An interesting June post on engineering radio. You know, from one of the guys we should have been listening to before the FCC bought into the HD radio imbroglio.
You see, for the NAB, more radio stations means more dues money, greater lobbying power because of the larger size of the industry. Then came deregulation of ownership limits. By this time, Big Group Radio was calling the shots and they wanted more. This led to the great consolidation rush of the late 1990s from which the radio industry is still reeling. The consolidation rush led to highly overpriced radio stations being leveraged to the absolute maximum, leading to the recent bankruptcies.
Finally, the NAB’s great push toward adopting IBOC digital radio in the early years of the ’00s. IBOC was supposed to save the day, greatly improving quality of both AM and FM and bring radio into the 21st century. Except that the promised technical advances never materialized. IBOC remains a great expensive boondoggle and I am beginning to think that perhaps we should stop listening to the NAB.
Remember, this is an engineer’s perspective. His conclusion:
Half of me thinks that the ship has already sailed on AM broadcasting. The stations on the air will continue to decline until they are no longer able to broadcast due to expensive repairs or replacement, at which time they will be turned off. The other half thinks that AM radio, as evidenced by the huge public response to WEOK and WALL broadcasting the true oldies channel, can be revived. With the impending inevitable FM IBOC power increases, translator shoe ins, LPFM, etc., the FM band may become worse than the AM band. At which point the public will have to decide whether free radio is important to them, or 3G/4G services will become the new method of broadcasting.
And a commenter had this to add:
The old FCC Rules on minimum standards for proof of performance seemed fine at the time and it wasn’t until the competition from FM started gnawing away at AM listeners, that the knee-jerk reaction that something had to be done immediately was incorporated into the FCC Rules. Many naive or non-engineering type stations stupidly signed long term contracts with Ibiquity and are stuck paying even if they turn it off. So, we will have to wait and see what will be. I spoke to the CE of a local station where I worked as a college student yesterday, and even though they purchased an Ibiquity license for their AM, he is not going to implement it. I asked him about his three FM-HD stations and he reports that they have received ZERO comments from the listeners about it. Considering that his 96.5 and 102.9 are top rated, Ibiquity seems like a bad investment.
And this from a blog that tests equipment:
iBiquity has long claimed that HD radio eliminates the static and interference typically associated with analog AM reception. Here are some RFI produced by my pump and belies its statement — causes the receiver to fall static analog, and then it takes several seconds to recover the digital signal. . . . The last time I tried an HD radio receiver [was] in 2007 and nothing has improved since. Even in the best of FM signals, digital audio is still hard and metallic, digital reception is still very flaky, and radio stations still have problems synchonizing your analog and digital audio files. Thus, despite all the hype, “HD Radio” is simply not worth the money, and analog AM / FM radio still works and sounds better!
Filed under: The HD Radio scam |