2008 is the Digital Discovery Year

2008 will be a nail-biting year for the content creators (formerly known as broadcasters) in the television business.

On February 17th of 2009, TV stations will be required to shut off their analog signals in the VHF band. Those are the waves of energy that have been used since Sid Ceasar first romped into your grandma’s living room back in the 1950’s. What will be left are the new digital signals—conveying color pictures and surround sound in computer code. You also get the opportunity to watch High Definition pictures if you’re willing to shell out for an HD receiver.

Please remember that the radio side is changing but in a different way. WFAE is now broadcasting in HD digital. The “killer application”, in our view, is the ability to bring new radio services to you through open-air, non-subscription HD. 

You still hear your favorite WFAE shows in analog as well as the new digital WFAE service.  WFAE 2 is a 24-by-7 singer-songwriter music service that you really need to check out. WFAE 3 is broadcasting experimental programming—mainly news and public affairs programs that don’t fit into the conventional WFAE schedule.

Our WFAE shopping spies tell us that Charlotte area Radio Shack stores sold out of their Accurian HD radios over the holiday season. HD radios are now readily at stores like Best Buy, along with web sites including our own WFAE.ORG.

Remember that your current FM radios will still be of use to you over the next several years. The Feds have not set a date for shut-down of the conventional analog signals. This is because the HD system in the United States is particularly spectrum efficient. All of the WFAE signals—including the 3 digital ones—are contained in the  90.7 spot in the radio spectrum in the Charlotte region.  

It’s now inexpensive to switch to HD receivers. You can get a tabletop HD set from  $100-200. If you got a holiday gift card, consider stimulating the economy by springing for an HD set.  I think you’ll be pleased.  Be sure to email us at WFAE.ORG when you DO try out our HD services!

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “2008 is the Digital Discovery Year

  1. The Accurian HD radio is a nice sounding radio to be sure. I just don’t know anyone who has one or even wants one. I’m sure Radio Shack didn’t have that many Accurian radios on hand. Selling out of them was probably not all that difficult.

    HD radio on AM is a curse it causes more problems than it solves. As for the local FM stations with their HD2 counterparts they do nothing to promote it, it’s just there playing a very boring computer full of over researched music. It’s a bit like listening to someone else’s iPod.

    WFAE could make a difference if only they would use their HD-2 for the excellent Smooth Jazz format they gave up to go NPR News/Talk. While there is another station doing Smooth Jazz on HD2 it’s not even close to being as good as what WFAE used to do.

    Remember content is king, I have given up on local radio with it’s endless commercial sets and repetition. XM Satellite radio has opened up a whole new world for me including NPR, Oldies and an excellent Smooth Jazz channel “Watercolors”.

    So I guess in a way it is the year for Digital but it’s Digital Satellite Radio!

    Mike Miranda

  2. Roger

    Mike I’ll agree that content is king in any of the new services. It’s a chicken/egg issue right now, I think. Stations will not set up additional staffing for new HD stations until there are more receivers in the market. This makes me think it will work itself out….but over a long time. FM radio took years and years to break through as a popular medium.

  3. I also agree with your chicken and egg senario. Yes it did take FM a long time to become established. Much of that was because the big AM/FM operations didn’t want to harm what was then the AM cash cow.

    There has to be a reason to drive the demand for HD radios. The best way to encourage the trend is by giving the listeners compelling content. There are far too many other forms of entertainment today for radio stations to play the waiting game. The time to do something meaningful with HD is now, before the parade passes you by.

    Ever wonder why NBC always had more shows in color than the other two networks and was the first network to go all color? NBC was the only network owned by a company that happened to make color TV sets (RCA). It worked, a lot of people bought color TV’s just to see the Ponderosa each week.

    If stations don’t invest in HD radio then it will go the way of AM Stereo.

  4. mcraecreative

    I think the future of radio is on downloadable content (like podcasts). With my iPod, I build my own network. It has indie music, sports talk radio, design and branding radio shows (yes, they exist), and NPR shows like Fresh Air and Charlotte Talks. 98% of the NPR content I listen to is on my iPod or desktop. If I miss a show, I get it later. It’s great!

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