Friday, December 28, 2007

HD Radio's New Campaign

I would love to see HD Radio work. I really would.

But in order to "break" a new medium/gadget in this new millennium, it's going to take clever tactics, brilliant strategy, and on-target execution. These are qualities that have been in short supply since the Alliance was formed. Another Christmas comes and goes, and the celebration over a half million radios sold is about as meaningless as a big defensive lineman celebrating after a sack in a game his team is losing by five touchdowns.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Declare Victory and Pull Out of HD Radio

Radio executives are not dumb.

They may be arrogant enough to think their old business model will work in the future, but as the pain of declining audiences and revenue proliferates they’ll even deal with that.

So why, you ask, is the industry so secretive, silent and shameful when it comes to HD radio?

It’s a flop by any measurement.

8 N ‘08 4 HD

Yes…The Hazy Dust is clearing now. There they are — The Eight You-Saw-Them-Here-First Predictions For HD Radio in 2008:

1. Desperate for share-of-mind, HD Radios will be given away for free. Think cell phones, book & music clubs, AOL discs, and 0% auto financing. (but, will people want them?)

2. HD Radio will travel two forks in the road: Public and Talk Radio will lead with innovative programming on their HD-2 channels; HD taking the early steps toward becoming a new Information “band.” Simultaneously, HD-2 music channels will become the new Muzak, but very localized. Most sales will come from in-business fees and other non-conventional sponsorships.

3. Many stations won’t waste their time with HD-2 sub-brands, concentrating, instead, on promoting the advantages for their main, HD-1, Digital signal only.

4. A Democrat winning the White House in ’08 will ignite a creative opportunity for a new breed of Political Talk on HD-2’s, the second channel becoming a problem-solver, not an albatross.

5. If the number of sets grow, after-market applications will begin sneaking forward (a more logical and listener-friendly dial, grouping similar formats together, Cable-like interfaces, integration with Microsoft’s in-car Sync, etc.). That is a mighty big “IF.”

6. Equipment makers will put Radio on notice – Higher awareness of HD, better content, a heartbeat on the sales charts or HD Radio production lines will be shut down.

7. Ordering HD Radio as an equipment option in new cars will be a bust (see #1) . Moon roof or HD Radio? No brainer.

8. Two, perhaps three, major Radio groups will break away from the Alliance citing their desire to produce more relevant, ingenious, and compelling product than Alliance membership allows.

My Crystal Ball goes dark and blank when I look for HD Radio beyond 2008. Very dark. Very blank.


For station operators receiving harmful IBOC interference:

Don't be fatalistic.

DO NOT accept harmful interference as inevitable conesequences of the NAB's misfeasance and the political power of Big Group Radio. GET AN INTERFERENCE COMPLAINT ON FILE with the FCC. Get started on it right away! There IS something you can do to protect you, your employees, your listeners and your investment in your radio station!

For listeners and members of the general public:

You can submit FCC complaints through the Federal Communications Commission website, While this "doesn't hurt," understand that the Commission doesn't accord a lot of weight to technical complaints filed by the general public…at least not until the number of complaints reach "a critical mass" and start to get the attention of the Mass Media Bureau and politicians close to the FCC.

IBOC-AM hasn't gotten there yet. But, given the abysmal performance of the system in the field, it's only a matter of time. So your complaint can help move this along.

Another View: Hey, AM HD-R Critics: Got a Better Idea?

Naysayers Should Offer a Cost-Effective, Feasible Alternative or Put a Cork in It

by Stephen Poole, 12.19.2007
Stephen Poole is market chief engineer for Crawford Broadcasting Co., Birmingham, Ala., and a contributor to Radio World. Opinions are his own.

As a market chief engineer who has installed HD-R systems on two AMs and three FMs, I’d like to throw in my own two cents’ worth. In particular, I want to address the negative comments that have been made about AM HD-R in this magazine. The following are my own opinions and observations, not necessarily those of my employer.

My biggest complaint about the complainers — i.e., those who want to dismiss AM HD-R — is that they propose no real, feasible and realistic alternative. You get the impression that these naysayers want to keep AM as it is, in spite of its many problems and the precipitous decline in listenership in recent decades.

Okay, suppose they get their way: If the decline continues, the day will come when the manufacturers just stop building AM radios due to lack of demand. What will they do then?

2007, A Year to Remember

Probably topping the list was the release of long-anticipated “final rules” for IBOC, with the FCC’s Second Report and Order on DAB, adopted in March (although not effective until Sept. 15).

Among other things, this made it possible for broadcasters to begin FM IBOC multicasting and Extended Hybrid operation without permission or notice. It also allowed AM IBOC broadcasting at night — a topic that has subsequently proven quite controversial, resulting in numerous complaints, the formation of an anti-IBOC coalition, and one radio group’s (Citadel’s) at least temporary cessation of AM IBOC operation. This debate will undoubtedly continue in 2008.

There were other, more positive IBOC-related movements in the industry during 2007, which you may recall from their in-depth coverage on these pages, and which will likely reappear in more real form in 2008.

NAB Digital Radio Committee to Discuss AM Nighttime IBOC in January

The IBOC at night question is on the NAB radar, though. Association officials will be discussing the AM interference question next month.

In his letter to Bob Savage, Rehr continued: “In respect to NAB’s history regarding In-Band On-Channel radio (IBOC), the association has proceeded cautiously over many years with active participation by a broad cross-section of our membership to achieve consensus positions as well as our work with all-industry organizations such as the National Radio Systems Committee.

“Currently, we have an upcoming NAB Digital Radio Committee meeting scheduled in January where we will review input on nighttime AM IBOC and other related issues.”

I’m glad to see NAB planning to talk about nighttime AM IBOC in this committee. A wise engineer suggested to me this week that perhaps the best way to approach this WYSL-WBZ debate is for an independent third party to conduct an engineering study to figure out what’s going on. This could help settle whether what is happening is specifically due to IBOC, or AM atmospheric conditions, or something else.

And, of course, determining who would pay for such a study would be the next step.

WYSL Files Second IBOC Complaint

The FCC has received a second complaint about AM interference from WYSL GM Bob Savage.

He says adjacent-channel IBOC noise from WBZ in Boston is disrupting service of his station in Avon, N.Y., during day, night and critical hours.

Savage asked the commission to “take immediate enforcement action.” He told me his station is listenable for only some five hours a day.

He may be the most prominent critic right now, Savage said, but he’s not the only one.

“Martin Stabbert is not an idiot. Bob Neil has concerns. I’m so frustrated. It’s just wrong,” he said, referring to concerns about interference among executives at Citadel and Cox Radio, respectively. “Our business is being destroyed by this.”

Savage told me he offered WBZ, a CBS station, three potential solutions: They could give him an STA for a nighttime power increase; buy his station and turn it off (with no specific price mentioned) or turn off IBOC at night.

A CBS Radio spokeswoman declined comment, as did an FCC official I queried.

Meanwhile Savage also wrote NAB President/CEO David Rehr about this issue. After receiving an e-mail newsletter from Rehr about performance royalties, Savage wrote back to Rehr in strong language: “The NAB conspired with major group broadcasters and with Ibiquity to totally throw stations like WYSL under the HD-AM bus. Thanks to the wonderful National Association of Broadcasters our very existence is threatened — not that you people care.” Savage is not an NAB member.

Rehr responded to Savage in an e-mail shared with me by NAB Radio Department EVP John David. Rehr said NAB does care about independent radio operators and said it had tried to reach out to Savage several times this year to discuss his concerns and membership.

“We are very interested in collecting anecdotal reports about the experiences of stations with operation of AM IBOC at night, both positive and negative, and will consider the input you have provided,” Rehr said.

Let's Have a Reality Check on IBOC

Owner/Engineer Says HD-R Is Never Going to Work

by Larry Langford, 12.19.2007
The author is president and chief engineer of Langford Broadcast LLC, licensee of WGTO(AM), Cassopolis, Mich. and WDOW(AM), Dowagiac, Mich.

As an owner/engineer who has been around this crazy business since the ‘60s, I think I can offer some insight into all this IBOC talk.

At first glance it seemed Ibiquity did everything right. They pulled together several teams to design the digital scheme and got major broadcasters to get behind it.

Ibiquity then designed a perpetual income machine with user fees. But suddenly it became loud and clear, like an old 10-bell bulletin on a teletype machine: For AM it’s not working.

Yes, I can hear the supporters say, “Sure it works. We just have to work out the bugs and give it time to catch on.” And they are so quick to point out how long it took FM to really catch on.

To use that as a benchmark is not only dumb, it’s stupid.

Battle for the Band: AM IBOC Under Siege

Nighttime Hash Complaints Slow Deployment & Operation of HD on AM Band, Raise Doubts About Success

by Guy Wire, 12.05.2007

The interference fallout of full-time AM HD operations has been scattered and largely anecdotal. According to reports in RW, only one formal complaint has been filed as of this writing. By the time you read this, there likely will be others.

The AM HD rollout has attracted only about 225 licensed stations, mainly the wide-area coverage powerhouses and stations that also bought in early to the promise of 15 kHz stereo. About 175 are operational daytime while less than 70 are thought to be operating at night. That’s less than 2 percent of the total inventory of U.S. AM stations.

Citadel/ABC has kept its AM HD flamethrowers like WABC, WJR and WBAP analog only at night while Cox is still choosing to keep all its AM stations’ IBOC exciters turned off full-time. Clear Channel and CBS still have the majority of their AM stations unequipped for HD.

Many think the handwriting is on the wall and AM HD is in deep trouble.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

DEAD AIR: Radio's great leap forward stalling in the Valley

Local radio broadcasters have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a new technology to compete with satellite radio and iPods, but almost no one in the Rio Grande Valley is listening.

Retailers say no one is buying HD radios in South Texas despite scattered attempts by broadcasters to promote the digital signal technology, which gives clearer sound and allows stations to send out “sub-channels” of music and information.

HD Radio Has Yet To Take Off

DALLAS -- Dozens of stations in North Texas are broadcasting in high definition, but few people have the radios to receive it.

Patrick Davis of 106.1 KISS FM, one of 25 stations broadcasting in high definition, said HD radio offers pure digital quality.

"Your favorite radio station comes in crystal clear," he said.

Each radio station can also broadcast side channels, adding nearly 100 more radio stations to choose from in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

"Our HD 2 channel is Pride Radio," Davis said. "It's nothing but dance music and stuff like that."

The additional channels are mostly commercial-free.

The only cost to listen to HD radio is the initial purchase of a player. Prices start at $150.

"The advantage is, there's no fees," Johnnell Robertson, of Radio Shack, said. "There's no subscription fees. It's absolutely free."

HD radio is designed to compete against satellite radio, Robertson said.

But the technology hasn't taken off as expected. NBC 5 could not find one person who owns a hi-def radio and neither could KISS FM's program director.

"I don't know anybody that has one yet," Davis said. "What we're trying to do is just raise awareness that HD radio is out there."

Sunday, December 9, 2007

NPR Shop: Home » Radios » HD Radios

HD Digital Radio features more programming choices and dramatically better digital sound quality, and it's free. If your local station is broadcasting in digital, all you need is an HD Radio receiver.

{ed.: "and it's free!" Radios from $130-$250!]

Saturday, December 8, 2007

2007 Digital Media Losers

2007 Digital Media Losers
By Richard Menta 12/8/07

1. HD Radio
Why has HD Radio failed to take off? Why does it have lackluster word of mouth? After reviewing several units we found out why.

The makers of the radio units themselves cheaped out on the tuners, which have such poor sensitivity, both a beat-up $20 Sony shower radio and a vintage 1941 Zenith kitchen radio bettered them. What good is an HD receiver when you can barely tune into either analog or HD signals? A perfect example of where $200-$600 buys you inferior quality. Here is a technology adopted by thousands of radio stations - at significant expense - only to be undermined by the radio manufacturers. HD Radio may get a reprieve as Ford offered to put it in all 2008 vehicles. Hopefully, the receivers Ford puts into its automobiles have more sensitive tuners. If they don't, HD radio risks going the way of 8-track tapes and Quadraphonic Sound records.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

McLarnon: Enough is Enough

December 5, 2007

Adjacent-channel AM IBOC nighttime interference is not mild

Each and every one of those digital subcarriers contributes to the generation of audible noise in an AM receiver tuned to the first-adjacent channel of an IBOC station, and they must all be considered in any interference analysis.

Featured in the Dec 5 2007 online edition of Radio World Magazine. To read the magazine please click on the magazine image, and go to page 5. Note: this link may only work for the current week.

In Search of an HD-R Receiver

by Richard Factor, 10.24.2007

I love radio.

The company at which I strive makes technical radio products, including one for HD Radio. I have been reading about HD Radio for years. I have been listening to ads on a local station for their HD-R channels for more than a year and have checked out IBOC signals on a number of my beautiful spectrum analyzers.

And yet: I had never, not even for an instant, ever heard an HD-R channel, so I decided to purchase one.

Rational Discussion or Luddite Rants?

One Reader Gripes, ‘You Would Have a Better Chance of Resolving the Middle East Conflict Than Getting The Anti-HD Radio AM Group to Have a Rational Discussion About It’

by Paul J. McLane, 11.21.2007
Paul McLane is the Editor in Chief of Radio World US.

“Just taking a run-through of the latest Radio World issue, Oct. 10, and what do I find at the back of the mag? Yet another anti-HD Radio rant by yet another AM Luddite.”

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Radio World Online - Hear It Now: IBOC Disappoints (Letter)

I made a series of short recordings at my cottage at Klinger Lake near White Pigeon, Mich., on the evening of Sept. 19, 2007.

We are roughly 130 miles from these transmitters (WSM, WBBM, WGN, WSCR, WHAS, WJR and WLW). Normally in this area, we can receive all of the Chicago 50 kW stations with a good listenable signal, day or night.

The recordings were made using a Zoom H4 recorder and a GE Superadio III. I made the recordings acoustically because I did this on the spur of the moment, and that also allowed me to say a few words to identify the stations. I have a series of about 12 recordings of a number of stations, including two additional files of WGN and WBBM.

What I found was that in the evening, the IBOC noise sidebands from adjacent-channel stations over on the East Coast were so strong that at times, they completely wiped out the 50 kW Chicago stations that can normally be heard very well in my area. In other cases, the noise was just really annoying.

I listened on other evenings the past week, and the results were the same. What you hear on the recordings is typical of reception in this area. In some cases, it’s even worse — the adjacent-channel interference completely obliterates the desired station only about 130 miles from the city.

IBOC is a failed technology that has no place on the AM dial. It is a huge disaster. If this is the future of AM radio, I will not be listening. There are too many other, better alternatives now!

By the way, WGN sounds bad even in Chicago during the daytime. There is always a hiss in the background. I haven’t measured it, but I’ll bet it’s not even 30 dB down.

Edgar Reihl

Northbrook, Ill.

Keeping Good Time

The HD Radio system has an inherent audio delay due to the processing time required in the receiver. Because of this delay, when a station operates in hybrid mode, the analog audio must be delayed to match the digital audio signal so the blend function from analog to digital and back is smooth and transparent. In October, Brian Beezley, an engineer in southern California, applied his passion for RF to evaluate the current state of HD Radio time alignment for the more than 30 stations that he is able to receive at his home. The stations cover the Los Angeles and San Diego markets.

When the time delay is not set properly, the resulting effect can be an annoyance to the listener. When the difference is small, a comb filter effect is applied to the audio. In extreme cases — like that when there is no time delay at all — the digital transition will repeat the previous 8 seconds of audio.

Beezley's results did not show well. A table showing the measured variations is posted on his website at

Radio World Online - Editorial: AM IBOC in Distress?

Some people predicted an “IBOCalypse” when AM HD operations went full-time on Sept. 14. The band would drown in a sea of digital hash, digital doomsdayers warned. 

It didn’t happen, at least not yet. But there is plenty to worry about on the AM IBOC front.

First, let’s all agree that not enough stations have been transmitting HD Radio at night to provide a realistic evaluation of the consequences. That argues for calm, although the low activation rate is itself also a measure of the problem; if the system met the needs of AM broadcasters they should be jumping on it.

Citadel Director of Corporate Engineering Martin Stabbert embodied questions about the efficacy of full-time AM HD when he ordered all his AMs that had already converted to cease transmitting HD at night, using language that must have given Ibiquity officials heartburn. Separately and for different immediate reasons, Cox, in a “let’s wait and see” move, has tried HD on most of its AM stations but is taking it off the air day and night, once tested at each facility. 

Radio Magazine: Open Mic - Eye on IBOC

When the FCC Rules allowed AM stations to transmit IBOC signals at night, concerns were raised about the potential interference that would result to all analog stations in AM band. In the end, there hasn't been the doom and gloom destruction of AM radio from nighttime IBOC use, and Radio magazine research has found mixed experiences relating to actual received interference.

Within days after Sept. 14, the day AM stations were allowed to transmit IBOC at night, Citadel Broadcasting Director of Corporate Engineering Martin Stabbert issued a memo to Citadel's AM IBOC stations that transmitted a signal at night. The memo instructed stations to cease nighttime transmissions because of interference issues. We talked to Stabbert about the memo and the interference problem to help set the record straight.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Rochester Station Says IBOC Interferes

In what is thought to be the first AM nighttime IBOC interference complaint filed with the FCC, Radio Livingston Ltd., licensee of WYSL in Upstate New York, claims that adjacent-channel IBOC noise from WBZ in Boston is interfering with its daytime and nighttime signals.

Observers are interested in the outcome of this case, which presents a face-off between a small standalone AM owner vocally opposed to IBOC on one side of the complaint, against a group-owned, big-market station owned by IBOC pioneer CBS Radio on the other.

Central to this case is whether the alleged interference is within WYSL’s protected contour; the station says it is. CBS-owned WBZ isn’t commenting publicly on the case.

The FCC said in its IBOC authorization text this year that interference cases would be handled case-by-case. A commission spokesman told RW then that mitigation in such cases could include the agency telling a station to lower the power level in one or both of digital sidebands, or even turning off the nighttime AM IBOC altogether.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

HD. Yes … But.

Yes, (from Paragon’s ‘07 HD study) 42% have heard of HD Radio.
But … Only one-in-three can identify any HD station. Stations

Yes, QVC was retailing HD Radios to more than 160 million homes.
But … Just 500 were sold.

Yes, The average QVC price for a HD Radio was $337.66.
But … Listeners want to pay only about $50.00. BuyHd

Yes, Ford will be offering HD Radios over their full line in 2008.
But … You’ll have to pay extra for it. I-pod dock, leather seats, or HD Radio? Hmmm.

Yes, Listeners who already have a HD Radio would buy another one.
But … There aren’t enough of them to make a ripple. purchase

Yes, HD makes AM stations sound a lot better.
But … Interference at night is a big problem (see Comment #3).

Yes, When listeners understand what HD Radio is and what it can do, most might think about buying one. buy
But … Obviously the massive promotion to date hasn’t come close to doing the job. hd-awareness.pdf

Have You Heard of...

When you ask, “Have you heard of HD Radio?” there is lots and lots of silence. Just like a Marcel Marceau performance.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

HD Radio and QVC -- looked good on paper.

The HD Radio Alliance sponsored a half-hour program on QVC last night. As the Alliance breathlessly announced in their press release:
"QVC provides a unique retail at-home environment that is ideal for helping even more consumers discover the cool new content and crystal clear sound provided by HD Digital Radio," said Peter Ferrara, president and CEO of the HD Digital Radio Alliance. "When QVC shoppers see the wide variety of stylish HD Radio receivers and discover the benefits, they are going to want to experience the digital upgrade immediately."
Interestingly enough, that press release and the new Paragon Media study of HD Radio awareness (41% among radio listeners, of which only 9% understood that it required an HD Radio receiver) arrived in my news aggregator about the same time.

So I decided to watch the QVC special aired last night to see exactly how they would pitch this technology with very little consumer awareness (or interest).

Friday, November 16, 2007

HD Radio: too little, too late

Face it, folks...when you add it up, HD Radio as a platform will never be competitive with satellite or Internet radio on a value for value basis for the end user.

HD Radio PAD: solutions in search of problems?

HD Radio's proposed "possibilities" seem out of touch to me because of the sheer proliferation of communication platforms in general. When FM was introduced, it was basically just another way to do one-way radio. It took decades to take over, but it did it in a world of three mass media platforms (print, TV, AM radio). FM had time to make its mark, and the public didn't have to learn anything new (though they did have to buy new receivers). HD Radio's propositions seem bound in this FM radio world view -- the idea that it will reach near-ubiquity because FM radio did. But HD Radio is entering a market that has not three major mass media platforms, but perhaps 10 or more (depending on how you count). Not to mention that one of the mass platforms out there today -- the Internet -- is not a medium but a transport system that can carry ANY medium. Why should I, as a consumer, adapt my listening habits and spend more money on a media format that's basically an update of the 20th century's greatest hit when I could simply shift over to a multimedia device that can get me audio, video, text and still photos and has a wider reach than any one radio station?

All this said, I do think an HD Radio rollout is called for, if for no other reason than multicasting. I'm just deeply concerned that the "neat" stuff HD Radio "could" do is oversold and cannot possibly deliver -- not technologically, but in terms of market acceptance.

‘Anti’ IBOC Alliance Membership Grows

WYSL owner Bob Savage says he has more than 90 members for his new anti-IBOC alliance which I mentioned in my last post.

None wished to be identified by name.

“For the most part these people are not bomb-throwing reactionaries but are radio pros who are genuinely concerned about IBOC’s adverse effects on AM radio,” he tells me. The entries also include “many accounts of serious interference” he says.

There are a few DXers, ham operators and other “civilians” among that group; however, he said, the majority are broadcasters who represent a cross-section “from the small-market guys all the way to major-market 50 kW AM stations.”

One anonymous “confessional entry,” he says, “loses sleep over being forced by management to install HD-AM, which he regards as an ethical transgression, because it generates harmful interference. He’s certain that if his name and station got out he would lose his job.”

Saturday, November 3, 2007

HD Radio: Not Everyone is Touting its Virtues

Is HD Radio a farce? That’s the question which asks. Over the past year or so I’ve received some email from engineers, ham radio operators, and audiophiles who have decried HD Radio as being less than promised and troublesome to others. Here’s a recent email from a site visitor, Bob, who recently wrote:

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Test: Rockin' HD Radios, Handy Digital Audio Recorders, Eco-Friendly Totes

Terrestrial radio isn't dead. More than 3,000 stations are broadcasting HD, delivering CD-quality audio with no monthly fees. You just need the right tuner to pick up the signal. — Roger Thomasson

[Someone needs to set the author of this article straight, there are only half that many stations broadcasting in IBOC in the US! - ed.]

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A comparison of HD Radio, XM Radio and AM radio

The following samples represent the following radio formats:


- 24 kbps, KFAB, Omaha
* XM low bitrate talk radio

- 24 kbps
* Standard AM

- KFAB, Omaha

Mainly these samples exist to show what digital HD Radio sounds like on AM. Recently the FCC granted radio stations the privilege to broadcast HD-AM at night. This makes a world of difference for talk radio shows.

According to sources on the web, both HD-AM and XM Talk 165 broadcast around 24 kbps. Their audio samples do sound about the same to the ear.

The compression artifacts on both HD AM and XM radio are quite noticeable at this low bitrate. A strong AM signal on a good radio can rival the digital in overall fidelity. However, the lack of hiss, pop and fade, along with immunity from outside interference makes the digital experience more enjoyable.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sony XDR-S3HD Tabletop HD Radio Review

The problem with HD Radio is that it isn’t readily available in all areas, and the quality of sound is still something to be desired over regular FM radio. We found that some HD Radio stations in our area were not clear and were dropping in and out. These problems aren’t singular to this particular model HD Radio either, all HD Radio’s will suffer from this problem due to the current infrastructure of the technology.

It seems like a much better decision to go with XM or Sirius satellite radio, since it is available nationwide and without interruption most of the time. If you still want to give HD Radio a try, the XDR-S3HD Tabletop HD Radio from Sony will set you back $200.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Don’t Touch That Dial

Broadcasters have long cast a wary eye toward the digital realm. Even with grudging acceptance that ‘the world is going digital’ the unease is endemic. And the answers from consumers only reinforce every digital fear.

Programming side broadcasters tend to be rather more right-brained than the left-brained engineers and accountants. Programmers talk about concepts; engineers talk about boxes. Broadcasting needs both sides of the brain, certainly, but visualizing consumer behavior remains the domain of programmers.

Something about digital radio has bothered broadcastings’ concept side, something not well articulated.

American broadcaster Cox Radio commissioned veteran audience researcher Bob Harper to find out how radio listeners may or may not use the new digital radio platforms. In a series of focus groups conducted in three US cities two years ago Harper sorted out a quite different layer of digital questions. The results were summed up nicely by one study participant - “Why don’t they just leave it alone?”

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Will HD Radio be the wave of the future?

By Tom Feran
Plain Dealer Reporter

In television, HD stands for high definition. In radio, it doesn't really stand for anything, which may sum up the problem that HD Radio has with most consumers.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Radio Transformed

Technology is always changing in today’s fast-paced environment. Almost every industry in the United States has seen major technical changes. Radio is no different. Most Americans have heard of HD TV, however, the concept of HD Radio sounds unfamiliar.

According to, HD Radio takes FM stereo broadcasts and transforms the sound into CD quality. The AM band also benefits from HD Radio technology, as AM broadcasts are transformed into FM quality sound.

Hardly-Discernable Radio: Broadcasts to Nobody

Public radio in Washington, DC continues to shill for the Hybrid Digital/Analog (not “High Definition”) HD Radio™ system. The public radio audience is as skeptical of this as other segments of the consumer audience — maybe more so. This is a version 1.0 transitional technology – good only until all radio is digital — and public radio listeners are more highly-educated than other radio market segments.

It doesn’t help that station management insists HD Radio™ is a “robust, sustainable service” while displaying a transmitter map showing you can’t get their 500 watt HD Radio™ broadcasts most places the station’s 50,000 watt analog signal is heard, and suggests that an old-style TV roof antenna makes a dandy accessory for your brand-new HD Radio™.

To “jumpstart the migration of the existing audience to the new radio dial position, to propagate the new technology” the station is giving away HD Radio™ units, and the nonprofit public radio station is flogging the things with website links to retailers. It’s very sad, and coming to public stations across the nation, because the money has already been spent.

It reminds me of an old 1960s LP for kids, “You be a DJ.” Kids would play it, introduce songs, and talk - and no one else was listening.

Blogs about: Hd Radio

HD Radio™ Fantasyland — 1 comment

Mike Licht wrote 19 hours ago: The FCC recently adopted the HD RadioTM standard over competing technologies, and stations have begin a radio campaign to …

HD Radio Manufacturing Capacity Doubled Since 2006

broadcastequipmentguide wrote 1 week ago: iBiquity Digital Corporation, the developer of digital HD Radio technology, announced today that demand for HD Radio receivers has resulted...

HD Radio™, Ford Tough -- to Receive — 4 comments

Mike Licht wrote 2 weeks ago: HD Radio™ will be available in 2008 Fords – a dealer-installed accessory, not a factory-installed option. Translation: expensive. You …

IBOC TECHNOLOGY:An Assessment of Technical & Operational Issues in the Canadian FM Radio Environment

(Deals with FM IBOC, but there is a direct connection to AM IBOC by inference)

The Digital Radio Co-ordinating Group (DRCG) has prepared this report to assist broadcasters
and government regulators in assessing the technical & operational issues associated with
introducing in-band on-channel (IBOC) digital radio broadcasting (DRB) services in the
Canadian FM radio environment. Because it has been adopted as an IBOC standard by the US
FM radio industry, and equipment was therefore readily available, iBiquity Digital Corporation’s
HD RadioTM system was utilized in this evaluation.

The DRCG considers that, based on the evidence currently in hand, it would be risky for
Canadian broadcasters to proceed at this time with an unrestricted roll-out of HD Radio
services in the FM band, in the manner implemented in the US.

Growing Resistance to HD Radio

After feeling like I've been shouting into the wind alone for so long about this, it's great to see others taking a critical perspective on HD's fundamental flaws. Check the following blogs for lots of information about this tainted technology, especially since these folks are also doing an excellent job aggregating news coverage of the issue:

As HD Radio Sniffs Success, Critics Question the Formula

As HD Radio braces for a sliver of success -- adding advertisers and a new wave of portable receivers -- critics say tight control by big radio companies at the top is smothering the fledgling industry's chances.

"Radio's most popular formats were created by radio rebels, outlaws, misfits and ne'er-do-wells -- not by corporate marketing executives," says Robert Hughes, co-owner of San Diego rock station KPRI, which has no immediate plans to broadcast in HD.

Over the last two years, about 1,500 U.S. radio stations have made the leap to digital broadcasting, terrestrial radio's response to the overwhelming success of the iPod and the threat posed by satellite radio. The technology -- known as HD Radio, although the letters don't stand for "high definition" or anything else -- allows stations to broadcast in higher fidelity and offer secondary channels to listeners with special digital radios.

Stations spend an estimated $100,000 each to upgrade their transmitters to carry digital signals, according to the HD Digital Radio Alliance trade group, which is dominated by huge radio companies.

But so far, digital radio has generated nearly no buzz. HD Radio technology company iBiquity Digital estimates about 200,000 HD radios were sold last year, and predicts between 1 million and 1.5 million will be sold this year.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Just leave AM radio alone! Please turn off HD Radio IBOC, pull out the NRSC filters and let a grand old medium serve its public well! No other technology can achieve direct nationwide distribution using a ten dollar hand-held receiver. And, no, I don't want to listen to all my radio via the Internet quite yet. Get back to basics and let AM radio shine again. Have you ever heard two or three IBOC beehives phase together? Oh, my poor ears! Here comes the train! Let's stop it before it's completely out of control!


Note: Most AM stations utilizing IBOC do not utilize the system at night. According to IBOC proponents, as of October 2007, "fewer than 100 stations" are utilizing the system because of skywave adjacent-channel interference problems (see "DROPPING LIKE FLIES," this site.) An unknown number of AM stations using IBOC are "daytimers" meaning they have no nighttime authority under any circumstances, or are "daytimers with post-sunset authority" meaning they have very small nighttime operating power. Since IBOC utilizes only about 1/100th of AM carrier power the system would not work reliably with the usual PSSA authorized station, operating with only 5 to 50 watts, so daytimers are not candidates for nighttime use of the system.

RELEVANT STATISTICS: 95% of AM stations do NOT operate IBOC, with something between 98% and 99% of AM stations NOT operating with the system at night. Only 84% of FM stations are utilizing IBOC, including noncommercial licensees. This is after four years of frantic industry promotion, ineffectual on-air promotion and lobbying of the FCC to establish IBOC as "the" digital standard.

How Does HD Digital Radio Sound? (simulation)

Ever wished you could get the same quality of sound from your radio as you do from your CD? Or that your radio signal didn’t fade out just when you wanted to listen to the game? Now you can. Get the kind of sound that was previously reserved for your HDTV, CD system or MP3 player. Get it on your radio. And get it for free!

* CD-quality sound
* Crystal-clear reception
* No station drop-off
* No static, hiss or audio distortion

NOTE: Webcasts such as this one utilize a compressed electronic file and should not be considered a true replica of the superior sound quality you get with HD Radio.

Stop IBOC Now!

End The Radio Engineering Scourge That Could Mean Doom To AM Radio

A hybrid digital/analog broadcasting system has been pushed through a perfunctory FCC approval process, by the developer working in concert with the National Association of Broadcasters and large corporate radio groups to benefit a few big-market Am radio stations.

Not only does "In-Band", On-Channel" hybrid/analog AM radio not work well - it generates harmful interference which could end AM radio listening as it has existed since 1920.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

More on HD: Is Anyone Out There?

By: RANDY DOTINGA - For the North County Times

If a radio station broadcasts music and nobody listens, does it make a sound?

Last week, I wrote about how local stations are embracing HD Radio, which allows them to broadcast in higher fidelity and offer alternative programming on digital subchannels. If you get an HD Radio ---- they cost $100 and up ---- you can tune in to about 10 of these local channels, some of which I wrote about last week.

But while plenty of stations have spent money and time on the digital technology known as HD, there are plenty of signs that few people are interested.

Consider North County rock station KPRI, which doesn't have a digital signal. According to KPRI's Bob Hughes, it seems that a grand total of one person has asked when the station will start broadcasting in digital.

And who's that person? Me. Your humble radio columnist. That, Hughes said, "speaks volumes about HD."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

HD Alliance Ups Marketing Commitment By $230 Million
WASHINGTON -- October 15, 2007: The HD Digital Radio Alliance -- a joint initiative by a number of leading broadcasters to promote consumer adoption of HD Radio -- has renewed its charter and committed to an additional $230 million in marketing funds for 2008. That brings the group's total financial commitment to $680 million.

"Our renewed charter shines the spotlight on local markets and the unique content offered on the new HD2 radio stations," said HD Digital Radio Alliance President/CEO Peter Ferrara. "Now is the time for each local market manager, program director, and sales manager to step up and make HD Radio a part of their business objectives for 2008."

iBiquity Launches HD Radio Retail Training Web Site$rol.exe/headline_id=b10308

iBiquity Digital has re-launched its retail sales training web site at Developed in collaboration with Chalk Media Corp. and its chalkboard learning platform, HD Radio University is designed to educate retail sales people, who are currently selling HD Radio products in the U.S.

The interactive learning web site is designed to give retailers the tools they need to increase their knowledge of HD Radio Technology. The site opens with an informative video, featuring leading consumer electronics product educator David Chalk. Entitled "The HD Radio Story," the learning site covers the basics of HD Radio Technology as well as new advanced features such as the recently announced iPod iTunes Tagging.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

RadioShack's Inadequate Accurian

This is the cheapest HD Radio receiver now on the market, but even at $200 it's too expensive given its subpar sound

It's true that the RadioShack Accurian is the most affordable way into the appealing new club that is HD Radio, but it's costly for all the wrong reasons. One look underneath the base of an Accurian explains its $200 price tag. There, a sticker reads: "HD Radio Technology Under License From iBiquity Digital Corporation." Instead of developing a radio capable of superior sound quality, I'm guessing that RadioShack paid iBiquity a fortune for the license, cheaply put together a subpar product, and passed the licensing cost on to consumers.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Radio That's Digital But Hardly Special,0,2911230.column?coll=hc_technology_util

HD Radio still has a lot to prove, starting with its relevancy.

Will people turn off their satellite radios, pause their iPods or fold shut their MP3-loaded cellphones to flip on a newly digitized AM/FM radio?

Uh, not so far. Despite more radio stations' shifting to the new digital technology licensed by Ibiquity Digital Corp. (, HD Radio is still in the Perez Hilton stage: loved by some, unknown or unwanted by most.

Time of Reckoning Nears for HD Radio

With a Stalled Rollout and Little Support From the Big Three, Are Industry Insiders Starting to Doubt HD?

It’s beginning to seem like a long time ago when many of us started laying plans to add IBOC digital transmission to our stations.

The topic has dominated our industry as a seminal yet controversial issue since the early 1990s. Early adopters have been running HD Radio for almost five years. But the long ordeal of converting radio broadcasting from analog to digital in this country is still in its infancy.

By the time you read this, fulltime AM-HD IBOC operations will have commenced for many key stations. The early fallout from skywave interference will be raining down from the ionosphere and the FCC will be dealing with the first round of formal complaints. Except for real interference that falls inside protected contours, other complaints will undoubtedly be dismissed.

AM-HD has from the beginning been widely criticized as the noisy and disruptive neighbor a lot of folks hoped would not move in next door. Other than a few isolated cases, Ibiquity has assured us the problem will not be all that bad. Instead of worrying about the background hiss or losing fringe area listeners, we should focus on the benefits of high-fidelity digital stereo on AM for the first time.

When all is said and done it probably won’t matter if AM-HD in the hybrid mode succeeds or not. The big signal AM news-talkers are the anchors saving the AM band and don’t need 15 kHz stereo to remain successful. If anything, lost fringe area coverage hurts them more than any benefit that might be derived from HD.

One reason HD radio is too little, too late

radio SHARK 2 - $50.00

To put it simply, radio SHARK 2 adds the enjoyment of AM/FM radio to your computer, both Mac and PC. But that's only the beginning.

radio SHARK 2 can record AM and FM radio broadcasts in real time.
You can record while you listen, or you can set up recordings to occur later, or according to a repeating schedule. You never have to miss a favorite show again. Recordings are saved to your hard disk, and can be added (automatically!) to your iTunes library for listening on your iPod.

radio SHARK 2 can "pause" live radio.
Griffin's radio SHARK software keeps track as you listen. Need to jump up and answer the door? ...take a quick refreshment break? Go ahead; the show will go on... when you tell it to. You can pause the broadcast and come right back to where you left off, moments or even hours later.

radio SHARK 2 adds Internet Radio to your old stand-by AM & FM.
radio SHARk's on-screen radio "tuner" looks, feels, and works just the way you expect a radio dial to work. Your dear Grandma & Grandpa would feel right at home with it. There's nothing to learn, no dues to pay, no paradigm to shift. But, let's face it — it's the 21st Century. Along with the usual fare of AM/FM talk shows, call-ins, top-forty, and easy (and sometimes no-so-easy) listening, you get to browse the ever-expanding world of Internet Radio. You get to sample broadcasts that couldn't squeeze their way between the curve of the earth and the ionosphere. You, or your listening, at any rate, get to go global, You get to try, before you buy, great music and sounds from all over the world, via Cyberspace. And how hard is it to master? It's just like listening to Radio.

radio SHARK 2 gives you computerized control over your radio listening.
You love your radio. Now you can love your radio with digital control. Plug the radio SHARK "fin" into your computer's USB port, load the software, and start tuning in. You can pick it up as you go — or you can help yourself to detailed step-by-step instructions, authored by our team of trained professionals. Before you know it, you will have the airwaves whipped into shape, performing at your beck and call. And when they ask you how you did it, you can just smile and say, enigmatically, "It was easy."

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

HD Radio

There is a general disinterest amongst consumers in the new Digital HD Radio. According to a survey by Bridge Ratings, when asked the question, "Would you buy an HD radio in the next two months?" only 1.0% responded "yes".[23] Some engineers have also expressed distrust or dislike of the new system.[24]

HD Radio tuners have been noted as being very insensitive, making reception problematic. In hybrid mode, the HD Radio signal is 1/100th the power of a station's analog signal. For this reason, the HD Radio signal will sometimes drop out and the receiver will revert to analog mode. This can be especially problematic in fringe areas, where the digital signal may frequently be lost. In addition it has been noted that the analog section displays poor reception capabilities compared to older non-digital models.[25]

Whereas DRM and DAB are controlled by non-profit consortiums with members from more than 30 countries, iBiquity ultimately has control over HD Radio receiver-manufacturer licensing[26] and broadcaster licensing.[27] HD Radio has been officially adopted only by the US and Brazil. iBiquity has stated in PR articles that countries evaluating HD Radio include Canada, France, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, Switzerland, and Thailand.[26][27] However as of mid-2007, Canada and Switzerland have officially selected, or are also testing, the Digital Audio Broadcasting standard, and France has already chosen DAB. iBiquity and other sources do not explicitly state in published articles what technically comprises the "evaluation", whether there are ongoing or elapsed test transmissions, and the quantity or power of transmitters.

HD Radio has been criticized for being incompatible with the standards selected by most other countries; hence overseas travel with an HD Radio, or the sale of radios to or from countries that don't use HD Radio is not possible. Manufacturers presently must design and build separate radios for the U.S. market. For broadcasting on frequencies below VHF (including Shortwave and AM/Medium Wave), most countries (and the standards organizations ITU, IEC, and ETSI) have adopted the Digital Radio Mondiale system, abbreviated "DRM" (not related to Digital Rights Management). For VHF and higher frequencies, a majority of countries have adopted or are evaluating the Digital Audio Broadcasting, abbreviated "DAB" system (see "Regional implementations of DAB" in Digital Audio Broadcasting).

The U.S. FCC selected HD Radio as the official digital radio system in 2002, and without provision for compatibility with DAB (ratified by the ITU-R standardization body in 1994) and DRM (ITU ratified April 2001). Thus, although an analog radio from one continent can be taken to another and it will work to some degree, the differences between HD Radio and DAB/DRM make listening to the other system impossible.

Unlike subscription-based satellite radio, the content of HD Radio stations is subject to FCC regulation.

Unlike regular car radios, which come fitted as standard equipment with virtually all automobiles, HD Radio requires consumers to purchase a new radio costing more than $100.

Dennis Haarsager's rolling environmental scan for electronic media.

Digital Radio entries

HD Radio vs. Internet Radio - Which is Radio's Future?

Here at Bridge Ratings, we are often asked about HD radio. Is there a future? And, if there is a future from a consumer's perspective, how well- in our opinion - will HD radio enhance terrestrial radio's future?

In a just-completed Bridge Ratings study of 3179 consumers ages 12+, our client's goal was to determined the current status/awareness of HD radio among average Americans and how it compares to Internet radio in use and interest.

This chart provided by BIA Financial Network expresses the most current status of the number of HD On-air radio stations in the U.S. 278 HD stations are on the air in the top ten radio markets - about 36%. This compares to 18% of the stations in markets 51-100 that have invested in HD technology for their stations.

HD Radio: Why Marketing Matters

I was impressed with the British Invasion in the 1960's. "Those Brits are real good", I thought to myself as the whole string of music successes starting with the Beatles came across the 'pond' to invade America.

Now, they're showing up America once again, but this time it's in the area of HD radio - or "Digital Radio" as they package it.

In a survey just released by Britain's ratings service RAJAR, more than 25% of the British population listen to digital radio, defined as Digital Audio Broadcasting, Digital Television and the Internet.

At first glance, this is rather impressive. However, when combining those three digital radio sources in the U.S., the percentage of the American populous that listens to some form of digital radio is closer to 50%:

  • Internet radio - 60 million
  • HD Radio - 500,000
  • Digital TV - 90 million homes
What is intriguing is the marketing of digital radios (comparable to the U.S. HD concept).

Best Buy Expands HD Radio Lineup

As part of a nationwide digital radio sales push, Best Buy on Monday announced plans to offer HD Radio products at all of its 832 U.S. stores. The rollout, part of the retailer's partnership with the HD Digital Radio Alliance, is effective immediately.

"The HD Digital Radio Alliance and iBiquity have created momentum with customers that now make HD Digital Radio one of the hottest electronics choices around," said Chris Homeister, Best Buy vice president of merchandising. "Product is now available in all of our stores, so no matter where our customers live, they can discover HD Radio and experience the crystal clear sound and new programming choices."

In addition to the HD hardware -- including options for car, home and mobile listening -- Best Buy's HD Radio rollout includes a customer education and marketing program that incorporates an interactive, in-store display. This effort will be bolstered by tie-in ads created by both Best Buy and the Alliance.

"This is another major step forward for HD Radio technology," said Robert Struble, president and CEO of HD Radio developer iBiquity. "Following rapid adoption by the broadcast community and an increasing range of products for the mass market, Best Buy's efforts will dramatically accelerate consumer adoption of this great new technology."

Google Group: HD Radio

Description: This is a group for discussing HD radio, it's viability in the market place, HD receivers and technology, programming, reception, and in general anything concerning HD radio that shouldn't be clogging up other newsgroups, like

Monday, October 8, 2007

Visteon's HD Jump: An easy leap to HD Radio


HD Radio is a great way to upgrade your car's radio, since you get better-quality FM broadcasts and your favorite AM talk show sounds likes it's on the FM band. The only catch is that you need a head unit or home receiver that's HD-Radio capable. At least you did until Visteon's HD Jump (set to retail between $200 and $250) arrived on the scene.

The HD Jump is a small transportable HD Radio receiver that can be used in the car or in your home with an optional dock. It mounts on top of your dashboard or wherever's convenient, really. The large monochromatic display shows station information, song titles, and the like, and it lets you select between multicast HD signals (extra stations on the same frequency) on stations that that are actually using them (still a rarity). It has an FM-modulated output, but that won't give you the audio benefits, so better to use the auxiliary output and plug that into the aux input of your head unit.

Even better, the HD Jump also has its own aux input, so you can plug your iPod or other portable audio device into the it and use its FM modulator to broadcast the signal to your car's in-dash receiver.

HD Radio Effort Undermined by Weak Tuners in Expensive Radios

By Richard Menta 3/24/07

Central New Jersey is an ideal location for receiving broadcast radio and television. The state is perfectly sandwiched between New York and Philadelphia and with a population of nearly nine million residents it is heavily targeted by the stations that serve these two major cities. This is the most densley populated state in the country and the one with the second highest per capita income, making it an advertiser's dream.

The FM dial is so crowded, in fact, that there are only a few relatively open frequencies where I can effectively utilize the FM transmitter that allows me to listen to my iPod in the car. What better market is there to sample the burgeoning HD radio offerings, all provided by the same stations that presently serve this region?

From left to right we have the Accurian HD Radio, Boston Acoustics Recepter Radio,the Polk I-Sonic Entertainment System, and a circa 1941 Zenith model 520.

Marketing Radio 1940’s Style

Across the U.S. radio stations are in the process of installing new digital “HD Radio” transmission equipment. This will allow them to broadcast a digital radio signal as well as their existing AM or FM signals.

Joads"There is one problem though - almost no-one in the country actually owns an HD radio. Some car makers are beginning to install them in new cars, but finding an HD radio for your home is nearly impossible. In any event most Americans have no idea that HD radio even exists.

They do however know about both Sirius and XM satellite radio, and those receivers can be purchased at Wal-Mart and just about anywhere else.

A clue to why this situation exists may be found in an advertisement in the latest issue of Radio, a broadcast trade magazine.

I found it hard not to think back to the Grapes of Wrath, and imagine how much happier the Joad family (pictured here?) would have been if they could have listened to their Old Time Radio shows in crystal clear digital HD sound. Certainly the Great Depression wouldn’t have seemed so depressing. Who knows, maybe they wouldn’t have left for California!

radioThen again, the $259 price for this radio may have presented an obstacle.

Radio listening has been in decline for a couple of decades, and satellite, Internet, and podcasting are all making inroads. Regular broadcasters are getting nervous about what the future holds for them.

Apparently though not nervous enough to drag their ideas and marketing out of the 1940s and into the the new Millennium.

Gizmodo Reviews HD Radio - Decidedly Blah

HD Radio promises a lot but what does it actually deliver? According to Gizmodo, if you’re listening to it with the Accurian Tabletop HD Radio, not much - in fact, despite the claims of CD quality the sound was pretty meh and the price decidedly bwuh?!

Accurian HD Radio

Accurian HD Radio

At $175, Gizmodo were hoping for something more fulfilling than merely on-screen song details. Not recommended.

Radio industry gets a bad signal

Expert warns listeners will tune in to new technology
TV/Radio Writer

In an address that made the musings of Nostradamus seem rosy by comparison, a respected industry observer warned radio executives Wednesday that their industry would all but evaporate within 20 years.

Michael Harrison, publisher of the talk-radio magazine Talkers, told a group at the National Association of Broadcasters Radio Show that competing technologies -- like Internet, Wi-Fi, podcasts and cell phones -- would all but fill the niche they now occupy.

"These are dark times for terrestrial radio," Harrison said. "And most people in terrestrial radio are in denial of it."

Meeting this week at the Charlotte Convention Center are more than 4,000 radio industry executives, on-air personalities and station owners for the NAB's annual gathering.

Harrison, who entered broadcasting in 1967 and has published Talkers since 1990, said he believes most listeners will abandon the traditional AM and FM radio services and migrate to new technologies in the next two decades.

"The next 15 years will be the demise of terrestrial radio as we know it and the rise of the extraterrestrial," he said. Just as Vaudeville gave way to movies and horses to the automobile, he said, radio will be overtaken by gadgets that serve people's needs more efficiently.

Radio isn't an industry in need of a pep talk -- profit margins of 40 percent are not uncommon at stations and listenership has held up well compared with the erosion of broadcast television.

But advertising revenues are flattening, innovations like HD radio have been all but ignored by the public and the industry is struggling with finding a revenue model that works with new technology like Internet streaming.

HD Radio: 8-Track Tapes Of Our Age, Or The Next Big Thing?

There is a place where the audience for free, over-the-air radio is growing, not shrinking, where new technology allows listeners to pause and rewind songs as they play or to bookmark their favorite tunes.

In that place, millions of listeners have bought newfangled digital radios to tune in to recorded books, a news station aimed at kids, a classic jazz channel, sports events not available on ordinary AM and FM radio, and extended live coverage of concerts and music festivals.

HD Radio - My Tests

I used a Sanyo ECD-HD1990M Car stereo reciever for these tests. I chose Sanyo, because of their history of making good analog radio receivers with excellent selectivity and sensitivity. See my “The Best Radios” for more information.

The antenna in all of these tests was placed on the top of a chevy Astro van, on the “CB MOUNT” flat spot, towards the rear of vehicle, and a braided and foil shield, high quality cable was run through the vehicle away from internal wiring to a PL259 “UHF” plug, where it was then screwed into a motorola plug adaptor and plugged into the radio.

HD Radio™ FAQ

Q: What is HD Radio?
A: The term "HD Radio" is iBiquity Digital Corporation's trademarked name for their digital audio broadcasting technology, which has become the IBOC standard adopted for the United States. (more)

Radio Bigs To Tag Songs For iTunes

FOLLOWING CLOSE ON THE HEELS of last week's announcement from Clear Channel Radio, virtually all the other big American radio broadcasters said Tuesday they will begin using technology that allows listeners to "tag" songs played over HD radio for later purchase on iTunes. The list includes CBS Radio, Cumulus Media, Cox Radio, Entercom Communications and Greater Media.

JVC Offers Plug-And-Play HD Radio

JVC Mobile announced the first plug-and-play HD-Radio receiver that can shuffle between the home and car without requiring professional installation.

The JVC KT-HDP1 can work with most existing radios to provide HD-Radio multicast reception. The AM/FM/HD-Radio unit is shipping now to Best Buy and will carry a suggested retail of $129 plus $49 each for the do-it-yourself home and car kits. A $39 kit is also available for users who prefer professional installation.

HD Radio on the Offense

HD Radio promises clarity and diversity. What it delivers is a whole different story.
David Downs
Published: March 7, 2007

Driving across the Bay Area every day, you can't help but hear the great news: HD Radio has arrived! There are now secret stations hiding between the stations you can hear. All you have to do is go out and buy a new HD Radio and you'll hear your old stations in crystal-clear digital, plus secret ones that you've never even heard before. All with no subscription!

But after an investigation of HD Radio units, the stations playing HD, and the company that owns the technology; and some interviews with the wonks in DC, it looks like HD Radio is a high-level corporate scam, a huge carny shill. Do not tune in until your unit comes standard on that used Honda Civic you buy in 2015.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Nautel, Radiorama Plan HD Radio Project in Mexico

Radiorama Corporativo of Nogales, Mexico, is purchasing 13 Natuel V10 HD Radio transmitters for installation in cities along the Mexico–USA border.

“Radiorama has been a market leader in broadcasting for many years and has decided to boldly introduce this next phase in broadcast technology along the entire Mexico–USA border,” said Peter Conlon, Nautel President and CEO.

“We are excited and proud to lead the Mexican market in this new broadcast technology, and are happy to be working with Nautel in the implementation of HD operations,” said Adrián Pereda López, founder of Radiorama. “This project demonstrates our commitment to bringing the best in programming and broadcast quality to our listeners.”

Radiorama operates more than 220 AM and FM stations across Mexico.

Saturday, October 6, 2007


Here is one I hear over and over again. Supposedly, Ibiquity bought about 30 radios and tested them. Not a single one had a bandwidth over 3 kHz or so - leading to the conclusion that AM bandwidth can be limited to 5 kHz and nobody will care or be able to notice the difference.

Reporting Interference

How to complain about interference

Complaints should go to the station being interfered with, not the station(s) causing the interference. There are a few exceptions, however. If you feel that an IBOC station's own digital emissions have degraded their analog signal quality, you should let them know. Or, if you have reason to believe that their IBOC equipment is malfunctioning, you should contact them, but make sure you're on firm ground before you do so.

Keep in mind that interference complaints are more likely to be taken seriously if they affect reception in or near protected contours. You can find out what your local stations are using V-Soft's zip code radio locator.

The first question to ask yourself is whether the reception is by skywave or groundwave. Only the Class A stations on the "clear" channels have protected skywave service, so complaints about interference to skywave signals will likely fall on deaf ears unless one of those stations is on the receiving end of the interference. If in doubt, you can check a station's class using sites such as or Of course, some of the large market Class A's have little or no interest in skywave service, WOR being a prime example. At the other end of the spectrum are stations such as WSM that still have big skywave audiences, and thus should be more receptive to interference reports.

HD Radio: A Stumble Out of the Gate?

I’ve saved up $500, but I want three toys. I want one of those new video iPods ($399), an international Treo-type phone ($299-$499), and a new HD Radio ($499 at the time of this writing). So I have a problem. I can only really afford one of these competing new technologies right now.

For the past six years or so, I’ve been intently watching the rollout of digital radio throughout the world. I’ve watched the battles between the competing digital technologies and I’ve watched the stumbles of the rollout in England . It was stagnant for eight years, but is now finally kicking in.

I’m a radio junkie and a large portion of my business comes from radio stations that are invested – literally – in the HD Radio rollout. So as the PR machine started winding up, the second channels started hitting the air, and stations started promoting them, I had a thought: “This thing had better work.”

So with that, I started asking my friends and peers in the business if anybody had a radio. I got two universal responses: “No,” and “I think the engineers have one.” I really couldn’t find anyone outside the engineering community who had experienced HD.

What is the future going to bring for the next step beyond HD Radio?

HD Radio right now is broadcast over existing radio channels, both AM and FM. It is not truly on-channel, as the IBOC (in band on channel) acronym would suggest, but on the two adjacent channels. This both causes interference to and receives interference from neighboring stations, especially in crowded metropolitan areas. The full-digital is designed to have the signal only on the assigned channel, but it will be roughly a decade before that could happen. Receiver penetration is simply too low, which would cut off the vast majority of listeners from stations if done too soon. That would be suicide.

So, where will we be in a decade? Given the extremely rapid progress of things like streaming audio and iPod-type devices, it's safe to assume that personal multi-function devices will be the norm. These will replace cell phones, iPods and PDAs, plus other functions like GPS and navigational accessories. WiFi will be universal in most metropolitan and suburban areas, corresponding to cell coverage. You'd have to get pretty far into the boondocks to be out of range. Potential satellite augmentation may even fill those gaps. Global coverage will be expected.

JVC KD-SHX900 and KD-HDR1 Review
JVC's KD-SHX900 and KD-HDR1 are automotive AM-FM HD Radio receivers with a CD deck that also plays MP3 and WMA (Windows Media) files. Both are reviewed here as they are similar in performance.

The AM and FM analog tuner sections are quite good. Sensitivity is as good as most any other auto radio, and selectivity is likewise good. It is resistant to overload and spurs even very close to transmitter sites. All in all, a quite competent analog tuner.

The KD-SHX900 has amazing graphics ability, though sometimes that gets in the way of the basic radio functions. Some can be turned off, some cannot. The KD-HDR1 is a simpler and more functional design.

The HD Radio section is a bit of a question. It does work, but HD coverage seems to be about half the radius of good, useable analog reception. For example, WBZ-1030 is maybe 30 miles or so north of me. Analog reception was solid throughout my normal driving area. HD Radio coverage was spotty. Outside interference such as the buzz from traffic signals, or even ignition noise would kick it back to analog. At sunset the multipath from short skip skywave would render HD unuseable.

Ford to Make HD Digital Radio Available Across Nearly All Product Lines

Dealer-installed option available nationwide on nearly every 2008 model year Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicle

HD Digital Radio(tm) can be installed on most currently-owned vehicles built in model years 2005, 2006 and 2007

Ford's high-definition radio strategy builds on company's effort to be among the industry's leaders in delivering new automotive entertainment technologies

Have 200 HD Radio stations gone missing?

The HD Radio camp is advertising that there are currently over 1,500 radio stations now broadcasting in HD (from its website, to press releases as well as in various other promotions)... but yet only 1,300 have filed with the FCC.

That's according to the Federal Communications Commission's Audio Division Chief Peter Doyle at least. And I'd say he's a pretty good authority on the matter.

At the NAB Radio Show last week, Doyle brought up the issue at a panel discussion, according to Radio Info.

"I keep hearing that 1500 stations are in HD, but only 1300" have filed the required notification with the Commission, said the FCC Audio Division Chief.

Doyle added, "if you're one of the 200, please let us know."

HD Radio Digital Carrier Power Calculations
Steve Davis
Senior Vice President, Engineering
Clear Channel Radio


With all the discussion regarding the true RMS power
in the digital sidebands for the iBiquity AM IBOC system,
I decided I needed to conduct some research. It has
taken me a while to post because I needed to consult
with some experts and run some tests to verify our findings.
To me this is basically an academic exercise, albeit a
valuable one: the AM IBOC system will work, or not,
regardless of our calculations or discoveries here.

Here’s what one mom-and-pop owner – North Carolina’s Dave Lingafelt – thinks about AM digital.
(registration required)

And not just nighttime. Dave tells me “It’s any time.” He owns stations near the Charlotte metro and thought about “inviting all who attended the NAB last week to tune in, to see what happens when your neighbor on the AM dial goes HD.” Now that Citadel/ABC has shut down its nighttime AM digital broadcasting pending further refinements, Lingafelt says “I just had to get this off my chest.” To wit: “630 AM [WAIZ], Hickory has had a good signal in the Charlotte area, and because we are airing a unique oldies format, we have had an excellent response in that part of the Carolinas. A few months back, I started getting calls and emails asking why they couldn’t hear us any more. I soon discovered that 610 [CBS Radio’s WFNZ] had gone HD and had knocked me out at 630 in their primary areas of signal, and created digital hash that affected the listening, even if you could still hear 630.” Dave says “It makes me so sad to see what’s happening on the AM dial in the name of progress. In the real world, no one is buying and no one cares about HD, but we continue to press forward, even though it threatens the good we already have.” He winds up with “I don’t believe anything has come along that’s more unlikely to take off in the marketplace in the year 2007 – and unfortunately, it’s destroying the AM dial.”

Friday, October 5, 2007

How Now, Spirit? Whither Wander IBOC?

by Paul McGoldrick

From this Editor's viewpoint of the radio industry iBiquity's IBOC is a wonderful idea, poorly engineered. Were there any analog RF engineers in the design team or did "digital" make assumptions about reality? All in A Midsummer Night's Dream.



The Eureka 147 System produced results that were far superior to any of the IBOC systems with respect to audio quality, signal reliability and non-interference to existing analog services.

FM IBOC systems would produce unacceptable interference to their "host" FM station, as well as to nearby stations that operate on adjacent frequencies.

AM and FM IBOC systems would produce substantially-reduced service coverage, compared to that of their analog "host" stations.

The performance of FM IBOC systems degrades considerably, even to the point of failure, in the presence of multipath. The AM IBOC system cannot provide CD-Quality audio and produces impairments that expert listeners judge as "annoying".

AM Radio And IBOC

Turn on the radio and you won't hear much about IBOC. Why is that? I've asked around over the last few weeks, and talked with lots of different experts interested in the impact of digital radio in the US, and most people agree that IBOC is not reported on by the general media because it's just too technical. Well, when I look over the pages and pages of notes I have in front of me, it seems that it is a pretty technical issue - nevertheless, I think it's also something that more people should know about - especially any people who rely on radio for their news, information, and entertainment.


In order to enjoy the dramatic improvements that AM IBOC has to offer, AM broadcasters must consider a system specific trade-off. AM IBOC places digital carriers up to 15 kHz on either side of an AM station’s main carrier. NRSC tests confirmed that a station transmitting an IBOC signal encounters very little, if any, interference to its own received signal. Although the IBOC digital carriers operate at very low power levels, in some cases stations on first adjacent channels may receive noticeable interference under certain listening conditions.

AM broadcasters are now offered an opportunity with IBOC to take steps that have the potential to dramatically improve the AM listening experience. Generally, interference attributable to IBOC on first adjacent channels should only be noticeable in cases where listeners are located outside the protected interference-free contour and should not cause significant AM listening problems during daytime hours. This is shown by the test results in Section 4 of this report.

No test results were obtained by the NRSC, nor were they requested from iBiquity, on skywave reception. However due to the propagation mechanisms that support skywave reception, the NRSC expects that first adjacent interference may pose potential problems for listeners during nighttime hours. Additional testing would be needed before the NRSC could further comment on the nighttime compatibility of hybrid AM IBOC. The NRSC therefore recommends that stations desiring to operate with AM IBOC do so during daytime hours only.

AM IBOC Power Levels = Mystery

It's Time to Call a Halt to the AM IBOC 'Experiment' and Start Talking Alternatives

by Barry McLarnon

In-band on-channel (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

In-band on-channel (IBOC) is a method of transmitting digital radio and analog radio broadcast signals simultaneously on the same frequency.

By utilizing additional digital subcarriers or sidebands, digital information is "piggybacked" on a normal AM or FM analog signal, thus avoiding any complicated extra frequency allocation issues. However, by putting extra RF energy beyond the edge of the station's normally-defined channel, interference with adjacent channel stations is increased when using digital sidebands.

HD Radio

iBiquity also created a mediumwave HD Radio system for AM, however it has so far failed in technical trials to perform as superbly as promised mainly due to interference caused by using sidebands in an environment intended for narrowband amplitude modulation. The HD-Radio system employs use of injecting digital sidebands above and below the audible portion of the analog audio on the primary carrier. This system also phase modulates the carrier in quadrature and injects more digital information on this phase-modulated portion of the carrier. It is based on the principle of AM stereo where it puts a digital signal where the C-QUAM system would put the analog stereo decoding information.