How do you get to know HD radio?

We had a few minutes last week–unfortunately during afternoon drive time–when 90.7 blipped off the air. Big FM signals likes ours are high-voltage affairs. Momentary dips in commercial power, or weather conditions such as high wind or storms can cause the transmitter to blink off. Luckily all this heavy-duty equipment is designed with smart circuits, so under most circumstances the transmitters restart themselves within a few seconds.

In last week’s glitch, the analog signal went off the air, but the digital signal continued on just fine.

What’s that about?  Well, our digital and analog signals are two really independent operations. They both use the same piece of spectral “real estate” in Charlotte, at 90.7, but the signals are generated by two different transmitters. They travel up the 1200-foot tower in two different conduits. Our antenna–really a set of wire cages that is almost 100 feet high–radiates both signals at the same time.

Which brings us to the content of HD, or digital. WFAE actually is TWO stations right now (with some more surprises to come).  We have a full-time “singer/songwriter” music service, along with our news service.  To hear either service in true digital you need to purchase a new receiver. No worries–we’re making that simple, too.  We have information on our home page that takes you to Amazon.com, where you can price HD radios and purchase one if you wish.  A portion of your purchase comes back to WFAE, and helps us provide you with more programming!  So we hope you’ll give it a try.  If you’re the show-me-first type, then you can sample the WFAE-2 singer/songwriter service through web streaming, and those directions are also available on this home page.

I hope you’ll sample the advantages of HD radio. Then be sure to write this blog with your experiences. What did you like?  What can we improve?

Thanks. 

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “How do you get to know HD radio?

  1. Jay Ahuja

    Nicely done, but I thought our antenna was higher than that.

  2. BJT

    When will HD car radios become available and modestly priced?

  3. Roger

    Jay, the distinction here is between the antenna and the tower. The antenna is around a hundred feet tall—a bunch of pieces actually—mounted near the top of the tower, which is around 1,200 feet tall.

    When we think of a cel phone antenna or a radio receiver antenna (if it’s external, so you can see it), it’s a stubby little thing only a few inches long, if that. But FM radio towers act as “artifical mountains”. They get the signal up high so it can get to a more distant horizon. Thus, a bigger coverage area. Thanks for asking!
    –Roger–

  4. Roger

    Dear BJT–

    The most reasonable HD car radio that I know of is a JVC model. It sells for $159.95 on special.
    (Shameless commerce disclosure here: if you buy one through wfae.org and our link to Amazon.com, the station will get a few dollars’ income).

    Here it is:

    JVC Deck with Built-In HD Radio Tuner

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