Airwaves: June 23, 2006
I love my newer radios with RDS, also known as Radio Data System, which among other things allows a station to send song titles, artists, station slogans and more to a capable radio's display screen.
It's not perfect, and it relies on good to excellent reception of the station, but it's nice to know what song you're listening to -- assuming the station chooses to send the information.
Star 98.7 is one of the stations in Los Angeles that does it right. While some stations such as KZLA send nothing more than slogans ("America's Favorite Country Station," for example), Star does indeed send song and artist information.
Except for one thing: For the past three weeks, the station has supposedly been playing Better Than Ezra's "Juicy" over and over again, at least according to the RDS display. Apparently the system got stuck and the engineers haven't noticed yet.
Makes me wonder if I'm the only one in town with an RDS-capable radio.
No AM for iPods?
A recent weblog at playlist.com lamented the lack of an available add-on AM radio to iPods.
To be sure, it is relatively easy to add an FM radio receiver to an iPod. But like the writer of this blog, I often wondered why AM was never included.
Turns out its not a conspiracy by the owners of FM radio stations. Instead, it's the laws of physics: AM radio, due to the type of transmission and the frequencies involved, is susceptible to interference ... including the interference from iPods and similar MP3 players. The players themselves interfere with AM reception, so bad that some stations cannot be heard at all.
Of course a cheap transistor radio would solve the problem for about $5, as long as you don't mind the fact that it wouldn't be attached to your iPod.
Going To The Dogs
KLOS' Mark and Brian hosted a pet adoption in Long Beach last weekend, attracting more than 2000 people who in turn adopted more than 200 puppies, dogs, kittens and cats. $10,000 in donations, above and beyond the costs paid by the adopting "parents," was also collected, which is going straight to the SPCA.
Television star Betty White was there to help promote the event. I decided to wait until after the event to promote it in this column ... I was afraid my wife Jean would read about it and go.
Betty White visits with Brian Phelps and Mark Thompson
Over 2000 people attended the adoption at the Pitchford Companion Animal Village
in Long Beach, California
The National Association of (whining) Broadcasters is petitioning the FCC to censor Sirius Satellite Radio as well as competitor XM because, they claim, the broadcasts can be picked up via regular FM radios and thus constitutes a regular commercial broadcast subject to the same regulations as AM and FM stations.
How is this? One of the ways you can hear satellite radio is to use the built-in low-power FM transmitter on the satellite receiver to send the signal to your FM radio.
Now, keep in mind that this barely works inside your own car; hissing and interference is a major complaint of this type of connection. To hear it outside of your car another listener would have to (a) know the frequency you are using and (b) be within a few feet of your car. Hardly the best way to hear Howard Stern on the freeway.
Try again, NAB.
Copyright © 2006 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.
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