Category Archives: HD Radio

Radio World: Time to “sound off to the FCC about using all-digital on the AM band”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who shares the following note posted by Paul McClane at Radio World:

For those who want to sound off to the FCC about using all-digital on the AM band — either “fer it” or “agin it” —- the comment deadlines now are set.

Comments are due March 9, reply comments are due April 6.

As RW has reported, the FCC recently released a notice of proposed rulemaking to establish rules governing all-digital broadcasting by AM radio stations in the United States.

Read the NPRM here. The NPRM number is 19-123.

Click here to read at Radio World.

As we mentioned yesterday, this proposal is certainly in the final stages at this point.

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Final step for proposed rule to allow AM broadcasters to use all-digital transmissions

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Evans, who notes:

The Federal Register has today published the proposed rule for AM stations to go digital. This is close to the final step.

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/01/07/2019-27609/all-digital-am-broadcasting-revitalization-of-the-am-radio-service

Comments before 2020-03-09, replies by 2020-04-06.

Thanks for the tip, Paul!

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FCC to consider allowing AM broadcasters to transition to digital

(Source: Radio World)

All-Digital on the AM Band? The FCC Might Allow It Soon

AM radio station operators in the United States may soon have the option of switching their transmissions to all-digital.

It’s not a done deal; but the concept is about to take a step closer to reality, because the Federal Communications Commission will consider a proposal at its next meeting that would start a process. It will take comments on whether to allow AM band licensees to make the switch if they want.

Ben Downs, VP/GM of Bryan Broadcasting in Texas, petitioned the FCC in March to initiate a proceeding to authorize the all-digital mode of HD Radio.

Allowing stations to use all-digital transmission is an idea that some broadcasters feel could give business-challenged AM stations in the United States new life or at least another option. Turning off their analog signals would mean that most existing receivers could no longer pick up that signal; but many AM broadcasters are currently heard on FM translator simulcasts now. And adding the all-digital AM option could open up new possibilities for them as the number of digital receivers in the marketplace continues to grow.

[…]Chairman Ajit Pai described the proposal in a blog post Monday: “Just as the FCC is trying to keep pace with changes in the market, so are AM radio operators, and the commission wants to give them as much flexibility as possible to compete in the digital age,” Pai wrote.[…]

Read the full article at Radio World.

Click here to read the proposal (PDF) that will be discussed at the November FCC meeting.

The Radio World article mentions WWFD in Frederick, MD–a station that has been broadcasting AM digital for over a year. We posted a note about this last year and I even included a short recording/video with reception when traveling through the area.

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“One possible version of AM radio’s future”

(Source: LA Daily News)

Radio: Is that an AM digital signal I hear? No, but it could be.

by Richard Wagoner

One possible version of AM radio’s future was posted on a Facebook group called “I Love AM Radio.” It came from group member Steve West and was a recording of WWFD/Frederick, MD as received on a radio in Beacon Falls, CT. This is a driving distance of about 320 miles via I-95; as the crow flies it’s probably closer to 275. Still very impressive.

Of course, long-distance AM radio reception is not new … people have been listening to distant stations since radio broadcasting began in the 1920s. In my case, when I was young and before I even knew what phenomenon I was really experiencing, I remember picking up stations at night from great distances on my tube table radio, then wondering why I could not hear them during the day.

I also wondered why I picked up a buzz sometimes … turned out that was due to my Dad using a fluorescent light in his office down the hallway from my bedroom. But I digress.

What makes this recording intriguing is that WWFD doesn’t transmit analog audio like most stations. Instead, they are all digital, under special permission of the FCC. Only those with HD radios can hear them. West is demonstrating that long distance digital AM radio reception is indeed possible, and — perhaps (though it may be wishful thinking) — AM radio could be better than FM from a practical standpoint.

All-digital is a mode of the HD Radio system that uses the space formerly used for analog broadcasting and puts the digital signal there instead of sandwiching the digital around the analog as with the hybrid system currently in use on all other AM HD stations, which locally includes KNX (1070 AM), KSUR (“K-Surf” 1260 AM), KFWB (980 AM), and KBRT (740 AM).

The problem with the hybrid mode is that the digital portion of the signal extends out far enough from the main frequency of a station and thus can cause interference to other stations nearby. Hybrid mode thus limits the digital signal to a fraction of a station’s broadcast power.

All-digital, being centered on the frequency, allows a station to broadcast the digital signal at a station’s full power, permitting better coverage, less interference, and better sound quality.

At least that’s the theory. Right now more testing is needed, primarily to see what happens when more stations are using the system. The problem is the all-digital system is not yet authorized without special permission, and of course, many stations would be reluctant to try it, as doing so means losing every listener without an HD radio … most of the potential audience.

West’s recording is not perfect. The signal is like any digital signal — as on your computer or your digital television, the signal is either there … or it is not. Being received at such a great distance the reception is not perfect and cuts out, but as I said, it does show some great potential.[…]

Click here to read the full article at the Los Angeles Daily News.

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AM receiver design with regards to IBOC bandwidth claims

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Emilio Ruiz, who writes:

Hi Thomas,

I’m writing because found this (interesting) analysis about radio
components and the impact on radio receiver quality:

http://www.geocities.ws/shreddermanrulz/myth1.htm

I think may be are interesting topic for readers of the SWLing Post.

This is interesting, Emilio.  Thank you for sharing. Although the reason the author put together this post was to refute IBOC’s claims about testing AM receivers, it is also a fascinating look into cheap AM radio/receiver design.  Thank you for sharing!

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Sangean HDR-18 HD Radio/FM-Stereo/AM Wooden Cabinet Table Top Radio

For those who might be interested, Amazon currently has this radio discounted more than I have seen previously. Current price is $137.75 – as always, this may be a limited time or limited amount of radios available at this price. Here is the link:

Sangean HDR-18

Robert Gulley, AK3Q, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Robert also blogs at All Things Radio.

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Shortwave station WTWW promotes Field Day on the air

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill (WD9EQD), who writes:

Shortwave Station WTWW is promoting Field Day with a special shortwave broadcast. From their Web Page:

http://wtww.us/

Call in toll free at:

833-390-5085

Promote The Ham Radio Hobby To The Entire World On A Powerful International Shortwave Radio Station – WTWW BY Calling In From Your Field Location and Tell The World about it. Put the members of your Field Day group on the air by passing the phone around. Include special guests and your local city officials. Let’s catch the excitement from the young kids and teens that are visiting your Field Day site. Let’s talk to prospective Hams that have gotten excited by watching your field day activities.

If you can’t get through on the first try to this number – you can leave a message and we WILL call you during the live show. You are welcome to leave a message by calling ahead of time as well!

Let’s give the world a shout from Field Day 2018!

Thank you, Bill and a number of other SWLing Post readers who shared this tip!

 

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