Radio Currents Online - Dec 12 - Dec 18, 2005


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Radio technology news updated as it happens.


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News

Beasley Joins HD Digital Radio Alliance
Naples, FL - Dec 16, 2005 - A ninth broadcast owner has joined the HD Digital Radio Alliance, which was announced on Dec. 6. For more on the alliance, see the story that is posted at beradio.com.


NPR Plans New Year's Music Special
Washington - Dec 12, 2005 - NPR’s 26th annual New Year's Eve special will be hosted from New Orleans’ famous Tipitina’s nightclub, marking the first live national music broadcast from the city since Hurricane Katrina. The event will feature a number of local musical artists who have not performed in their hometown since the hurricane.

The 12-hour special, offering jazz and blues from coast-to-coast, is part of NPR's extensive holiday programming line-up, including specials Hanukkah Lights, original stories about the holiday; Christmas from the World Cafe, and A Car Talk Christmas Carol, a somewhat different approach to the classic tale.

WBGO Jazz 88 will host the NPR coast-to-coast special Toast of the Nation. The special will originate from the legendary music venue Tipitina’s Uptown beginning at 6 p.m. Eastern Time. Throughout the night the broadcast will also feature performances from Washington, DC; Boston; New York; Portland, OR; Sanibel Island, FL; and Columbia, MO.

NPR's Toast of the Nation began in 1979 as a showcase for NPR's satellite system. WBGO became co-producer in 1984.

The broadcast will be featured in the February issue of Radio magazine.


NAB Says Hotels are Going Fast for NAB2006
Las Vegas - Dec 14, 2005 - The NAB reports that its reserved room block for preferred hotels at NAB2006 in Las Vegas is now booked at 53 percent capacity, and reservations are running 30 percent ahead of last year. Because the demand is higher, the NAB suggests making hotel reservations sooner that attendees might have normally done in the past.

NAB2006 travel and hotel reservation information is available online at www.nabshow.com or at 888-622-8830.


Cox Focus Groups Provide Insight to Multicast Tuning
Dallas - Dec 12, 2005 - Following a qualitative research study conducted during November 2005, nearly nine out of ten consumers would prefer seeing HD Radio supplemental -- or multicast -- stations displayed as expanded bands instead of layered bands. In other words, instead of displaying a frequency's multicast streams as 100.7 HD1 and 100.7 HD2, the station would use a radio display of 100.7 for the HD1 stream and 120.7 for HD2.

In the national study, conducted by Bob Harper and Company and funded by Cox Radio, consumers in 12 separate focus groups were asked to discuss two possible options to display the new radio station streams made possible with HD Radio technology. In each of the focus groups, consumers overwhelming preferred the expanded band approach of displaying new HD Radio stations. The combined results of the focus groups showed that 136 of the 156 (87.2 percent) respondents chose the expanded band approach over the layered approach.

"This is a somewhat unusual result from focus groups in general," says Bob Harper, president of Bob Harper and Company, an independent research organization specializing in radio broadcast. "An overwhelming percentage of respondents chose the expanded band over the layered approach. In fact, in four of the sessions, the scores were 12-0, 13-0, 13-0 and 13-0 in favor of the expanded band. Typically in a focus group setting -- where there is a lot of open dialog and give-and-take -- respondents often can see the positives in more than one alternative; especially as they hear the pros and cons of one option over another. But there was very little equivocation in our three cities."

Harper adds that the finding are so conclusive that, "broadcasters and equipment manufacturers would only ignore them at their peril."

The multi-market research study was conducted between Nov. 7 and 15, 2005. A total of 156 radio listeners between the ages of 18 and 54 participated in 12 focus groups moderated by Bob Harper. Three focus groups were conducted in both Los Angeles and Washington, DC, and six focus groups were held in Detroit. A number of radio broadcasters and receiver manufacturers responded to the invitation to advise Bob Harper and Company on the study’s design as well as view the focus groups in person or online.

"As the industry moves aggressively to launch HD Radio, it is important for radios manufactured in the future to be consumer friendly and clearly display the...new stations," says Bob Neil, CEO of Cox Radio in explaining the rationale for the consumer research. In a statement, Neil noted that the first consumer HD Radio receivers will have the layered display, but he believes that " that the industry, working closely with receiver manufacturers, will use this research to develop an orderly transition plan to the expanded band as the HD Radio receiver evolves and develops."

Harper has been invited to present the results of this study at the next National Radio Standards Committee meeting in January 2006 at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Chriss Scherer, editor of Radio magazine, observed most of the focus groups personally. Read his impressions of the study in the December 2005 issue of Radio magazine at this link.

The entire study is available at www.bobharper.com.


Business

TX RX Systems, RFI Antennas Partner for North American Audience
Cleveland - Dec 7, 2005 - Bird Technologies Group through its TX RX Systems division has partnered with Sydney, Australia-based RFI antennas to market with a range of base-station antennas. Bird will market and sell the RFI antenna products. RFI will engineer, configure and manufacture the antennas.


Neural Audio Marks 5 Million Broadcast Hours
Kirkland, WA - Dec 12, 2005 - Neural Audio has reached a milestone for live digital broadcasting with more than five million on-air hours with its digital audio codec conditioning technology for low bandwidth broadcasting. The combined hours were achieved with broadcasters that include XM Satellite Radio, numerous commercial stations and NPR affiliates across the United States.

Neural sees the codec conditioning as an important process when working with streams at bit-rates lower than 96kb/s, such as with HD Radio and multicasting.


Sales Call
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Skai Radio Group, owners of Greek radio stations Skai 100.3 FM, Melodia 99.2 FM, Red 96.3 FM and Angel 88.9 in Athens, has installed Harris Intraplex Synchrocast digital multiplexers. The multiplexers and timing modules combine voice and data streams on a single channel and provide synchronized signals to improve the quality of overlapping signals on the same frequency. Frequencies are locked to GPS signals, and audio paths are adjusted with automatic delays.
Univision Radio has installed a Wheatstone Digital Audio and Control network for use in its San Diego facility. The system includes two Generation 4-20 control surfaces, three satellite cages and a Bridge router linking two floors of the building together. The sale was made by SCMS.
German public broadcaster NDR of Hamburg has bought eight bar graph meters from DK-Technologies. The meters are being used for audio production and archive transfers.

People

Westwood One Promotes Trautmann to SVP
New York, NY - Dec 15, 2005 - Westwood One has promoted Conrad Trautmann, CPBE, to senior vice president of engineering and technology. In this new role, Trautmann will continue to oversee all day-to-day engineering and operations responsibilities as well as add oversight of all information technology.

Trautmann has worked at Westwood One for the past five years, first as the vice president of radio network engineering and operations in New York and Washington, then in an expanded role as SVP overseeing Metro Traffic and Shadow Broadcasting's radio engineering nationwide. Recently, he assumed responsibility for corporate telecommunications. Prior to Westwood One, Conrad has 20 years of experience in engineering, operations and IT in local radio working at stations such as WBAB-FM in Long Island, NY, and news/talk WSYR in Syracuse, NY. He's certified as a Professional Broadcast Engineer by the Society of Broadcast Engineers and is serving a second term on the national board of directors. Trautmann is also a regular contributor to Radio magazine


Products

V-Soft Adds Canada to FM Commander
Cedar Falls, IA - Dec 8, 2005 - V-Soft's frequency search program, FM Commander, has added the capability to search frequencies in the Canadian FM database. In the new version of the program there is a checkbox in the Define Study section of the Reference Station Parameters screen to tell the program to look for the Canadian data. If the checkbox is checked, the program will use the V-Soft FCC FM database for U.S. stations and the Industry Canada FM database for all Canadian stations.

Details on installing the Canadian FM data are available from V-Soft. The Canadian database information can be downloaded from the V-Soft FM database website. V-Soft updates the CanadFM.zip file once a week, which is the same update schedule used by Industry Canada.


V-Soft Adds Higher-resolution Land Database
Cedar Rapids, IA - Dec 15, 2005 - The land-cover database resolution provided with all previous versions of V-Soft's Probe versions one through three was at the 1km (30-arc second) resolution. This database is identified as the Global 1km Land Cover Data. V-Soft recently obtained and processed a higher-resolution U.S.G.S. database for the United States at a 200m (about six arc-second) resolution. This database is identified as U.S. 1:250k LULC 200m Data.

Land use and land cover (LULC) data consists of historical land use and land cover classification data that was based primarily on the manual interpretation of 1970s and 1980s aerial photography. Secondary sources included land use maps and surveys. There are 21 possible categories of cover type.

LULC data is available for the conterminous United States and Hawaii, but coverage is not complete for all areas. There are small areas in the United States where data is missing. In such cases, the latest version of Probe, version 3.36, which was released on Dec. 13, 2005, will revert to the Global 1km Land Cover Data, so both databases must reside on a user's computer.

All LULC files are cast to the Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) projection, and were originally referenced to the North American Datum of 1983 (NAD83).

Contact V-Soft for information on obtaining the upgrade.


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