A Boston First?

Donna Halper dlh@donnahalper.com
Fri Aug 27 13:49:50 EDT 2004

At 11:36 PM 8/26/2004 -0400, you wrote:
> > A trivia Newsletter I receive claimed (on this date):
> >
> > In 1986, WGBH-FM in Boston became the first radio station
> > in the nation to broadcast in ultra-clear digital sound.

Well, the Globe doesn't give this claim much ink. It may have been a story 
they missed, or they may not have seen the significance of it, or maybe it 
didn't happen (what a shock!).  But for what it's worth, here is the one 
mention I was able to find, from the Boston Globe, 29 August 1985, p. 62:

WGBH-FM (89.7) is co-producing the Pittsburgh Symphony, under the direction 
of Lorin Maazel, live from the Salzburg Festival at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. It 
will mark the first American orchestra to be broadcast live as well as the 
first live digital transmission from the Austrian festival. The concert 
includes Benjamin Britten's "Sinfonia da Requiem," Igor Stravinsky's 
"Symphony in Three Movements" and Cesar Franck's Symphony in D Minor. 
According to Anita McFadden, WGBH Radio technical director, "After being 
digitally encoded in Austria, the program will be sent via international 
satellites directly to Boston, where the signal will be decoded and 
distributed over the National Public Radio domestic satellite system to the 
participating radio stat ions throughout the United States."

And in more technology news, although about TV as well as radio signals, 
this is from the Boston Globe, 5 October 1987:


Q. I've heard there is only one station in the United States which 
broadcasts a PCM (pulse code modulation) signal and that it is in Boston. 
What station is it? -- A.M., Brookline

A. Lynn DuVal of WGBH tells us WGBX (Channel 44) is indeed the only station 
in the country to carry the signal and has been doing so since Aug. 1, 
1986, under special license from the Federal Communications Commission. Ch. 
44, she explains, takes a raw radio signal, feeds it through a pulse code 
modulator and encodes the signal into "square snow," or digital audio 
(stereo), which cannot be heard on regular receivers. The station then 
combines the stereo signal with a regular monaural radio signal. About 100 
persons in the Ch. 44 broadcast area have pulse-code modulators. When they 
receive a visual signal on a videotape, to which they have connected their 
PCMs, they can decode the signal into clear, pure stereo audio, free from 
the usual hiss and other distractions, as it was originally fed into the 
Ch. 44 PCM. PCM broadcasts are aired weekdays from 11 p.m. to 11 a.m. and 
Saturdays and Sundays from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. If the Massachusetts House is 
in session, PCM broadcasts end whenever Ch. 44 begins live coverage of 
House activities.

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