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Digital Radio Update – May 6, 2009

New Council Aims to Unite, Advance Digital Radio in UK
Commercial radio and the BBC plan to link arms in the formation of a new industry organization that seeks to champion digital radio as a unified medium across the UK, says a recent report from the Guardian’s John Plunkett.

The new body, called the Radio Council will seek to resolve nagging issues dogging the DAB switchover in England and will for the first time unite the country’s commercial and public radio sectors in a common cause.

In the past, UK commercial radio firms such as Global Radio, CMG and Bauer were represented by Radio Centre, a trade group that was usually at odds with government and the monolithic BBC. But in an era where both sides are trying to define their place in a digital futurescape, a partnership seems not only logical, but essential.

Among the immediate projects on the Radio Council’s agenda are standardization of streaming radio player software, an electronic program guide that spans both DAB and online platforms, and the appointment of a CEO to the UK’s Digital Radio delivery group, as called for by British Communication Minister Lord Stephen Carter.

The new body will also address the issue of marketing and facilitating Great Britain’s changeover to digital radio, a process that has progressed erratically at best. While current government timetables call for an analog sunset to begin in 2015, Tim Davie, head of BBC Radio, recently warned that current declines in overall radio listening could smother the process economically.

Ibiquity Partners with Intertek on HD Receiver Certification
Ibiquity Digital has inked an agreement with certification and safety vendor Intertek to test and certify HD Radio receivers through the application of program requirements developed by Ibiquity.

According to a company press release, Intertek will serve as a third-party, independent testing laboratory to evaluate manufacturers’ products compliance with Ibiquity requirements. The goal of the certification program is to provide a reference platform to ensure all products using HD Radio technology meet the high-performance requirements deemed necessary by Ibiquity.

Intertek says it will provide testing and certification services for manufacturers of HD Radio receivers, through a network of international testing locations, including:

    • Full-certification services
    • Modification services
  • Special protocol testing
  • HD Radio receiver certification with FCC and ETL product safety testing and certification packages

The company claims to be the largest independent lab in the world to provide third-party certification to the Ibiquity requirements including major brands such as JVC, Dual, Jensen, PUSA/Pioneer, Insignia and Radio Shack.

Australia’s DAB+ Rollout Now Underway
The long-anticipated rollout of digital radio in Australia began Monday, May 4, with the sign-on of commercial radio outlets Mix 94.5, 92.9, Nova 93.7, 6PR, 96 fm, 6ix, Radar, Pink Radio and Novanation on a new DAB+ multiplex located in the city of Perth, Western Australia.

“The switch on of digital radio is a culmination of seven years work with the Federal Government, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), commercial broadcasters, the ABC and SBS” said Joan Warner, head of Commercial Radio Australia (CRA).

Warner also noted that operation during the first week to 10 days will be in interference test mode, meaning that power levels may be lowered at night while potential interference is assessed. Digital Radio Channel Plans (DRCP) developed by the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) predicts 90 percent digital signal coverage of Perth’s entire population with the current multiplex operating at full power.

The schedule for turn-up of the remaining multiplexes includes:

  • Melbourne, Victoria — May 11
  • Adelaide, South Australia — May 15
  • Brisbane, Queensland — May 25
  • Sydney, New South Wales — May 30

While few receivers are currently available, CRA cites a number of manufacturers now producing DAB+ digital radios including Pure, Roberts, Bush, Revo, Grundig, Iriver, Sangean, Yamaha and Teac. Retailers reportedly committing to distribution of DAB products include Harvey Norman, Dick Smith, The Good Guys, Myer, David Jones, Clive Peeters, Big W, and Retravision.

IBOC by State: Virginia
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 47 stations in the Old Dominion State broadcasting 74 HD Radio channels.


Station HD1 Format HD2 Format HD3 Format


Charlottesville WCNR-FM 106.1 AAA Saga
Charlottesville WVTW-FM 88.5 NPR/Classical BBC/NPR Virginia Tech Foundation Incorporate
Charlottesville WVTU-FM 89.3 NPR/Classical BBC/NPR Virginia Tech Foundation Inc.
Chase City WMVE-FM 90.1 News/Classical/Jazz Commonwealth Public Broadcasting Corporation
Christiansburg WWVT-AM 1260 NPR/News Virginia Tech Foundation Inc.
Clinchco WDIC-FM 92.1 Oldies The Razor Dickenson County Broadcasting
Culpeper WJMA-FM 103.1 Country Piedmont Communications Inc.
Ferrum WFFC-FM 89.9 BBC/NPR Talk Exponential Radio Virginia Tech Foundation Inc.
Fredericksburg WFLS-FM 93.3 Country Urban Free Lance-Star Publishing Co.
Heathsville WCNV-FM 89.1 News/Classical/Jazz Commonwealth Public Broadcasting Corp.
Louisa WOJL-FM 105.5 Adult Hits Piedmont Communications Inc.
Marion WVTR-FM 91.9 NPR/Classical NPR/BBC Talk Radio IQ-Virginia Tech Foundation Inc.
Norfolk–Virginia Beach–Newport News WVKL-FM 95.7 Urban AC Blues Entercom Communications Corp.
Norfolk–Virginia Beach–Newport News WHRV-FM 89.5 News/Talk/Info SpeakEasy Talk Radio RadioNtenna/Alternative Rock Hampton Roads Educational Telecomm Association Inc.
Norfolk–Virginia Beach–Newport News WHRO-FM 90.3 Classical Connoisseur Classics/Alternative Classical Big Band/Swing/Old Time Radio Hampton Roads Educational Telecomm Association Inc.
Norfolk–Virginia Beach–Newport News WJCD-FM 107.7 Smooth Jazz Jazz Club Players Clear Channel
Norfolk–Virginia Beach–Newport News WWDE-FM 101.3 AC Deep Tracks Entercom Communications Corp.
Norfolk–Virginia Beach–Newport News WNVZ-FM 104.5 CHR/Urban Contemporary Comedy Entercom Communications Corp.
Norfolk–Virginia Beach–Newport News WNSB-FM 91.1 Urban Norfolk State University
Norfolk–Virginia Beach–Newport News WPTE-FM 94.9 Modern AC Rock/Classic Live Rock Entercom Communications Corp.
Norfolk–Virginia Beach–Newport News WNOR-FM 98.7 Modern Rock Saga
Norfolk–Virginia Beach–Newport News WJOI-AM 1230 Adult Standard Saga
Norfolk–Virginia Beach–Newport News WAFX-FM 106.9 Classic Rock Saga
Norfolk–Virginia Beach–Newport News WOWI-FM 102.9 Urban Urban Street Music Clear Channel
Norfolk–Virginia Beach–Newport News WKUS-FM 105.3 Urban AC Groove Clear Channel
Norfolk–Virginia Beach–Newport News WCDG-FM 92.1 Oldies Foggy Mountain Clear Channel
Richmond WKHK-FM 95.3 Country Cox Radio
Richmond WKJS-FM 105.7 Urban AC Radio One
Richmond WCVE-FM 88.9 News/Classical/Jazz Commonwealth Public Broadcasting Corp.
Richmond WRVA-AM 1140 News/Talk Clear Channel
Richmond WRNL-AM 910 Sports/Talk Clear Channel
Richmond WRXL-FM 102.1 Alternative Music Summit Clear Channel
Richmond WRVQ-FM 94.5 Top 40 Hot Spot Clear Channel
Richmond WDZY-AM 1290 Family Hits Radio Disney
Richmond WMXB-FM 103.7 AC Cox Radio
Richmond WTVR-FM 98.1 Easy Smooth Jazz Clear Channel
Richmond WCDX-FM 92.1 Urban

Radio One
Richmond WKJM-FM 99.3 Urban AC Radio One
Richmond WKLR-FM 96.5 Classic Rock Cox Radio
Richmond WBTJ-FM 106.5 Urban tha block Clear Channel
Roanoke–Lynchburg WXLK-FM 92.3 CHR Mel Wheeler
Roanoke–Lynchburg WROV-FM 96.3 Rock Alternative Rock Clear Channel
Roanoke–Lynchburg WJJS-FM 104.9 CHR Smooth Jazz Clear Channel
Roanoke–Lynchburg WVTF-FM 89.1 NPR/Classical BBC News/NPR/Radio IQ Exponential Radio Virginia Tech Foundation Inc.
Winchester WKSI-FM 98.3 Top 40 Clear Channel
Winchester WUSQ-FM 102.5 Country Clear Channel
Wise WISE-FM 90.5 Public NPR/BBC Talk/Radio IQ

Virginia Tech Foundation Inc.

All Quiet on the Front
The usual flood of radio industry news emanating from last month’s NAB Show in Las Vegas was, well, muted this year, thanks to our economic malaise. But on the radio front, stories concerning IBOC digital developments seemed conspicuously absent. To be sure, there were some new transmitters and enhanced exporter hardware on display, but the buzz of past shows just wasn’t there.

While the economy shoulders much of the blame for the loss of what momentum IBOC digital’s rollout had a year ago, it’s difficult to see how a recovery can restore significant forward progress anytime soon. Yes, NPR is moving ahead with their IBOC interference study and it may yield a rubric that will allow the increase of digital signal power for some stations. Yet the question remains as to who will be financially healthy enough to purchase new hardware that doesn’t promise an immediate ROI. The perilous financial straits of companies like Clear Channel, Citadel and other key members of the HD Radio Alliance don’t bode well for discretionary capital expenditures. Thus, any significant increase in the current inventory of IBOC equipped broadcast outlets seems improbable for at least the next two years – and that’s a long time in today’s world of electronic media.

The consumer end of the equation isn’t much better. A Jacobs Media report indicates that 87 percent of those consumers planning on buying or leasing a new car rate an AM/FM radio as a most desirable feature and hey, that’s great news. On the other hand, 47 percent said the same about an iPod connector, 16 percent for satellite radio, and um, 8 percent for an HD Radio, as opposed to 6 percent for a cassette player. Likewise, a recent study by Strategy Analytics’ JoAnne Blight suggests that demand for HD Radios in North America will reach 3.1 million units … in 2015. And that’s a very long time indeed.

It’s quiet on the IBOC front these days — very quiet.

The New Language of Digital Radio
Commonly used abbreviations:
MA3: AM all-digital service mode
MB: megabyte
MHz: megahertz
MP1-MP6: FM IBOC primary service modes 1 through 6
MS1-MS4: FM IBOC secondary service modes 1 through 4
MPA: main program service audio
MPEG: Moving Picture Experts Group

Wi-fi Pocket Radio Has a Retro Look
Those of a certain age may remember a time when cars had tail fins and AM radios that fit in your breast pocket were all the rage. These little gems tuned the entire AM band, were equipped with both a speaker and an in-ear listening device that was the great grandfather of today’s earbuds, and were responsible for the creation of the 9V battery still used in smoke detectors today.

But in playful reminder that what’s old often becomes new again, Paradigm Shift is introducing its model EIR-PW01 Wi-fi Internet radio — and doesn’t it look familiar?

According to specifications published on, the new pocket Wi-fi wonder includes access to a galaxy of Internet radio, a conventional FM tuner, a menu scroll wheel that looks just like a tuning knob, and a built-in mono speaker that complements its stereo headphone jack. The only thing it won’t do is tune in an AM radio station — unless, of course, it’s streaming.

Powered by a USB/ac adaptor rechargeable Li-ion battery, MSRP given for the EIR-PW01 is $149.