HD radio on the horizon but not a replacement

By Liz Lavin
April 19, 2007

Radio has taken a backseat to the modern technology of today. Everyone seems to have an iPod, a CD player in their car or would just rather listen to their music elsewhere.

However, radio is not going down without a fight. They are keeping up with the times and recently started advertising their latest technology, HD radio.

“HD” does not, in fact, stand for “high-definition.” Though the sound that HD radio produces is of much better quality than a regular analog signal, the title “HD” is just a brand name for iBiquity Digital Corporation, which invented the technology, according to USA Today.

The HD radio technology has been around since 2002, but was not advertised until recently.

According to Derek Jones, adjunct professor and assistant station manager for Rowan University’s radio, there was no need to push HD radio until now.

“There was no significant reason for regular radio to have [HD] because there was no competition from satellite radio,” he said in an interview with the Loquitur.

Now, the competition is on.

“I like the concept of HD. Satellite takes out the localism,” Heather Shanley, general manager of 89.1 WYBF The Burn, Cabrini’s radio station, said. “With satellite, there aren’t many spots for on-air DJs.”

Shanley and Jones agree that satellite still has a leg-up on HD because satellite radio is subscription so it does not follow as many Federal Communications Commission regulations and the cost of installing a HD system is extremely expensive. The programming for HD radio is free, but the installation is not.

HD radio is guaranteed to have no static, pops, crackles or fades.

A normal radio uses an analog signal and when the signal is sent out, it can bounce off of buildings or anything else in its way and distort the sound. HD radio sends out a “piggyback” to the analog signal, which guarantees that the sound will not be dropped. So, AM stations have FM quality and FM stations have CD quality, according to about.com.

While many national radio stations have started airing in HD, the trend has not hit everywhere yet. Right now it is almost impossible for colleges to make the switch.

“Not even all of Philadelphia’s stations are in HD,” Jones said. “I think it would be very difficult for college radio to be.”

Shanley agreed, estimating that it would cost no less than $20,000 for Cabrini to switch to HD.

While it will probably be years before colleges start operating in HD, the idea of it is still nice.

“If Cabrini had HD2 (another version of HD),” Shanley said, “we could still have music, but if there was a sports game, we could air that too.”

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Liz Lavin

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