While the fields of the HD Radio data stream are defined, the information that stations can provide is open. We talked to two broadcasters who are looking ahead to the possibilities of HD Radio data.
Vice President of Engineering
Entercom Communications Seattle
How are your stations using the data capabilities of HD Radio?
Entercom has implemented RBDS at all its FM stations, allowing us to display program-associated data (PAD) such as artist name and song title. Once IBOC is activated at a station, it is expected to provide at least the same data-display capability on the digital signal as it does on the analog. In most cases, the IBOC display also displays additional fields when available, such as the title of the album.
What future data-display enhancements do you anticipate incorporating with IBOC?
At a minimum we will probably display the album jacket artwork, which is already being displayed on our stations' enhanced websites. This will make the HD Radio receiver look similar to the website “now playing” presence. Later on, once a data back channel becomes available, the ability to add a “buy now” button will be typical of the integrated connectivity with cell phones, PDAs and a consumer's radio.
How is your station using the data capabilities of HD Radio?
We are using it in much the same way as we use RBDS. As the HD Radio receivers with enhanced displays become available, we will use more of the meta data capabilities. WGUC is a classical music station, and title of the work and performer name are the minimum. We want to also provide composer, soloist and featured performers and other information that is relevant to the work being played.
What are your future data plans?
Our announcers already research their commentary about the music, and only a fragment of that information is usually shared on the air. This information is ideal for use on a data display. Each announcer's data can be loaded into a database and recalled as near-PAD as needed.
We will soon acquire WVXU, another NPR affiliate in Cincinnati. We plan to program WGUC with music and WVXU with predominantly talk and news. On WXVU we will run a news ticker with additional information, headlines and weather.