Digital Radio Update - September 17, 2008


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Index

  • WHUR Takes HD Radio Multicast Top Honor
  • Latest Study Says HD Awareness Growing, But…
  • HD Alliance Set for Changes
  • Emmis/ Worldband Tap HD Multicasts for Ethnic Program Delivery
  • Australian DAB Launch Moved Back
  • New HD Multicasts Could Leave You Laughing
  • IBOC by State: Idaho
  • Engineers Abuzz over IBOC Power-up Proposal
  • WorldDMB/EBU Release Pan-European Digital Receiver Standards
  • The New Language of Digital Radio

  • News

    WHUR Takes HD Radio Multicast Top Honor
    Howard University’s WHUR-FM will receive the NAB HD Radio Multicast Award for its HD-2 channel, “WHUR-WORLD” during the NAB Radio Luncheon, sponsored by ASCAP, on Friday, Sept. 19 at the NAB Radio Show in Austin.

    Howard University’s WHUR-WORLD is an extension of the University’s WHUR-FM adult urban contemporary station. In addition to personality-supported shows, the programming for WHUR-WORLD includes jazz, hip-hop and worldbeat music, along with talk programming covering business, finance and domestic violence.

    The NAB HD Radio Multicast Award was established in 2007 to recognize stations utilizing HD Radio technology through innovative or groundbreaking programming on a multicast channel. Stations were asked to submit information including programming, on-air personalities, promotions and branding elements that establish the multicast channel with a separate identity from the main station.


    Latest Study Says HD Awareness Growing, But…
    New research by Mark Kassof & Co. suggests that awareness of HD Radio technology among adults 18-64 has increased markedly in the last two years. Based on national telephone survey data, the current study indicates that 67 percent of respondents have heard of HD Radio, as compared to a similar Kassof study in 2006, when only 38 percent said they had heard of HD.

    Consumer understanding of HD Radio has grown more modestly, with 21 percent of respondents indicating their belief that HD Radio delivers higher quality sound, versus 17 percent in 2006. In addition, respondent awareness of multicasting has increased to 8 percent versus only 1 percent two years ago.

    On the downside, this year’s research also finds growth in respondent’s misconceptions of HD Radio. Now, 7 percent indicate HD Radio is satellite radio, up from 3 percent in 2006. And 3 percent think they receive HD Radio even though they have not purchased an HD-capable receiver.

    The study findings are based on 688 telephone interviews in the U.S., conducted Sept. 4-7, 2008.

    Researcher and company President Mark Kassof said that while the survey shows significant progress in the overall awareness of HD technology, the industry still has work to do in terms of explaining HD radio and selling its benefits to consumers.


    Business

    HD Alliance Set for Changes
    Recent announcements by HD Digital Radio Alliance suggest that efforts by the group to promotionally retool and refocus may be more than skin deep. Most notable among the latest revelations is that Alliance President and CEO Peter Ferrara will step down from his current position, assuming a new role as strategic advisor on Jan. 1. Stepping up to fill the top post will be current executive vice president Diane Warren.

    The news came in a press release touting the accomplishments of the Alliance over the last three years. As proof of its success, the organization points to more than 1,750 HD Radio stations on the air, with more than 800 offering multicasts. On the receiver side, the group boasts of more than 60 HD Radio receivers available at approximately 12,000 retail outlets, while automakers offering HD Radio features as factory or dealer options span 14 brands across 82 models.

    Other changes, such as a move among member stations to lift self-imposed restrictions on advertising and formatting of multicast channels, are indicative of the Alliances’ position that HD Radio has entered a more mature, competitive phase.


    Emmis/ Worldband Tap HD Multicasts for Ethnic Program Delivery
    Emmis Communications Corporation and Worldband Media LLC say a new partnership between the organizations will bring specialized programming to South Asian communities in the four major markets via HD Radio multicast channels.

    According to a joint press release, Worldband Media’s South Asian programming will be broadcast on the HD3 channel of Emmis stations 97.1WQHT-HD3 in New York, 97.9 WLUP-HD3 in Chicago, 105.9 KPWR-HD3 in Los Angeles, and 106.5 KEZR HD-2 in San Jose.

    “North America’s ethnic communities have been virtually ignored by radio over the years,” Worldband Media’s Founder and CEO Prabha Selvadurai said. “Through this exciting partnership, underserved South Asians in these markets can now enjoy our unique blend of local and international programming, catered directly to their needs…”

    According to the U.S. Census and Statistics Canada, North America has 3.8 million reported South Asians, which include those of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan descent.

    Worldband Media programming should be available via Emmis HD3 channels in all four markets by mid-October.


    Technology/Applications

    Australian DAB Launch Moved Back
    A long-anticipated rollout of a nationwide DAB+ digital radio system in Australia will be delayed five months beyond its scheduled launch on the first of the New Year, say spokespersons for Commercial Radio Australia and the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC). The move was reportedly made so all five markets would have sufficient time to complete installation, testing, and debugging of transmission and support systems.

    Commercial Radio Australia and ABC Radio have remained adamant that a successful launch depends on both public and commercial broadcasters bringing the new system online simultaneously in all five of the initial markets. Commercial Radio Australia CEO Joan Warner said much of the delay involved revisions to the Digital Radio Channel Plans (DRCPs) developed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), now expected to conclude in December.

    “It’s from these technical specifications that the antenna design is developed and the final specifications of broadcast system can be finalized. After close collaboration between ACMA and the industry, we are looking forward to a set of specifications that will allow much improved coverage to that offered by the earlier DRCPs released late in 2007. The infrastructure build of an entirely new broadcast technology is a complex one. We are committed to ensuring that we get it right from day one. Transmission networks last a very long time,” Warner noted.

    Des DeCean Austereo Director of Technologies and Chair of the Commercial Radio Australia Digital Technical Advisory Committee said, “All of our transmission equipment has been ordered and is in production. The finalization of the antenna design and installation will allow us to move forward to complete the infrastructure build.”

    Other reports note that broadcasters in some markets have already begun conducting limited transmission testing, and new branding and logos for the system were released in Sydney last week.

    An informational website is now available at www.digitalradioplus.com


    New HD Multicasts Could Leave You Laughing
    HD Radio listeners in five cities nationwide now have a reason to smile. A new wave of comedic talent, including the likes of TuRae, Brendan Walsh, Angelah Johnson and Mo Mandel will soon be tickling audiences via HD-2 multicast channels in the Portland, Pittsburgh, Charlotte, Memphis and Syracuse markets.

    Also featured on the syndicated feed will be favorite routines from Seinfeld, Newhart, DeGeneres, as well as Rock and Cook.


    IBOC Across America

    IBOC by State: Idaho
    Ibiquity has a list of stations with licensed HD Radio technology and notes those on the air now. IBOC by state looks at various states and lists the stations making the transition. There are 7 stations in the Gem State broadcasting 10 HD Radio channels.

    MarketStationHD1 FormatHD2 FormatHD3 FormatOwner
    Boise KBSU-FM 90.3ClassicalJazz-Boise State University
    Boise KBSX-FM 91.5NPR/Talk--Boise State University
    Boise KBSU-AM 730Jazz--Boise State University
    Boise KBOI-AM 670News/Talk--Citadel
    Moscow KRFA-FM 91.7Classical/NPRNPR News-Washington State University
    Twin Falls KBSW-FM 91.7Classical/NPR--Boise State University
    Twin Falls KBSS-FM 91.1NPR/TalkJazz-Boise State University

    Eye on IBOC

    Engineers Abuzz over IBOC Power-up Proposal
    Visitors to the NAB Radio show in Austin will likely hear some divergent views on an NAB proposal that the FCC permit boosting FM IBOC digital carrier power by as much as 10dB.

    At 8 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 19, Harris Corporation’s Geoff Mendenhall will moderate a panel that includes Ibiquity’s Jeff Detweiler, NPR’s Mike Starling, and Greater Media’s Milford Smith, along with representatives from three equipment manufacturers, including BE’s Ted Lantz, Nautels’s Teb Liebisch, and Continental Electronics’ Dan Dickey, as they each address various ramifications of a 10dB FM digital signal increase.

    That panel is expected to be a standing-room-only affair, now that a recently released NPR report on HD coverage and receiver performance calls into question the efficacy of a broad-brush approach to increased digital carrier power on IBOC hybrid signals. In fact, Starling presented findings of the current study at a daylong Association of Public Radio Engineers seminar held in Austin just one day ahead of the NAB show.

    The topic is also likely to spur informal discussion at a meeting of the National Radio Systems Committee (NRSC) scheduled for today at 1:30 p.m. during the show. Thus far, the NRSC has not officially been asked to take up the hot-button issue.


    WorldDMB/EBU Release Pan-European Digital Receiver Standards
    The WorldDMB Forum, an international NGO dedicated to promoting and coordinating implementation of digital radio based on the Eureka 147 DAB system, has just released a new set of digital radio receiver specifications in cooperation with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

    Labeled the WorldDMB Digital Radio Receiver Profiles, the documents set forth a body of minimum requirements and features for adoption in different classes of digital radio receivers, with the goal of ensuring interoperability of new receivers across European countries where broadcasters employ a mix of DAB, DAB+ and DMB technology.

    The new specifications include three complimentary digital radio receiver profiles:

  • The Standard Radio Receiver (Profile 1), which addresses the price-sensitive mass market for radio devices
  • The Rich Media Radio Receiver (Profile 2) aimed at table-top radios with color screens able receive audio, advanced text and picture applications
  • The Multimedia Receiver (Profile 3) for devices such as mobile phones, personal media players, able to receive advanced forms of multimedia including mobile video.

    Features and functions appropriate to in-car systems are also defined, including automatic retuning between digital and analog services, as well as advanced travel and traffic services for real time satellite navigation. Adoption of these profiles will reportedly enable cross-border drivers to receive all Eureka 147 family digital radio transmissions via their car radios.


    HD Radio Terminology

    The New Language of Digital Radio
    advanced authoring format (AAF): An interchange file format developed by the AAF Association, Pro-MPEG Forum and SMPTE primarily for postproduction interchange of media and metadata.

    mesh topology: A network where each node has a point-to-point connection with every other node.

    transmission subsystem: The functional component used to format and up-convert the baseband IBOC waveform for transmission through the very-high frequency (VHF) channel.




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