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Easy prediction for 2006 – AM goes FM

Washington’s flip of AM WTOP to the FM band is only the opening bell to what will be a major trend over the next couple of years.

Here’s what AM stations will increasingly realize:

– A fraction of the radio listening audience never EVER goes to the AM band. Thus their potential distribution is limited by the nature of their AM signal.

– The FM audience includes almost all of the AM audience – but not vice versa.

– The FM audience is, on average, younger, than the AM one.

– Radio sounds better in FM than in AM

Thus moving your AM station to FM not only creates that precious commodity – word-of-mouth – it also opens up your potential audience to folks who never before would have sampled your station. And it allows easier access for folks who previously had to switch bands just for your station.

More potential audience and easier access are likely to add considerable cume to any good station flipping from AM to FM.

Obviously this is not a capability every good AM has. But if the market dynamic is right and the opportunity is there, you’d be foolish not to take it.

Watch as lots and lots of stations do.

Ironically, this move towards greater potential and broader audience – moving AM to FM – is exactly opposite another strategic initiative popular in the radio industry now. One which is intent on moving product into many small niches where there is little audience: HD radio.

Which strategy is likely to be successful? Watch as WTOP’s ratings explode.

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