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Digital Radio Update – January 24, 2007

Digital Radio Update – January 24, 2007

Jan 24, 2007 12:00 PM

Stay up to date on the latest IBOC news, business and technology information with the twice-monthly newsletter from Radio magazine.


  • Martin: Rules Preclude Sirius, XM Merger
  • HD Radio Awareness Rises, But so do Misconceptions
  • Fraunhofer Brings MP3 Surround to the Internet
  • Norway Tries FM Extra
  • HD Multicasts Roll Out in 17 New Markets
  • Detroit’s WRIF Spotlights HD Multicasts
  • Griffin Swims With Sharks at CES 2007
  • Wi-fi Offerings to Rise as Price Falls
  • IBOC by State: Texas
  • An Introduction to the New Language Surrounding HD Radio

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Martin: Rules Preclude Sirius, XM Merger
Widespread reporting of FCC Chairman Kevin Martin’s comment that a much-ballyhooed merger between satellite radio operators Sirius and XM would run afoul of his agency’s rules sent satellite radio stock prices down last week. Speaking at a press conference on Jan. 17, Martin pointed out what was already obvious to students of title 47 CFR � namely, that current rules governing SDAR service in the United States clearly call for two competing operators.

Martin’s latest comments came on the heels of his earlier remarks at CES 2007 in which he likened a possible Sirius/XM deal to a similar merger attempt by Echostar and Direct TV in 2002 that was quashed by the FCC. Some Wall Street analysts downplayed the significance of Martin’s remarks, saying the deal is still viable even though a rule change would be required. But they also maintain that any deal between the two satcasters would have to come soon to avoid a potential political crossfire over media ownership rules in the 2008 election.

HD Radio Awareness Rises, But so do Misconceptions
A study just released by media research group Bridge Ratings suggests that more consumers are aware of something called HD Radio, but proportionally fewer of them actually understand the technology as compared to those polled a year ago.

The study, entitled “HD Radio Perceptual Study – Awareness & Interest,” indicates that survey respondents who say they have heard of HD Radio increased from 62 percent in a 2006 survey to 72 percent in the current survey. Bridge Ratings’ analysts point to this double-digit increase as proof that joint broadcaster/vendor HD Radio promotions are succeeding in raising the profile of the technology.

Unfortunately, awareness doesn’t seem to correlate to understanding, as the percentage of survey respondents that say they don’t “know what HD Radio is, or what it does” increased from 81 percent in 2006 to 85 percent in the most recent tally.

Confusion about the advantages of HD Radio technology may also be blunting its appeal, as a lower percent of respondents expressed interest in acquiring an HD Radio this year than last. As a result, Bridge has lowered its projection for total HD Radio receiver sales in the United States from 2.1 million units to 1.5 million units.

The survey sample consisted of 2,448 persons age 12 and older, and was conducted during the period of Dec. 1, 2006, through Jan. 8, 2007.

Eye on IBOC

Fraunhofer Brings MP3 Surround to the Internet
Fraunhofer Institute introduced a new MP3 surround sound streaming module last week at the MIDEM music and gaming convention in Cannes, France. With applications for gaming and Internet radio, the new MP3 surround scheme allows highly efficient compression of surround audio information with full backward compatibility with existing MP3 players.

The new module allows surround audio to be streamed over the Internet at bit rates normally used for stereo MP3, and is currently being demonstrated online by Erlangen-based campus radio station Bit Express.

Winamp is now offering the MP3 surround plug-in decoder for download at

Norway Tries FM Extra
Oslo-based Radio 1 will be the first broadcast outlet in Norway to test FM Extra, a system that allows the addition of a high bit-rate digital subcarrier to an analog FM baseband composite signal. Developed by Digital Radio Express (DRE) in the United States, FM Extra is already on the air at some stations in the United States.

Bente Klemetsdal, president of SBS Radio in Norway, noted that his company found DRE’s approach attractive because it requires no significant changes in the transmission chain. Klemetsdal said that Fm Extra was one of a number of approaches to digital now under evaluation.

SBS radio Norway AS operates Radio 1 in Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim and Stavanger, Norway, and is a wholly owned by SBS Broadcasting, which operates more than 52 radio stations across Scandinavia.

HD Multicasts Roll Out in 17 New Markets
The HD Digital Radio Alliance has released its list of the latest 17 markets to choose HD-2 programming formats. Set to air by Jan. 31, 2007, the latest additions bring the total number of HD multicast markets to 85, marking the fourth wave in the 12-month-old roll-out project. New formats emerging in the current round include Jazz and Blues, Standards, and Slow Jams and Dance.

In rank order, the new markets include Grand Rapids, MI; Fresno, CA; Wilkes-Barre, PA; Allentown, PA; Knoxville, TN; Omaha, NE; Akron, OH; Wilmington, DE; Sarasota, FL; Monterey, CA; Syracuse, NY; Harrisburg, PA; Stockton, CA; Bakersfield, CA; Baton Rouge, LA; Toledo, OH and Little Rock, AR.

The alliance claims that HD multicasts will now be available to more than 80 percent of America’s population.

Detroit’s WRIF Spotlights HD Multicasts
WRIF, one of the Motor City’s heritage rock stations, gave its listeners and thousands of attendees at the North American International Auto Show a chance to find out just how good its “Riff 2” HD-2 multicast channel is. WRIF temporarily moved its HD-2 programming to the station’s analog channel for a “Riff2 Weekend” from 6 a.m. last Saturday morning through midnight Sunday night. Listeners got a taste of RIFF2’s “eclectic mix of local artists, alternative, hip-hop, punk and indie-rock” hosted by Suzy Cole, Trey and Hightower, as well as Riff PD Mark Pennington.

The on-air promotion, designed to let analog listeners know what they’re missing by not owning an HD-Radio, was timed to coincide with Detroit’s Centennial edition of the auto show, one of the most prestigious and closely-watched auto shows in America.

WRIF is owned and operated by Greater Media.


Griffin Swims With Sharks at CES 2007
One of the more interesting broadcast-related products to surface at this year’s CES in Las Vegas was Griffin’s Radio Shark 2, a USB AM/FM receiver with some unique software that may give the RIAA and other “content rights-holder” hawks a case of indigestion.

Using a digital interface to control the fin-shaped analog receiver module, Radio Shark 2 plugs into a user’s PC USB port and enables Tivo�like digital recording of analog radio broadcasts, allowing listeners to walk away from receivers and return to rewind or fast-forward their favorite shows. The unit comes bundled with a special edition of Snaptune One, a software package that automatically IDs, parses and labels songs for storage on the user’s Ipod or MP3 player–all from existing AM/FM analog source broadcasts.

The Radio Shark 2 is now shipping for a SRP of $49.99. The manufacturer also claims it will have an HD Radio version ready to retail this summer.

Wi-fi Offerings to Rise as Price Falls
Wi-fi radio devices that link consumers to an exploding number of Internet radio broadcasters could become quite inexpensive if a new chipset introduced at CES 2007 by Cambridge Consultants pans out. Based on just two ICs, Cambridge displayed a prototype of its Iona Wi-fi portable radio, which can be produced in volume for around $15 in materials cost.

By keeping parts count and cost low, Cambridge Consultants’ head of consumer products, Duncan Smith, believes that a complete, stand-alone Wi-fi radio could be marketed in the $50 to $60 range. The design uses two major integrated circuits (IC): an 802.11 b/g device targeted at the portable embedded systems market, and a multimedia applications chip combining DSP with a 16-bit RISC processor core from Cambridge Consultants’ own XAP family.

The hardware is completely programmable and the design will implement a large set of protocols and codec formats. Cambridge claims their platform is capable of supporting RTP, HTTP, RDT and MMS, plus MP3, WMA, AAC, AIFF and WAV data formats, and SNTP clock functionality. The platform also supports WEP, WPA and WPA2 security, with the ability to upgrade. Battery life from two standard AA cells is said to exceed 15 hours.

But Cambridge isn’t alone in its new offering. Another OEM chip manufacturer, Frontier Silicon, has also launched a multi-mode IC that combines analog and digital broadcast reception with complete IP connectivity to allow the design and production of radios with access to Wi-fi, Internet, DAB and FM radio stations.

Frontier’s Chorus 2I baseband receiver system-on-chip (SoC) offers sufficient capacity to run all the streaming protocols and audio decoders necessary for a Wi-fi radio application, along with spare resources to provide DAB and FM functionality. Chorus 2I also integrates peripheral features, such as USB 2.0 OTG interface for music download/playback and software upgrade, support for TFT and LCD displays, ATA/ATAPI interface for hard-disk storage, NAND Flash, memory stick and SD interfaces.

Frontier expects to ship the Chorus 2I with software development kit, module and reference platforms, to customers this month.

IBOC Across America

IBOC By State: Texas
Ibiquity has a list of stations that have licensed HD Radio technology and notes those that are on the air now. IBOC by state looks at various states and list the stations that are making the transition.

There are 88 stations in the Lone Star State broadcasting 132 HD Radio channels.

MarketStationHD1 FormatHD2 FormatHD3 FormatOwner Austin100.7 KASE-FMCountryCountry – All New-Clear Channel Radio Austin103.5 KBPA-FMClassic HitsSmooth Jazz-Emmis Austin105.9 KFMK-FMRhythmic/OldiesSpanish Oldies-Clear Channel Radio Austin96.7 KHFI-FMTop 40CHR – All New-Clear Channel Radio Austin107.7 KINV-FMSpan/OldiesTejano-Univision Radio Austin95.5 KKMJ-FMSoft Rock–CBS Radio Austin102.3 KPEZ-FMRockChristian CHR-Clear Channel Radio Austin90.5 KUT-FMVarietyBBC NewsKUT-FMUniversity of Texas Austin1300 KVET-AMSports/Talk–Clear Channel Radio Austin98.1 KVET-FMCountryRock’n Country-Clear Channel Radio Beaumont-Port Arthur91.3 KVLU-FMClassical/VarietyJazz and ClassicalThe IncubatorLamar University Commerce88.9 KETR-FMVariety–Texas A&M University Corpus Christi89.5 KLUX-FMEasyCatholic Radio-Diocesan Telecommunications Corp. Dallas-Ft. Worth770 KAAM-AMAdult Standards/Nostalgia–DRJ Broadcasting, LLC Dallas-Ft. Worth97.9 KBFB-FMHip Hop–Radio One Dallas-Ft. Worth93.3 KDBN-FMClassic RockNew Adult Hits-Cumulus Media Partners Dallas-Ft. Worth102.1 KDGE-FMAlternativeNew Alternative-Clear Channel Radio Dallas-Ft. Worth102.9 KDMX-FMACCommercial-free Mix-Clear Channel Radio Dallas-Ft. Worth97.1 KEGL-FMSpanish/OldiesHispanic AC-Clear Channel Radio Dallas-Ft. Worth103.3 KESN-FMSports–ABC Radio Dallas-Ft. Worth107.9 KESS-FMMexicanSpanish-Univision Radio Dallas-Ft. Worth1270 KFLC-AMSpanish/Talk/Sports–Univision Radio Dallas-Ft. Worth106.1 KHKS-FMCHRKiss Espanol-Clear Channel Radio Dallas-Ft. Worth100.3 KJKK-FMJackMy HD (all requests)-CBS Radio Dallas-Ft. Worth1700 KKLF-AMTalk–Cumulus Media Partners Dallas-Ft. Worth105.3 KLLI-FMTalkHispanic Talk-CBS Radio Dallas-Ft. Worth98.7 KLUV-FMOldiesAll Beatles-CBS Radio Dallas-Ft. Worth620 KMKI-AMChildren–ABC Radio Dallas-Ft. Worth107.5 KMVK-FMRhythmic/ACTraditional Jazz-CBS Radio Dallas-Ft. Worth99.5 KPLX-FMCountryNew CHR-Cumulus Media Partners Dallas-Ft. Worth1080 KRLD-AMNews–CBS Radio Dallas-Ft. Worth96.3 KSCS-FMCountryCountry-ABC Radio Dallas-Ft. Worth94.5 KSOC-FMUrban–Radio One Dallas-Ft. Worth1310 KTCK-AMSports/Talk–Cumulus Media Partners Dallas-Ft. Worth104.1 KTDK-FMSports/Talk–Cumulus Media Partners Dallas-Ft. Worth96.7 KTYS-FMCountryCountry-ABC Radio Dallas-Ft. Worth1160 KVCE-AMTalk–First Broadcasting Dallas-Ft. Worth103.7 KVIL-FMLight Rock–CBS Radio Dallas-Ft. Worth92.5 KZPS-FMClassic RockAmericana-Clear Channel Radio Dallas-Ft. Worth101.1 WRR-FMClassical–WRR-FM, City of Dallas Durant, OK97.5 KLAK-FMAC–Next Media El Paso1380 KHEY-AMSports/Talk–Clear Channel Radio El Paso96.3 KHEY-FMCountryClassic Country-Clear Channel Radio El Paso95.5 KLAQ-FMAOR–Regent El Paso690 KTSM-AMNews/Sports–Clear Channel Radio El Paso99.9 KTSM-FMSAC/News/TalkContemporary CHR-Clear Channel Radio Houston-Galveston97.9 KBXX-FMR&B Oldies/Hip Hop–Radio One Houston-Galveston97.5 KFNC-FMSports–Cumulus Media Partners Houston-Galveston95.7 KHJZ-FMSmooth Jazz–CBS Radio Houston-Galveston96.5 KHMX-FMHot ACNew CHR-Clear Channel Radio Houston-Galveston106.9 KHPT-FM80s HitsPat FM-Cox Radio Houston-Galveston100.3 KILT-FMCountry–CBS Radio Houston-Galveston103.7 KIOL-FMRock–Cumulus Broadcasting Houston-Galveston92.9 KKBQ-FMCountry–Cox Radio Houston-Galveston93.7 KKRW-FMClassic RockAdult Alternative AAA-Clear Channel Radio Houston-Galveston107.5 KLDE-FMClassic HitsOldies-Cox Radio Houston-Galveston101.1 KLOL-FMSpanish/RegatIn-Depth News-Clear Channel Radio Houston-Galveston102.9 KLTN-FMMexican–Univision Radio Houston-Galveston1590 KMIC-AMKids/Top40–ABC Radio Houston-Galveston102.1 KMJQ-FMUrban–Radio One Houston-Galveston99.1 KODA-FMACAC Love Songs-Clear Channel Radio Houston-Galveston104.9 KPTY-FMHip HopTejano/KRTX-AM-Univision Radio Houston-Galveston91.3 KPVU-FMNPR/Smooth Jazz/Gospel–Prairie View A&M University Houston-Galveston104.1 KRBE-FMCHR–Cumulus Media Partners Houston-Galveston92.1 KROI-FMGospel–Radio One Houston-Galveston94.5 KTBZ-FMModern RockFree Buzz-Clear Channel Radio Houston-Galveston88.7 KUHF-FMNPR/ClassicalClassical Music/Fine Arts-University of Houston McAllen-Brownsville-Harlingen104.1 KBFM-FMCHRSpanish Hits-Clear Channel Radio McAllen-Brownsville-Harlingen98.5 KGBT-FMMexican–Univision Radio McAllen-Brownsville-Harlingen106.3 KHKZ-FMHot ACAdult Variety-Clear Channel Radio McAllen-Brownsville-Harlingen105.5 KQXX-FMOldiesClassic Rock-Clear Channel Radio McAllen-Brownsville-Harlingen100.3 KTEX-FMCountryClassic Country-Clear Channel Radio McAllen-Brownsville-Harlingen107.9 KVLY-FMAC–Entravision San Antonio97.3 KAJA-FMCountryTexas Country-Clear Channel Radio San Antonio98.5 KBBT-FMHip Hop/R&B–Univision Radio San Antonio1350 KCOR-AMSpanish/Talk/News–Univision Radio San Antonio100.3 KCYY-FMCountry–Cox Radio San Antonio99.5 KISS-FMAOR–Cox Radio San Antonio101.1 KONO-FMOldies–Cox Radio San Antonio106.7 KPWT-FMUrban–Cox Radio San Antonio101.9 KQXT-FMSoft RockSmooth Jazz-Clear Channel Radio San Antonio105.3 KSMG-FMHot AC–Cox Radio San Antonio550 KTSA-AMNews/Talk/Sports–Border Media Partners San Antonio96.1 KXXM-FMCHRMix-Clear Channel Radio San Antonio1200 WOAI-AMNews/Talk–Clear Channel Radio Spearman89.5 KTOT-FMNews/Classical–Kanza Society Waco103.3 KWBU-FMNPR–Brazos Valley Public Broadcasting Foundation Wichita Falls88.7 KMCU-FMClassical–Cameron University

HD Radio Terminology

An introduction to the new language surrounding HD Radio.

bit error-rate (BER): an indication of the integrity of a digital signal. Excessive bit-error rates will prevent a signal from being decoded.

circulator: an RF device used to direct a signal in one way but not the other.