Reports filtering in from NAB's annual Radio Show in Philadelphia confirmed a general expectation that attendance would be on the light side due to budget compression brought on by the sagging economy and bleak revenue repots. But what the show might have lacked in terms of shoes in the aisles, it made up for in some new looks at -- and lively debate about -- recent developments in HD Radio:
Naturally all ears were on talk of the preliminary results pf NPR's research project on the potential impact of an IBOC digital carrier increase on first adjacent analog reception. Reports from a joint session that featured Jeff Detweiller from Ibiquity Digital and NPR's Mike Starling described the atmosphere as tense. One attendee noted that even though there were suggestions that NPR and Ibiquity had agreed on an acceptable level for an across-the board increase, there was no clear evidence of such a consensus at the session. At a meeting of public radio engineers earlier in the week, the term sobering was used to describe some of the findings of the NPR/Towson study.
On a lighter note, one walk-up attraction was a prototype demo of NAB's Fastroad HD Radio Electronic Program Guide (EPG). Staffed by project team representatives from BIA Advisory Services, Broadcast Signal Lab, and Unique Interactive, the display booth gave visitors a look at just what an HD Radio EPG display might look like, as well as some insights into the considerable intricacies of EPG technology.
Of course, Microsoft's new Zune HD's were on prominent display -- as well as on the hip of some better-heeled technoratti at the show. Who would have ever thought that digital radios would look so good and feel so cool? Coming in a year where there was very little for radio professionals to smile about, that just had to be the sweetest spot in the show.