The fraud of HD (High-definition) radio

The fraud that is HD radioI have been a radio kind of guy for years. Versus a television kind of guy that is.

My first transistor radio was pressed into my young hands in the mid-sixties. Yes, folks – I am that old. And that is OK.

Within a few years it was not enough that I owned a variety of radios – I was building them too. At 13 years of age, I built a multi-band shortwave radio from a kit.

I do have a fondness for AM Radio however. For those who have forgotten it, AM radio is that muffled old style of radio from 540 to 1600 (now 1700khz) that carried your early rock & roll music (for those of you over 30 [or 40!] that can remember such a thing.)

There was always something comforting about tuning across an old radio dial at night never quite sure what you were going to hear; the swish of static, the heterodyne of mixing stations, the clear channel trans-continental stations that used to be king.

Times have obviously changed. Media has been concentrated and centralized. Regional and local voices have faded… but not entirely. It is as if there are corporate forces at work to take away individuality and freedom… of choice. Just the other morning I was turning across a portion of the dial and I was hearing the same program every 10khz (in radio world, an individual channel)

Coast to coast AM as it is called is a program on a chain of broadcasters (I think owned by Clear Channel). It sounds to me like a faceless and homogeneous drone of, well, nothing of merit.

Fast forward to 2007. For the last couple of years (in the U.S.A.) a corporation called Ibiquity has been pushing High Definition radio – or HD for short. HD AM and HD FM.

High definition AM. Isn’t that a natural oxymoron?
Anyway. Long story short. AM HD is a hybrid of technologies. Standard old analog AM transmitting techniques exist alongside digital sub-carriers. Problem is, the standard channel separation of 10khz on the AM band becomes unworkable with this format. A station running AM-HD on, say, 810 khz generates interference from 790khz to 830khz! In days of old, interference was limited to about 5 to 7 khz from the center channel, not 25khz!

What this means for smaller stations (in the U.S.) is that their reach or range is diminished by co-channel interference.
If you are a Canadian or Mexican border station trying to serve a rural market, your signal could be crushed or diminished by the U.S. based noise makers. Acceptable? I think not.

What to do?

If you are an American who enjoys long distance or rural AM reception and are getting buzzed make sure you write the station and any stations that are getting slammed.

If you are in Canada, send an e-mail to Industry Canada or the CRTC. Trust me, they do listen.

You will hear more from me on this issue.
It is about radio sovereignty. It is about freedom of choice. It is about a free and accessible media. Radio is one of the last free domains of expression that is open to anyone. Do not let a single corporation take that away.