Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Digital Signals Spark Static from AM Radio

Bill Harms of Elkridge, Md., likes to listen to Frank Sinatra crooning on Vegas Radio, which broadcasts at WTRI-AM 1520, a Washington-based station. But over the past year, he's had trouble tuning in to Vegas as he drives through certain neighborhoods. As he complained to WTRI owner Buddy Rizer in an email, ''there's a hiss, a hiss that did not exist in the past.''

A growing number of radio listeners are encountering similar interference -- hisses, whistles or static -- on their favorite AM stations. The problem for WTRI began about a year ago, when Bonneville International Corp.'s WTOP, the AM station at 1500, began using a digital signal that interfered with WTRI's analog signal in some broadcast areas. It's one of the unexpected consequences of the radio industry's transition to digital broadcasts.