What to do with HD Radio (Besides the Jukebox)

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Feeding FM translators

Stories about the use of HD Radio to feed FM translators have been in the industry news for about the last five years. A letter from the FCC to ROI Broadcasting from May of 2010 clearly states the commission's position on such use.

Probably the most interesting example of using HD Radio in this fashion is from Hochman Hawaii Media, in Honolulu. Hochman's KORL-FM (101.1) uses its digital transmission capacity to feed three translators: K268BE (101.5); K246BR (97.1) and K298BA (107.5). All three are at the 250W level, with a HAAT of 1,680'. Each has a different music format. Additionally, its station KPHI (1130 KHz) now appears on translator K244EO, another 250W facility.

The topic of FM translators (how to get a C.P.; how to develop a site; and finally, how to license one) is a topic of its own, but it would not be wise for a station, on the outside chance that it might be able to translate a multicast program to an FM channel, to build an HD Radio facility based on that reason alone. That would truly be the tail wagging the dog.

Data transmission: the killer app?

If you look at HD Radio objectively you see it basically as a means to transmit data, and interestingly, where HD Radio seems to have won out is in its ability to disseminate data over a wide area (proportional to a stations power and coverage area obviously). Whereas the likes of Seiko (going back pretty far), Bonneville, and more recently Microsoft's MSN Direct (all of which used SCA) have come and gone, HD Radio is gaining traction most effectively in data transmission. Let's take a look at a couple of large organizations taking advantage of this capability.

The first one is the Broadcaster Traffic Consortium. The BTC is a group of 20 different broadcast companies, including Emmis, Entercom, Cox, Lincoln Financial Media, Beasley, Townsquare Media, NPR, and others. This joint venture is spearheaded by Paul Brenner, the CTO of Emmis Communications. The BTC's stated mission is to unify the radio industry for the delivery of nationwide HD Radio data services; to improve HD Radio system standards; to lead industry regulation and policy to support the advancement of HD Radio transmission; and finally, to build business value for HD Radio.

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