No amplitude to modulate

Québec City has over half a million people, with a quarter-million more nearby. What it doesn’t have is any AM radio service:

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.

When did all this happen? I found a pre-postmortem for the last AM station in the capital:

CHRC started in 1926, and spent most of its life as a talk station, notably the home of André Arthur (who expressed his thoughts to Radio-Canada). In 2005, it became Info 800, a sister station to Info 690 in Montreal. Then it was taken over by the Remparts and Patrick Roy. Its current format is mostly sports talk, with Quebec Remparts (QMHJL) and Laval Rouge et Or university football games (both of those will move to Cogeco’s FM93) and Quebec Capitales baseball games.

It’s not terribly surprising that such a station wouldn’t find a way to work, especially since there’s no other AM radio in the region and so little reason for anyone to even switch over to the AM band.

The last day was 30 September 2012.





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