||HD Radio Sales to Begin in 2004
WRAL-FM began broadcasting in high-definition in December 2002 and now for the first time, listeners will have the ability to listen to the superior quality sound. HD radios will hit the national market in February. Until that time, the sets have not been available for purchase.
Kenwood will launch its HD receivers in February. The tuners will cost around $399, not including installation, and must be paired with one of Kenwood’s HD-ready receivers. Over 20 models of the receivers are available.
JVC and Panasonic will put HD radio products on the market in March. The JVC model will go for $849.95, and the Panasonic for $999.95. Each of the two models include CD players and are compatible with MP3 files.
WRAL-FM is the only Triangle radio station currently broadcasting in HD. The signal runs simultaneous with its analog broadcast. The HD signal boasts near CD-quality sound free of static and will be competition for the satellite radio market.
HD radios include text displays on which stations can post song and title information as well as station identification. Satellite radio already offers this feature.
HD radio will be able to compete with satellite radio because of the quality and clarity of the sound. HD radio is free, over-the-air broadcasting, while satellite subscribers must pay for their service.
WRAL-FM A Leader in New Technology
WRAL-FM is also on the cutting edge of technology with radio data system or RDS. The station began using RDS in December 2003, using it to display song and title information and station identification. Listeners with RDS radio set-ups can see the text message sent along with the broadcast signal. The RDS capability is not without controversy. Some argue that the text messages will distract drivers, causing accidents. The display could be used for advertising, weather and traffic updates and other messages as well. WRAL-FM says they will research the safety issue further before deciding to offer any more than the song and title information they currently display.
As is typical with any new technology, HD radio prices will remain high when first on the market, but within four to five years prices are expected to drop drastically, making the product more accessible to the general public.
About 100 stations across the nation have joined WRAL-FM broadcasting their signals in high definition, and a total of 300 have licensed the technology.