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KWFN Deploys an HD Radio Single-Frequency Network

GeoBroadcast Solutions calls this a first and highlights relevance to geotargeting

Station logo of 97.3 The Fam KWFNGeoBroadcast Solutions is highlighting the use of its MaxxCasting synchronized FM booster technology in a single-frequency digital radio network at Entercom in San Diego.

GBS says this is the first commercially deployed HD Radio SFN. And it says the success of the project also supports its separate regulatory proposal to allow U.S. radio stations to use geo-targeting on FM boosters.

The station in this case is KWFN(FM), flagship of San Diego Padres baseball. The ballclub opens its abbreviated 2020 season at home on July 24.

GBS said the four-node SFN “extends clear FM and HD Radio coverage up and down the busy Interstate 15 and State Route 78 corridors. The improved signal also increases penetration with Nielsen PPM Portable People Meters to help broadcasters accurately measure audiences and set advertising rates.”

KWFN FM booster system
An image provided by GBS shows KWFN coverage with the boosters in place (including a fifth planned node).

Areas with better coverage reportedly include Escondido, Ramona and San Marcos; and GBS said the station has seen a positive impact in ratings.

The manufacturer quotes Entercom Market Technical Operations Director JR Rogers saying the commuter listening experience improved because “the holes in the signal coverage have been greatly diminished.” This despite difficult hilly terrain in the area. Rogers told GBS that the community was previously served by a powerful AM signal from Mexico.

Entercom, he continued, particularly wanted to improve KWFN’s coverage to support Padres game coverage.

Separately, as we’ve reported, GBS has been petitioning the Federal Communications Commission to let radio broadcasters air geo-targeted programming. KWFN is not such a case; but GBS says this implementation of an HD SFN demonstrates that geo-targeting will work when boosters are equipped with its ZoneCasting technology.

[Related: “GBS Gathers Support for Geo-Targeting”]

“ZoneCasting will eventually owe its success to MaxxCasting, the foundational architecture that is currently boosting FM and HD signals from the Boston market’s WXLO(FM) to KWFN in San Diego,” it stated.

(The GBS geotargeting proposal in turn prompted a separate group to ask the FCC to also allow geotargeting on translators, which GBS deplored as essentially muddying the issue, as we’ve reported.)

The San Diego HD SFN installation includes GatesAir Flexiva transmitters with FAX Exgine exciters, a Flexiva FXMI 4g Exporter/Importer HD Radio system and Intraplex IP networking and synchronization gear to time-lock FM and HD signals between the main transmitter and the nodes.

Bert Goldman of Goldman Engineering Management coordinated system design and FCC compliance. Shively provided directional antennas. Distributor SCMS managed equipment sales and staging.

Users and suppliers are both invited to send Radio World your news about interesting technology deployments. Email [email protected].