This is one in a series of case studies in a special section of the Oct. 7 issue of Radio World called "Radio 2010: Traditional Solutions Blend With the New," in which radio managers discuss how they are preparing for the next decade of the millenium by improving their businesses in traditional and nontraditional ways.
Chief Engineer Chris Dusterhoff installs ground strap on a new Harris transmitter. Texas’ Bryan Broadcasting is a big believer in HD Radio. This local company — which broadcasts exclusively to the Brazos/College Station market of roughly 200,000 people — has added HD Radio capability to its two College Station outlets: KNDE(FM) at 95.1 MHz and WTAW(AM) 1620 kHz.
The area is home to Texas A&M University and its famous Aggies sports teams.
"Our analog FM station and HD1 channel, KNDE, operates under the name Candy 95," says Ben Downs, Bryan Broadcasting’s VP and GM.
"It’s a CHR station; to complement its format, our HD2 channel is branded as ‘Rock Candy.’ It features new rock music and artist interviews. Meanwhile, our HD3 channel is known as ‘Play by Replay.’ It’s a channel where we replay some of the original content we generate, like sports coverage and local talk shows."
On the AM side, Downs says HD Radio improves the station sound. "The audio improvement on WTAW’s HD Radio channel is impressive. We like to say that it makes us ‘sound smarter,’ simply because it sounds so much better than analog AM."
Bryan Broadcasting makes all of its audio content available at radioaggieland.com. The organization also generates locally focused content for its streams and HD channels that would not otherwise be heard.
"We broadcast a local high school football team on our HD3 channel. Without the HD outlet, this team’s play by play wouldn’t be broadcast," Downs said.
"We have promotional staff at those games to conduct drawings for the new Insignia HD receivers during halftime. The winner can put their earbuds in and listen via the HD broadcast or through their streaming application.
"It’s also the channel where we replay significant news stories. For example, Rep. Chet Edwards conducted a health-care town hall meeting; we archived the event and played it back at different times for listeners who couldn’t make it in person."
The station also broadcasts less-attended collegiate sports from Texas A&M.
"We have a broadcast team that originates play-by-play of TAMU soccer and volleyball. At this point, the Internet streams probably have more listeners than the HD3 broadcast, but we’re providing original, local content to encourage residents to buy into the HD Radio platform.
"Our HD2 station, Rock Candy, incorporates unsigned artists throughout the day. Our DJ, Emo Sarah, records interviews with indie artists and broadcasts the interviews and music five times daily on her ‘Emo Sarah’s Cry for Help’ program."
The CHR FM station airs ‘Rock Candy’ on its HD2. In general, Downs is delighted by HD Radio’s performance. However he is afraid that the format could go the way of AM stereo if manufacturers don’t do more to popularize the technology.
"As broadcasters, we have no real control over the future of HD Radio," he says. "We can launch HD Radio stations — and there are now more than a thousand of them — but without HD Radio receivers being readily available in cars and at home, the format is not guaranteed to exist."
Mindful of this, Bryan Broadcasting is making all of its audio content available at radioaggieland.com.
"You can listen on your PC, plus we have apps that can be downloaded for reception on iPhones, Blackberrys, Windows Mobile Phone or Google Android G1 phone," Downs says, "We are using every available platform — including HD Radio — to get our content to our listeners."