Digital Radio

5am, ahead of today's digital radio launch.

5am, ahead of today's digital radio launch.

I got out of bed far too early this morning.

I needed to be in Martin Place by about five for the “official launch” of digital radio in Australia.

I woke at about 4.15, and hit the shower until I was absolutely awake and then caught a cab into town.

There weren’t too many people around in Martin Place at about five this morning. Well, there were lots of radio station marketing people, and a few producers and announcers. From what I could see, I was possibly the only radio station manager, the remainder of whom were probably, sensibly, home in bed.

The only non-radio people I noticed at about five this morning were the garbos, and a few blokes in suits. “Do you think they’re going to work or coming from the bars?”, I asked a colleague when we overhead a couple of blokes in suits chatting on the way through.

Shooting the group photo for the digital radio launch in Sydney.

Shooting the group photo for the digital radio launch in Sydney.

Overall, it was a reasonably enjoyable morning, with a large crowd of people attending, and a genuine sense of comraderie in the air. Even though we’re all rivals in some way shape or form, many of us have worked together in the past, and there was a good feeling in catching up with people you only ever see occasionally.

As for digital radio itself, I think the potential is pretty amazing. Already there’s a few new stations on air, though with nothing you couldn’t otherwise find on the net. And more are bound to be launched over the next 6 to 12 months.

Digital radio launch in Sydney group photo.

Digital radio launch in Sydney group photo.

Although I have access to one at work, I haven’t actually bought a digital radio yet. Personally I think they’re still too expensive, and I’m prepared to wait for the next generation of receivers – only a few months away – which also incorporate internet radio, tapping into your home wireless network. In my lounge room I have my computer set up to my sound system, so I can listen to good quality audio over the net all the time. I’m keen, however, for something in my bedroom which is where I also do a fair bit of listening.

In the midst of a couple of busy days, I came home for a couple of hours to break up the long day, and even managed to have an hour or so asleep on the couch.

I went back to work about 3, and did a few more things.

Coming home tonight I was impressed by a lovely moment on Sydney buses. You don’t often hear about bus drivers being kind and considerate, so I thought I’d share this story of a bloke asking for directions at Railway Square. Rather than just tell the passenger he was at the wrong spot, the driver said, “Grab a seat and I’ll drop you off on the way”. How cool is that?

  1. I hadn’t heard about it, but digital radio sounds really cool. I haven’t listened to the radio for years because I can’t stand the low-quality sound.

    Do you know if there is any difference between the way radio stations process their digital and analogue signals?

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    1. Mark, we’ve been fiddling about with the processors a bit to get the best sound. Analogue, esp. AM is “very forgiving”, but digital and online needs different processing esp when you have a format which includes both music and talk.

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      1. Interesting. I would have thought you’d just put a DSP preset on it and all would be well.

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  2. For distributed wireless around the house, I now use the Sonos system which taps into my home wireless system, and not only allows me to stream my MP3s everywhere, but radio stations from all over the world (through my router). I can have the same thing playing all over the house, or something different in each of my 3 zones. There’s also a free controller app for the iPhone. With a network hard-drive you don’t even need your computer on for *any* playback.

    I’m wondering now if – with streamed radio and podcasts – digital radio in the home is a bit late to the party??

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    1. Mike, I know what you mean. We should have had digital years ago! I think it’s role will be portable, car-based etc. You listen at home via streamed (free to air digital in the bathroom) and then pick it up in some other way on the bus/train, and then again differently when you get to work. For me, the present/future is content on any platform. I don’t think most people care about the platform, so long as they can pick it up.

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  3. Mike Carlton showed less than camaraderie when speaking to Adam Spencer in his references to Kyle Sandilands and Alan Jones.

    I’m pleased to read your reference to the next generation receivers. Hopefully they will be cheaper as well as better.

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    1. Victor – I’m gonna wait for Christmas or the Boxing Day sales!

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