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Defective and Unwanted

First of all, "Guy" reiterates the tiresome, unsupportable contention that "radio needs digital to survive" in today's world.

I feel compelled to respond to Guy Wire’s “Power Boost or Bust for HD Radio.” I fear that Mr. “Wire” may be inhaling too many flux fumes from his trusty Weller soldering gun.

First of all, “Guy” reiterates the tiresome, unsupportable contention that “radio needs digital to survive” in today’s world.

Really? Maybe somebody can point to a credible marketing study that persuasively makes the point that people would listen to radio a lot more “if it were only digital.” Actually, all the evidence I’ve seen indicates that (a) radio listeners are perfectly satisfied with the existing analog radio system and (b) don’t care about HD Radio — among the very few who are even aware of it (and, yes, I know iBiquity has cobbled some alleged poll that purports to indicate otherwise).

I would make the case that, far from being the savior of radio, HD could actually accelerate its decline as self-anointed industry “leaders” try to force a defective and unwanted “innovation” on consumers.

Want proof? Look at the interference debacle of HD-AM. The vastly increased noise floor from adjacent-channel IBOC carriers has certainly done nothing to reverse AM radio’s fortunes. Actually, in the northeast, it’s turned the nighttime AM dial into an unlistenable bog of offensive noise.

Now, “Guy” insists we need to repeat the AM IBOC disaster on FM. Great! Here comes more make-it-up-as-we-go-along alchemy from the dwindling HD Radio crowd.

So “Guy” thinks a 10 dB digital increase “for stations with no interference issues” is just the ticket to save HD? Riddle me this, Mr. Weller-wielder: Who determines whether there are “interference issues?” The HD interferer? The alliance/iBiquity? Will adjacent-channel victims have any say in the matter?

(By the by, don’t expect the FCC to actually do its job and enforce IBOC interference mitigation. WYSL has seen what level of interest the commission has in resolving HD interference issues: that would be zero.)

Notwithstanding the hype from HD Radio proponents, the destructive interference potential from the proposed increase is enormous. Doesn’t anyone remember how HD-pumpers predicted AM-IBOC at night wouldn’t be a problem? Haven’t we learned anything from their endless technical deck-stacking and blind dismissal of legitimate concerns?

Behold the endless parade of inconsistent and implausible arguments from the pro-HD faction. Four years ago they insisted (notwithstanding recent lies repeated by “Guy” that the alliance “always had concerns” about it) that –20 dBc injection would work just fine.

After field experience forced a retreat from the false insistence that digital coverage absolutely equaled the analog, HD-pushers suddenly discovered that they needed 10 dB more for the digital to work acceptably.

Now we’re hearing the suggestion that, since 10 dB more will likely produce serious interference problems, that maybe 6 dB might be okay “in some cases” (see above query about who would determine this, and how.)

So, HD-types, what’s your story? Does the system need –10 dBc or doesn’t it? Pick one and stick with it. Or is this a tacit admission that once again, you’re fearful that the adjacent-channel problems will be horrible and you’re hedging your bets?

HD Radio: Trying to have it both ways. At the expense of others. As usual.

Let’s step back on Planet Earth here for a moment: to say that the hybrid-digital radio train has left the station is somewhat of an understatement. Have you talked to anyone lately who gives a flying rip about HD Radio, other than engineers and industry columnists and bloggers? Have you actually tried to purchase an HD Radio at retail recently (never mind about getting the freaking thing to work when you get it home)?

Not only has the train left, the station has been torn down, the rails have been ripped up and they’re building a Walgreens on the site.

What radio needs is to stop endless squabbling and analysis of this deader-than-dead digital disaster and focus on the basics — starting with restoration of quality programming which once made radio, ahem, “ubiquitous” among media consumers.

“Phil E. Strann”
aka Bob Savage
WYSL NewsPower 1040
Avon/Rochester, N.Y.