Low Power FM? Better think twice!

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Active Member
May 28, 2009
Keeping my conspiracy hat locked away, I'll try to present some reasons for those thinking about establishing an LPFM station to think twice and hard about it!

Reason: The FCC is sending us mixed messages. On one hand, they promote the establishment of LPFM (see my blues thread with more info) community-driven analog stations.

Yet at the same time, we have HD Radio. IBOC or "in band on channel", where the digital components are sidebands surrounding the fm analog signal - aka a "hybrid" station.

The threat to LPFM will be understood by engineers - especially from those adjacent hybrid stations running much wider bandwidth, and with much higher digital sideband levels.

If you read the HD specs, everything is supposed to be rosy and peachy keen. Any tune across the band in analog will reveal not only fm analog degradation, but many AM'ers are suffering from crap signal quality. Studios that sound like they are inside a steel drum are common.

And of course the "multiplex" or "ensemble" of stuffing channel upon channel in a limited bandwidth in the HD component is too tempting for stations to avoid. Hence quality in the HD component not only suffers, but it also affects the analog component as well.

Some stations may be hoping that we'll become like Norway, where they were forced to go with DAB+ - ONLY. Analog is long gone for the nationals, and the regionals have limited time left.

The marketing for that makes it seem like only OLD PEOPLE and AUDIOPHILES are affected. You'll see it and read it many pictures and blurbs about it. The impression is that old-people are just too stupid and can't follow the cutoff date, and audiophiles are just too smart for their own pants and not hip enough.

They don't understand that it is NOT about being unwilling to buy new gear, but the degradation in quality, especially with untrained staff and the multiplexing channel-upon-channel-upon-channel phenomena that makes it a fools dream. Unless of course you wait long enough for children not to even be able to recognize the difference between quality and quantity.

There is also the possibility that those hybrid stations who are currently sitting on their hands waiting for the glorius day that the FCC says it is ok to drop their analog baseband and go pure digital, are willing to feed us iboc-corrupted signals for decades until a decision is made. I wonder how some fire-breathers are getting away with it - the "bandwidth placeholder" effect.

FINALLY - I'm just saying to LPFM'ers to really think twice and hard about your investment, unless you want to be a flash in the pan that gets killed off by hd radio. No matter what happens, the community is the one that suffers, not at the hands of technology, but at the mis-management of it.
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