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Entercom and RDS, One Year Later

Entercom and RDS, One Year Later

One year ago this week, a big radio company announced a major commitment to RDS. The move indicated renewed interest in the technology that brings data to radio receiver displays. Can you name the broadcaster?
Although Clear Channel and others have been exploring the possibilities of RDS, it was Entercom Communications that placed an order in April 2003 with a supplier, The Radio Experience, to equip 54 FM stations with its Dynamic Data Initiative technology.
This week, Radio World Online asked Marty Hadfield, vice president of engineering for Entercom, how RDS is coming along.
“As of last week, Entercom has 65 FM stations running RDS Radio Text with the enhanced dynamic PS code text,” he told us. “We’ll be adding another one in Providence pretty soon.”
The company is experimenting with inserting specific CD title info and adding content to complement its Web presence. Hadfield said Entercom does “not have commercial content aspirations at this time.”
He said he finds it “exciting and reassuring” that hardware and software have matured at the station level to permit radio to offer such enhanced features.
The most common use at Entercom stations, he said, is displaying song artist and title, although some stations are displaying 1-800 contest line numbers and others are running “silent contests” with instructions displayed in Radio Text mode.
“I’ve also seen promos for HD Radio displayed on RDS.”
Most Entercom stations are running song artist and title, call sign and a positioning statement, such as “25 years of rock and roll.” On talk, news and sports formats, the stations often run the show name.
What has Hadfield learned about the technology that impressed or disappointed him?
“The wide variations in existing RDS receivers’ display modes and their response to both changing PS code content and Radio Text content is a challenge,” he said.