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Radio AM to FM: April 12, 2002

Digital on the Move

Digital radio continues its trek toward reality as both the Consumer Electronics Association and the National Association of Broadcasters have endorsed the Ibiquity broadcasting system in comments filed with the FCC. Additionally, while the standard has not been set -- there is an amazing system designed in Europe called DRM that competes with Ibiquity's AM system -- Alpine Electronics plans to integrate Ibiquity's system into its line of aftermarket radios by January, 2003.

Both Ibiquity and DRM use a system called in-band on-channel, which transmits a digital signal along with the analog, giving both AM and FM a boost in sound quality.

At least during the day. Limitations in the Ibiquity AM system are causing engineers studying it to recommend that the system be adopted in the United States, but only for daytime use. Nighttime use may cause interference, one engineer said. Interestingly, this complaint has not been lodged against DRM, which was designed to be used with Europe's closer AM station spacing.

In any event, Ibiquity is so convinced its system will be selected as the standard that it is already planning its licensing fee schedule. Costs range up to $70,000 for stations in large markets in addition to any equipment purchases.


Radio engineers -- the people who work tirelessly behind the scenes to keep your favorite stations on the air -- are the one stable force in radio. They never leave a station unless the owner is too cheap to pay what they're worth. Many stay even then.

Richard Rudman has been with KFWB since 1975 ... or about three owners if you're keeping track. He's retiring this month after a very successful run with the station.

"On my watch we have been challenged by major brush fires, power failures, earthquakes, riots and more," he told industry newspaper Radio World. "And through it all, we stayed on the air.

"Since March of 1968 KFWB made and kept a promise of what we could do when bad things happen in a great city. The Engineering Department I have had the singular honor to lead kept KFWB on the air to keep that promise. For all those engineers, you made it happen. I am proud beyond words to have been part of this."

Readers Revenge

Few wrote in to suggest their own Radio Achievement Categories, but the mailbag was full of comments just the same.

"I was happy to see Doug McIntyre as Best Overnight Personality. I agree!" says reader Dolores Kaemerle via the internet. "Will you interview him at a local spot? That way some of us could attend."

Mike Palmer commented on the sad lack of being able to select a single station of the year. KYSR does OK, he says, "But do we really need to hear Five For Fighting's 'Superman' song after eight months?"

Douglas from Orange County added, "I know what's wrong. It's the music. I can't believe how lame, recycled and unoriginal the pop music scene is. This goes for urban, pop, AC and country. Excuse me while I plug in this cassette ..." (Cassette???)

Leslie from Torrance asks, "Why didn't you give an award for Worst Owner? Clear Channel has that one wrapped."

It's because I'm a kinder, gentler critic this year, Leslie.


Copyright © 2002 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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