Tuesday, September 7, 2010

AM HD Radio Has Stalled. Now What?

AM HD Radio Has Stalled. Now What?

by Leslie Stimson, 08.31.2010

AM HD Radio, it seems, is the stepchild of the digital world.
Proponents point to AM HD’s dramatic improvement in audio quality over that of analog. But several experts say that, at best, AM HD is having mixed success. Many even characterize it as struggling or not successful. Others, however, say it’s too early to tell what its future will be.

HD Radio on AM – Not worth it

HD Radio on AM – Not worth it

August 29th, 2010 by Paul Riismandel in HD Radio
One of the supposed advantages of HD Radio is improved fidelity over analog. As I observed in my listening test of HD on FM, there’s almost no real improvement for HD over the analog signal. The advantage for HD on FM, then, is the addition of one or two more channels of audio. However, due to the more limited sonics of analog AM radio, we are led to expect HD AM stations to offer significantly better fidelity; they don’t offer any additional channels.

But compared to FM, there are much fewer HD stations on AM. This is largely due to the fact that the AM band is seriously congested, with quite a bit of interference. Adding an HD Radio IBOC side-channel to a station greatly increases the potential for interference to adjoining analog stations. A secondary reason is that the AM band is dominated by talk radio formats where fidelity improvement is less important.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

HD Radio "Practically Buried Again"

From a translated article, Switzerland has switched off HD radio:

Praktisch schon wieder beerdigt

HD-Initiant Ruoss sieht Projekt gescheitert. HD-initiator Ruoss provides project failed.

Five private radio stations presented in February 2010 an application for an HD Radio (digital FM ") from autumn 2010. Die technische Konzession erhielten sie dann im Juni. The technical concession, they then received in June. Und nun dies: Markus Ruoss, Inhaber von Radio Sunshine und einer der HD-Initianten, gab am RadioDay sozusagen die Beerdigung des Projektes HD-Radio Schweiz bekannt. And now this: Markus Ruoss, owner of Sunshine Radio and the HD-initiators, announced on RadioDay known, as it were the burial of the project HD Radio Switzerland.

AM IBOC Stations on (off?) the Air

From Barry McLarnon's website, the latest roll-call of stations that have switched off AM IBOC...

Stations which previously ran IBOC but currently have it turned off completely are shown in green (nearly 50 as of September 2010):

AM IBOC Stations on the Air

HD Radio Shouldn't Be This Hard

HD Radio Shouldn't Be This Hard

by Thomas R. Ray III, 08.11.2010

NEW WINDSOR, N.Y. — Unless we give Joe Consumer a reason to go out and purchase an HD Radio for his car — until he can obtain it easily and at a reasonable cost, and a device that works — I fear that HD Radio is going to go the way of FM quad and AM stereo, relegated to the scrap pile of history.  
This statement may surprise you, coming from me. I'm the vice president/corporate director of engineering for Buckley Broadcasting/WOR Radio, New York City. As you may be aware from news reports and my own commentaries, I've been a vocal HD Radio supporter; indeed our station WOR was the one of the first AMs on the air with an HD Radio signal.

The author contemplated the install of his new Kenwood KDC-HD545U, featuring built-in HD Radio…

HD Car Radio Investigation

Now the trial lawyers are smelling blood... never a good sign:

 HD Car Radio Investigation

The trial lawyers at Keefe Bartels, LLC are currently investigating the marketing and sales of HD car radios by certain car manufacturers.  HD radios utilize a technology by which AM and FM radio stations transmit both audio and data signals along with their analog signals.  HD radios are frequently touted as cutting edge technology which will dramatically improve sound quality, provide new benefits to the user and enhance the radio listening experience.  In recent years HD car radios have been included in various high end automobiles.  HD radios are also frequently sold as an add-on feature for such luxury brands as BMW and Jaguar.


Despite the increased sales of HD car radios and the growing number of radio stations transmitting digitally, there are continual complaints about the technology and these audio devices.  HD car radios are plagued by an inability to receive the digital signals transmitted by FM and AM radio stations and a significantly reduced sound quality when such signals are received.  Such problems coupled with the increased costs for HD car radios call into question the utility of this supposed technological innovation.  Consumers are being enticed to purchase HD car radios that commonly fail to perform or provide any benefits and features.  The additional cost to the consumer is both unwarranted and unnecessary when the HD radios do not work as they are supposed to.

Despite iBiquity’s claims of improved sound quality and transmission, there have been numerous complaints about HD Radio from not only the radio industry but also consumers. These complaints have included:

-Radio receiver bumping station from HD to analog mode;

-Echo sound heard when the radio switches between HD and analog modes;

-Crackling or static sound when HD mode is inactive;

-Insufficient numbers of HD Radio stations;

-Loss of signal while driving in valleys or between high buildings;

-Signal disruption for environmental conditions; and

-Adjacent channel interference.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Now Tom Ray is doubting HD Radio?!

Now Tom Ray is doubting HD Radio?!

The Buckley Broadcasting VP/Director of Engineering, who oversees 50-kW WOR-AM NY, posted an opinion piece in a trade pub this month that holds some real doubts about AM HD Radio’s viability. Now this might not be a big deal to some, but Tom is, and has always been, one of HD Radio’s biggest supporters. The article mentions his attempts to buy a Ford Escape at a local NY State dealership that hopefully included a factory HD Radio. Ford was supposed to be offering it as an option for 2010 models, from what he understood.
No one at the dealership knew anything about HD Radio and all there said he was the first and only person who has ever asked about it.
Ray tells RBR-TVBR: “On the dealer side, it doesn’t surprise me, because if they’re not fed the information from the corporate home in Detroit, they’re not going to know what it is. They are told, ‘Here is your Sirius display,’ which quite frankly, there’s a huge Sirius display right there in the showroom. They’re told, ‘Here’s Sirius radio—push it.’
He adds, “What was very dismaying was the fact that when I talked to people at Ford, there wasn’t one person over there who could help me and most of them also told me I was the very first call they’ve ever had on HD Radio. So at least they knew what it was, but nobody could direct me.”
Tom ended up buying the car anyway and went through hell and high water to buy and install aftermarket HD Radio gear and other devices like XM Satellite Radio to make it work with the car’s Sync system. He finally got it all working, but it wasn’t easy and the car is certainly now a target for petty theft.

Among AM HD Users, Opinions Vary

Among AM HD Users, Opinions Vary
by Randy J. Stine, 09.02.2010

The experiences of broadcast engineers managing AM HD Radio signals appear to vary greatly.


Noncommercial WKAR(AM) in East Lansing, Mich., launched HD Radio in 2005 but turned off the digital carrier in 2009, according to Harold Beer, chief engineer for WKAR, which is licensed to Michigan State University.

“After years of encouraging listeners to get better quality wideband AM radios, we ended up degrading their listening experience with a 5 kHz bandwidth, –35 dB SNR analog signal once we turned on the IBOC digital,” Beer said.

“We also collected a number of negative comments due to the digital carrier, including complaints about the buzz that was always present, especially if a listener had an analog tuned radio that was slightly off-channel.” WKAR is a daytime directional AM operating on 870 kHz with 10 kW.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The future for AM HD Radio doesn't feel nearly as secure (according to iBiquity!)

This, direct from iBiquity's own website...

The future for AM HD Radio doesn't feel nearly as secure. Ibiquity seems to have made a concession to the reality of staying alive here and now on the medium-wave band by offering a compromise mode of AM IBOC that trades down digital bandwidth for acceptable analog audio quality. Among AM license holders, interest these days seems to have shifted from a digital solution to AM's woes to what's available in the next FM translator filing window. To be sure, AM IBOC still has a few champions, but looking at receivers, it's clear their passion isn't moving anyone at the retail level. Long wavelengths remain a huge handicap in an era of tiny, processor-driven devices.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Oh Well, On With The Experiment

Oh Well, On With The Experiment

by Barry McLarnon
Radio World
April 21 2010
Page 5

"The saga continues... on the AM side, the saga seems pretty much concluded: the ship has sprung a leak and is badly listing. The number of AM IBOC stations plateaued several years ago and now seems to be slowly declining. The system was torpedoed by poor nighttime performance, interference problems, and the lack of any real selling point, like new audio services And now we have the specter of an FM IBOC power increase."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mexico is set to elect IBOC

The country's regulator is expected to formalize the decision this spring:


Friday, February 12, 2010

Navigating Convergence: Charting Canadian Communications Change and Regulatory Implications

IBOC isn't getting a rousing endorsement north of the border...

Broadcast digital radio
Although broadcast digital radio was generally considered to have a key role in alleviating spectrum scarcity in major markets, the L-band DAB and IBOC technologies have been slow to evolve in Canada, to the extent that there is considerable doubt as to whether they will have a role to play in shaping Canada’s future radio landscape.

L-band DAB
Industry Canada and the Commission proposed L-band DAB, defined as 1452-1492 MHz, as a replacement technology in the mid-90s, believing that AM and FM radio stations would voluntarily migrate to L-band to take advantage of the superior sound quality associated with the technology.
The Commission licensed digital radio services (79 authorized, 44 on-air as of June 2007) using L-band DAB, based on the Eureka-147 standard. However, widespread migration to the L-band has not materialized as planned. From a consumer standpoint, L-band also has several drawbacks, including the lack of original services and the limited availability and cost of receivers on the market.
Furthermore, the U.S. did not follow Canada’s lead and in October of 2002, the FCC adopted IBOC instead of L-band DAB as the digital radio standard. Also, in a May 2007 letter to the Commission, Industry Canada announced that it had stopped issuing broadcasting certificates for L-band transmitters and is awaiting the results of a future policy review to determine the future of the L-band in Canada. This has led to considerable doubt about the future prospects of L-band in Canada.

While a number of radio stations (1,750 out of 13,000 AM/FM stations) in the U.S. are operating IBOC transmitters, sales of receivers remain sluggish. Further, AM IBOC rollout has essentially stopped in the U.S. in 2008 due to interference issues.
For its part, the Commission, through its digital radio policy (Broadcasting Public Notice 2006- 160),89 stated that it would be prepared to authorize services using the IBOC technology. Industry Canada is preparing rules and regulations for the operation of IBOC which could include an amendment to FM Broadcasting Procedures and Rules (BPR-3). It is not actively looking at AM IBOC.
However, where the Canadian market is concerned, IBOC is at a very nascent stage and an eventual large-scale deployment in the Canadian market remains highly uncertain.