Video: A DJ's take on HD Radio™ programming

By

Zak Billmeier

Zak Billmeier grew up in southern Vermont and coastal Maine. After graduating from Mary Washington College with a Geography degree he still isn't sure quite what to do with, he eventually settled in the mountains of Central Virginia. He spends his free time chasing his daughter around, taking pictures, gardening and cooking. Zak traces the roots of his interest in electronic gadgets to the Casio wristwatch with a built-in calculator he received as a gift one year as a child. He joined Crutchfield's car A/V team in 2007.

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Brad, a DJ at 106.1 The Corner in Charlottesville, VA, tells us why he's so excited for the future of HD Radio. He likes the sound quality advantages, and thinks there is a lot of potential in multicasting, which lets radio stations publish additional content on the same radio frequency.

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Video Transcript

Zak: Okay, we're here with Brad Savage today. Brad's a DJ for a local radio station, 106.1 The Corner, and you guys broadcast an HD Radio signal.

Brad: That's correct.

Zak: What does that mean?

Brad: HD Radio basically means a higher quality output signal. A more digital-based broadcast. So what it's gonna mean is instead of being a staticky signal that kind of cuts in and out a little bit like we're used to on FM, it'll make the station sound a little more crystal clear. More like what you're used to listening to on, you know, CDs at home or on your MP3 or iPod at home.

And for AM stations is where it's really a significant difference. Where AM stations, instead of sounding like this like we're used to in the old days, it makes it sound more like what we'd traditionally think of as like an FM radio broadcast.

Zak: So the sound quality certainly is something that we've been talking about, but what's something we might not know about it?

Brad: Well the neat thing about HD, and more and more cities are starting to do this, and that is the multicast broadcast. And that means more bandwidth on the actual broadcast signal. Stations can then have, for instance us, we're 106.1. You can have a 106.1-2 kind of like on an HD television where there can be an additional channel, or sometimes two or three additional channels, on one station frequency for additional programming. Other playlists or other formats of music, or an FM re-broadcast of the AM news station or something like that. So there's a ton of potential.

As a broadcaster, that's what I'm really excited about, is having additional stations that you would need to get an HD Radio to listen to, but it would be additional programming and maybe more varied and eclectic and diverse programming — lesser known artists. You could have an all-local-music channel, or an all-indie-music channel, or things like that. Some stations are starting to do that, especially in certain large cities and major markets.

But it'll end up making radio more exciting because you hear a lot of people talk about how radio sounds the same in a lot of cities or they just play the biggest hits over and over and over. So here's a new frontier where they can take some chances again. And, you know, and then consumers just need to get the radios in their cars or at home and make, or even over the internet. I mean, if you have an iPhone now you can stream a lot of them too.

Zak: That's true. A lot of those additional streams are available.

Brad: Are online or even have their own apps now or all that so. Yeah!

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