Indiana RadioWatch: August 14, 2004

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Where Are They Now? Former Federated Media/Director of Rock Programming Greg Gillespie is now PD at WBGG and WWSW in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Kevin Redding, PD/mornings at Classic Rock/WAOR (95.3fm, Niles, Michigan) exits for weekends at Boston's perennial rock station - WAAF.


News from WICR-FM (88.7fm, Indianapolis) - From their website:

It's official: WICR-FM goes on air in High Definition

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Two ham radio operators from Plainfield who own a cutting-edge High Definition radio flipped the switch today to launch WICR-FM (88.7) into the digital age, making it the first public radio station in Indiana to broadcast in HD.

Ironically, most of WICR's listeners can not yet appreciate the higher sound quality because digital radios are not readily available to consumers. The Plainfield men, Gary Day and his father, Ken, obtained their HD radio over the Internet and had been waiting months for WICR to get its new equipment in place.

The classical-and-jazz station owned by the University of Indianapolis can now bring CD-quality sound to its 40,000-plus listeners and open the door to new ways of sending not just audio, but data over the radio waves. With the new data capabilities, broadcast students at the university will soon be learning the latest technology for delivering news and information to listeners.

"If you can tell the difference between FM radio and a CD you put into your player, you can tell the difference between FM and HD radio," said Gary Day. "But AM is where you really hear the difference."

Converting the station to digital before consumer radios are widely available was a bold move, admitted WICR General Manager Scott Uecker. "HD Radio technology is here; however, until stations broadcast in high definition and listeners demand radios that can receive those signals, the manufacturers have little incentive to produce them. Our music format is perfect for HD radio and we think our listeners are ready for the leap in audio quality that this technology provides."

Uecker noted, "Classical music audiophiles were responsible for the early success of compact discs. Their desire for higher sound quality created the initial demand for CDs. We think they are now ready to embrace digital radio, which will give them the clarity of CDs on the air."

The decision to go digital this year was made easier by the station's need for a new transmitter, Uecker said. "We had a transmitter that was installed in the early 1980s that needed to be replaced at a cost of about 80% of what the upgrade to digital would entail. It wasn't that much more to complete the conversion to digital, and we were able to cover the expense largely through listener donations and underwriting."

WICR signed a contract with iBiquity Digital Corporation, the nation's only developer of the HD radio technology approved by the Federal Communications Commission as the industry standard. More than 300 stations have signed agreements with Ibiquity, including nine stations in Indiana. More than 100 stations are already on-the air across the United States, including six commercial stations in Indiana.

Listeners can still receive WICR with their analog radios on 88.7 FM, but they'll need a high-definition radio to fully appreciate the sound quality of the new signal, which also is heard at 88.7 FM. Digital signals are more robust and thus less susceptible to obstructions caused by tall buildings and the like. The blips in signal strength that FM radio listeners sometimes experience while driving downtown are expected to disappear.

HD radio also provides the ability for a station to transmit auxiliary digital information on an LCD screen. Existing analog technology allows for stations to transmit basic information such as a song title and an artist's name, but HD radio eventually will be able to include custom weather and traffic reports as well as breaking news. "This is an area of great potential and that we're going to need to figure out along with the rest of the industry. It's exciting for our students to have an opportunity to experiment as we find out what works and what does not. What a great teaching opportunity," said Uecker.

Down the road, second-generation data services will be able to provide even more information and allow listeners to pause, store, fast-forward, index or replay programming, as Tivo has done for television, Uecker said.

National Public Radio is working on developing a second audio program stream to allow stations to provide more programming. Uecker says the possibilities are endless if NPR's efforts are successful. "As public radio stations, we are tasked with providing alternatives to commercially available programming, niche formats. Just think what we could do with 168 more hours a week to provide programming."

Satellite radio has features and advantages similar to HD radio but can only be received by subscription, which involves a monthly service fee, he noted. Also, satellite programming and data services are not local.

HD radio receivers were introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2003. Some automakers promised to put the radios in high-end, model-year 2004 cars. How soon receivers are available to consumers in stores remains to be seen.

"Radio stations have to get digital signals on the air," Uecker said. "When we do, manufacturers will follow. The largest radio station owner nationally, Clear Channel, just announced that they plan to immediately begin converting 1,000 of their stations to HD radio. Two commercial radio stations in Indianapolis already have moved to digital. I encourage all of the Indianapolis stations to take a long hard look at converting in the near future. It's good for our industry. It's good for our listeners. The additional services we will be able to provide are certainly in the public interest."

Tribune names Jerry Martin as VP/GM of WXIN-TV/WTTV-TV (Channel 59, Indianapolis [FOX]/Channel 4, Bloomington [WB]), effective 23 August. Martin arrives from our nation's capital where he was VP/GM of WB affiliate and Tribune sister station WBDC-TV.

Employment Opportunities

News-Talk 1190 WOWO, Fort Wayne, Indiana's #1 50,000 watt news, weather, and talk station, has a rare opening for a full-time newsanchor/reporter. WHAT WE WANT: An experienced professional who can...write contemporary news, deliver an energetic cast, crank the daily grind of an anchor shift, work a flexible beat schedule, generate appointment-listening story ideas, and gather the very best sound-bites. T & R being accepted right now. Send immediately to Jon Zimney, WOWO Operations & News Director, 2915 Maples Road, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 46816. Newstalk 1190 WOWO and Federated Media are an Equal Opportunity Employer.

News Director

WQME Radio
1100 East Fifth Street
Anderson, IN 46012

WQME FM, a commercial radio station owned by Anderson University, has an immediate opening for a full time News Director. Persons applying should have a B.A. in a related field and experience in radio news gathering and reporting. Responsible for day to day operation of the news department, management of student staff and on-air delivery in morning or afternoon drive. Possible teaching opportunities as well. Community relations, goal setting, organizational skills, mentoring abilities, interest in working as a team player and the ability to mentor university students are all requirements for this position. Excellent fringe benefits.

Must meet university lifestyle expectations.

Position Available: Immediately

Interested persons may submit a resume and application as well as a "demo" CD of talent and news production work to the Assistant Director of Human Resources, Decker Hall Room 10, Anderson University, 1100 East Fifth Street, Anderson, IN 46012.

Anderson University is a church related, liberal arts college. The University has approximately 2,200 undergraduate students, a graduate School of Theology, and graduate programs in education and business in the College of Professional Studies. Persons interested in University employment must be supportive of the University's mission to provide quality higher education in a Christian environment.

Anderson University is an equal opportunity employer.

That's it for this issue!

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