Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Switch and Bait!

Boulder-area 88.1-FM KVOD listener reports (and complains) about his HD radio coverage in the north metro Denver area. Just so you know, HD dropouts are VERY common at the edge of the analog coverage area, which is why HD radio gamers -- like iBiquity Corporation, NPR and NPR Member Stations -- are asking that the FCC boost the signal of HD radio broadcasters. Right now, the limit is 1% of the analog signal. HD radio supporters want 10%.

Colorado Public Radio, KCFR on 90.1-FM, broadcasts at a maximum of 44,000 watts (actually 34,000 watts because of their radio frequency "hot spots" at the base of Lookout Mountain, where their antenna is located). So, their maximum HD radio power is 1% of that; 340 to 400 watts. So, if your HD radio cannot "lock on" to a clear signal, it just drops out completely. Stephen Vahl of Superior, Colorado has done his homework, and has written a pretty succinct letter to the editor of the Boulder Daily Camera explaining what all listeners can expect of KVOD just north of Denver. I wonder what other listeners are hearing -- or not?

The potential drawback to allowing HD radio broadcasters to increase power output to 10% of analog strength is FM (analog) interference to stations adjacent to HD radio channels. For Colorado Public Radio, this would mean increase to KVOD on 90.1-FM HD2 could interfere with stations on the dial to its immediate left and right -- in short, other non-commercial broadcasters in and around Denver.

So, how many classical KVOD listeners are going to heed his advice " . . . not to run out and buy an HD Radio thinking that will fix things," and " . . . to encourage them to stop donations to Colorado Public Radio until this situation improves."? Makes you wonder why didn't Colorado Public Radio executives just come clean with listeners in the first place? Instead, they hoped to persuade you with wiggly advice like this.

To be fair, CPR doesn't guarantee that HD is a solution -- just suggests that it may be a option. And for your local public radio station, that amount of broadcast clarity is about all classical radio listeners can expect. Gotcha!

13 comments:

PocketRadio said...

"Upping HD Radio signal strengths"

"The short math given what we know today is that it will cost roughly double on the transmission end to increase HD Radio FM power tenfold. There are likely to be additional costs for cooling and air handling as well, in order to dissipate the excess energy required to get out another 10 dB in HD Radio signal. And, for some higher powered stations, existing HD Radio configurations may not be able to handle the power load, which could add to the cost and complexity of increasing HD Radio beyond its current power level... Also worth considering is existing transmitter combiner technology and whether or not it can support the added demands of increasing HD Radio broadcasts another 10 dB. If not, then it’s very likely that stations at the higher power levels will need to factor in a new antenna system that can support HD Radio, rather than piggyback onto their existing FM antenna system. At the higher powers, especially, an immediate 10 dB increase in HD Radio signal may be cost prohibitive... This will typically mean the addition of another similarly rated transmitter (using a combining technique) or the purchase of a new transmitter of roughly twice today’s power level."

http://www.rbr.com/features/intel_briefs/hd_radio_signal_bealor_cavell.html

"How Far Does the Digital Go?"

"Public radio wants to know how far its digital signals are going, and how susceptible to interference neighboring analog stations are. So the Corporation for Public Broadcasting commissioned NPR Labs to conduct a series of tests to find out... While an IBOC power increase would most benefit home listening, the resulting increased interference would likely hurt analog mobile coverage, Kean told Radio World... Increasing the IBOC power level from the current –20 dB to –10 dB causes a substantially larger amount of interference, including a larger number of stations that may lose 50 percent of their analog service population on a noise-limited service basis, according to Kean’s findings. He considers his approach different from how HD Digital Radio Alliance stations tested elevated power levels, on which we’ve reported."

http://www.rwonline.com/pages/s.0049/t.14274.html

Good-luck affording the 10db power increase, if approved. Just like with having to purchase multiple HD radios, because of future RadioGuard and previous multicasting, more rounds of HD equipment would be required - this scam is only for the benefit of iBiquity and HD hardware manufacturers.

Shoshana said...

I have to say that it saddens me that classical music stations are really getting the short end of the stick. I used to live in Chicago where they went from 3-4 stations and now they are down to one main station, WFMT.

Part of the issue is the fact that people are not going out and enjoying classical music live to see the value first hand. Maybe if we can get people to experience a classical music concert, listening to classical music on the radio would increase as well.

I am going to shamelessly plug a gem in Boulder, the Colorado Music Festival. It is an easy and accessible way to experience live classical music in a very informal and beautiful summer setting, the Chautauqua Auditorium. Here is what is coming up:

July 17 & 18--Symphony Virtuoso with Larry Rachleff
An evening of symphonic power with guest conductor Larry Rachleff (music director of the San Antonio Symphony and Rhode Island Philharmonic) and the CMF Festival Orchestra. Includes Berlioz's Corsaire Overture, Barber's Symphony No. 1, Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun and Stravinsky's masterful Firebird Suite.

July 20-- Michael Christie conducts with Bjorn Ranheim, cello
Michael Christie will conduct the CMF Chamber Orchestra in a program featuring CMF's principal cello, Bjorn Ranheim performing Haydn's Cello Concerto in D major. Also on the program is Dvorak's Serenade for Strings.

July 22--Project
Innovative chamber ensemble Project plays a fusion of jazz, hip-hop, world and classical music. Also on the program is Mendelssohn's Octet in E-flat Major for Strings performed by CMF orchestra musicians.

Two Samples to watch:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBnB4L...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6enML...

July 24 & 25--Enemy Slayer: A Navajo Oratorio
Don't miss this Colorado premiere of the monumental Enemy Slayer: A Navajo Oratorio by composer Mark Grey and Navajo poet Laura Tohe, featuring the Phoenix Symphony Chorus, baritone Daniel Belcher and awe-inspiring photography from Deborah O'Grady. This premiere will be complemented by talks, film and other explorations related to the piece. The Oratorio was commissioned by the Phoenix Symphony in celebration of their 60th concert season.

July 27--Tapage
The CMF Chamber Orchestra with conductor Michael Christie, and contemporary tap duo Tapage, perform works by Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas and Argentinean composer Astor Piazzolla. It's the rhythms of Latin America combined with intense, complex choreography.
http://www.tapage.org/

If anyone is interested, there is a promo code sale for these concerts. You can use CMFSF08 when purchasing tickets and get 25% off. Here is the ticket information:

1. Purchase online: http://coloradomusicfest.frontgatetic...

2. Purchase by phone: Call 303-440-7666 Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Have your Visa or MasterCard number ready)

3. Purchase in person at the CMF Box Office: located in the kiosk on the Chautauqua grounds (900 Baseline, Boulder), Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Until we can be comfortable with getting the message of experiencing classical music and its benefits into the mainstream community, classical music radio stations are going to continue to have an uphill battle. I do hope that we can turn all of this around. Life just wouldn't be life without classical music!

ads4u said...

http://coloradomusicfest.frontgatetickets.com/
http://www.coloradomusicfest.org

Jimmy James Jr. said...

Readers,

Thanks for all the great comments!

JJJ

Anonymous said...

I see on CPR's website that they are giving away an HD radio. In this regard, at least, CPR is ahead of the curve. Nobody is buying the HD radio concept so I can imagine that inventory is high for these units. Best to start giving them away now and get them off the books. Listening to HD radio is like watching your Betamax video tapes on a plasma TV.

Jimmy James Jr. said...

Shoshana,

We at CPRB love the Colorado Music Festival and Chautauqua Auditorium. The problem with classical music from KVOD is that, with the exception of live concerts and Colorado Spotlight, pretty much sucked. It was mostly the "Best of" classical music when Colorado Public Radio was part of the Classical Public Radio Network. In other words, much of it sounded like classical radio MUZAK. Hopefully, now that CPR has unloaded the CPRN experiment, KVOD will get better; unfortunately, just in time to lose out to an inferior signal at 88.1-FM.

Thanks again for the post. KCFR and KVOD are not shy about shameless promos, so we are glad to accept yours.

JJJ

Jimmy James Jr. said...

Anonymous,

Maybe HD radio would have sold better if they had called it Plasma Radio!


JJJ

Anonymous said...

HDOA Radio

Anonymous said...

An HD radio will make a fine boat anchor.

bobyoung said...

HD radio is a loser, it blocks adjacents, cuts receiver range severely, is expensive and the kicker: Despite what proponants say, it doesn't sound any better than analog and with two channels running, HD-1 and HD-2 they both sound worse than MP3 players, real lo-fi.

Oh, and Stephen Vahl if you do want to receive the HD channel in your car try a nice 50 ft yagi antenna cut for the FM band on the roof of your car, just watch out for bridges.

Bob Young
Millbury, MA

Jimmy James Jr. said...

PocketRadio and Bob Young,

Thanks for all the technical details regarding HD. I am sure our readers appreciate it. I know that I do.

JJJ

Anonymous said...

I thought you might find this of interest. In a recent Reuters articles entitled, “HD Digital Radio Alliance Expands Marketing Campaign to Convert Consumer Awareness…” An HD Alliance spokesman claims an exponential growth in traffic to HDRadio.com. I feel this statement maybe misleading, without actual numbers who knows what they actually mean?
“The Alliance also revealed that traffic to HDRadio.com continues to grow exponentially, with the number of page views so far in 2008 exceeding that of 2006, the site’s first year.” Wouldn’t this be true if they had 1 hit in 2006 and then 7 hits in 2008 isn’t that exponential growth?

http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS86566+30-Jun-2008+PRN20080630

This started me thinking Google Trends (G/T) charts how often a particular search term is entered relative the total search volume across various regions of the world, and in various languages. I understand this is not a definitive method but in the absence of actual numbers it could be a rough indicator of actual interest. Look what happens when you use G/T to look up the site
http://www.hdradio.com:

“Your terms - http://www.hdradio.com - do not have enough search volume to show graphs.”

http://www.google.com/trends?q=www.hdradio.com&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all&sort=0

Then I thought, “Who googles a web address”? But, if you try http://www.ipod.com, http://www.sirius.com or http://www.xmradio.com they all come back graphed with results. I think the HD spinster may be laying it on a bit thick I find it hard to believe that http://www.hdradio.com generates no G/T data yet they’ve had “meaningful” growth over two years. To be fair the term HD radio does create Gtrend data, but if you compare it against its competitors like Sirius, XM or Ipod it is obvious that HD is HDOA.

http://www.google.com/trends?q=hd+radio%2Csirius%2Cxm%2Cipod&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all

Why is this? After all HDR content is free while providers like satellite radio and Ipods are based on paid content yet paid providers generate far and away more internet “Buzz”. The only Buzz HDR creates is the interference it causes to adjacent stations. "Digital Wireless Telegraph" is a more apt moniker

HD Radio® Farce said...

Well, isn't it nice that someone took it upon themselves to remove my earlier comments, ehich I was thanked for. What a sham. I would suggest that you read my blog to get a good luck at this HD Radio scam:

http://hdradiofarce.blogspot.com