Digital Radio Update – December 19, 2007
Dec 19, 2007 5:00 PM, By Mark Krieger, CBT
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- Clear Channel Multicasts Available Online
- France Approves DRM/T-DMB for Domestic Broadcasting
- IBOC by State: Massachusets
- Slacker Seeks to Redefine Online Radio
- The New Language of Digital Radio
- Axxes Offers OEM HD Radio Upgrade Path
- First DAB+/Wireless Internet Radios Arrive in Europe
Clear Channel Multicasts Available Online
In an attempt to make potential HD Radio consumers hear what they’ve been missing, Clear Channel Radio has placed all its HD Radio multicast content on the websites of its respective stations across the country.
To sample multicast programming in your market, simply go to any local Clear Channel station website and click on the HD Radio logo.
France Approves DRM/T-DMB for Domestic Broadcasting
Both Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM ) and Terrestrial Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (T-DMB) are now officially accepted broadcast emission standards in France, as French Minister of Culture, Christine Albanel, signed a decree confirming the new digital radio/TV standards on Dec. 5. Under the new ruling DRM can be deployed on broadcast radio services below 30MHz, while T-DMB will be deployed for combined radio and TV services in band III (VHF) and L-band (UHF). According to a press release by Minister Albanel’s office, the declaration reflects years of testing and evaluation by various authorities.
It is not yet known how the move by France to authorize T-DMB broadcasting will impact a pending controversy in the European Union over which digital multimedia broadcast system ought to be standardized. Although a number of systems are in play, EU Information Society Commissioner Viviane Redding filed a recommendation in March 2007 that seemed to back DVB-H, not T-DMB, as a potential standard across the 25 member nations.
Of all the digital standards currently under consideration, T-DMB is one of the oldest, with its architecture rooted in the original DAB Eureka 147 standard now embraced by the UK and that saw more limited success elsewhere in the European Union. South Korea was the first nation to authorize routine operation of T- DMB in 2005.
Digital radio will officially launch in France late next year, as the Conseil Superieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA) is in the process of soliciting application by radio stations and programmers interested in operating over the new systems.
IBOC Across America
IBOC by State: Massachusetts
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 list the stations making the transition. There are 41 stations in the Bay State broadcasting 62 HD Radio channels.
MarketStationHD1 FormatHD2 FormatHD3 FormatOwner AmherstWFCR-FM 88.5News/Classical/JazzNews/Talk-University of Massachusetts BostonWERS-FM 88.9Variety/Hip HopVariety/Hip Hop-Emerson College BostonWGBH-FM 89.7Classical/Jazz/NewsClassicalNewsWGBH Educational Foundation BostonWBUR-FM 90.9NPR/News/Talk–Boston University BostonWNEF-FM 91.7Folk–University of Massachusetts BostonWUMB-FM 91.9Folk–University of Massachusetts BostonWBOS-FM 92.9AAARadio You Boston-Greater Media BostonWMKK-FM 93.7Adult HitsRhythmic AC-Entercom Communications BostonWJMN-FM 94.5Urban CHR/RhythmicOld Skool Hip Hop-Clear Channel Radio BostonWTKK-FM 96.9TalkThe Irish Channel-Greater Media BostonWKAF-FM 97.7RockLive Rock-Entercom Communications BostonWBMX-FM 98.5AC–CBS Radio BostonWCRB-FM 99.5ClassicalClassical-Nassau Broadcasting Partners BostonWZLX-FM 100.7Classic RockDeep Cuts Classic Rock-CBS Radio BostonWKLB-FM 102.5CountryClassic Country-Greater Media BostonWBCN-FM 104.1AlternativeIndie and Ultra-New Rock-CBS Radio BostonWROR-FM 105.7Classic Hits70’s-Greater Media BostonWMJX-FM 106.7ACSmooth Jazz-Greater Media BostonWAAF-FM 107.3RockLive Rock-Entercom Communications BostonWXKS-FM 107.9CHRNew CHR-Clear Channel Radio BostonWNNW-AM 800Span/Tropical–Costa Eagle Broadcasting BostonWBZ-AM 1030News/Talk/Sports–CBS Radio BostonWILD-AM 1090Talk/Hip Hop–Radio One BostonWMKI-AM 1260Children–ABC Radio BostonWXKS-AM 1430Talk–Clear Channel Radio Cape CodWFPB-FM 91.9Folk–University of Massachusetts Cape CodWBUR-AM 1240News/Talk/NPR–Boston University New Bedford-Fall RiverWUMD-FM 89.3Variety–University of Massachusetts New Bedford-Fall RiverWFHN-FM 107.1CHR–Citadel SpringfieldWTCC-FM 90.7Variety–Springfield Tech Community College SpringfieldWHYN-FM 93.180’s, 90’sNew CHR-Clear Channel Radio SpringfieldWRSI-FM 93.9AAA–Saga SpringfieldWPKX-FM 97.9CountryAmericana-Clear Channel Radio SpringfieldWLZX-FM 99.3Rock–Saga SpringfieldWRNX-FM 100.9AAAT.B.D.-Clear Channel Radio SpringfieldWVEI-FM 105.5Sports–Entercom Communications SpringfieldWHYN-AM 560News/Talk–Clear Channel Radio WorcesterWICN-FM 90.5Jazz/Folk–WICN Public Radio WorcesterWBPR-FM 91.9Folk–University of Massachusetts WorcesterWSRS-FM 96.1ACPride Radio-Clear Channel Radio WorcesterWTAG-AM 580News/Talk/Sports–Clear Channel Radio
Eye on IBOC
Slacker Seeks to Redefine Online Radio
Internet radio, which has shown strong growth over the past few years, and which is already offering a degree of personal adaptability not possible with existing terrestrial and satellite broadcast technology, may be moving to another level with the introduction of a service called Slacker Radio earlier this year.
What Slacker is attempting is the merger of several distinctly different models of delivering preferred audio content to the consumer. Until recently, the average consumer has had to choose between subscription and pay-per-song download services for music players, or simply acquiesce to programming choices made by radio programmers. Internet services like Pandora or CBS-owned Last.FM improved on those models by offering adaptive online listening services, but are so far limited to broadband connectivity and conventional browsers.
So what’s different about Slacker? First, it’s supported on a portable, dedicated player platform (car dock available) with a two-tiered service. Users can access the ad-revenue supported system for free, or subscribe to a $7.50 per month premium service that bypasses ads and allows enhanced interactivity. Slacker builds its users a custom radio service, based on genre or artist preferences, and then loading up to 10,000 songs directly to the portable players via both Wi-Fi and direct satellite connections. If connectivity is lost for a period, the system continues to function normally, updating the dynamic library during periods of connectivity. Users can ban any particular tune at the push of a button, or step up selection of preferred tunes by pressing a heart-emblazoned key. Another interesting twist of this service is the ability to skip ahead in the playlist (six times/hr for free, unlimited with subscription).
For the curious not yet ready to invest in the dedicated player hardware, a taste of Slackers musical cuisine is available for free via standard Internet browsers at Slacker.com
From an industry standpoint, a number of things stand out about Slacker. The first is that it’s a well-capitalized venture lead by digital music heavyweights CEO Dennis Mudd, (ex-Musicmatch CEO) and President Jim Cady (ex-RioCEO). Second is that Slacker is dodging the Sound Exchange royalty nightmare by licensing directly with labels and artists (more than 2 million songs so far. And third is that Slacker’s real appeal is to those many millions of consumers who don’t want to be burdened with music purchasing or maintaining playlists and libraries — in other words, people who appreciate the convenience of old fashioned music radio, but who can now get it with a personalized format.
User reviews of Slacker have revealed a few hardware/software bugs with the service, but certainly nothing insurmountable, or even out of the ordinary with a new system rollout. The real question now is how successful Slacker will be in attracting users, and how it might further expand consumer expectations for a diverging audio medium we still call radio.
HD Radio Terminology
The New Language of HD Radio
waveform: The amplitude-versus-time representation of a signal. The term waveform is often employed in the context of a set of time and frequency characteristics that describe a specific type of signal.
signal: Detectable transmitted energy that can be used to carry information. In the radio frequency spectrum a signal has a characteristic waveform.
matrix: A two-dimensional block of data indicated by a double underscore. If accompanied by a subscript, the subscript elements represent matrix row and column numbers, respectively.
Axxes Offers OEM HD Radio Upgrade Path
Yet another option is now available for consumers wishing to add HD Radio to their existing car OEM audio systems. The Axxess AHDT-01 HD Radio Tuner is designed to work with most factory-installed automotive radios, plugging directly into an existing OEM wiring harnesses and eliminating the need for an FM modulator, according to its manufacturer, Metra Electronics.
The product consists of a universal HD Radio tuner box that mounts under-dash along with an interface specific to each vehicle class. Once installed, the package enables the factory radio to receive HD radio, including multicasts. The AHDT-01 also permits reception of HD Radio wireless data (titles, artists, weather, traffic, etc.) on radios equipped with scrolling text display capability.
First DAB+/Wireless Internet Radios Arrive in Europe
Revo Technologies, a Scottish-based designer and manufacturer of digital radio products says it’s offering European consumers the first audio appliance to combine DAB/DAB+, analog FM and Wi-fi Internet radio functionality all in one unit. The REVO Blik Radiostation offers a unique industrial-design look with plug-and-play reception of both DAB and DAB+ broadcasts, combined with conventional FM and the ability to store a large number of Internet radio station presets, available via Wi-fi connection. For traditionalists, standard clock radio functionality is included as well.
David Baxter, managing director, REVO Technologies says the newest addition to REVO’s product line, powered by Frontier Silicon’s Venice 6 Multimode module, will provide access to virtually every type of streamed audio media without the need for software or hardware upgrades.
While DAB has achieved a significant penetration level in the UK, other EU nations have been relatively slow to adopt the technology. The arrival of DAB+, which uses an improved AAC plus derived codec, reportedly has a number of countries giving the system a fresh look, particularly in the case of Australia, which has officially committed to launching a national network of DAB+ multiplexes in Jan 2009.