IBOC Update - Dec 22, 2004

December 22, 2004


  • Public Radio Takes IBOC into Orbit
  • HD Radio Set to Shine at CES
  • Greater Media to Go All IBOC in 2005
  • NPR to Ring in 2005 with Historic NPR Surround Broadcast”
  • Radio Korea Tests IBOC Digital Audio SCA on Analog FM
  • Public Radio's WFAE Orders Full HD Radio Package in Charlotte
  • BBC Bullish on DAB Receiver Sales
  • IBOC Across America: Iowa
  • HD Radio Terminology

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    Public Radio Takes IBOC into Orbit
    In an effort to kill two birds with one stone, the University of Massachusetts' WUMB-FM in Boston is now testing the feasibility of serving multiple transmitter sites with an HD Radio data stream relayed via a standard-format digital SCPC satellite link.

    This innovative technology adaptation is being hailed by observers for two reasons: First it addresses the needs of public broadcasters looking for an economical way to provide the higher bandwidth STLs necessitated by HD Radio adoption to multiple transmitter sites, some of which may be scattered over wide geographic areas. Second, the transmission of precoded HD Radio data may help avoid one of the emerging pariahs of HD Radio – degraded program audio resulting from multiple layers of digital coding.

    In a team effort, Public Radio Satellite Services' Mike Kirk and WUMB Chief Engineer Grady Moates have successfully tested transmission of a fully encoded HD Radio signal provided by a Broadcast Electronics XPI10 exporter over a standard 200kb/s SCPC satellite link using uni-directional UDP Internet Protocol for maximal throughput capacity. The result is an affordable link from WUMB's studio to its five transmitter sites using off-the-shelf components – with all PAD and ancillary data intact – and without the need for any sample rate or coding conversions.

    Interest in this unique approach is likely to be shared by commercial groups with multiple outlets in small markets as well as by other public radio operators, particularly those who operate several transmitters in rural and mountainous districts where RF point-to-point links are problematic and leased data circuits can be expensive or impossible to obtain.


    BBC Bullish on DAB Receiver Sales
    Thanks to a Christmas buying surge, sales of digital radio sets in the UK will likely hit the one million benchmark sometime around Jan. 1, the BBC has predicted. Earlier this year, it was estimated that DAB sales could reach one million sometime in 2005, but figures leading into October showed more than 800,000 sold before the holiday buying season officially opened, suggesting the end-of-year total will exceed that figure.

    The announcement comes as the BBC's report on the future of DAB, recently submitted to the British government, suggests that the industry and the public are not yet ready for a complete digital switchover. The report recommends government review of digital radio's progress in three years before making a firm date for phasing out analog transmissions.

    The report reiterates the corporation's belief that Eureka 147 DAB is the only technology that will convert consumers from analog to digital radio, and that the government must explore ways to support and encourage the expansion of DAB receiver manufacture and sales.

    The BBC is also calling on manufacturers to develop a set of uniform, certifiable performance standards for digital radios to ensure customer satisfaction.

    Public Radio's WFAE Orders Full HD Radio Package in Charlotte
    WFAE, Charlotte's NPR news station, has placed an order for a complete studio/transmitter HD Radio equipment package in preparation for NPR's planned implementation of Tomorrow Radio. The public broadcaster is targeting a February 2005 HD Radio on-air date.

    Using second-tier HD Radio funds by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the NPR station will acquire two Broadcast Electronics FMI HD Radio transmitters with FXI 60 digital FM exciters for HD Radio conversion of its main signal on 90.7 FM and its outlying station, WFHE 90.3 in nearby Hickory, NC.

    Each station also will get a new BE XPI 10 exporter unit in anticipation of secondary audio services becoming available at a later date. "We're trying to get as many steps down the road toward NPR's Tomorrow Radio as we can,” said WFAE/WFHE Director of Engineering Jobie Sprinkle.

    For transmission, WFAE will operate its digital and analog transmitters into a dual-input panel antenna. Its repeater station will use a single HD Radio transmitter to transmit the analog and digital signal into an existing antenna.

    Instead of transporting analog audio and both digital channels separately at full bandwidth, the station will use XPI10 exporters to multiplex all programming content into a single stream from the studio and over STL to the transmitter site. In anticipation of new datacasting services, the public broadcaster also plans to upgrade its Audiovault for compatibility with Content Depot, a new content delivery system to be implemented in 2005 by NPR's Distribution division that is being developed and deployed as a primary source of program text data.

    HD Radio Set to Shine at CES
    Broadcast industry leaders from Bonneville, Clear Channel, Cox, Entercom and Radio One will lay out their nation-wide HD Radio conversion plans during a press conference on Wednesday Jan. 5, 2005, at 2:00 p.m. PST at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

    Among the spokespersons slated to gather for the conference at Ibiquity Digital's booth #4823 are Entercom's David Field, Neill Johnston of Cox Radio, Clear Channel's Jeff Littlejohn, along with Bruce Reese from Bonneville broadcasting, and Radio One's Scott Royster and Linda Vilardo.

    Setting the tone for the event will be an array of HD Radio related technology, including several vehicles, supplied by BMW and Toyota, equipped with original equipment manufacturer (OEM), aftermarket and advanced application HD Radio products. Also on display will be Boston Acoustics new tabletop HD Radio product for the home and office along with a "Wall of Radios" featuring 2005 HD Radio aftermarket automotive receiver lines from Alpine, Delphi, Eclipse, JVC, Kenwood, Panasonic, Sanyo and Visteon.

    NPR will also be featured in the Ibiquity booth with demonstrations of the Tomorrow Radio project including Supplemental Audio Services broadcast live from local radio station KCNV-FM.

    Highlighting HD Radio's telematics applications will be live demonstrations of traffic information broadcasts originating from local radio station KSTJ-FM. The data will be received and displayed on an actual vehicle navigation system in real time.

    Two panel discussions at CES 2005 are sure to draw the attention of radio industry insiders and media alike. The first, entitled Audio Shootout, will be held on Thursday, Jan. 6, and will focus on how the explosion of streaming audio choices is likely to impact the market for consumers, content creators and service providers alike. Panelists will include Robert Struble, Ibiquity Digital's President Gabe Hobbs; VP of Programming, Clear Channel Radio, Hugh Panero; CEO, XM Satellite Radio; and Joseph Clayton, Chairman, Sirius Satellite Radio.

    The second panel discussion is scheduled for Fri. Jan. 7 and will examine new technologies and developments in the field of automotive telematics. Entitled Plug in and Drive: Automotive Electronics – Consumer Technologies, the panelists will prognosticate on how telematics promise to transform our cars into electronic homes away from home. Panelists will include Robert Struble, president of Ibiquity Digital, along with Robert Borchers who is director, Ipod automobile integration of Apple Computer, and Stephen Witt who is vice president of brand marketing, Alpine Electronics of America.

    For the second consecutive year, Ibiquity Digital has been named an honoree in the CES Innovations Design and Engineering Awards in the category of Software/Embedded Technologies. Ibiquity has been nominated for its Supplemental Audio Services (SAS) technology, which allows FM radio stations to broadcast multiple streams of programming over a single frequency, thereby expanding the diversity of content available to consumers.

    Eye on IBOC

    Greater Media to Go All IBOC in 2005
    Radio owner Greater Media has announced a firm commitment to have all of its 19 outlets nationwide operating in Ibiquity Digital's HD Radio format by the end of next year. The company claims to have been one of HD Radio's early adopters, and currently operate with the system on all of its properties in the Boston market. According to President Peter Smyth, Greater Media has shared a long partnership with Ibiquity in HD Radio's development and is looking forward to deploying the technology on two of its Detroit holdings, WRIF and WCSX. WMGC, a companion station in the Motor City, has been broadcasting an HD signal for several years.

    Other markets in which the company intends to complete IBOC conversion include New Jersey.

    HD Radio Terminology

    The language of HD Radio

    MPEG-2 AAC: Advanced Audio Coder; a high-quality, low bit-rate perceptual audio coding system developed jointly by AT&T, Dolby Laboratories, Fraunhofer IIG and Sony.

    Multipath: an RF reception condition in which a radio signal reaching a receiving antenna arrives by multiple paths due to reflections of the signal off of various surfaces in the environment. By traveling different distances to the receiver, the reflections arrive with different time delays and signal strengths. When multipath conditions are great enough, analog reception of FM radio broadcasts is affected in a variety of ways, including stop-light fades, picket fencing and distortion of the received audio.

    IBOC Across America

    IBOC by state: Iowa

    Ibiquity has a list of stations that have licensed HD Radio technology and notes those that are on the air now. IBOC by State will look at various states and list the stations that are making the transition.

    Station Format Market Owner On Air
    KBBG-FM 88.1 Educational Waterloo-Cedar Falls Afro American Community Broadcasting, Inc. No
    KCCK-FM 88.3 Jazz Cedar Rapids Kirkwood Community College No
    KMRY-AM 1450 Adlt Stndrd Cedar Rapids Sellers Broadcasting - KMRY Yes
    KOJI-FM 90.7 Classical Sioux City Western Iowa Tech Community College No
    KSUI-FM 91.7 Classical Iowa City University of Iowa No
    KWIT-FM 90.3 Classical Sioux City Western Iowa Tech Community College No
    KZIA-FM 102.9 CHR Cedar Rapids KZIA, Inc. Yes
    WSUI-AM 910 News/Info Iowa City University of Iowa No


    NPR to Ring in 2005 with Historic NPR Surround Broadcast
    Mike Pappas of Denver's KUVO Public Radio, has developed considerable expertise in the recording and broadcast of live music performances in 5.1 surround during the past few years. And in just a few days, National Public Radio (NPR) hopes to leverage that experience, and the support of several key vendors, into a historic live New Year's Eve broadcast special encoded in true 5.1 surround sound using Neural Audio's 5225 watermark system.

    "Toast of the Nation," an NPR New Year's Eve hallmark for 25 years running, will be broadcast live not only by 100-plus NPR member stations, but also by Sirius satellite radio, NPR Worldwide and radio stations in Europe, including Radio France. Beginning early on Dec.31, with a stereo live jazz performance from Paris, France, NPR will join Parisians ringing in 2005 at the renowned jazz spot Club Sunside.

    The United States portion of the broadcast will begin in Boston with the Donald Harrison Quintet live from Berklee College of Music at 7:00 p.m. (EST) on Dec. 31, and continues across the United States, featuring performances first from Boston, New York and Washington, DC, a juke joint in Mississippi, and a Latin jazz extravaganza in Denver before ending in the early hours of New Year's Day at the legendary Yoshi's Jazz Club in Oakland, CA. Plans call for all of the stateside venues to provide 5.1 surround mixes via codecs operating over bonded ISDN circuits.

    Mike Starling, NPR's vice president of engineering, sees the event as the culmination of NPR's long-term commitment to the surround format. With the large number of venues scattered over great distances, he estimates that as many as 40 people will be directly involved with the technical layer of the production. But NPR won't be going it alone, as Blue Sky, DK-Technologies America, Harris, and Neural Audio have all committed technological resources to the groundbreaking event.

    According to Pappas, KUVO's contribution to "Toast of the Nation" will feature the Latin Giants of Jazz, formerly led by the late Latin percussion legend, Tito Puente, a band that features four trombone, five saxophone and five trumpets – and a surround mixing opportunity with awesome potential. In preparation for the broadcast, Pappas is conducting seminars on mixing and codec techniques for engineers and producers at NPR's headquarters in Washington, DC.


    Radio Korea Tests IBOC Digital Audio SCA on Analog FM
    Just as U.S. broadcasters thought they had heard the last challenge to Ibiquity Digital's inside track on domestic IBOC digital FM broadcasting, reports have surfaced that Digital Radio Express has tested its Fme Xtra digital SCA system on one of Radio Korea's analog FM stations with favorable results.

    According to the manufacturer, the system provides an additional independent stream of data to provide more programming or additional data services for IBOC FM broadcasters without sacrificing any bits from the main data channel. For analog FM broadcasters, the company claims the new technology provides sufficient bandwidth to accommodate MP4 digital audio at 96kb/s —- thus providing high quality digital broadcast capabilities in addition to the existing analog programming—while still utilizing existing analog transmission systems.

    While the details remain sketchy at this point, Lyle Henry, a broadcast engineering consultant known for his expertise with FM SCA, is said to have been involved in the Radio Korea test and is currently exploring on-air trial opportunities with FM broadcast stations in the Los Angeles area.

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