Digital Radio Books of Note

There is now a mini-library of published books available on the subject of digital terrestrial radio broadcasting. Two are domestic and technical; the other two are more globally-oriented and critical. (I’m writing the domestic-critical book!)
First up is the oldest: The IBOC Handbook: Understanding HD Radio™ Technology is a must-read for any broadcast engineer saddled with the task of implementing HD on a broadcast station. Published by the National Association of Broadcasters and authored by David Maxson, the book is an excellent technical overview of the protocol as well as its potentials and pitfalls. (It’s also the only one of the books I’ve actually read yet.)
HD Radio Implementation: The Field Guide for Facility Conversion was written by Thomas Ray III, WOR’s chief engineer and (until recently) a very staunch proponent of HD Radio. If you’re a broadcast engineer faced with HD, this is the second book you should read – Maxson’s book explains the theory, while Ray’s book looks at the issue from the applied angle – how to not only just install, adjust, and maintain an HD signal, but also how to optimize the entire station’s air chain to accommodate it.
Looking outside the United States is where you find the critical analyses of digital radio technology more broadly. Just this month Grant Goddard published the most incisive of the two books available so far. D.A.B. Digital Radio: Licensed to Fail is a massive indictment of the United Kingdom’s digital radio transition.
From the reviews and author’s own overview, Goddard’s uncovered what one might arguably call a conspiracy that led U.K broadcasters and regulators to adopt digital radio technology: “Mr Goddard uncovers a secret deal struck between the government and the UK commercial radio industry to force DAB radio upon the British public….However, while the radio industry was assuring the government of its commitment to DAB as ‘the future of radio’, Grant Goddard’s book reveals that the largest commercial radio group was quietly closing its digital radio stations and selling off its investments in DAB radio licences.”
Grant says he’s got two other books in-progress; one about U.K. pirate radio – a manuscript he says he’s been kicking around “for 20 years” – and another DAB book, which he hopes to start working on next year.
The final book in the tetralogy is an edited volume by four scholars (two of whom I had the pleasure to meet in Budapest a couple of years ago). Digital Radio in Europe: Technologies, Industries and Cultures draws on “extensive cross-national research” and “offers the first comprehensive review of European digital radio, with details on the technologies, policies, and strategies to bring radio into the digital era – and highlights the successes and failures in implementation.” It’s also the book with the most historical context, which makes it one I’m very excited to read.
One of these days, a book will be written about the larger concept of digital radio itself – and why, regardless of the technology (and this, unfortunately, includes the newest kid on the block, Digital Radio Mondiale) uptake/adoption is essentially failing around the world, regardless of the protocol.
The key question remains unexplored: does radio have to be digital? “Convergence” is scaring all the traditional (analog) mass media into a grapple with digitalization; in radio’s case, it makes sense to extend a station’s presence by digital means, but actually digitizing a radio signal simply isn’t working. Figuring out why may present a new future path for radio broadcasting. The medium isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but nobody’s quite yet ready to discuss Plan Bs if the first iteration of digitalization fails. Given that this is happening now, it’s already past time to start exploring that question.