today’s world, any number of people, including broadcasters, are
ready to write off the AM band as “history.” Every year, it seems
the difficulties of operating AM stations grow a little more while
the number of potential listeners gets smaller due to interference.
Even the FCC has begun to reach out to broadcasters, looking for ways
in which they can help the AM band survive.
Glogowski With FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai
then there’s Jim Glogowski who just keeps building and improving
more AM stations every year.
is senior vice president and chief technical officer at Multicultural
Radio Broadcasting Inc. MRBI owns 39 AM radio stations located in
markets all over the United States. Its formats are primarily foreign
languages such as Chinese, Vietnamese, Hindi, Pakistani, Korean and
Spanish. Its founder and president/CEO is Arthur Liu.
only does MRBI own a large stable of AM stations, it has invested in
either upgrades or new licenses for nearly 30 stations over the past
15 years, making it one of the most active groups in improving AMs.
the past three years, MRBI has constructed (or reconstructed) KAZN
and KYPA, Los Angeles; WEXY, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; WNSW, Newark,
N.J; and KSJX, San Jose, Calif.
began working as a radio disc jockey in 1976. After some years as a
do-everything on-air personality he moved on to radio station
management. Glogowski later worked as vice president of operations
for Children’s Broadcasting Corp. and vice president of network
operations for Catholic Radio Network.
drew you to begin working in radio in 1976?
that time, I had a gospel music promotional agency in suburban
Philadelphia. We had scheduled a concert in an auditorium at a local
junior high school, and we had a budget for radio ads. I wrote the ad
and selected the music bed. We bought time for the ad on WBCB(AM)
1490 in Levittown, Pa., a station that I grew up with. The PD, Bob
Burton, walked me back to the production room, and I recorded it. He
asked me where I lived, and I told him that I was local. I asked if
there was ever a need to do fill in on-air work, and he said yes —
but you need a Third Phone Broadcast license. If you get one, come
back and see me.
I discussed this with an elder in our church — Jim McDade. Jim had
a First Phone, worked in both TV and radio and with AT&T. He also
built AM 1300 in Trenton, N.J., and was also Dick Clark’s first
audio engineer on American Bandstand at station WFIL(TV)-6, in
Philadelphia. He coached me on the basics of the requirements of the
Third Phone operator, and I passed the test.
then took Bob up on his word and began my on-air career in October
1976 at WBCB(AM) 1490. Having listened to the station most of my
life, it was easy for me to execute the “full-service/MOR”
format. At WBCB, I did news, (covered Three Mile Island), on-air
music, on-air talk, some sports, a lot of remote engineering, as well
as remote talent, sales (all concept — we did not subscribe to
Arbitron) and promotions — Operation Thank You, 1979. The station
gave me an opportunity to do a little bit of everything!
did you decide to move from being an announcer to a manager/owner?
left full-time broadcasting in 1986 because my family was growing and
my income was not keeping up with the demand. However, after a brief
time away I received a call from Chuck Zulker — GM of WCHR(FM) 94.5
in Trenton — asking me if he could recommend me for a management
position at Tom Moffitt’s WVCH, in Chester, Pa., AM 740. Tom hired
me to manage WVCH in 1988. Tom, at one time, also worked at
WFIL(TV)-6 as the “live announcer” for TV spots — before tape —
during “American Bandstand”!
what point did you join MRBI?
I have known Arthur Liu since around 1993, I joined MRBI in May of
2000, when the “Southern Stations” were added to the MRBI
G,’ James Glogowski, sits at the console for WBCB 1490 in 1984 with
newsman ‘Captain Frank’ Foley standing by.
though many feel that the AM band is relatively full or even
overcrowded — and has been for some time — you have been able to
build new stations from the ground up and make signal improvement at
many existing AMs. Do you still see opportunities for new AM stations
have constructed from the ground up, or improved, over 30 AM stations
so far in my career. The band is crowded, that is true. However, as
recently as 2004 — when the FCC opened a major modification AM
filing window — over 1,000 new AMs were applied for at that time.
Initially it was a “check box” application. MRBI’s AM 1600 in
Pomona, Calif. was MX’d with over 100 applicants in its desired
move to Yorba Linda, Calif. Eventually, all the competing
applications went away.
do see opportunities for new AMs today — if the service area is
good, and there is an opportunity to feature programming that is
desirable to the potential listeners. MRBI both acquires existing CPs
and we strategize new allocations with consulting engineers.
have some experience in the expanded AM band, having built or
improved several stations. How has this worked out for the industry?
expanded band was introduced to relieve congestion from existing
“in-band” stations. I do not think that it has fulfilled that
purpose. It has afforded many licensees the opportunity to “survive”
because the coverage from their expanded band stations is superior to
their in-band stations.
think that the extended coverage of the expanded-band stations has
helped certain broadcasters and has provided listeners with
additional formats. While the expanded band has helped, it has not
been exactly what was envisioned when the new band was first adopted.
had the opportunity to work with Charley Hecht and Kurt Gorman when
Children’s Broadcasting purchased WJDM(AM) 1530/1660 from John
Quinn in the early 1990s. We were able to re-locate the daytime
transmitter site and diplex on the WKDM(AM) 1380 site (owned by MRBI)
and gain greater coverage in North Jersey-New York-Connecticut for
the Radio Aahs format. CBC saw increased listenership as a result of
the move — our “toll free” telephone line bills indicated an
increase in listeners from the 201, 212 and 203 area codes after the
move. When we LMA’d the station to Radio Unica, they were pleased
with the coverage of AM 1660. At that time, the FCC engineering staff
was still determining technical standards form the expanded band, and
CBC’s work on AM 1660 provided a lot of “real-world” technical
data that Charley Hecht was able to provide to FCC. This data was
used in determining technical standards for future expanded-band
now owns four expanded-band stations: AM 1690 in Sacramento, Calif.,
AM 1700 in Miami, AM 1660 in N.Y. and AM 1680 in South
Jersey/Philadelphia. Each station has amazing coverage at times. The
DX letters and, now, emails are fascinating! Moving WTTM(AM) 1680 to
Lindenwold, N.J., was a particularly interesting move. Ted Schober
and MRBI’s Neal Newman made it happen “in short order,” days
before the CP expired. I can remember seeing the ground system crew
installing in the rain — but we made it, right at “the buzzer!”
there particular technical challenges that face the expanded band
that other stations don’t have?
they are easier to construct if they stand alone — because they are
mostly non-directional. MRBI’s KSFG(AM) 1690 in the Sacramento,
Calif., area is an example that I refer to as our “plug-and-play”
transmitter site. We did soil studies, bought a pre-fab building,
placed it on a cement pad, added a tower base, constructed the tower,
trenched in the transmission line, installed the ground system, added
two fences (one for the perimeter of the property, one at the tower
base) and voilà — we were on the air! Easy build — 150-foot
tower, great coverage — nice station! The most drawn-out portion of
the construction involved — you guessed it — the zoning
are the major barriers to new AM stations in today’s market — are
they more regulatory or financial?
barriers can be both. AM directional arrays, especially in the lower
part of the band, can take up a lot of real estate. The cost of
constructing and maintaining an AM array can be steep. The
regulations — from environmental impact, to bird migration studies,
to local zoning — can pose major obstacles and delays to
construction. A three-year CP can evaporate right before your eyes,
especially if you face opposition.
you work a lot with multiplex transmitter sites?
just multiplexed KHJ(AM) 930 with our KBLA(AM) 1580 and KYPA(AM) 1230
in Los Angeles. Ron Rackley did that project for MRBI and Liberman
Broadcasting. Diplexes are common — Steve Lockwood and Jim Hatfield
of Hatfield & Dawson put together a very complex diplex of our
KARI(AM) 550 and KVRI(AM) 1600 in Blaine, Wash. The challenge is
creating the networks that will allow for the proper filtering of
both stations, but the benefit is derived from the reduced overhead
in land maintenance, taxes, etc. If the frequencies are far enough
apart, and the existing array has tall enough towers, with an
adequate ground system, and the towers are positioned in a way that
allows for the required coverage from all stations, the site can
talk a bit about your programming philosophy and goals.
came into the business when we were known as a “public trustee.”
I see stations as not only fulfilling an entertainment component, but
also assessing and serving community needs. But in any case, it is my
opinion that content drives technology. If you offer compelling
content, people will find ways to access it. This was demonstrated in
the mid-1990s when I did an LMA of WJDM(AM) 1660 with Radio Unica.
Radio Unica had rights to World Cup. The expanded AM band was new at
the time. Research showed that people visited Radio Shack, The Wiz
and Best Buy, etc. and asked for the radio that “would receive the
World Cup …”
are many ideas being thrown about for how to improve the AM band. Can
you share with us some that you feel will be helpful to you and the
band in general?
all AM stations to VHF TV Channels 5 and 6 would have many upsides
for operators of AM stations. Just the possible reduction in
operating costs — the liquidation of antenna sites, the simpler
maintenance of FM vs. AM — are all upsides for the AM owner. The
plan would require new receivers, but so would full AM digital
migration. If the FCC can allow AM to migrate to Channels 5 and 6,
while receivers were made available, it could be a “win-win”
situation, as one service could operate in both bands and
cross-promote the new service as receivers roll out. If that spectrum
is not available, perhaps we can revisit the AM expanded band — in
a digital sense; meaning have an “in-band” analog and an
“ex-band” all-digital for a period, and cross-promote the digital
site as receivers populate the landscape. Of course, portability is a
key, and efficient digital receivers that can operate on batteries
(in case of an emergency) are very important.