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Chriss Scherer Scherer has been the editor of Radio magazine since 1997. His experience in radio includes work as chief engineer at stations in Cleveland (WMMS-FM, WHK-AM, WZJM-FM, WJMO-AM...more

Archive for July, 2009

Debunking the Prometheus Top 10 Problems with HD Radio

The Prometheus Radio Project tries to further its case against HD Radio, but does so with misinformation. An article has been posted on RadioMagOnline.com to address the statements:

Debunking the Prometheus Top 10 Problems with HD Radio

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Do you ‘get it’?

I know you have heard someone’s business or technical application skills being complimented by saying that the person “gets it.” That’s an easy way to vaguely describe a feeling that can’t really be put into quantifiable terms. I’m fine with this approach. Typically, the people discussing the person who gets it already understand and agree on the other person’s abilities.

Technology innovators, business gurus, and especially people who have found a way to make money through an online effort are often said to get it.

To say that someone gets it is high praise. But what about the people who don’t get it?

I had a discussion with someone the other day about an online app. I have thoroughly researched the app, and it was suggested that I should implement this app for a project. The person pushing the app believes in it fully. I did not. (The app was one way to accomplish a task. I already use another method, which works just as well — actually, I think mine works better. The discussion came down to a difference of opinion.)

It was obvious I wasn’t going to budge, nor was my counterpart. The final suggestion to me was that I should talk to another person “who gets it.” Oh, I see; this third person agrees with the person I’m talking to, so the third person gets it. In other words, I don’t get it.

The situation seemed strange. I’m so used to hearing that someone gets it as a compliment to that person. In this case, it was a slam on me. The use of “getting it” was being used to justify using the app in the first place. Instead of comparing the two methods on their own merits, a summary “he gets it” was applied to justify one method.

I don’t get it.

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What’s your status?

You know that I am active in the Society of Broadcast Engineers. This year I am serving as the chairman of the national Nominations Committee for the elections to be held later this summer. To run in the election, a candidate’s name can be submitted by the Nominations Committee, or a person can be nominated from the general membership. The general nominations are not handled through the Nominations Committee, but rather through the national secretary and the national office.

To serve as a director or officer, an individual must be an SBE member (regular, senior or fellow) and hold an SBE engineering-level certification. To be nominated by the general membership, the SBE member must have the support of at least 10 SBE members in good standing. It’s this last requirement that proved to be difficult for some candidates this year.

Because I chaired the Nominations Committee and I wanted to run for a director seat, I chose to nominate myself through a floor nomination rather than the Nominations Committee. I did this to avoid any potential claim of abuse of power or coercing the committee. I submitted 13 signatures to support my nomination. I asked each one before he signed, and all 13 said he was a member. It turned out that 12 of my signatories were SBE members.

Other candidates who submitted floor nominations had similar experiences with non-member endorsements, and while I only had one bad signature, some of them had to submit many additional names to reach the required 10.

What baffles me is how someone cannot know if he is or is not a current member. In some cases, the membership just lapsed. Ok, that’s not too difficult. In some cases, the membership lapsed five years ago. In one or two cases, the supporter was never a member.

It was suggested to me that there is confusion between membership status and certification status. Membership is renewed every year, while SBE certification is valid for five years. The two are obviously separate to me, but perhaps there is a blur to some. Still, how can someone not be aware of his membership status? If you have any insight, please share it with me.

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Portable HD Radio — finally

You saw the news that Insignia has released the HD Radio Portable Player this week. It’s about time, right? I saw a prototype at the 2009 NAB Show, and it looked good. I didn’t get to hear it (besides I didn’t want to put a set of public-use ear buds in my ears), but I scrolled through the display. I have heard that it sounds good and works well.

Radio is portable, and having a portable option for HD Radio is natural and necessary. We listen to radio on the go.

Now the downside: It’s just a radio. Listeners already carry personal devices for audio information and entertainment. Even at the modest $50 price, will the market be flooded with these portable radios? I doubt it. I don’t expect most listeners to add another device to the arm bands or pockets just for a radio.

Still, it’s a good step for the technology. Adding HD Radio to media players and smart phones should be high on the agenda. And once again, it shouldn’t be an option for the consumer, it should just be in the device.

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Really listening to the radio

I had some time on the road driving a route from Kansas City to Joplin, MO, to Indianapolis, to Cincinnati and back to Kansas City. While the 1,400 miles can be fatiguing, there is one aspect I look forward to: Listening to the radio.

When I drive through St. Louis, Indianapolis and Cincinnati (my hometown), I of course seek out the big heritage stations I know. But these aren’t the highlight of the trip. It’s what I hear in the smaller towns that reminds me of what radio is all about.

A few times in Missouri and Illinois I heard a news break that covered commodities and farm reports. Anticipated yields from the sales of crops and livestock don’t figure into my daily life, but those station listeners certainly listened for the details. I heard about several county fairs, weekend swap meets, upcoming holiday activities (this trip was a few weeks before Independence Day), and church or school functions. I heard a few classic remotes from the local appliance store and car dealer. I heard a few contests with a grand prize provided by a local merchant.

It was real radio. Radio for the public. As I zipped down the Interstate, the local community was moving at its regular pace and listening to the radio. Those local stations are an integral part of their communities. Sure, any radio station has an important role in the local community, but that role is amplified in these smaller towns.

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