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Digital Radio Update – October 3, 2007

Digital Radio Update – October 3, 2007

Oct 3, 2007 11:46 AM, By Mark Krieger, CBT

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


  • Ford Offers Dealer-installed HD Radio as 2008 Option
  • IBiquity: US HD Radio Broadcasters top 1500
  • NRSC Moves on Key HD Radio-related Standards
  • More Radio Groups Tag Along with Itunes
  • IBOC by State: Alabama
  • Study Says HD Radio Awareness now at 77 Percent
  • The New Language of Digital Radio
  • NDS Offers Radioguard at NAB Radio Show
  • New HD Radio Auto Receivers Abound


Ford Offers Dealer-installed HD Radio as 2008 Option
Ford Motor Company’s national network of dealers is now offering HD Radio as an installed option on the majority of its 2008 Ford/Lincoln/Mercury family of cars, trucks and SUVs. In addition, the new factory-authorized HD Radio accessory package can be added to most models of the company’s 2005-2007 product line.

The news was enthusiastically received by HD Radio proponents who see it as a first step toward getting all of America’s big three automakers on board in offering HD Radio technology as standard equipment. Thus far, BMW, Hyundai, Jaguar and MINI have added HD Radio as an option to their lines.

Because the option is dealer-installed, Ford officials note that the actual price point will vary with locale and individual dealerships.

The Ford HD Radio rollout will get a 13-week, on-air marketing boost from a partnership with the HD Digital Radio Alliance. New commercials promoting Ford’s HD Radio product will air on 700 stations across 100 markets beginning Sept. 26, 2007.

IBiquity: US HD Radio Broadcasters top 1500
Ibiquity Digital is trumpeting the arrival of America’s 1,500th HD Radio signal as Clear Channel’s WROV-FM 96.3 in Roanoke, VA, commenced digital hybrid operation last week.

Robert Struble, President and CEO of Ibiquity Digital, noted that this latest addition to the role of HD Radio broadcast outlets marks an increase of 500 stations in less than a year.


NRSC Moves on Key HD Radio-related Standards
The National Radio Systems Committee (NRSC) voted on five separate items at its Sept. 26 meeting in Charlotte, NC, where it adopted two NRSC Guidelines, two newly revised NRSC Standards and retired an AM radio receiver standard. Almost all the documents have particular significance for IBOC digital hybrid operation.

On the AM side is NRSC-G100 – Bandwidth Options for Analog AM Broadcasters, an industry guideline explaining the advantages of reducing AM bandwidth below 10kHz and recommending practices for doing so in an optimal manner. Also adopted were NRSC-1-A, a specification dealing with AM pre-emphasis/de-emphasis and Audio Bandwidth, along with NRSC-2-A, an RF emissions spec. Both are revisions of previous standards particularly relevant for AM operators concerned about the potential for digital sideband interference from first adjacent channels, mostly during nighttime hours.

Of interest to FM operators is NRSC-G200, described as a harmonization of RDS and IBOC Program Service Data (PSD) Guidelines that discusses specific text message features of the NRSC’s IBOC digital (NRSC-5-A) and RBDS (NRSC-4-A) standards. The new guideline is aimed at unifying the formats for sending and decoding routine text data, such as title, artist and other program information, thus streamlining the design of encoding and decoding/display technology.

The Polk I-sonic 2 supports HD Radio tagging.

More Radio Groups Tag Along with Itunes
Cumulus, Cox, Entercom and Greater Media say they will join Clear Channel in adopting new Itunes tagging technology for radio. The system allows consumers to sample, select and buy music for download from Itunes at the touch of a button on compatible HD Radio receivers.

JBL and Polk Audio plan to have their respective Itunes tagging receiver products shipping in time for the holiday shopping season. Additional products that include the Tag button for both the home and car will reportedly follow in early 2008.

IBOC Across America

IBOC by State: Alabama
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 29 stations in the Yellowhammer state broadcasting 38 HD Radio channels.

MarketStationHD1 FormatHD2 FormatOwner BirminghamWDXB-FM 102.5CountryClassic CountryClear Channel Radio BirminghamWNCB-FM 97.3Country-Cox Radio BirminghamWSPZ-AM 690Sports/Talk-Citadel BirminghamWDJC-FM 93.7Christian-Crawford Broadcasting BirminghamWXJC-AM 850Christian-Crawford Broadcasting BirminghamWBHJ-FM 95.7Hip Hop/R&B-Cox Radio BirminghamWAPI-AM 1070Talk/News-Citadel BirminghamWXJC-FM 92.5Christian-Crawford Broadcasting BirminghamWYDE-AM 1260News/Talk-Crawford Broadcasting BirminghamWYDE-FM 101.1News/Talk-Crawford Broadcasting BirminghamWYSF-FM 94.5Soft Rock-Citadel BirminghamWQEN-FM 103.7CHRNew Hip HopClear Channel Radio BirminghamWMJJ-FM 96.5AlternativeOldiesClear Channel Radio BirminghamWENN-FM 105.5GospelSmooth JazzClear Channel Radio BirminghamWJLD-AM 1400R&B/Talk/Gospel-Richardson Broadcasting DadevilleWGZZ-FM 100.3CountryNews/Talk (WANI-AM)Auburn Network DothanWRWA-FM 88.7Classical-Troy University HuntsvilleWQRV-FM 100.3ACTop 40 DanceClear Channel Radio HuntsvilleWDRM-FM 102.1CountryNew CountryClear Channel Radio HuntsvilleWTAK-FM 106.1Classic RockAlternativeClear Channel Radio MobileWYOK-FM 104.1Country-Cumulus Broadcasting MobileWMXC-FM 99.9Lite Rock-Clear Channel Radio MobileWBLX-FM 92.9Urban AC-Cumulus Broadcasting MobileWKSJ-FM 94.9Country-Clear Channel Radio MobileWRKH-FM 96.1Classic Rock-Clear Channel Radio MontgomeryWXFX-FM 95.1Classic Rock-Cumulus Broadcasting MontgomeryWTSU-FM 89.9Classical-Troy University Pulaski, TNWKSR-FM 98.3Country70’s Top 40Pulaski Broadcasting TuscaloosaWUAL-FM 91.5News/Classical/Jazz-University of Alabama

Eye on IBOC

Study Says HD Radio Awareness now at 77 Percent
A Sept. 2007 telephone survey conducted by radio market research and analysis firm Critical Mass Media and funded by the HD Digital Radio Alliance suggests that three out of four radio listeners (77 percent) are now aware of HD Radio. Those numbers are more or less consistent with earlier data from a Bridge Ratings study that suggested HD Radio awareness was moving into 70 percent territory.

According to an Ibiquity press release, the study also suggests that 31 percent of radio listeners report an interest in HD Radio.

HD Radios Make TV Debut on QVC
You know you’ve arrived when buff, beautiful guys and gals gush over you on national prime-time television — even if it’s only on a shop-at- home network.

HD Radio passed its first screen test on a Sept. 26 QVC telecast featuring Polk Audio’s I-Sonic Audio Entertainment System, Visteon’s HD Pulse HD Radio tabletop clock radio, and Radiosophy’s HD 100 desktop receiver.

Acting in conjunction with the QVC offer, the HD Digital Radio Alliance promoted the sales telecast with a radio campaign in 100 markets.

HD Radio Terminology

The New Language of Digital Radio
allotment (of a broadcast frequency): the creation of an availability for the placement of a certain class broadcast signal on a certain frequency in a certain area indicated (in the U.S.) by a city of license.

host signal: the analog signal that is part of the hybrid waveform, acting as a “host” to the digital portion of the hybrid waveform.

quadrature phase shift keying (QPSK): a form of digital phase modulation that assigns one of four discrete phases, differing by 90 degrees, to the carrier, with each phase representing a unique symbol value. Each QPSK symbol conveys two bits of information.


NDS Offers Radioguard at NAB Radio Show
Content subscription specialist NDS used the NAB 2008 Fall 2007 Radio Show as a rollout venue for its new Radioguard application, an HD Radio “conditional access” content control system now available to any station interested in developing subscription-based services. The move comes on the heels of an agreement with Ibiquity Digital to integrate with and secure the service within HD Radio’s proprietary digital architecture.

NDS is touting Radioguard as an application that “enables broadcasters to offer their customers more choice, including a broader selection of content, (and) more segmentation opportunities for advertisers and…other revenue-generating services.” Examples given include pay-per-listen options for international events and concerts, radio-reading services for the visually impaired, public works and emergency services channels, as well as opt-in events sponsored by advertisers.


New HD Radio Auto Receivers Abound
The fall harvest season is yielding more than apples and pumpkins this year, as a new crop of HD Radio-related automotive products hit the market.

Dual Electronics joins the HD Radio receiver market for the first time with new XHD6425 and XHD6420 HD/FM/AM/CD head units offering seek, scan and HD Radio-only seek functionality. Thirty channel presets can be applied to HD Radio multicasts as well as standard FM and AM stations and both head units display station, track, artist and related information when the appropriate data are available.

Sony has added two new models, the CDX-GT520 and the CDX-GT320, to its Xpold car stereo line, both of which feature plug and play compatibility with the company’s companion XT-100HD HD Radio tuner.

But perhaps the most interesting new entry comes from JVC Mobile Entertainment, which is promoting its new KT-HDP1 transportable HD Radio receiver as the industry’s first plug-and-play AM/FM/HD Radio tuner. Utilizing both a wired FM modulator and direct line audio out, the cradle-mounted KT-HDP1 is available with a do-it-yourself car install kit, a simple home kit and a professional car kit that replaces an existing radio. A backlit dot matrix LCD displays text information while standard-style connectors handle power, line level audio and RF modulator outputs. Eighteen FM and six AM preset channels, and HD Radio scan and seek functions are also standard.