Will Europe Foreshadow U.S. Broadcasting’s Future?

In January, Norway began a long-planned series of shut-downs of national network FM stations in favor of DAB February 9, 2017

Something happened last month that we all need to know about: Norway began a long-planned series of shut-downs of national network FM stations in favor of DAB.

The reasons given for the change are good ones. For starters, it’s cheaper to use DAB multiplex transmitters (which often carry a dozen or more “stations”) than it is to have an individual FM transmitter for each station. Secondly, the mux transmitters actually make for more broadcasting opportunities: They have more capacity to carry programming then the old FM transmitters they’ve replaced.

From my research, and yearly trips to the NAB Show, I would estimate that broadcasting technology in Europe is at least five years ahead of us here in North America. It’s important to pay attention to what is going on over there to see what direction we might be headed here. Yes, it’s not exactly an apples to apples comparison, but still, it’s telling. Digital radio is much closer to critical mass in other parts of the world than here in the Americas.

With that in mind, streaming media considerations are becoming even more important around the radio station. You’ve probably heard “We’re not just towers and transmitters anymore!”— and it’s true. A substantial number of listeners now listen to your station via streaming media, and if you haven’t already, it’s time to start paying close attention to the technical aspects of that product — actually, way past time.

This month, we have a couple of articles to address those concerns.

First, James Cridland (a regular contributor to our thrice-weekly e-newsletter) has an article about how digital radio stations in other corners of the world are splitting their programming part-time, using their digital streams. This isn’t something we really do in the U.S., though. It’s been tough enough to get listeners to pay attention to long-term HD Radio formats — but is it time to think out of the box? If we offer programming listeners can’t get access elsewhere, broadcasters should do all we can to make sure listeners know about it.

Audio processing considerations for streaming media makes up the topic of this month’s Trends in Technology column. Specialists discuss the fine details of what they’ve learned, and how to apply this knowledge. If you set up audio processing for streaming media, this is an article you’ll want to read.

Jason Ornellas recently showed us all about U Indy’s WICR and how they train future radio engineers. This month, in our Facility Showcase, Jason shows what he and his team have recently done at CBS Radio in Sacramento, where he serves as director of engineering. (Don’t tell me young people aren’t getting into this business!)

Chris Cottingham is back, discussing details of Dante AoIP system implementation. If you are not quite in a position to go with one of the bigger players, then this is an application you should consider.

In Tech Tips, we continue to talk about the art of troubleshooting.

Lee Petro’s FCC Update discusses details of political advertising.

We round out this month’s issue with the revered spot on the last page, Sign Off — home for the Wandering Engineer. Why do radio engineers become station historians? Is it simply because the transmitter site turns into the catch-all, and none of us can throw stuff out? Or is it because someone needs to tell the station’s story? You be the judge.

Doug Irwin, CPBE AMD DRB  | Technical Editor

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