The radio, designed by New York electronics engineer Richard Seguerra at the behest of the association, was one of the feature attractions at the trade organization's four-day annual radio convention, which concludes here today.
"We now have a prototype, and we hope there will be expressions of interest on the part of receiver manufacturers," said NAB radio chairman L. Lowry Mays.
The radio, a table model, is intended to help resuscitate the thousands of ailing AM radio stations across the country that battle FM stations largely without stereo and with signals that grow fuzzy in urban areas.
In addition to the continuous-band dialing, which is similar to the technology that combines VHF and UHF on some new television sets, the prototype offers digital tuning, AM noise reduction and a shielded loop antenna for enhanced AM reception.
The association hopes the new radio will retail for about $50.
Schmoozing, networking and hammering out deals were first and foremost on the minds of most of the 6,500 radio executives at this week's convention. But a couple of interesting studies were made available, amid the smiles and handshakes.
The first, commissioned by the Radio Advertising Bureau and conducted by the Arbitron Ratings Co., gave a glimpse into listening and buying habits across the country:
According to the study:
* There are more than half a billion radios in the United States, with 65 percent of them in homes, 31 percent in cars and trucks and 4 percent in work places.
* More than one-third of those radios are portable, including 45 million ''personal portable" ones, better known as Walkmans.
* Almost all radios, in homes and cars, receive AM and FM. (In homes 97 percent receive both; in autos 88 percent receive both.)
* Digital-dial radios, which have been on the market only several years, already account for 25 percent of all radios. One in three car radios have digital dial; one in five home radios are digital.
* Almost half of all adults working outside the home listen to the radio during the workday.
* Two-thirds of adults regularly listen to the radio when they are in the car, and almost all adults listen in the car from time to time.
* Americans bought 53 million radios last year. Of those, 16 percent were bought by families with incomes under $15,000; 31 percent by families with incomes of $15,000 to $29,999; 29 percent by families with incomes of $30,000 to $44,999, and 24 percent by families with incomes over $45,000.
Another survey released here indicates that AM radio is now widely regarded primarily as a source of news and information, not music.
The survey, commissioned by the NAB and called "What America Thinks of AM Radio," also showed that improved sound quality is as important to adult AM listeners as the programming they hear.
The survey also showed that AM radio is most popular among listeners over 35, who are more likely to have grown up hearing AM. No wonder, then, that the survey also shows that the most popular formats on AM are those favored by older audiences. In order they are: all talk, big band, all news, beautiful music, classical, adult-contemporary, new age, country, rock, urban and Top 40.