Radio World looks at DRM

(Source: Radio World)

By: Ernie Franke

Once touted as the “Savior of Shortwave,” Digital Radio Mondiale has not lived up to its hype. Proposed in 1988, with early field-testing in 2000, inaugural broadcasting in 2001 and its official rollout in 2003, DRM has had a lackluster career over the last decade.

With the allure of FM-quality audio and fade-free operation, it had appeared that DRM might revive the shortwave community. Unfortunately, it has been overcome by other events, some technical and some social. The main weakness has been alternate sources of information and entertainment, fueled by the very technology that gave DRM hope.

Additionally, in areas of the world without ubiquitous social media, DRM has yet to realize receivers at a moderate cost with adequate battery life. The very processing technology that allows improved operation using the more complex DRM waveform costs more and consumes more power than the standard AM receiver. A quick look at standalone DRM receivers over the past decade shows almost a dozen companies entering the market, only to retreat when the promise didn’t materialize.

[…]The rise of the Internet has influenced many broadcasters to cease their shortwave transmissions in favor of broadcasting over the World Wide Web. When BBC World Service discontinued service to Europe, North America, Australasia and the Caribbean, it generated many protests. The shifting of resources from shortwave to Internet and television by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees U.S. international broadcasting, further reduced broadcasting hours in the English language. […]Although most of the prominent broadcasters continue to scale back their analog shortwave transmissions or completely terminate them, shortwave is still common and active in developing regions, such as parts of Africa and South America.[…]

The article then goes into an in-depth look at both the reasons for and technology behind Digital Radio Mondiale–both on the broadcasting and receiving ends.

Read the full article at Radio World’s website.