Digital broadcasts may begin here in the spring

WWIN 95.9 FM first locally to adopt new technology

January 11, 2003|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

Radio listeners in Baltimore will be able to hear local stations broadcast digitally as early as this spring, executives at iBiquity Digital Corp. announced yesterday.

The market is among 40 where broadcasters are adopting a technology that promises better reception for listeners.

WWIN 95.9 FM is the first local station to adopt the technology, but iBiquity executives said there could be others in the area to license it before the end of the first quarter.

The first wave of users includes about 130 radio stations in 26 states and covering 40 markets. Columbia-based iBiquity spurred industry interest by waving its licensing fee for stations that agreed by the end of the year to convert to digital.

iBiquity's technology is called HD Radio, and it allows broadcasters to send their signals digitally at the same time as their regular analog signals.

The technology provides listeners with stronger and clearer signals -- CD quality sound on FM stations, and current FM quality sound on AM -- while also enabling broadcasters to send digital advertising and other information that would appear on the new radios' display panels.

Each station must buy equipment to translate the broadcast into a digital signal, at a cost of between $30,000 and $200,000, depending on the station's size. Consumers will need to purchase digital radios to receive the new broadcasts.

The radios will cost $100 to $300 more than regular radios, and are expected to be in electronics stores in the second quarter.

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