Gary Liebisch has been in broadcast engineering for over 40 years.

Gary joined Nautel in April of 2007, as the Eastern U.S. Regional Sales Manager, has served on the Board of Directors for the Society of Broadcast Engineers from 2008-2012, and is a Lifetime Certified Professional Broadcast Engineer.

He has held the title of Chief Engineer and Group Director of Engineering for stations in Spartanburg, SC, Raleigh, NC and Cincinnati, Ohio, and holds Amateur Radio call W8GEL.

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by Gary Liebisch

One of the most frequent questions I get asked on the road by station owners is how fast HD Radio penetration is increasing. And while some very general numbers indicate that HD Radio is included in about 45% of new cars sold, it can be harder to estimate what the penetration is among all cars on the road. I am speaking mobile only here, as radio has become primarily a “mobile” medium.

I recently talked with a station owner in a Top 100 market (actually near the BOTTOM of the top 100) who was able to get some very useful information on HD Radio penetration in his specific market from the HD Radio folks at Xperi (new name for DTS aka iBiquity). According to HD Radio Broadcast Business Development Director Rick Greenhut, they have compiled IHS auto registration data on HD Radio equipped vehicles sold by DMA market and this data can be made available to stations on a market by market basis. Because they count registered vehicles only, unsold cars are not counted. This can help in making a case to justify a decision to pull the trigger on an HD Radio upgrade.

On the DRM side, where receiver penetration is likewise key, many are now singing the praises of a new DRM receiver announced late last year called the Titus II. The receiver is the result of a joint effort by its manufacturer PantronX and Transworld Radio. It is essentially an Android tablet computer with a wideband SDR (Software-Defined Radio) receiver that covers from 100 kHz to 2 GHz! Price will be under $100 US and the company is taking Pre-Orders now.

In India, where Nautel installed 27 high power sites equipped for DRM for All-India Radio, an automotive radio capable of DRM reception will be introduced by Hyundai-Mobis for cars sold in India. The NXP chips and the receivers are designed in India for both entry level and luxury cars in that country. It is AIR’s goal to cover 1.2 BILLION people, — 70% of the area and 99% of the population –with DRM coverage. The transition is being made with an interim simulcast in analog.

DRM is now also being heard and tested in countries such as Pakistan, Brazil (shortwave) and South Africa. Johannesburg commenced operation of the first African trial on March 1 of this year.

Much has been made of the “FM turnoff” that is now occurring in Norway in favor of newer DAB technology. That country mandated a conversion to DAB two years ago, and there will only be a few community stations remaining on FM. Switzerland has also planned a similar phase out to occur between 2020 and 2024. But it’s far from a foregone conclusion in the rest of Europe. Lacking adequate rural coverage and citing the cost of conversion without obvious benefit, many European countries will be on the FM band indefinitely. DAB was never an option in the US because the L-Band (1452-1492 MHz) on which it operates is reserved for use by the US Military.

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