Citadel Broadcasting Corp. is re-evaluating its AM nighttime HD Radio operations in the wake of interference complaints.
Company Director of Corporate Engineering Martin Stabbert told Radio World‘s “The Leslie Report” last week the group taking a step back and stopped operating AM IBOC at night on 10 stations as of Oct. 1. The stations still broadcast in HD Radio during the day. Of its 66 AMs, 16 have converted and four more are in-process. Citadel is continuing its conversion efforts.
An excerpt from his memo to staff reads: “In response to the lackluster performance, the limited benefit and various reports of significant interference, Citadel is suspending nighttime AM HD operations at this time. Please reinstate your previous procedures for daytime-only HD operation as soon as possible.”
The company has received interference complaints from listeners and stations on adjacent channels, the latter from both Citadel- and non-Citadel-owned stations in and outside the markets.
Most of the complaints center around 50 kW Class As, he said, although internally, Citadel has observed effects from lower-powered stations on adjacent channels at night.
Stabbert stressed that Citadel’s action is not a criticism of iBiquity nor of its technology. The move, however, comes at a time when the impact of AM digital at night, which was only recently approved by the FCC, is being closely scrutinized by those who believe it could fundamentally damage the band.
iBiquity Digital said it has received few complaints about interference, that the “vast majority” of feedback it’s received about AM nighttime has been positive.
“We understand Citadel’s caution and are working with them to understand what they are experiencing and to address their concerns,” said a spokeswoman.
The move came to light last week in an internal memo that was leaked to the media.