HD Radio FAQ

What are the advantages of HD radio – why have you added it?
What will I need to listen to the HD Radio signal?
Where can I get a new digital receiver and how much will one cost?
What will I hear on KTTZ-FM’s HD Radio signal?
HD1? HD2? How many signals will there be on 89.1?
What does the HD in HD Radio stand for? High Definition?
How much is an HD Radio subscription?
Is there any way to listen to the HD2 channel without an HD Radio receiver?
Are there any battery-powered HD Radio receivers available?
Will my HD Radio only work in Lubbock?
Will my HD Radio work with other stations? Will it still receive analog?
Where can I find more information online?

Q: What are the advantages of HD radio – why have you added it?
A: HD Radio offers an improved signal quality that is less susceptible to noise and interference. The qualitative improvements have been described as bringing “CD quality to FM, and FM quality to AM”.
While that improved quality is nice, the opportunity for multicasting is the real motivation for us to go digital. We cannot afford to buy another radio station to broadcast additional programming, but HD Radio allows us the equivalent of two or more radio stations on our existing frequency. It’s this “3 stations in 1? concept that interested us in digital from the beginning.

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Q: What will I need to listen to the HD Radio signal?
A: A new digital radio receiver. Your current analog radio will not receive the newer digital signal. It is also highly recommended that an external antenna be used to receive the HD Radio signal indoors. Our digital signal is broadcast at only about 10% the power of our main analog signal, so it is much weaker and doesn’t penetrate buildings as well. The range of our digital signal is also smaller, but we have had many listeners report success in receiving our digital signal in Levelland and Lake Ransom Canyon!
There is a proposal pending before the FCC that would allow all digital stations to increase their power. This would greatly help the reception of digital signals. The proposal has not gained final approval yet however.

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Q: Where can I get a new digital receiver and how much will one cost?
A: Since KTTZ-FM is the only digital radio station in Lubbock so far, there isn’t much demand, thus no local retailers are currently offering them (that we are aware of). Digital radios are readily available in larger markets like Dallas and Houston, but not yet here in Lubbock. The best place to find one is via the Internet. A Google search for HD Radio yields several online retailers that carry them. The price varies by functionality of the reciever, but prices anywhere from $150 to $300 are typical. As demand grows and supply increases, expect prices to drop in a manner similar to other media technologies like VCRs and CD players. Newer radio models will also incorporate the latest and improved features the technology has to offer. iBiquity, the company that created HD Radio, and several of the digital radio manufacturers, offer rebates from time to time as an incentive to purchase a new HD Radio.

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Q: What will I hear on KTTZ-FM’s HD Radio signal?
A: The first digital channel, HD1, is a simulcast of what is currently on our analog signal. This is an FCC requirement. The second and third digital channels, HD2 & HD3, can have anything we want on them.
Our HD2 channel currently broadcasts NPR talk programming, with shows like The Diane Rehm Show, Fresh Air, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, and many others. The BBC World Service is broadcast during the overnights. A schedule of our HD2 programming is available on the HD2 page.
Our HD3 channel is still in what we call “test” mode- there isn’t anything scheduled for broadcast there. Right now HD3 is basically a “hodge-podge” of whatever happens to be playing in the CD player at the time. When we do get around to swapping out the CD, you can see what’s playing on our HD3 page. We’re also looking for suggestions as to what could go there, so be sure to tell Clint Barrick, our program director, what you would like to see added to the digital channels.

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Q: HD1? HD2? How many signals will there be on 89.1?
A: Currently there are 3 multicast streams running on KTTZ-FM, with the potential for up to a total of 4 simultaneous signals all sharing the same frequency:
Analog – this is the main signal currently on KTTZ-FM with no plans to discontinue it anytime in the next several years. With 99.99999% of our audience listening to this signal, we’re not likely to turn it off anytime soon. When might we? In a few decades would be my guess.
HD1 – this is the DIGITAL simulcast of the analog signal. It’s just a digital version of what we already broadcast. It is ALWAYS a simulcast of our main analog signal- this is an FCC requirement.
HD2 – this is a completely separate stand-alone digital channel, offering Talk and News programming. Think of this as “KTTZ-FM 2?.
HD3 – this is also a completely separate stand-alone digital channel. No idea what will be on it yet. Think of this as “KTTZ-FM 3?. There is no scheduled programming currently being broadcast on HD3, but you might hear something there occasionally- again this is mainly us testing things as we work the bugs out, until we have a set schedule of programming to put there. Your HD Radio may or may not receive HD3 depending on whether or not we have it active.
HD4 – So far this is just a rumor to stations offering multicasting and not likely something we’ll be able to offer without some major reconfiguring of things. HD4 may not be possible with the current generation of HD Radios being sold.

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Q: What does the HD in HD Radio stand for? High Definition?
A: The HD in HD Radio doesn’t stand for anything, at least that’s according to the manufacturer of the technology behind it, iBiquity. It’s a slick marketing ploy that capitalizes upon the HD TV label, but a completely different technology. What would “high-def” radio sound like anyway? There’s also some evidence to suggest that HD stands for Hybrid Digital, but unless you care for a long-winded explanation about communications theory, bit and packets, diversity delays and other facets of the EE discipline, that will have to suffice.

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Q: How much is an HD Radio subscription?
A: ZERO. There ISN’T a subscription required for HD Radio like there is for the satellite services XM and Sirius. The only thing you pay for is the receiver, and like any other radio, once you have that, the programming you hear on it is free (or worth whatever you donate in support of Public Radio!). PLEASE NOTE- this does not mean the programming on HD2 & 3 is free for KTTZ-FM! We are being offered the digital programming at a greatly reduced rate from the networks, but it is NOT free. The cost for these programs is IN ADDITION to the usual shows we carry on our main analog channel. So we will indeed be asking for your financial help in paying the programming bill for ALL of the programs broadcast on KTTZ-FM, including the ones on the digital channels.

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Q; Is there any way to listen to the HD2 channel without an HD Radio receiver?
A: Yes. You can listen to our HD2 channel as an Internet webstream. Click on the “Listen Now” tab at the top of the main page and you will see the links to our webstreams.

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Q: Are there any battery-powered HD Radio receivers available?
A: Not yet, but they are currently in development. The microchip processor at the heart of the receiver consumes a great deal of power to do its job, which means the chipsets in today’s radios require a wall plug, or your car’s battery if it’s a dashtop unit. R&D is currently underway on a battery-operated/portable radio that will be available in the near future.

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Q: Will my HD Radio only work in Lubbock?
A: No! It will work elsewhere too. It will receive HD Radio signals whenever they are in range. Your radio will work in Dallas, Houston, New York or wherever HD Radio signals are broadcast. (But NOT Europe- they use a completely different digital radio technology!)

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Q; Will my HD Radio work with other stations? Will it still receive analog?
A: Yes, your HD Radio will receive other stations. Once other Lubbock radio stations transition to digital (and there are rumors some will in the next few years), your radio will receive their digital signals too. And yes, it will still receive analog stations just like any other AM/FM radio.

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Q: Where can I find more information online?
A: There’s lots of websites:

HD Radio – the official website.

iBiquity – this is the company behind the IBOC technology that makes HD Radio possible.

NPR Labs offers recommendations on radios they’ve tested and also offers suggestions on improved antenna performance. They have HD Radio recommendations from November of 2006 (a PDF file) and also more recent recommendations from May of 2007 (also a PDF).

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