United States

Radio World
By Paul McLane
11 October 2023

WWFD [820 kHz] in Frederick, Md., has concluded the experimental phase of its MA3 HD Radio operation. It has notified the FCC that after five years, it will now continue to operate as a full-time all-digital AM station as is allowed under commission rules.
The Hubbard-owned facility was the first AM station in the United States to convert to the MA3 mode, doing so under experimental authority in 2018.
Dave Kolesar, the engineer and program director who spearheaded the initiative and has given numerous presentations at engineering conferences about it, tells me that Hubbard recently asked the FCC to conclude the special temporary authority.
“It was my intention all the way back then that this would be permanent, there just wasn’t a legal mechanism at the time to do so. The STA had been kept so that we could do research on MA3, which required us to operate at variance with the NRSC-5 mask, for the purposes of furthering the understanding of all-digital operations in the field,” Kolesar wrote in an email.
“The end of the STA simply means that WWFD is now operating under the same legal authority that the other stations are using for all-digital operations. We haven’t ruled out filing for an STA again if the desire and need to conduct more experiments warrants it.”
I asked him for a thumbnail takeaway of these past five years.
“We have learned that all-digital AM broadcasting is much more robust than the hybrid mode of HD AM, and in fact has many advantages over analog broadcasting in terms of sound quality and metadata,” he replied.
“Stereo audio, song data, album artwork and even a secondary HD2 channel are all capabilities of MA3 broadcasting. It opens up the possibility of music formats on AM that can be competitive with FM, satellite and streaming services. It makes AM look and sound like every other broadcast service in the dashboard, and that’s essential to the future of the band. It even works well in EVs, much better than analog in fact.”
To my knowledge there are two other stations airing all-digital AM HD Radio right now. Crawford Broadcasting flipped WYDE in Birmingham, Ala., in September. And Cumulus station WFAS in White Plains, N.Y. went on with all-digital in 2021 and continues to operate in that mode.
Stations that gave it a try earlier but have since turned it off include WIOE in Ft. Wayne, Ind.; WTLC in Indianapolis; WMGG in Egypt Lake, Fla.; and WSRO in Ashland, Mass.
What about future adoption of MA3? Kolesar said it’s hard to tell.
“I view MA3 transmissions as the goal that every AM broadcaster has to get to, sooner rather than later. Analog AM listenership is declining, and we need to stop worrying about obsoleting existing analog-only radios, because fewer people are bothering to turn them on.”
He thinks stations without a significant audience should try digital now and build up a new audience, with a compelling format, perhaps from scratch.
“Legacy stations with established audiences can convert later, but their day will be coming soon. There’s nothing written in stone saying that the AM band has to survive, but if you want to save it, I strongly believe that getting to digital ASAP and pairing it with compelling ‘destination’ content is the way to go.”
He says that when you pair MA3 with a connected car platform such as DTS AutoStage, which tunes stations by flipping through tiles on a screen, you have a powerful solution to the band’s woes.
“You simply select a station by its logo and then you hear audio. It doesn’t matter if it’s FM, streaming, satellite or digital AM. There’s another argument for digital: Analog AM stations have no metadata capability, and so those stations will only show up as a number on a screen, and will likely be passed over.”

Mike Terry to WOR iog (2023-10-12)


Indonesia chooses DRM as digital radio broadcasting standard.

The Digital Radio Mondiale™ (DRM) Consortium welcomes the announcement by Indonesian authorities to adopt the global, open and ITU endorsed DRM Digital Radio Standard for national adoption in a country of over a quarter of a billion people.
This news was announced during the DRM IBC Showcase event in Amsterdam. DRM is the only digital radio standard to serve all coverage needs for the national and local public radio stations as well as for commercial and community broadcasters. Going forward, DRM-based digital radio services can be introduced in the medium wave (MW) and FM bands, as well as in VHF band-III, for all of Indonesia’s 18 000 islands.
Read more at: https://radioinfo.asia/news/indonesia-chooses-drm-as-digital-radio-broadcasting-standard/ © RadioInfo Asia (sept. 16th, 2023)

Ydun Ritz (2023-09-17)

United States

Crawford Broadcasting is going to give all-digital HD Radio a try on an AM station in Alabama.
On Sept. 1 the Christian broadcaster will flip WYDE in Birmingham to the MA3 mode; only listeners with HD Radio receivers will be able to hear the AM signal after that, though the same content will be available on two local FMs. Two other AMs in the country currently operate in all-digital.
“We’d like to give all-digital AM a try and see how it performs,” said Director of Engineering Cris Alexander. “The timing is right for us.
”The FCC approved the use of all-digital AM in 2020. WYDE airs at 1260 kHz with a 5 kW signal by day and 41 Watts at night.“That particular station is ideally situated for an all-digital move,” said Alexander, who also is technical editor of Radio World Engineering Extra.
“It’s non-directional with no antenna bandwidth issues. It has a late-model transmitter that’s already operating in the MA1 mode. And it’s 100% duplicated on two separate FM signals in the market, one of which is a full-power FM and the other is a translator with a downtown Birmingham transmitter site.” The station has been airing PSAs informing listeners of the pending change.
The station has a Nautel transmitter. Because the station has been airing the MA1 hybrid HD Radio mode for about 20 years, its air chain is already set up for the digital path, so no changes or modifications were necessary. “The conversion amounts to a couple of menu selections in the transmitter and exporter.”WYDE has conducted brief overnight testing in Birmingham. “We turned on MA3 in the experimental period to make sure that (a) we knew how to do it, (b) that the antenna didn’t have any issues with it, and (c) to make sure it worked,” Alexander said.
What will the company be watching for? “We’ll be looking to see how the digital coverage is compared to the analog, of course. Also, since this is in the deep south where the weather is hostile, I’ll want to see how well it rides through thunderstorms and convective activity. The MA1 lock will frequently drop out when there is a nearby lightning discharge or other noise burst. How robust will the all-digital signal be?” This is Crawford’s first foray into all-digital. “Our expectations are based totally on what we’ve heard and read from the Hubbard Frederick station,” he said, referring to WWFD in Frederick, Md. “It will be very interesting to see how our experience stacks up to those reports.
The entire article in Radio World here

Paul McLane, Radio World (2023-08-22)


Radio Pakistan is going to launch Digital Medium Wave Transmitter project in Rawat tomorrow [Sunday].               
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb will perform groundbreaking of the project under which a 1000 kilowatt digital transmitter will be installed at HPT complex, Rawat.  
The project will be completed in two years at a cost of four billion rupees and is a milestone in modernizing the state broadcaster and enhancing the quality of its broadcast.
This digital transmitter will increase the signal strength and  range of Radio Pakistan’s broadcasts to several countries in Central Asia, Middle East, Far East, Turkiye and Greece in addition to south Asia.
This modern transmitter based on Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) technology, can transmit up to four different signals simultaneously. It will save 33 percent of electricity which in turn will reduce the expenses of state broadcaster.
An emergency warning system to alert people in natural calamities will also be available through this transmitter.
UK based international organization DRM Consortium has also appreciated the government’s initiative to convert Radio Pakistan from analogue to digital mode after 75 years.  

Radio Pakistan website via Ydun Ritz (2023-07-29)


Last week, Pakistan’s Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb inaugurated 12 new studios which were set up on modern lines at Radio Pakistan under a reform agenda by the incumbent government.
The minister said that the government had rolled out a reform programme to upgrade and digitize Radio Pakistan on war footing. A comprehensive business plan had also been worked out to transform Radio Pakistan into a financially viable organization.
The studios she inaugurated were meant for round the clock sports transmission of Radio Pakistan FM at 94 frequency, broadcast of programmes in 11 regional languages, dedicated platform for discussing environmental challenges and highlight the country’s biodiversity, wildlife, water management, forest conservation and management. A world service was also launched to provide all sort of news, culture and heritage related content to the overseas Pakistanis.
Marriyum said the government had approved a digital DRM transmitter project worth Rs 4 billion in the current year’s Public Sector Development Programme.
The project would be launched soon in Rawat, she said, adding that Radio Pakistan’s Digital Migration would take the state broadcaster’s transmissions in clear sound not only across the length and breadth of the country but also beyond its borders.
This follows the June official announcement that the Federal Ministry for Planning Development and Special Initiatives had approved the upgrade of the HPT Rawat transmitting station with the acquisition of a 1000 KW DRM enabled medium wave transmitter.
This is part of phase 1 of a three-phase DRM digitisation plan of the public Pakistani broadcaster; in effect, this signifies that Pakistan has embraced the DRM standard in all bands for the whole country.
Read more at: https://radioinfo.asia/news/minister-inaugurates-12-new-studios-at-radio-pakistan-supports-digitisation/ © RadioInfo Asia

Ydun Ritz (2023-07-18)

Sri Lanka

The international service of the Sri Lankan Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) recently doubled its Tamil Service airtime to two hours, on 873 kHz AM (medium wave) from Puttalam transmitter. The new schedule is 0130-0330 UTC (7.00 am to 9.00 am IST).
This is partly in response to individual efforts of listeners, many in the southern part of India, in Bengaluru.
Introducing this change, Colombo International Radio also announced that shortly they are going to use DRM on 1548 kHz.

This will be done by using the old transmitter of Deutsche Welle located in the north of Sri Lanka at Trincomalee. The Sri Lankan public broadcaster has started airing the DRM announcement here.

Read more at: https://radioinfo.asia/news/sri-lanka-broadcasting-corporation-goes-drm-following-indian-listeners-request/ © RadioInfo Asia

Ydun Ritz (2023-06-19)

Sri Lanka

(Translated from French)
Following the development of DRM on medium waves in India, many Indian listeners have been asking Colombo International Radio, the international service of Sri Lanka Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), to increase the airtime of its Tamil DRM service in India.

This program has just passed at two hours (01:30 to 03:30 UTC), on 873 kHz. It’s transmitted by two coupled 200 kW Nautel transmitters and a three-matt direct antenna pointing north. Broadcast Centre is located at Pahlavi Puttalam. (07°58’35″N 79°48’08″E).

A second transmitter will soon broadcast the same program in DRM at 1548 kHz. This will be done using the old Deutsche Welle transmitter located in northern Sri Lanka at Trincomalee (8°44’55″N 81°07’15″E).

This transmitter was installed in April 1985, it is two 300 kW S7HP units coupled, allowing for 300, 400 or 600 kW broadcast. The antenna consists of two masts headed north-east. The transmitters were upgraded and adapted for DRM transmissions by Welle in 2007 and handed over to SLBC in 2012.

Michel Fremy, Radio Magazine FB group (2023-06-09)

United Kingdom

Isle of Man.
DAB+ is to replace medium wave in a not too distant future. “Manx Radio listeners in Douglas and Onchan will be able to listen to the station on DAB for the first time from today. [2 May 2023]. […] The [three year] trial will cost around £20,000, it’s hoped the digital service will replace Manx Radio’s AM transmitter. [1368 kHz] Commercial station Energy FM will also be taking part, but Irish owned 3FM has declined to do so. Manx Radio’s Managing Director Chris Sully said: “We were hoping that both the other radio stations on the Island would join us from launch day, however, the Board of 3FM has decided not to be part of the trial at this time. […]” https://www.manxradio.com/news/isle-of-man-news/manx-radio-begins-dab-trial/

via Dr Hansjoerg Biener (2023-05-06)