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Radio AM to FM: January 14, 2000

Kenwood displays new IBOC receiver

CD-quality audio from your favorite radio station -- AM or FM -- got a little bit closer to reality last week when USA Digital Radio (USADR) displayed a concept "in-band, on-channel" (IBOC) digital receiver developed by Kenwood Corporation at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas.

USADR's digital system is one of two competing on-channel digital broadcast systems, in-band on-channel meaning that the digital signal is sent right along with the regular analog signal. According to plan, the digital signal eventually replaces the analog signal and our radio listening becomes a total hi-fi treat.

Or so they say. Digital isn't perfect, and occasionally you might hear nothing instead of some static. But the systems are constantly evolving and should be fairly reliable by the time they finally reach the market.

In the case of Kenwood and USADR, the concept goes a step further, combining digital audio along with data services displayed on the front panel of the radio. Song and artist information, local traffic and news are just some of the ideas being planned for USADR's data system.

The receiver looks just like a "regular" car radio, but features an enlarged display for the data services. It actually looks quite impressive, although I have yet to hear one for myself.

"The Kenwood concept receiver shows what the future of radio will look like," said USADR president Robert J. Struble. "Radio will no longer be a simple audio device; it will become an integrated provider of entertainment and on-demand information services."

IBOC is one of the primary reasons that I don't buy the arguements for broadcast radio going away very soon, as some have predicted. People like live radio; people like local radio. They also don't want to pay for their radio programming, especially when there are so many choices already available on the dial. As much as I detest what deregulation and conglomorate owners have done to radio overall, it is still one of the most popular of all entertainment products.

With increased audio quality on both AM and FM, I just don't see internet or satellite radio making much of a dent in "regular" broadcasting for a long time to come.


According to Los Angeles radio historian Don Barrett, KNX (1070 AM) will begin broadcasting the "Radio Hall Of Fame Hour," Friday and Saturday nights at 10 beginning this week following the KNX Drama Hour and CBS News On The Hour. The format will include radio shows from the "golden age," and will be similar to the very popular KNX Drama Hour, which also features shows of this era.

The programs are considered some of the "best of" and include "Challenge Of The Yukon," "Sherlock Holmes," and "Vic & Sade," to name a few.


Copyright © 2000 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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