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Radio AM to FM: May 2, 2003

Satellite Radio for your PC

XM Satellite Radio has released a new XM radio receiver. For your computer.

Not to be confused with an internet stream player, the XM PC receiver still gets its signal straight from the satellite. But special software allows you to control it with your PC, and you can instantly see what's playing on any of the 100 or so channels right on your computer screen. In addition, if you enter in your favorite bands, the software will alert you whenever they are played on any of the available channels.

Retail cost is $70. The receiver will begin shipping today for Windows computers; Macintosh and Linux compatibility will be coming in the near future.

Marathon Results

The big 36-hour KNX/KRTH (1070 AM/101.1 FM) radio marathon last weekend raised over $200,000, with funds earmarked for expansion and renovation of the Bob Hope Hollywood USO at the Los Angeles International Airport.

No word on why a Hollywood USO is located at LAX.

Marathon II

KRLA (870 AM) was in Oceanside yesterday for its own marathon, raising money to help support families of military servicemen and women serving in Iraq.

The station, along with other Salem talk radio stations across the country, joined forces with Feed the Children for this event. Many of our military personnel are reservists or members of the National Guard, and in leaving their civilian jobs to serve in the military have found their pay reduced up to 50% while in active duty. With a fundraising goal of $1 million, the organizers hope to offset those reductions; the final figures were not available by the time this column was printed.

Play Thing

KPCC (89.3 FM) celebrates Cinco de Mayo early tomorrow with a special late edition (due to station fundraising) of The Play's the Thing, 9 PM to 11 PM.

Called Culture Clash in Bordertown, the play takes a "seriocomic" look at the San Diego/Tijuana region and explores the area's unique character through satire and humor. The production is written and performed by Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas and Herbert Siguenza ... better known as the comedy troupe Culture Clash.

Time Change

KLAC (570 AM) has changed their schedule a bit, so my mention a few weeks ago of local artists on Fabulous Finds needs a quick correction. Fabulous Finds is now heard Sundays at 7 PM, followed by Frank and Friends from 8 to 10.

Improvement Update

In-band, on-channel digital radio has been hyped for years as the future of radio, giving FM supposed "CD quality" sound and AM "FM quality" sound.

Sound samples that I have heard make those claims dubious, at best, though work continues on the system. What turns out to be exciting is the renewed interest in broadcast quality itself, including a system from Motorola called "Symphony" that works in a radio receiver to digitally process a regular analog AM signal -- mono or stereo -- to clean up interference and noise and leave a full-sounding high-fidelity broadcast.

Let me be clear: I have not heard the Symphony system myself, though I have heard samples from another company with a competing design that sounds absolutely fabulous.

The advantage of designs such as Symphony is cost and compatibility. The chip is expected to add almost nothing to the cost of a typical radio, and the system, because it works on the receiver end rather than the transmitter end, doesn't make all current radios obsolete as the IBOC blueprint eventually does.

More on this as it develops.


Copyright © 2003 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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