AM radio musings in Quebec
by Doc Searls Monday, July 25, 2016

Quebec City, where we are now, has no AM stations any more. Hit SCAN on your radio in the daytime and it'll stroll nonstop while finding nothing.  Hit it at night and it'll stop at every channel, finding mostly skywave signals bouncing in from U.S. stations. The big ones on relatively clear channels — e.g. WFAN/660, WOR/710, WABC/770 and WCBS/880 from New York — come in like locals. From Canada the only two "clears" still left in Ontario or Quebec, CHWO/740 and CJBC/860 (former English and French CBC landmarks in Toronto) — come in too.

But Canada has pretty much abandoned the AM band. I'm a bit surprised, because only AM skywave can reach radios in Canada's vast outlying rural and wilderness areas. Alas, the transmitter site for both the 740 and 860 signals turned out to be somewhat farther from Toronto than other AMs, with disadvantaged their signals in town, even though their night signals reached pretty much all of eastern Canada. So the CBC let them go.

I do see the CBC still holds on to the big clear-channel signals on 540 and 990 in Saskatchewan and Winnipeg, possibly because the ground conductivity in both places is so good that the signals by day travel great distances. (In the 540 case, the greatest in all of North America.) But those are legacy signals. As listeners continue to abandon terrestrial radio for the Internet and Satellite (SiriusXM), the end for AM is clearly in sight—or audible as silence, as it already is here in Quebec.