Evanov Communications is banking on HD technology to help alleviate growing sound quality and interference issues plaguing the AM broadcast band.
The company has begun testing IBOC (In-band on-channel) HD technology on CHLO, its heritage multicultural station serving Greater Toronto, becoming the first AM station in Canada to utilize the tech on the AM band.
Right now, there are just a handful of stations in North America using IBOC HD on the AM band, including WGY 810AM New York. Many others broadcast as a sub-channel of their FM sister station or FM repeater, but not on the AM band itself.
Carmela Laurignano, Evanov’s VP Regulatory Affairs, sees the move as necessary to maintain AM radio’s relevance.
“We are excited to be on the leading edge,” said Laurignano. “Radio broadcasting has endured, withstood, and adapted over its history and continues to remain relevant because operators have understood and adjusted to market conditions.”
“These last few years have been especially challenging for the medium. Unregulated platforms and distribution mechanisms have been allowed to run rampant while radio continues to be taxed with restrictions and fees. Distribution of the over-the-air programming not only offers a more reliable, clear signal and sound for the listener, it might also prove in some cases, to be a lifeline for the AM band which is so challenged to the point of being abandoned,” she added, noting that the pandemic has further aggravated the situation.
Evanov says it’s gambling that more and more Canadian consumers will find and adopt HD radio, especially in-car, producing organic growth and in turn a bigger roll out within the industry.
Paul Bury, Director of IT & Engineering for Evanov, told Broadcast Dialogue that HD Radio is currently available in about four million vehicles in Canada and one in three new vehicles purchased.
The company already operates two HD stations – Z103 (CIDC-FM) Orangeville and CKPC-FM Brantford, which also carries Christian station Arise 1380 (CKPC-AM) and Hot Country 93.9 (CFWC-AM) on its digital sub-channels.
Particularly where the AM band is concerned, Bury sees HD Radio as the future.
“With HD on the AM band, I can see that when stations start implementing it and going full digital, the quality of AM broadcasting will be on par with FM. Eventually AM has to go digital to survive,” said Bury.
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