Radio broadcasting is about to take a giant leap into the 21st century. The vehicle is HD Radio technology; the approved system for digital radio broadcasting in the U.S., and one of the first stations in the state to launch it is WEOS(FM) in Geneva, NY. WEOS will be one of the first stations outside of the New York City area to broadcast in the new format.HD Radio technology is destined to revolutionize the AM and FM broadcasting industry. The noise and interference that cause the static, hiss, pops and fades heard on today’s analog radios will be virtually eliminated with HD Radio digital broadcasting. In addition to crystal clear reception, HD Radio technology will dramatically enhance sound fidelity – AM will have the sound clarity of FM, and FM will rival the sound of compact discs. Equally impressive to sound with CD clarity is that HD Radio technology allows for new wireless data services to be delivered from AM and FM radio stations. So listeners will be able to see or hear the name of the artist and title of the song as it’s being played, or gain immediate local traffic updates, or view weather, stock and news information. According to Michael Black, General Manager of WEOS, “We’re proud and excited to be in the forefront of bringing this new technology to our listeners. It will allow us to provide even better service and a stronger commitment to the community – not to mention a significantly improved audio product. HD Radio will also improve reception problems, due to the hills and valleys of the Finger Lakes. We are also anticipating implementing multiple program streams, as result of this upgrade, with the Tomorrow Radio Project, in conjunction with National Public Radio.” Funding for the project was provided in part from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Consumers are interested. According to a recent Yankee Group study, half of all consumers shopping for a car or home receiver in the next year are interested in buying a digital AM/FM radio. After 80 years of analog transmissions, radio is poised for its digital migration to HD Radio technology and become more competitive in a digital world. The technology is available today for automobile radio, with models available form various manufacturers. Soon, Home audio receivers will be available to consumers through consumer electronics retailers, with models expected to be available in 2005. More information is available at the WEOS website www.weos.org . Ryan Jones, analyst, Media and Entertainment Strategies for the Yankee Group stated, “Of all possible features offered by HD Radio technology, consumers are most interested in its improved sound quality. Yet interactive digital features, like radio recording and onscreen information, will help fuel consumer demand.”HD Radio technology was developed by iBiquity Digital and approved in October 2002 by the Federal Communications Commission. HD Radio allows AM and FM broadcasters to seamlessly transmit digital quality audio alongside today’s analog-based broadcasts. Little or no change in listener behavior will be required since all local radio station dial positions will remain the same. Listeners will simply tune to their favorite programs and stations and receive them in either a digital or analog format depending on their radio. Because stations will begin digital broadcasting using a “hybrid mode,” transmitting digital and analog signals simultaneously, listeners with analog receivers will still be able to pick up the broadcast and will be able to seamlessly upgrade to digital at their own pace.