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Airwaves: November 30, 2007

Digital Speed Bump

In spite of some concerns of mine, I am probably one of the biggest proponents of digital radio broadcasts in the area. I have covered the concept of in-band, on-channel digital broadcasts (now trademarked as HD Radio) since they were just a gleam in an engineer's eye, and I have written numerous columns stating how listeners can get in on the ground floor of these exciting broadcasts.

Apparently I am almost alone in my thoughts, at least judging by a band scan on the evening of November 23rd. It would seem that even the owners and engineers of local stations don't themselves believe in HD Radio.

KBIG (104.3 FM) and KKGO (105.1 FM) had the digital totally off, with country KKGO even sending RDS (Radio Data System) information stating incorrectly that they were classical K-Mozart. KOST (103.5 FM) was available in digital, but not with a second channel normally broadcast (desperately needed now that the station is all Christmas music). KLOS (95.5 FM) had their delay messed up so that the transition from analog to digital resulted in a repeat of about five seconds of programming, and KDLD (103.1 FM) had their typical delay problems in addition to a far lower sound level on the digital stream compared with their analog broadcast.

What's going on? Does anyone monitor these broadcasts? About half the commercial FM HD Radio stations in town were either off or bad, and the owners expect listeners to buy new radios to hear them? Excuse me?

If the station engineers and management don't care about HD Radio, how do they expect anyone else to care? Maybe that's why so few people are buying the radios.

More Talk

Just when you thought Saul Levine was through with station changes, he decides to nix the old (classic) country on XESURF (540 AM) in order to simulcast the programming on KGIL (1260 AM).

This was an expected move by most observers and in many ways makes sense. And the recent demise of liberal talk on KLSD (1360 AM which by the way has had no ratings since dropping top-40 years ago) is one of the reasons it makes sense. Besides expanding the coverage of KGIL into numerous areas that can't receive it, San Diego gains a station that has at least one liberal host, Michael Jackson.

Along with the KGIL simulcast comes a few changes. Jackson is still the star, and Dr. Joy Browne is still there as an alternative to KFI's (640 AM) top-rated Dr. Laura Schlessenger. But new to the stations is Neal Boortz, Lars Larson, and Dr. Drew Pinsky.

The full lineup:
6 AM: Wall Street Journal Morning Edition
7 AM: Neal Boortz
9 AM: Michael Jackson
11 AM: Dr. Drew
1 PM: Dr. Joy Browne
3 PM: Lars Larson
5 PM: Michael Jackson repeat
7 PM: Larry King Live (CNN audio)
8 PM: The Great American Songbook

I would expect more changes as the stations evolve, partly due to the amazingly short shifts -- only one to two hours each outside of the music all night long.


Copyright © 2007 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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