FM Radio: Superiority Over AM Radio 1975 - 1986
Presented to the History Divison Broadcast Education Association Paper
Competition - Open Category
April 12, 1996 Linwood A. Hagin, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor Department of Communication & Theater
410 Wick Avenue
Youngstown State University
Youngstown, OH 44555
(330) 742-1851 fax
E-Mail: [log in to unmask]
ABSTRACT FM Radio: Superiority Over AM Radio 1975 -1986
Americans have lived with two aural broadcast mediums for over
fifty years. AM radio had nearly twenty-five years to establish a
foothold in the listener's heart and the advertiser's mind. FM radio
would need over thirty years to surpass AM radio in the share of listeners
nationwide. Several researchers have documented that FM exceeded AM in
national listenership in either 1978 or 1979. Generally, scholars and
broadcasters have accepted "the late 1970's" as the time when FM became
dominant over AM radio. This date is based on the point in time when FM's
average national listening audience according to market shares crept over
the 50% mark. Other factors contributed to help FM radio surpass AM
listening at times other than 1978 or 1979 in individual markets. The
purpose of this research is to help the reader understand what those
factors are and how FM radio rose from obscurity to dominance.
ARRIVAL OF FM
Americans have lived with two aural broadcast mediums for over
fifty years. The first to arrive on the scene in the 1920's was AM
(Amplitude Modulation) radio. FM (Frequency Modulation) followed in the
1940's. AM radio had nearly twenty-five years to establish a foothold in
the listener's heart and the advertiser's mind. That foothold proved to
be very strong. FM radio would need over thirty years to surpass AM radio
in the share of listeners nationwide. Some thought the dominance of FM
would come much sooner. Siepmann, in his book Radio's Second Chance, said
in 1946: Most people are persuaded that, except perhaps in rural areas,
FM, as it is called, is destined within a few years to replace Amplitude
Modulation (or AM), our present method of transmission, altogether.
Within ten years, in other words, we shall all have FM receivers and none,
or few, will have AM receivers.1
One of those persons was CBS Executive Vice-President Paul W. Kesten who
was of the opinion that FM radio would eventually replace AM radio, both
in stations (except for some rural areas) and in receivers.2 The
National Association of FM Broadcasters also made some bold predictions
about FM radio in the early 1960's. NAFMB president T. Mitchell
Hastings, Jr., in his address to the 1963 convention, included a Harvard
Graduate Business School study which estimated "a steady growth in FM
radio through the sixties, with FM passing AM radio by 1975."3 Cox
Broadcasting released a study, Cox Looks at FM Radio: Past, Present and
Future, of FM radio in 1976.4 One of the predictions of the study was
that the "FM listener share should rise to 50% in 1980 from 25% in 1972."5
There were several stumbling blocks and some helpful boosts in
the path to FM dominance over AM. This paper will briefly review those
obstacles and boosts in the next section. FM radio began to show its
muscle in the early 1970's. Several researchers have documented that FM
exceeded AM in national listenership in either 19786 or 1979.7
Generally, scholars and broadcasters have accepted "the late 1970's" as
the time when FM became dominant over AM radio. This date is based on
the point in time when FM's average national listening audience according
to market shares crept over the 50% mark. Other factors contributed to
help FM radio surpass AM listening at times other than 1978 or 1979 in
individual markets. The purpose of this research is to help the reader
understand what those factors are and how FM radio rose from obscurity to
The main data source used was a compilation of metro survey area
(MSA) share8 data for 169 markets. The data was brought together by
James H. Duncan, Jr. in American Radio Tenth Anniversary Issue
1976-1986: A Prose and Statistical History. This study used the data
from 1975-1986. There were some limitations to using this
data: (a) reliance on Duncan's compilation instead of using Arbitron
ratings books,9 (b) the data used in Table 1 was based on the spring book
only, (c) the data used in Table 2 was based on an average of spring and
fall Arbitron books if the market was rated more than one time and on the
spring book if the market was rated only once, (d) the 1975 and 1986 data
was taken from the spring Arbitron books only for all markets, (e)
information for the years 1975-1978 was not as complete for the later
years, (f) not every station was listed for each market,10 (g) the market
ranks were Metro Survey Area rankings taken from the The Broadcasting
Yearbook (1991),11 so may not be an exact match with the actual ranking
for the specific year from 1975-1986, and (h) not every market's ratings
had begun to be tracked in 1975. None of these limitations severely
detracted from this study's findings.
FM'S PATH TO DOMINANCE
Several experimental FM stations had been operating in the late
1930's. Then, on May 20, 1940, the FCC said "Frequency modulation is
highly developed. It is ready to move forward on a broad scale and on a
full commercial basis."12 The Commission went on to say that it
"believes that this is one of the most significant advances that has been
made in aural broadcasting in recent years."13 An often overlooked
sentence in the FCC's announcement would lead to the first major test for
FM several years later: "If later developments should favor the use of
higher frequencies, the Commission will consider the facts at that
time."14 Full-scale FM operations were authorized to begin on January 1,
1941 in the 42-50 megacycle frequency range.15 The FCC issued the first
fifteen FM construction permits on October 31, 1940.16 By the start of
World War II there were more than forty operating FM stations and over
400,000 receivers.17 World War II halted any further expansion of FM
broadcasting. During World War II, engineers and other officials were
busily preparing technical, economical, and other types of reports to
present to the FCC for their consideration in how to effectively
re-introduce FM radio to the post-war consumer. One concept introduced
to the FCC was simulcasting. NBC Vice-President and Chief Engineer O.B.
Hanson said "FM stations (should) be allowed to operate as companion
(simulcast) stations to the present standard band (AM) transmitters."18
Hanson reasoned that the public would purchase either an FM or AM
receiver, public acceptance of FM would grow, and FM could switch to
separate programming after it was established.19 This logic guided the
FCC in setting future non-duplication rules (mentioned later in this
paper). This simulcasting philosophy was one post-war development that
stunted the economic growth of FM and its acceptance as a viable medium
by radio listeners and broadcasters. Another hindrance to FM's
establishment among the public was the controversy over changing the
medium's frequency location (recall the FCC statement of May 20, 1940, p.
4). Engineers, broadcasters, receiver manufacturers, and the public were
all divided on moving the FM band away from 42-50 mc. The most
controversial aspect of a proposed move dealt "with the relative merits
of various portions of the spectrum which have been proposed for this
(FM) service."20 Three bands were suggested for the move: 43-58 mc,
48-66 mc, and 84-102 mc.21 Some engineers convinced the FCC that leaving
FM in the 42-50 mc band would result in skywave interference.22 One
present-day researcher contends there were more than technical reasons
for the move.23 After months of hearings, the FCC, on August 24, 1945,
moved the FM band and expanded it to include the frequencies of 88-108
mc:24 "In making an allocation for FM, it is the Commission's purpose to
make provision for a service which will not be simply a new and improved
broadcasting service but which will be the finest aural broadcasting
service which is attainable under the present state of the radio art."25
The main reason the FCC used for moving the FM band was that the FCC
expected there would soon be 1,000 to 3,000 FM radio stations serving
50-million to 100-million receivers.26
FM radio struggled with its "step-sister" image to AM for the
next fifteen years. In 1959 the FCC created the National Stereophonic
Radio Committee to examine the many proposed stereo systems that had been
developed in recent years.27 In 1960, six systems were field tested over
KDKA-FM, Pittsburgh.28 The General Electric and Zenith systems were
adopted and broadcasters were authorized to use FM stereo beginning June
1, 1961.29 Four months later the FCC made a decision that would later
help FM surpass AM. The Commission denied petitions to institute
proceedings looking toward adoption of stereo standards for AM
broadcasting stations.30 FM stereo broadcasting was the big boost FM
radio stations needed to get moving again. More listeners tuned in to
the new and more pleasurable listening experience. Advertising money
started to come in for FM stations. Major research services began to pay
attention to FM and its audience in their surveys and research. FM was
beginning to recover from its hazardous beginning.31 The FCC adopted a
table of channel assignments for FM broadcasters on July 25, 1963 and
lifted a seven-month freeze on new FM applications.32 FM radio now had
the potential to grow stronger. So, the FCC enacted the second part of
the Hanson philosophy (see p. 4), effective October 15, 1965, which
limited "the extent to which FM stations in cities of more than 100,000
population may duplicate the programs of commonly owned AM stations in
the same local area."33 The limitation was set at 50%. The
non-duplication percentage was gradually raised to 75% for markets over
100,000 population and 50% for markets between 25,000 and 100,000
effective May 1, 1977; and to 100% for markets over 100,000 and 75% for
markets between 25,000 and 100,000 effective May 1, 1979.34 Another
growth-enhancing effort for FM was the FCC's five-year freeze on AM
applications effective July, 1968.35 At this time there were more than
twice as many AM stations as there were FM stations on the air.36 The
Commission wanted to study how the limited potential in the AM band could
best be used.37 The Commission said AM and FM were "a single aural
service" and that "new AMs would be authorized only where they would
bring primary service to a substantial area not receiving such service
from existing AM and FM, and would not be granted if an FM channel were
available which would bring the same results" (emphasis added).38 The
FCC further explained their decision:
FM development would be encouraged because of the technical qualities of
this service, ample nighttime coverage and relative lack of interference
when new stations are added. FM has higher fidelity characteristics and
is freer of static, fading, and background overlapping of other station's
programs...it occupies a higher portion of the radio spectrum where there
is less static and other noise than at lower frequencies. FM receivers
have the particular ability to suppress weaker stations and other
The FCC clearly indicated that FM was to be given any advantage it could
to make it equitable with AM broadcasting. Another push for FM came from
proponents of legislation to require car manufacturers to include FM
receivers in all cars. As of 1974, 25.9% of cars sold in the U.S. had
AM/FM radios and only 12.5% of all cars on the road had FM receivers.40
The NAFMB said a bill "was needed to allow the industry to fulfill its
potential and give radio listeners a wider range of choices."41 Senate
bill S. 585 and House bill HR 8266 were introduced. The legislation was
aimed at expanding the market for FM radio broadcasters. S. 585 would
have authorized the FCC to require all radios over $15.00 in price to
have both AM and FM receiving capabilities.42 HR 8266 required only car
radios to be AM/FM compatible.43 The Senate bill was defeated 44-42,
while the House bill failed to get to the floor from the House Interstate
and Foreign Commerce Committee.44 An unusual alliance of liberals and
conservatives of both parties rejected the Senate bill as an unwarranted
imposition on consumer freedom.45 Auto manufacturers, however, did not
need Congress to tell them what the consumer wanted. FM continued to
grow in all areas and soon AM/FM would become standard equipment in cars.
FM radio broadcasting overcame many hurdles to reach the 1970's:
(a) a two-decade head start by AM, (b) a world war, (c) opposition by AM
broadcasters, engineers, and others who did not want to see it succeed,
(d) movement to another frequency, (e) an unreceptive public for many
years, and (f) FCC changes in rules and regulations. Still, through the
dedication of FM broadcasters and FM listeners, the medium advanced.
FM OVERTAKES AM
KFMX-FM (Minneapolis) General Manager Ross Davis said in 1979:
"FM will become dominant entirely over AM. There is an undeniable trend
towards FM listenership."46 KEEY-FM (Minneapolis) General Manager Doug
Brown said in 1979: "FM is a superior medium to AM...most music AM
stations will be surpassed by FM."47 KQRS-FM (Minneapolis) General
Manager Dick Poe said in 1979: "The AMs used to support the FMs (for
co-owned stations), now the role is reversed."48 All of these remarks,
made in the same year that FM surpassed AM in national listenership
trends, have been proven over and over in many markets around the
country. Stories of successful FM stations began appearing in industry
publications, indicating the trend was on the move. WBLS-FM, New York, a
black progressive programmed station, overtook WABC-AM, a top-40 giant,
with a 31 share in teen-agers during midday in 1973.49 At this same
time, nine FM stations were ranked in the top five spots of the top ten
markets.50 Home FM set penetration was as high as 95% in Boston in 1972
and nearly the same in Chicago.51 In the top ten markets FM's average
share of listeners increased from 19% in 1970, to 26.7% in 1972, to 32.4%
in 1974,52 and to 36.4% in 1975.53 Business Equities Corporation of
Boston predicted the FM listener share in the top 25 markets would be
35.4% in 1974, 40% in 1976, and 47.5% in 1979.54 A network-commissioned
RADAR study, conducted by Statistical Research Inc., found that FM
accounted for 25% of all radio listening in 1972, 28% in 1973, and 33% in
1974.55 FM listening continued to make a gradual climb towards
superiority over AM in listenership rather than a large one-time
increase. One reason for this gradual ascent was FM's lack of parity in
automobiles, as mentioned earlier. Securing the drive-time audience was
necessary for FM to make it over the 50% mark. Chrysler Corporation
reportedly broke first from among the automakers' ranks to shift its
radio production to AM/FM receivers in 1976.56 FM's national share of
listeners reached 40% in 1976 according to the Arbitron April-May ratings
report.57 CBS/FM Sales General Manager Jack Baker said the increase was
due to increased set sales for both home and auto listening and to
"heavier-than-ever listenership in the important morning drive time
period."58 FM continued to penetrate AM's majority listenership
barrier. In 1977, the FM percentage was 44.6.59 The Spring 1978 RADAR
report, by Statistical Research Inc., showed FM radio with 49% of
listeners (12 years old and over, Monday through Sunday).60 FM radio was
ready to step over the line.
"I was the idiot of my class. Everybody told me this was the
best way of going broke...in 1963. We were the laughing stock of the
industry." NAFMB co-founder Mitchell Hastings recalled this reaction in
1979 to the 1963 Harvard University study (see p. 1) predicting steady FM
growth in the 1960's with FM passing AM by 1975.61 In 1979 no one was
laughing any more. FM had reached parity with AM. Arbitron's
April-May and October-November 1978 ratings reinforced the parity
picture. In the country's top fifty markets, FM had captured over half
of the top ten spots (264 out of 500).62 Every top-50 market had at
least four FM stations in the top ten.63 This was the reality on the
national scene. If one were to look on a local level, however, FM's
parity with AM had already come or would come several years later.
Of the 169 markets analyzed, two did not list a total FM share.
Of the remaining 167 markets, 31 markets, or 18.5%, showed FM shares
going over 50% in 1979 (Table 1).
Insert Table 1 about here
As can be seen from Table 1 there is a numerical progression of markets
moving from AM to FM domination. The number of markets steadily
increases to 1979 and then steadily decreases to 1986. Nearly half of
the markets (81 or 48.5%) switched in either 1978, 1979, or 1980. The
top-50 markets accounted for 34% of the markets that switched from
1975-1979. This means that 66% of the markets that achieved FM
superiority over AM by 1979 were not in the group that was constantly
being analyzed by the media. In fact there were four markets below the
top-75 that switched in 1975. Not every market showed FM superiority by
1979. After 1979 there were 85 markets (51%) that switched over.
Seventeen of the 85 (20%) were in the top-50 markets. The other 68 (80%)
were in smaller markets. After the last top-50 market switched in 1982,
there were still 24 markets of the 68 smaller markets (35%) that would
switch from 1983-1986. To summarize the data from Table 1:
* 80% of the top ten markets switched by 1979;
* 62% of the top-50 markets switched by 1979;
* 44% of markets below the top-50 switched by 1979;
* 30.5% of all markets switched before 1979;
* 51% of all markets switched after 1979; and
* 14% of all markets had not switched by 1982.
The data clearly supported the claim that FM's rise to superiority over
AM was a gradual ascent. The data also indicated that different sized
markets affected FM differently. There are some obvious reasons why FM
took longer in some markets and came quicker in other markets. A
mountainous terrain would prevent more people from picking up FM signals
and getting used to FM radio. Listeners could choose from a wider
variety of FM stations in a larger market. There was more
competition in the larger markets. A market with a dominant
information/adult-oriented AM station would tend to slow the growth of
the FM stations in that market. This latter statement was supported by
the data from Table 2.
Insert Table 2 about here
Table 2 revealed when a market recorded an FM station in the
number one spot. The (*) symbol in the 1986 column indicated that there
were 19 markets of varying sizes that did not record an FM as the number
one station by 1986. Those 19 markets, the dominant station(s), and 1986
format(s) indicated that an information/adult-oriented format was a
dominant factor in a local radio market (Figure 1).
Insert Figure 1 about here
Of the 19 markets only four had an AM station that dominated with a
format other than an information/adult-oriented programming. Table 2
data pointed out that FM stations reached the number one position in the
market quicker than the market achieved overall parity with the AM
stations. There were 88 markets (54%) that had an FM as the top station
by 1979. However, penetrating the top-50 markets' number one spot was
harder than achieving overall parity. Eighteen of the top-50 markets
(40%) had FMs as the top station by 1979. Three of the top-10 markets
still had not allowed an FM to be the number one station by 1986 (see
Figure 1). Seventy markets (65%) of those below the top-50 had crowned
an FM number one by 1979.
Nine of the twelve different market rank segments showed the average
number of FM stations that reached a number one ranking in a market came
1.3 years earlier than the average number of markets that reached 50% of
the listenership (Figure 2).
Insert Figure 2 about here
On an individual station level, a popular FM station, or one that had
reached the number one ranking in a market, was an indicator that the
market itself would soon become dominated by FM listeners. Two market
rank segments (11-25 and 151-175) showed an average FM station reaching
the number one ranking and average market parity between FM and AM
listening happening in the same year, 1980 and 1979, respectively. The
top ten market rank segment was the only segment which had the average
market achieving parity (1978) before an average FM station reached the
number one ranking (1981). This anomaly can be explained by looking
again at the 19 markets (Figure 1) without an FM as number one as of
1986. Three of the top ten markets were dominated by the typical
powerful AM station. Eleven of those 19 markets are in the top-50. The
larger markets would also have many more FM stations vying for the number
one ranking. So, it would take a longer time for an FM station to
penetrate the AM station's hold on the number one ranking in a larger
market. To summarize the data from Table 2 and Figures 1 and 2:
* Successful AM stations in 19 markets kept an FM station
out of the number one ranking;
* Individual FM stations helped FM achieve parity with AM by gaining
number one rankings earlier than the market listenership level favored
* Achieving the number one ranking in a market was easier in smaller
markets than in larger markets.
This data also supported the claim that FM superiority over AM came at
different times in differently sized markets.
Early FM radio broadcasters and listeners struggled to keep the
medium alive. For nearly two decades FM took a backseat to AM until
regulatory decisions like FM stereo and non-duplication helped FM gain
speed on the path to dominance. FM's superiority over AM, in terms of
listenership, did not come all at once in 1979. FM stations climbed in
popularity and achieved higher listener levels in individual markets at a
quicker or slower pace in differently sized markets. FM radio has
recently added another dimension of dominance over AM radio. In February
1994 the number of licensed commercial FM radio stations surpassed the
number of licensed commercial AM radio stations in the United States.64
Further exploration of this phenomenon of FM dominance is
needed. An examination could be made on four different levels. First,
the markets that achieved parity earlier or later than 1979 need to be
researched to determine what factors contributed to this disparity. Were
there more AM than FM stations? Did the AM or FM stations have the
popular format of the time period? Did the alternative lifestyle seekers
of the 1960's and 1970's help propel FM to dominance? Secondly, the 19
markets that did not have a number one FM station could be examined. The
dominant stations in those markets could be researched to determine what
factors are consistent among the stations and markets. Is it the
powerful signal of an AM station? Did the dominant station have a
mass-appeal format? How many stations were trying to dominate in the
market? Thirdly, the FM stations that achieved a number one ranking
before 1979 could be examined. What attracted listeners to these
stations before FM was dominant? How did these stations differ from the
FM stations located in markets where AM was dominant? Why were these FM
stations trend-setters? Fourthly, is FM starting to bury AM radio
(notwithstanding the rise in popularity of the talk format) just in
numbers of stations?
These are some of the questions the data in this paper call to be
answered. The answers discovered in this paper combined with the answers
to be found from further research into the issue of FM dominance will help
broadcasters better understand how FM achieved superiority over AM radio.
This research focus can lead broadcasters to a better understanding of a
new technology's arrival and potential impact on existing technology.
1. Siepmann, Charles A. Radio's Second Chance, Little, Brown &
Company, Boston. 1946. p. 240.
2. Kesten, Paul W. The Transition of AM to FM Broadcasting, FCC
Docket # 6768, July 30, 1945. pp. 3-25.
3. FM to Lead AM by '75, Projections Show, Broadcasting, April
8, 1963. p. 83.
4. Cox Says it's Nowhere But Up for FM Medium, Broadcasting,
September 13, 1976. pp. 49-50.
5. Ibid. p. 50.
6. Duncan, James H. Jr. American Radio, Duncan Media
Enterprises, Kalamazoo, MI. August, 1982. p. A19; Hagin, Linwood A.
WCCO-FM: A Five Year Old Gains Adulthood, unpublished Master's Project,
May 25, 1979, p. 15.
7. Elving, Bruce F. FM Atlas and Station Directory, FM Atlas
Publishing Co. Adolph, MN. 1980. p. 4; Inglis, Andrew F. Behind the
Tube: A History of Broadcasting Technology and Business, Focal Press,
Boston. 1990. p. 144.
8. MSA is defined by Arbitron as: Metro Survey Areas which
generally correspond to Metropolitan Statistical Areas as defined by the
U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Federal Statistical Policy and
Standards, and subject to exceptions dictated by historical industry
usage and other marketing considerations. Share is defined by Arbitron
as: The percentage of individuals listening to radio who are listening
to a specific station at a particular time. Description of Methodology,
Arbitron Ratings Company, 1987. pp. 69-70.
9. In addition, Duncan did not explain why these 169 markets
were selected out of the 262 available radio markets.
10. Duncan explains that the stations not listed were usually
those with very small shares or none at all; if they became stronger they
were added in subsequent years.
11. 1991 was the first year that radio markets were ranked in
12. 39 FCC 0029. Federal Communications Commission Reports:
Frequency Allocations, Washington, D.C. p. 29.
14. Ibid. p. 31.
15. Federal Communications Commission. Sixth Annual Report of
the FCC to the Congress of the United States for Fiscal Year 1940.
Washington, D.C. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 65.
16. Federal Communications Commission, Report No. 2-B-1-72.
Broadcast Services: Evolution of Broadcasting, Washington, D.C. 1972. p.
25. Eric Document No. 064 941.
18. Hanson, O.B. Television? FM? Facsimile? A Radio Engineer
Predicts a Bright Future, statement before the Senate Interstate Commerce
Committee, December 10, 1943, p. 2; as cited in Hagin, p. 6.
20. 39 FCC 0029. p. 90.
22. FCC Report No. 2-B-1-72. p. 25.
23. For an extended discussion of the switch in FM frequencies
and the controversy surrounding it see: Zenaty, Jayne W. (1978). A
Question of Interference: FM Radio's Early Struggle for Survival
1934-1945. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for
Education in Journalism (61st, Seattle, Washington, August 13-16, 1978).
Eric Document No. 166 688.
24. 39 FCC 0029. Ibid. p. 230.
25. Ibid. p. 116.
26. Ibid. p. 717.
27. FCC Report No. 2-B-1-72. p. 28.
28. Ibid. p. 29.
29. Federal Communications Commission. 27th Annual Report of the
FCC to the Congress of the United States for Fiscal Year 1961.
Washington, D.C. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 54.
30. Ibid. p. 55.
31. Hagin, p. 12.
32. Federal Communications Commission. 30th Anniversary Report
of the FCC to the Congress of the United States for Fiscal Year 1964.
Washington, D.C. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 74.
33. 2 FCC2d 0833. Federal Communications Commission Reports,
Washington, D.C. p. 833.
34. FM Gets Closer to Going it Alone, Broadcasting, May 10,
1976, p. 40.
35. Federal Communications Commission. 40th Annual Report of the
FCC to the Congress of the United States for Fiscal Year 1974.
Washington, D.C. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 27.
36. FCC Report No. 2-B-1-72. p. 23.
38. 40th Annual Report. p. 27.
40. 93rd Congress, 2nd Session. 1974 Congressional Quarterly
Almanac. v. 30. Congressional Quarterly, Inc. Washington, D.C. 1975. p. 718.
41. Ibid. p. 717.
43. Ibid. p. 718.
44. Ibid. pp. 717-718.
45. Ibid. p. 717.
46. Hagin, p. 61.
49. Black FM Finds Right Chemistry for Success in New York,
Broadcasting, March 5, 1973. p. 52.
50. The Rites of Passage Are All Over for FM radio; It's Out On
Its Own, Broadcasting, September 24, 1973, p. 31.
52. Crater, Rufus. The Upbeat Tempo of FM 1974. Broadcasting,
October 2, 1974. p. 41.
53. New York to L.A. Listeners are Turning to FM, Broadcasting,
September 22, 1975. p. 30.
54. Crater, p. 41.
56. FM Radio is Hot, Forbes, May 1, 1976. p. 56.
57. FM Rising in Top Markets; Outdraws AM in Dallas, D.C.,
Advertising Age, September 6, 1976. p. 24.
59. New Gains in FM Audience, Broadcasting, October 10, 1977. p. 70.
60. FM Share of All Radio Listening: 1973-78 Levels and Trend,
Broadcasting, January 22, 1979. p. 33.
61. Special Report. FM: The Great Leaps Forward, Broadcasting,
January 22, 1979. p. 32.
62. Putting FM in its Place in the Top 50, Broadcasting,
January 22, 1979. pp. 40, 42, 45, 48-49.
63. Ibid. p. 40.
64. Broadcasting & Cable reported there were 4,948 AM and 4,945
FM stations on January 31, 1994. That number steadily decreased for AM
stations and increased for FM stations over the next several months as
January 31, 1994 4,948 4,945
March 14, 1994 4,944 4,971
May 9, 1994 4,933 5,001
July 4, 1994 4,928 5,030
November 7, 1994 4,923 5,070
March 6, 1995 4,909 5,122
July 3, 1995 4,913 5,173
October 2, 1995 4,906 5,260
November 27, 1995 4,906 5,285
January 31, 1996* 4,909 5,306
* FM Station Count Increasing, Radio World, March 20, 1996, p. 2.
Rank 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980
1-10 ** *** * ** **
11-25 ** ** *** **
26-50 * * **** ****
51-75 ** * ***** *** ***
76-100 * ** ** *** *** **
101-125 ** ** ** *** *** ******
126-150 *** * **** ****
151-175 * ** * **** ***
176-200 * *
No Rank * *
Rank 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 AVG.
11-25 *** * E80
26-50 ** ** E80
51-75 * *** ** *** * E81
76-100 ***** * *** * M80
101-125 * ** ** E80
126-150 **** * M80
151-175 ** * * L79
176-200 * *** ** E82
201-225 * * * * E84
226-250 * ** M83
251-275 * E83
No Rank *
TABLE 1: FM DATA -- MARKETS
(* = ONE MARKET) (AVG: Average year FM listenership above 50%.
E=early; M=mid; L=late)
Rank 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980
1-10 + + + +
11-25 ++ ++ +
26-50 +++ ++ +++ +++ ++
51-75 +++ ++++ +++ ++ ++
76-100 +++ +++++ +++ ++ ++ +
101-125 +++++ +++ ++++ ++ ++
126-150 +++ + + +++++ ++
151-175 +++ + + ++ ++ +
176-200 + +++ +
No Rank + +
Rank 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 AVG.
1-10 + + + *** E81
11-25 ++ + + **** E80
26-50 +++ + + **** M79
51-75 ++++ ++ + +** L79
76-100 ++ + +* E79
101-125 + +++ + + * E79
126-150 + + ++ L79
151-175 ++ + * E79
176-200 + + * M80
201-225 + ++ + * E82
226-250 + * E82
251-275 + E82
No Rank +
TABLE 2: FM DATA -- FIRST FM AT #1
+ = ONE MARKET; * indicates market without a first FM at #1
(AVG: Average year first #1 FM appeared. E=early; M=mid; L=late)
MARKET (Rank) STATION FORMAT
Albany-Schenectady-Troy (54) WGY-AM Middle-of-the-Road/Variety
Altoona (223) WFBG-AM Adult Contemporary
Asheville (175) WWNC-AM Country
Bloomington, IL (226) WJBC-AM Middle-of-the-Road/Variety
Canton (107) WHBC-AM Middle-of-the-Road/Variety
Cedar Rapids (193) WMT-AM Middle-of-the-Road/Variety
Chicago (3) WGN-AM Middle-of-the-Road/Variety
Detroit (6) WJR-AM Middle-of-the-Road/Variety
Hartford (40) WTIC-AM Middle-of-the-Road/Variety
Indianapolis (37) WIBC-AM Middle-of-the-Road/Variety
Kansas City (26) KMBZ-AM News/Talk
McAllen-Brownsville (76) KGBT-AM Spanish
Milwaukee (27) WTMJ-AM Middle-of-the-Road/Variety
Minneapolis-St. Paul (18) WCCO-AM Middle-of-the-Road/Variety
Omaha (73) KFAB-AM Middle-of-the-Road/Variety
Pittsburgh (20) KDKA-AM Middle-of-the-Road/Variety
St. Louis (16) KMOX-AM News/Talk
San Francisco (4) KGO-AM News/Talk
Seattle-Tacoma (14) KIRO-AM News/Talk
Markets with Dominant AM Stations as of 1986
Rank 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984
1-10 + *
26-50 * +
51-75 * +
76-100 * +
101-125 * +
126-150 * +
176-200 * +
201-225 * +
226-250 * +
251-275 * +
Average of FMs as #1 and Market Parity Years
* = First FM was #1
+ = Market Achieved 50% FM Listening
Arbitron Ratings Company, Description of Methodology,
Arbitron Ratings Company Market Reports 1987. Arbitron Ratings Company,
New York, NY. 1987.
The Broadcasting Yearbook, Broadcasting Publications Inc., Washington,
The Broadcasting Yearbook, Broadcasting Publications Inc., Washington,
Duncan, James H. Jr. American Radio, Duncan Media Enterprises, Kalamazoo,
MI. August, 1982.
Duncan, James H. Jr. American Radio: Tenth Anniversary Issue, Duncan's
American Radio, Inc. Kalamazoo, MI 1986.
Elving, Bruce F. FM Atlas and Station Directory, FM Atlas Publishing Co.
Adolph, MN. 1980.
Inglis, Andrew F. Behind the Tube: A History of Broadcasting Technology
and Business, Focal Press, Boston. 1990. 93rd Congress, 2nd Session.
1974 Congressional Quarterly Almanac. v. 30. Congressional Quarterly,
Inc. Washington, D.C. 1975.
Siepmann, Charles A. Radio's Second Chance, Little, Brown & Company,
Hagin, Linwood A. WCCO-FM: A Five Year Old Gains Adulthood, unpublished
Master's Project, University of Minnesota, 1979.
Federal Communications Commission. 40th Annual Report of the FCC to
the Congress of the United States for Fiscal Year 1974.
Washington, D.C. U.S. Government Printing Office.
Federal Communications Commission, Report No. 2-B-1-72. Broadcast
Services: Evolution of Broadcasting, Washington, D.C. 1972.
Federal Communications Commission. 30th Anniversary Report of the
FCC to the Congress of the United States for Fiscal Year 1964.
Washington, D.C. U.S. Government Printing Office.
Federal Communications Commission. 27th Annual Report of the FCC to the
Congress of the United States for Fiscal Year 1961. Washington, D.C. U.S.
Government Printing Office.
Kesten, Paul W. The Transition of AM to FM Broadcasting, FCC Docket #
6768, July 30, 1945. pp. 3-25.
Federal Communications Commission. Sixth Annual Report of the FCC
to the Congress of the United States for Fiscal Year 1940. Washington, D.C.
U.S.Government Printing Office.
2 FCC2d 0833. Federal Communications Commission Reports, Wash., D.C.
39 FCC 0029. Federal Communications Commission Reports: Frequency
Allocations, Washington, D.C.
Broadcasting & Cable, By The Numbers, October 2, 1995, p. 69; July 3,
1995, p. 44; March 6, 1995, p. 73; November 7, 1994, p. 77; July 4,
1994, p. 49; May 9, 1994, p. 65; March 14, 1994, p. 67
Broadcasting & Cable, Summary Of Numbers, January 31, 1994, p. 61.
Broadcasting, January 22, 1979, October 10, 1977, September 13, 1976,
May 10, 1976, September 22, 1975, October 2, 1974, September 24,
1973, March 5, 1973, April 8, 1963.
Advertising Age, September 6, 1976.
Forbes, May 1, 1976.
Radio World, FM Station Count Increasing, March 20, 1996, p. 2.
Linwood A. Hagin
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