You've probably heard of digital, high-definition
television (HDTV). Well, digital, high-definition radio is coming
soon, too. HD Radio will provide improved sound and important new
services to Wisconsin Public Radio listeners.
The Changing Competition
Satellite radio, downloading capabilities,
high-capacity portable audio devices, and other consumer technologies
are offering more and more options for listeners. Media and information
technologies are going digital worldwide. Wisconsin Public Radio is
about to join the digital world to take advantage of all the new
services it promises.
More than 200 FM stations across the United
States are now broadcasting in digital, and another 250 are in the
process of converting to HD Radio. Radio manufacturers such as
Panasonic and Kenwood are already shipping HD-ready receivers to stores
and auto factories. Clear Channel Radio, the largest radio chain in the
nation, has announced plans to convert 1,000 of its stations to HD
Radio over the next 10 years. This activity is sure to create consumer
demand for HD receivers. As the price of receivers comes down, more and
more radio broadcasters are sure to embrace HD technologies.
Including Wisconsin Public Radio. Thanks to
grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the State
Building Commission, we have begun Phase One of our digital
conversation process. 88.7 WERN-FM / Madison, 90.9 WHRM-FM /
Wausau, 91.3 KUWS-FM / Superior, and 970 WHA-AM / Madison will be
converted first. These stations should be broadcasting in the
digital format by next summer. As funds become available,
Wisconsin Public Radio engineers will add digital transmitters to all
Wisconsin Public Radio plans to broadcast in both
digital and analog formats into the foreseeable future. So if you
have a standard analog receiver now, you'll continue to hear
Wisconsin Public radio as usual. But if you purchase a new
digital-ready home or car receiver, you'll be able to take advantage of
all that HD Radio has to offer.
The Promise of HD Radio
Standard, analog AM radio is hampered by
relatively dull sound and is subject to interference from storms, power
lines, and other sources. Standard, analog FM radio, while it generally
delivers superior sound quality, is often subject to fades and popping
noises caused by interference from signals reflected by tall buildings
and other structures. HD Radio will correct these conditions and will
provide crystal clear, CD-quality sound for listeners.
HD Radio will also be capable of providing
program related text messages that will be displayed on LED screens
built into HD Radio receivers. Messages could include the names of
current program hosts and topics under discussion, weather information,
titles and composers of music, Amber alerts, relevant Web sites,
call-in phone numbers, station identification information, and more.
Wisconsin Public Radio has always been a leader
when it comes to using the latest technologies. WHA-AM / Madison
is the oldest radio station in the nation. In the 1940s and early
'50s we were one of the first networks to begin broadcasting on the FM
band. Now we look forward to embracing HD Radio and all the
benefits it will bring to our listeners.
(This is the first in a series of articles on HD
Radio and what it will mean to Wisconsin Public Radio listeners.
Future Resonance newsletters will keep you up-to-date on our
activities as we all move to a digital radio future.)