AM-band HD Radio bit rate

Aaron Read
Fri Apr 3 15:10:17 EDT 2009

Short answer?  No, it won't "save" AM.  Nor will HD Radio "save" FM. 
Not in the way you're presumably implying...that AM/FM radio is "under 
attack" from iPods, webcasting and satellite radio.

The two things that make media competitive with other media are content 
and convenience.  Radio still has a substantial edge in the convenience 
department (especially if you factor "ubiquitousness" in there). 
Granted, iPods have a different edge but they still require a lot of 
work on the front end to get all the music in there in the first place.

Unfortunately, radio has ridden the convenience advantage at the expense 
of the content advantage, which - generally speaking - iPods, webcasts 
and satradio all beat MOST radio handily on.  As the other media get 
more and more convenient, radio will lose market share.

HD Radio will not change that alone.  But what it WILL do is provide 
additional flexibility to allow for more enhanced content than analog 
radio alone can.  Much like how TV started out as "radio with pictures", 
over time we'll gradually see HD Radio's digital flexibility leveraged 
in new and interesting ways to enhance the core content.

In a sense, that does mean HD Radio is providing parity to the 
advantages (especially in metadata) that other digital 
iPods, etc...all have.

As for AM HD Radio, the technical problems with the core technology are 
substantial.  In my uninformed opinion, I don't think it'll survive on 
its own.  However, if a long-overdue purging of both the AM and FM bands 
of underperforming signals is done, and a subsequent massive reshuffling 
of signals between the bands is also done...I think you could get the AM 
band "clean enough" that the necessary 30kHz bandwidth of an AM HD Radio 
signal will not wreak havoc with adjacent signals.

Politically I'm not sure this is possible, but I can tell you that it IS 
possible technically...albeit if the NRSC-5 is scrapped and the Digital 
Radio Mondiale system adopted instead, along with a reallocation of TV 
Channels 5 and 6 to the FM band.  A comprehensive and viable migration 
plan was published in Radio World a few months ago.

Aaron Read                  |  Finger Lakes Public Radio       |  General Manager (WEOS & WHWS-LP)
Geneva, NY 14456            | /

Scott Fybush wrote:
 > My local WHAM is much more listenable in HD than in its
 > bandwidth-limited analog.

Could HD save AM?
Bill O

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