Hehe! The problem goes a little deeper than that on my end…
As opposed to the debacle we endured with terrestrial TV broadcasting in the United States, where the entire VHF / UHF bands were dropped from analog (NTSC) broadcast, requiring a digital adaptor box (receiver), commercial radio broadcasting chose a better tack, allowing analog and digital signals to peacefully coexist.
For listeners that have purchased the new digital radios, this is marketed as HD Radio. With a car stereo, the analog signal is selected first; if a digital carrier is present, the wee HD logo appears, and the radio switches to the clean digital signal.
So what does this have to do with RDS? Read on…
RDS allows a dual output, a solo station identifier, and a longer “ticker” or scrolling text. Local broadcasters have the task of inserting the requisite data during broadcast. If the console, and music library are properly configured, the ID3 type tag information can be sent to the transmitter automatically. If the broadcaster is in the mood for running a promotional message, this can be substituted or inserted between song information blocks. Heck, some savvy broadcasters even intersperse blerbs that relate to the currently airing advertising, which should make sponsors ever so happy.
The problem is that often, the guys in the booth forget that the ticker hasn’t been reset when song play resumes. This is one of the quirky things we will see.
Back to the latest and greatest, HD radio. Remember that we’re dealing with a dual analog / digital signal? I’ve had folks complain that their radios will play a few seconds of music, then the HD icon lights, and then complete silence. Interesting. I went to have a closer look this morning, and sure enough, the RDS info clears, and refreshes as the unit “goes digital”. Silence.
Then the new data popped up on the display:
www.broadcast.harris.com stared back at me. I just about fell over laughing. Harris, to those who might not know, makes the latest digital transmitters, big guys, very sophisticated, and far more efficient then the RCA transmitters we’ve used for decades, since the airwaves first crackled to life with KDKA radio and the first AM broadcasts.
The brand-new transmitter has not been programmed yet, the URL of the manufacturer is still loaded in the machine! I will have to call the local FM station and reach the engineer, as they’re broadcasting a clean digital carrier with no audio on it. Somebody needs to push the volume sliders up, or make a pair of connections at the patch bay. Awesome.