Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Citadel Halts AM Nighttime IBOC Operation Amid Complaints

There are a lot of unknowns at this point in the Citadel AM IBOC nighttime situation, but one thing is clear: Something is going on and the company wants to work with Ibiquity to get to the bottom of it.

Citadel Director of Corporate Engineering Martin Stabbert confirms that his company is taking a step back and stopped operating AM IBOC at night on 10 stations as of Oct. 1. The stations still broadcast in digital during the day. Of its 66 AMs, 16 have converted and four more are in-process. Citadel’s conversion efforts continue.

An excerpt from his memo to staff reads: “In response to the lackluster performance, the limited benefit and various reports of significant interference, Citadel is suspending nighttime AM HD operations at this time. Please reinstate your previous procedures for daytime-only HD operation as soon as possible.”

The company has received interference complaints from listeners and stations on adjacent channels, the latter from both Citadel- and non-Citadel-owned stations in and outside the markets. (He tells me the calls from “non-Citadel-owned” stations were cordial.)

Most of the complaints center around 50 kW Class As, he said, although internally, Citadel has observed effects from lower-powered stations on adjacents at night.