At the end of January, the HD Digital Radio Alliance formed the Engineering Cooperative to assist the engineering community within the group's partners to share technical information and provide guidance on technical issues. Gary Kline, corporate director of engineering for Cumulus, leads this group.
Now that a few months have passed, we asked Kline to provide an update on the activities of the Engineering Cooperative.
Radio: The Engineering Cooperative of the HD Digital Radio Alliance recently provided input that modified the original station roll-out schedule. What factors were considered in making the recommended changes?
GK: We were asked to examine all HD Radio conversions scheduled for future dates in each of our respective companies. The goal was to decide if any dates could be moved to an earlier position in the schedule. For example, if a certain market was scheduled for October 2006, we were asked if it could be moved to perhaps June 2006. The idea was to help the alliance realign its roll-out schedule to coincide with market size so that larger markets could be launched sooner.
The main factors considered were technical obstacles and budgets. Specifically, we considered several questions: Was equipment already on order? Could equipment be swapped with another market? Were there any issues with leases, power, HVAC? Was sufficient labor in place to handle the work? Could any of these concerns be handled sooner rather than later? Was budget allocated for the market?
As a result of this effort, several markets were moved to earlier positions on the schedule. In some cases, no changes were made.
Radio: How was the information gathered and shared among the group?
GK: The directors of engineering of each alliance company participated via conference call and then e-mail to provide data on which stations in a market could move up in the schedule. All of this data was aggregated by the alliance management team and then a list was issued with adjusted roll-out dates. The entire process worked well from start to finish, and the Engineering Cooperative proved to be a great resource in researching the needed information efficiently.
Radio: What is the primary activity of the cooperative right now?
GK: Currently, the cooperative is in an information-sharing mode. We continue to share documents and notes about installations, equipment and ongoing research.