The quiet collection of "evidence" on which to justify an all-digital HD Radio mandate for AM stations continues.
After some stealth experimentation on a CBS station in Charlotte, North Carolina late last year, there’s word of two other AM stations in the state conducting all-digital broadcast-tests this summer. The guinea pigs were WBT, a 50,000-watt station owned by Greater Media (also in Charlotte) and WNCT, a 50,000-watt (day)/10,000-watt (night) Beasley Broadcast-owned AM station in Greenville.
WBT secured experimental authorization from the FCC to conduct these tests just two weeks before they took place; WNCT also asked for fast-track authority less than a month before its all-digital broadcasts. Continue reading “Firming the Foundation for an All-Digital AM Mandate”
In many parts of the world, radio is slowly transitioning to a digital transmission platform—but so far, this new frontier has not been plumbed by pirates. Part of this is due to the relatively immature state of radio’s digital transition, but some of the systems have been around long enough that they’re ripe for experimentation.
In very simple terms, the primary thing to keep in mind is that the heart of a digital radio transmission system is the software that controls the transmitter. The more freely-available the software, the more possible to play with. In global contention, there are three contending platforms of note, though their DIY-potential varies: Continue reading “Pirate Broadcasting in the Digital Age”
More evidence that the market in FM translator stations is maturing quickly.
Saga Communications, a radio conglomerate that specializes in mid-market acquisitions, owns 91 stations across the country. Of these, some three dozen are FM translators: second-class radio stations limited to a power of 250 watts or less that rebroadcast the signals of other stations.
Saga is an aggressive player in the practice of using FM-HD Radio signals to feed programming to analog translators. Since very few people actually listen to HD Radio, these mini-signals appear to be "new" stations, though in most cases they’re completely canned programming of a format that wouldn’t otherwise be profitable on a real full-power FM station. Continue reading “Deceptive Advertising: Translators as "Metro Stations"”
Every so often, iBiquity Digital Corporation CEO Robert Struble pens a column on iBiquity’s corporate website. His latest missive actually (and unintentionally) puts a very fine point on the malaise that is the U.S. digital radio transition.
"The one constant for all successful media transitions has been the passage of time, and that patient strategy is working for HD Radio Technology as well," writes Struble. He claims that HD receiver penetration is on a strong upward trend, with a new digital radio sold "every six seconds." Continue reading “iBiquity CEO: The Future of Digital Radio is Analog”
Today I sent Routledge the manuscript for Radio’s Digital Dilemma: Broadcasting in the 21st Century. 81,221 words over eight chapters, 285 typescript pages in all. The publisher’s new synopsis: Continue reading “Radio's Digital Dilemma Out the Door”
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai recently spoke at the the Missouri Association of Broadcasters’ annual convention, where he repeated his call for the FCC to undertake an "AM Revitalization Initiative." Telling the assembled broadcasters that "you’ve got a friend in me," he again listed off the possible policy options to help the beleaguered band, one of which includes its complete digitalization.
If Pai is truly a friend of broadcasters and the public interest, and seriously considers digitalization a viable option for AM, he should open the inquiry to alternatives to HD Radio, such as Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM). Continue reading “Expanding the Options for Digital AM”
Kudos to Matthew Lasar for unearthing an ex parte gem from the FCC files. Clear Channel’s top engineering executive and chief lobbyist had a sit-down with FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai earlier this month in which they covered a wide range of issues related to the state of AM broadcasting. Pai is pushing for an "AM Revitalization Initiative" at the FCC, which would consider several ideas related to finding sustainability for the nation’s oldest broadcast band. Continue reading “Clear Channel: Give Us More Translators Before Expanding LPFM”
Last month’s stalemate between iBiquity Digital Corporation, the proprietor of HD Radio, and upstart-innovator Digital PowerRadio appears to have been broken.
For those just tuning in: DPR claims to have invented a process that can make HD receivers much more sensitive, allowing for better reception of digital radio signals. iBiquity asserts that DPR’s method is outdated and meaningless. Since iBiquity owns all aspects of HD Radio, it also controls the code necessary to verify or debunk DPR’s claims. Continue reading “The Limits of "Authorized" Innovation: Settling the DPR Dilemma”
It was an intense two days at the What is Radio? conference in Portland. The range of ideas presented at the event was amazing: deep discussions on aesthetics, history, organization, place-making, "voice" (defined many ways), law and policy, science and technology – and that just begins to scratch the surface. We did not collectively answer the conference’s question…because there’s no simple answer to be had.
Radio Survivor was there in force, and has provided some in-depth coverage of specific panels and plenaries: check Matthew Lasar’s reports on the keynote event and the state of classical radio in NYC as well as Jennifer Waits’ reportback on the world of prison radio. Both also presented their own research: Lasar offered perhaps the closest thing to a definition for "radio" to be found all weekend, while Waits detailed the ~90-year history of her alma mater’s radio station. (She was also there on assignment for Radio World, so expect some coverage there as well.) Continue reading “What is Radio? Still an Open Question”
An 11-page report, co-authored primarily by representatives of iBiquity, the NAB, and CBS, provides an overview of the methodology and preliminary results of a set of experimental all-digital HD broadcasts on WBCN-AM in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was the first test of the all-digital AM-HD system in more than ten years.
The authors believe the test broadcasts served as "an opportunity to begin developing a contemporary…record that would help educate the industry as to the capabilities of all-digital operation, develop all-digital operational parameters, and provide information which could be eventually submitted to the FCC for the purposes of obtaining permanent authorization for all-digital service." Continue reading “Initial AM-HD All-Digital Test Results”