Radio poised to enter digital era

The radio industry is going to enter the high-tech digital world much sooner than its tv brethren, says Duff Roman, chum vice-president, industry affairs.Roman pointed out major L-Band frequency digital transmission tests are already under way in Toronto and Montreal, reaching...

The radio industry is going to enter the high-tech digital world much sooner than its tv brethren, says Duff Roman, chum vice-president, industry affairs.

Roman pointed out major L-Band frequency digital transmission tests are already under way in Toronto and Montreal, reaching 25% of Canada’s population.

In each market, there are already about 11 stations taking part in the tests.

As well, two additional test sites, in Ottawa and Vancouver, will begin operation this summer, expanding digital’s reach by another 10%.

Roman, noting large-scale interactive tv broadcasts are still a decade away, predicted that as early as late winter, 1996, radio manufacturers will begin shipping digital receivers in Canada with early models priced in the $1,000 range.

Roman made the comments after a keynote speech at The Advertising Club of Toronto’s Radio Day luncheon, held April 3 at Toronto’s Delta Chelsea Inn.

Digital radio is an audio broadcasting technology that transmits in digital language impervious to signal interference. The result is cd-quality reception.

Roman, who is vice-president of Digital Radio Research (drri), an industry body formed to promote digital radio, told the luncheon audience there is no limit to the number of innovations digital technology could bring to radio.

In one example, he explained digital receivers could include screens that would display information received on separate data transmission channels.

This would enable advertisers to support their audio ads with additional information on the screen. Eventually, printers could be incorporated so advertisers could distribute coupons and other promotional offerings.

A related feature he expects will quickly find favor among advertisers is a ‘tell me more’ button the listener could push if he or she wants to learn more about a particular show or advertisement.

The button could switch the radio to an information channel or call up a file that has been stored in memory.