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Digital Radio Update – September 19, 2007

Digital Radio Update – September 19, 2007

Sep 19, 2007 12:00 PM, 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.


  • Studio C, Riff 2 Take NAB Multicast Honors
  • Bridge Ratings: Wireless broadband will be Two-Edged Sword for Radio
  • Apple, Ibiquity Ballyhoo New Itunes Partnership and Platforms
  • IBOC by State: Oregon
  • Struble: HD Radio’s Toughest Customer is the Consumer
  • The New Language of Digital Radio
  • BE, Jump2Go Launch Itunes Application on HD Radio


Studio C, Riff 2 Take NAB Multicast Honors
An NAB appointed judges panel arrived at a split decision as it awarded its new top honor for best HD Multicast programming to both KBCO Denver’s “The Studio C Channel” and Detroit’s WRIF “Riff2.” The awards are to be presented during the keynote address on Sept. 27 at The NAB Radio Show.

The NAB HD Radio Multicast Award was established to spotlight stations that provide innovative or groundbreaking programming via HD Radio multicast channels.

Competing stations were asked to submit information including programming, on-air personalities, promotions and branding elements that succeed in establishing a unique identity from the main station.

The HD-2 programming for WRIF-FM Detroit (owned by Greater Media) and KBCO-FM Denver (owned by Clear Channel) can be heard on the stations’ respective websites: and

Bridge Ratings: Wireless broadband will be Two-Edged Sword for Radio
The rollout of platform-neutral wide area broadband wireless networks, such as Sprint Nextel’s Wimax-based Xohm, will provide both challenges and opportunities for terrestrial radio, says a recent report from radio audio research firm Bridge Ratings.

In a Sept. 12 report entitled The Impact of Wireless Internet, Bridge projects robust growth in wide-area wireless broadband connectivity, with nearly 100 million subscribers by the end of 2010. Coinciding with that gain is a projected Internet radio listener base of about 77 million.

Based on the projection above, Bridge analysts predict both terrestrial and satellite radio Time Spent Listening (TSL) will slide as the decade draws to a close. For terrestrial broadcasters this represents a move from just less than 20 hours to 14.5 hours weekly. But satellite TSL is set to take a slightly more pronounced dip from its current level of about 21 hours weekly to a level equivalent that of terrestrial broadcasts.

The good news in the report concerns terrestrial radio revenue. With internet-generated revenues already offsetting traditional spot dollar losses to support the current plateau for radio at about $21 billion annually industry-wide, Bridge says that growth in online ad sales could actually serve to boost that figure to over $25 billion in three years. Read the entire report


Apple, Ibiquity Ballyhoo New Itunes Partnership and Platforms
In an initiative that’s already garnered significant coverage in new-tech online press, Ibiquity Digital and Apple’s Itunes officials are hailing their new technology partnership that will allow consumers to tag-for-purchase of songs received on specially equipped HD Radio receivers as the next level in music discovery.

The new technology will enable consumers using HD Radio receivers equipped with a special button, to tag songs heard on HD Radio for subsequent purchase via Itunes.

According to Apple VP of Ipod Marketing Greg Joswiak, both Polk Audio and JBL will offer the first consumer devices to provide Itunes Tagging functionality. Polk’s new Audio I-Sonic Entertainment System 2 and JBL IHD are projected to begin shipping in time for the 2007 holiday shopping season. Several additional tag-ready products for both home and car are also expected in early 2008.

Peter Ferrara, CEO of the HD Digital Radio Alliance said his coalition “is tremendously excited about this great new HD Radio feature, and will broadly promote Itunes Tagging [with] a multi-million dollar advertising campaign focusing on the JBL and Polk Audio products.”

Polk describes its new I-Sonic ES2 as a second generation multicast capable HD Radio tuner with Digital Signal Processing that accepts all Ipod models with dock connectors in its top-mounted dock hidden beneath a sliding door. S-Video and composite video outputs allow the user to connect a television or video monitor to the IES2 for viewing video content stored on a video Ipod. Auxiliary audio line inputs and a full function dual-alarm clock that can use radio or Ipod as the alarm are also standard.

No specific information on the JBL IHD was available at press time, but feature and specification details are said to be forthcoming.

IBOC Across America

IBOC by State: Oregon
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 20 stations in the Beaver State broadcasting 29 HD Radio channels.

MarketStationHD1 FormatHD2 FormatHD3 FormatOwner Eugene-SpringfieldKZEL-FM 96.1Classic Rock–Cumulus Broadcasting Eugene-SpringfieldKWAX-FM 91.1Classical–University of Oregon Medford-AshlandKSRG-FM 88.3Classical/News–Oregon Board of Higher Education Medford-AshlandKSMF-FM 89.1Jazz/Folk/News–Oregon Board of Higher Education Medford-AshlandKSJK-AM 1230News/Talk–Oregon Board of Higher Education PortlandKBOO-FM 90.7Variety–KBOO Foundation PortlandKBPS-FM 89.9Classical–KBPS Public Radio Foundation PortlandKEX-AM 1190News/Talk–Clear Channel Radio PortlandKKPZ-AM 1330Christian–Crawford Broadcasting Company PortlandKMAM-FM 89.1Jazz–Mt. Hood Community College PortlandKOPB-FM 91.5Info/NewsRockGolden Hours-Radio Reading ServiceOregon Public Broadcasting PortlandKYCH-FM 97.1Variety HitUrban AC-Entercom Communications PortlandKWJJ-FM 99.5Country–Entercom Communications PortlandKWJJ-AM2 99.5-2Blues–Entercom Communications PortlandKQOL-FM 105.9Classic HitsClassic Rock Hits-Clear Channel Radio PortlandKKCW-FM 103.3ACSmooth Jazz-Clear Channel Radio PortlandKKRZ-FM 100.3CHRIndie Rock-Clear Channel Radio PortlandKNRK-FM 94.7Modern RockRock Independent Radio-Entercom Communications PortlandKRSK-FM 105.1Hot ACComedy-Entercom Communications PortlandKGON-FM 92.3Classic RockLive Rock-Entercom Communications

Eye on IBOC

Struble: HD Radio’s Toughest Customer is the Consumer
During an invitation-only meeting with media at the company’s new Columbia, MD, headquarters last week, Ibiquity Digital CEO Bob Struble referred to mass market penetration as the final obstacle standing between his company’s HD Radio technology and wide consumer adoption.

“From the technology standpoint, the FCC has adopted the standard, and the broadcast industry has built out the infrastructure,” he said during a luncheon meeting with a small cadre of reporters. “The last major hurdle — and it is not insignificant — is to get people to go into places and ask for HD Radio. The goal is that about five years from now, when you go into a store and buy a radio, it will already have HD.” Struble also underscored the importance of integrating HD Radio with devices already in the hands of consumers “For radio to continue to be as ubiquitous as it is, radio has got to get on these devices,” he observed.

While new technology such as the recently announced Itunes/HD Radio tagging system provides HD Radio with a link to MP3 players, Struble acknowledged that integrating actual HD Radio receivers into digital music players is still in the developmental phase. “Chip development is key,” he said, noting that a chip in development by Samsung will require only one-tenth of the current now required to add HD Radio capability to digital music players. This higher-efficiency chip is slated for a Q1 2008 release.

Struble also noted that radio must make a business case to equipment manufacturers about integrating HD Radio into their products. “It is important to show value to these manufacturers so they will put HD in their devices,” he said. “And it is up to all of the radio business — not just us.”

To that end, Struble heaped praise on the work the HD Digital Radio Alliance has done in elevating HD Radio’s profile. “We wouldn’t have made the advancements we’ve made without them,” he said of the group, led by Peter Ferrara. “They’re doing a great job, and this thing is moving forward. But by no means are we waving the flag of victory just yet.”

HD Radio Terms

The New Language of Digital Radio
upper sideband (USB): The frequencies above the center frequency of the channel. IBOC digital waveforms are subdivided into groups, half of which occupy the Upper Sideband.
interleaving: A recording of the message bits to distribute them in time (over different OFDM symbols) and frequency (over different OFDM subcarriers) to mitigate the effects of signal fading and interference.
convolution code: A type of error-correction code in which m input bits of information are convolved through shift registers and adders to produce an n-bit output, where n>m. For each of the m bits, the encoder looks at k adjacent bits in the input vector and produces n/m output bits. The complexity of the convolution is determined, in part, by k, the constraint length, of the code, which indicates how many input bits are processed in each step. In contrast with block encoding, convolutional encoding does not append a parity codeword to the input data; rather, it transforms the input data into a larger codeword, within which the original input data many not be recognizable until decoded.


BE, Jump2Go Launch Itunes Application on HD Radio
Jump2Go and Broadcast Electronics (BE) have announced a new service application for the broadcast studio that will provide the data support required to select Itunes for purchase via their HD Radio tuners.

The application, developed by Jump2Go, has been added as an option in BE’s TRE Message Manager, a suite of datacasting applications designed specifically for HD Radio. When installed and operational, the studio software synchronizes the correct Apple tags to songs as they’re played over the air, then imbeds the information in the IBOC data stream for simultaneous transmission.

The announcement coincides with the rollout of compatible receivers by Polk Audio and JBL. The combined technology enables FM listeners to mark their favorite songs as they are heard. Tagged songs can then be reviewed and purchased through Itunes after an Ipod is docked to the radio.

According to reports, Clear Channel and at least two other major broadcast groups have already committed to adding tagging technology to their regular HD Radio broadcasts. Those groups and others are expected to go public with their commitment to the new technology at the NAB Radio Convention next week in Charlotte, NC.