shorter distances, has much better sound quality). So it's basically different in how the airwaves are transmitted.
    TenTonHammer
    AM is amplitude modulated; FM frequency modulated. In short FM has better quality but AM is cheaper to broadcast, has longer range and uses less bandwidth.
    Super-Peanut
    AM = amplitude modulation FM = frequency modulation   basically it's just two different methods of transmitting a radio signal.   Imagine  internet = radio,  cat5/6 or copper = AM  fiber = FM they are just two different means of transmitting an internet signal, both with advantages and weaknesses. Fiber can transmit at a higher frequency and give you more bandwidth (in radios case the extra bandwidth would increase the total number of FM channels available within the spectrum instead of "speed" with internet), but fiber is a lot more expensive and complicated than standard copper connection ethernet to implement, so if you don't need so many channels and want a cheaper solution, AM is better suited to your needs than FM. 
    zbest
    Theres a deep misunderstanding here how both work. Copper transmits in electrons while fiber, FM, and AM are all photons. The Bandwidth, or the delta between the high and low frequency, is just different and is unrelated to speed. The definition of "speed" is incorrect because they all travel the speed of light, instead what you're referring to is throughput. The bandwidth is how many channels you can have. The big difference between FM and AM is not the method, its the frequency. The AM band is between about 1600 to 1700kHz while FM is 88 to 108 MHz(in the US). Because the frequency is lower on AM, it has better ability to pass through solid material and go longer distances without loss. Because FM is higher frequency, there is more room for modulation so more information can be sent, meaning higher quality sound.   TLDR; AM - lower frequency, lower quality, higher distance FM - higher frequency, better quality, shorter range
    Super-Peanut
    mate, you obviously can not make a 1-to-1 direct comparison between something as fundamentally different as wireless and digital communication, you're missing the point, I'm just trying to make a dumbed down basic comparison. If you want to get into the deep physics obviously there's some major differences. bandwidth is absolutely related to effective communication speed in digital communications. in radio transmissions bandwidth = channels. The AM and FM bands are determined by the FCC (or whatever governing body your country has), if you wanted to and had the time and resources you could construct an FM transmitter capable of transmitting in the AM spectrum, the reason no one does it though is because it's illegal and all of the off the shelf oscillators that are available for purchase to the public that you would use to construct a FM transmitter are all built for frequencies that would be legal to operate within. You would also need to build a special receiver capable of deciphering FM signals that receives in the AM spectrum because the main difference is how they transmit the radio signal and if you transmitt4ed a Fm signal within the AM signal, a typical AM receiver wouldn't be able to understand because the difference between the two is how they transmit information AM uses amplitude modulation to combine the information (radio signal) with what's called a carrier signal by adding the two together resulting in 1 new wave with varrying peaks or amplitude, hence amplitude modulation. FM does not add the waves together in the same sense, so the resulting waveform does not have increased peaks, the amplitude is uniform, it's teh frequency of the signal that varris AM = amplitude modulation FM = frequency modulation  here's a graphic that better explains https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Amfm3-en-de.gif I've built a few FM and AM transmitters before by hand Here is a great depiction of AM  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Illustration_of_Amplitude_Modulation.png I looked for one for FM as well, but gave up
    zbest
    This is also why, 5ghz wireless is faster than 2.4ghz but has much shorter range.
    Super-Peanut
      The AM band is between about 1600 to 1700kHz while FM is 88 to 108 MHz(in the US). Because the frequency is lower on AM, it has better ability to pass through solid material and go longer distances without loss. Because FM is higher frequency, there is more room for modulation so more information can be sent, meaning higher quality sound.    I agree with everything you say there, but everything before that you're off the mark just a little bit. The big difference between AM and FM absolutely is the method, not the frequency.  The reasons why they occupy these frequency spectrums is because of the transmission method and local laws. Everythin else you said after that about the associated benefits and disadvantages of high vs low frequency spectrums you're absolutely right about  
    Super-Peanut
    and obviously when I say speed i mean throughput.....I was talking to someone without an electronics background, and "speed" just makes an easier to understand analogy 
    soapalot
    I drive a truck for a living and FM radio is my sanity lifeline. But as a general rule it sucks ass. I flick between:  a commercial rock station (plays some new music that is nice at first but gets tiresome quickly, plus the same old crap all the time)  a commmercial alternative station (hit and miss music selection but DJs are actually fucking hilarious)  a low powered independent 'whatever we feel like playing' station (more miss than hit, but the occasional gem)  and a state-funded special interest station (enjoyable segments like a dissection of Hendrix's live recordings, but also shite like what mcdonalds burger is a particular DJs favourite blah blah blah) They all provide something to listen to at some point but geez it gets frustrating when there's nothing but shite on all four stations. If you really have a wide-on for losing faith in humanity, listen to talk-back radio. It's full of losers, crackpots and the passionately misinformed. It would be great if streaming radio is what replaces FM as a standard. Being able to pick and choose from an immense amount of international content would be such a treat.
    necrosis1193
    By the end of this year, all national FM broadcasts will be closed in favor of DAB. And even though sixty-six percent of Norwegians oppose switching off FM, the technological progress forges ahead
    Any Norwegians, can you explain this to me? Why are they going ahead with a move that two thirds of the country opposes?
    Oyface
    Because they were so set on technological advancement and being "hip", that they completely disregarded what the population wanted, and somehow never stopped to think "Is this a good change? Will this bring more good than bad?" They completely fucked us on this, forcing the whole country to waste money on overpriced DAB, which of course got really expenssive once they realized people had no choice but to buy them.  And it already happened, by the way. There's like one channel left on FM. That being said, Norwegian radio channels are hardly worth listening to, anyway. They don't seem to realize that musicians can have more than two or three songs, and they play the same shit day after day, as if they're sticking to a very short list.
    BillDemote
    In my city FM radios present talkshows and every panel of hosts give their opinion on the same 3 subjects all day. Can't wait for that shit to go.
    tomaxandxamot
    Commercials, played out morning shows and the same 4 Albums killed FM radio.  Primarily commercials.  Don't mind paying for Sirius but even they are starting to get playlist lazy.  
    RedLabelRecords
    I kind of feel that way about Sirius too but the advantage is I can always switch to the next station. 
    gruppesechs2004
    This is what happens when you play it safe every day. Rarely ever taking "risks" by promoting new GOOD bands and just dishing out stuff that's been heard for at least 10 years. I'm not putting the blame on Napster or any site like YouTube for Radio's downfall; Radio Stations and their parent companies who refuse to do anything new, for whatever reason, are to blame for their own demise. Jackasses thought I was crazy when I told them I stopped listening to radio back in 2007, 10 years later look where we are!
    gruppesechs2004
    ADDENDUM: Can't really put this kind of blame on Pop stations though, because their whole premise is all new hits. Still doesn't make them any better than, say, the Hard Rock stations that don't put out anything more recent than the mid-2000s.
    RedLabelRecords
    I am all for FM. I'll take commercials. I don't want to be driving and fumbling on my phone. I'm just willing to take the risk to avoid listening to Smells Like Teen Spirit again.  Downvote me if you hate the fact that I drive and search for tunes on my phone. I deserve it. 
    gruppesechs2004
    So, are you driving and fumbling on your phone for music, or are you searching for tunes?  I don't care if you listen to FM; I got sick and tired of the same old crap.
    Deathoholic
    I literally never listen to the radio and I haven't done it for fifteen years. Last time I heard the thing in the car they honestly played three crappy pop songs during an entire hour, but one of the songs was played three(!) times. Ain't that a way to alienate all the potential listeners.
    Joey_41
    This breaks my damn heart. I'm a college radio DJ, and to me, radio is one of the most intimate mediums out there. There are some pretty good college radio stations in my area, like 88.7 Brave New Radio. They're an indie rock station, but their metal, and pop punk show, are great.
    RedLabelRecords
    RSU Radio from Claremore, OK is fucking awesome! I don't even live there anymore and I still tune into them using TuneIn radio on my phone. I haven't even tuned in to an FM station since leaving the Tulsa area. It's Sirius/XM or TuneIn for me.  Like someone else said, FM is stuck in the 90's. 
    jinsu2301
    I've been using DAB radio instead of FM for a while now, and while the quality isn't the best (sounds like 128k mp3 to me) it's still way better than FM with all its noise.
    jheavey5
    Theres a really good article to be written about Rock Radio's inability to stop playing everything from before 1999 and how it's killed them. (I think pop radio succeeds cause theres always some new song from some new artist being played and it is in some form possibly generating new listeners or at a minimum keeping things interesting. Whereas a lot of rock stations just binge Nirvana, Metallica, GnR, etc etc. Scene wont grow if the same 20 bands get played)
    Northernmight
    Music is gonna be like running water or electricity? So people will be payin' for it? DAT BOWIE MAN AIN'T DAT SMURHT, EH?!
    FlightofIcarus
    FM stations tend to be stuck in old ways, IMO. It's often the same, limited selection of songs every day, with not enough new, or independent music being played. DAB is the future for sure. Far more choices, and it fits in your pocket wherever you go!
    jchavez96791
    Interesting.
    ryanbwags
    Not sure "Up to date" and "Music Discovery" are the same thing. If you're looking for new Pop or Country music, yeah. If your tastes run deeper, like various forms of metal, hard rock, and foreign bands, the radio will never help you discover anything. 
    jchavez96791
    That is a great point. I personally use XM radio and Soundcloud for music discovery, but rely on Spotify for everything else.