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Last Of Top 10 Radio Groups Adopts HD Radio

The last of the top 10 radio-station groups committed to rolling out digital HD Radio here at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention, where Polk and Radiosophy unveiled their first home HD Radio products.

In a separate announcement, radio network Westwood One said it will provide its content on a turnkey basis to digital FM stations interested in multicasting multiple programs simultaneously. Westwood One provides more than 150 programs, including music and news, to more than 5,000 stations worldwide. Its Metro Networks/Shadow Broadcast services deliver local traffic reports to radio and TV stations.

Among station owners, Citadel Broadcasting announced plans to convert 60 AM and FM stations to HD Radio during the next three years. The company operates 155 FM stations and 58 AM stations in 24 states, making it the sixth largest radio group by station count.

The Citadel announcement brings the number of major radio broadcast groups committing to HD Radio rollouts to 18 of the top 20 groups, and 22 of the top 27 groups, ranked according to the number of stations operated.

All told, the 22 groups and public radio stations will add HD Radio to more than 2,500 stations, said HD Radio inventor iBiquity. About 275 U.S. radio stations are broadcasting HD Radio signals today.

The other top 10 groups are ABC Radio/Disney, Clear Channel, Cox Radio, Cumulus Media, Emmis Communications, Entercomm Communications, Infinity Broadcasting, Radio One and Univision.

Also at the show, Polk and Radiosophy unveiled their HD Radio consumer products, joining home products due this year from ADA, Boston Acoustics, Day Sequerra, Rotel and Yamaha (see TWICE, April 18, p. 32). For its part, Sanyo showed its first car audio model. Earlier this year, car audio suppliers Alpine, Eclipse and Audiovox’s Jensen unit committed to 2005 shipments of their first car HD Radio products, joining models already available from Kenwood, JVC and Panasonic.

The Polk home product is the single-chassis I-Sonic home-theater system with built-in speakers, DVD player, HD Radio and XM Radio capability at $599. It ships in September. It’s the first single-chassis home theater system of its kind to incorporate DVD player, and it’s small enough for use on a kitchen countertop or nightstand or in a TV stand, Polk said.

The compact 14.5-inch by 9.75-inch by 4.75-inch stereo system is capable of being the primary home entertainment system for many households and yields deep bass, Polk said. It delivers a stereo image throughout a room, the company also claimed.

I-Sonic also doubles as a full-function dual-alarm clock radio that uses the radio or DVD/CD player as the alarm. The single-disc DVD player plays DVD video discs, CDs, picture CD, video CD, MP3 CD and many other formats.

The I-Sonic entertainment system becomes an XM Satellite Radio receiver with the addition of an XM Connect & Play antenna at $49.

In a separate development, Radiosophy of Dakota Dunes, S.D., showed a prototype transportable tuner that docks with a one-piece tabletop amplified speaker system but also connects to home and car audio systems.

Radiosophy’s MultiStream tuner receives FM multicast programming and is scheduled to ship in June at a targeted suggested retail of $249, including amplified speaker system. Polk details were unavailable. The MultiStream tuner is less than 4 inches by 6 inches, and the amplified docking station is less than 16 inches by 7 inches. The tuner features telescoping FM antenna.

Radiosophy was formerly known as RIVERadio.

For its part, Boston Acoustics confirmed June shipments of its tabletop Recepter Radio HD. Pricing still hasn’t been announced, although it was shown at International CES in January. It will ship with included satellite speaker to deliver stereo.

In car audio, Sanyo announced June shipments of a $499-suggested CD-receiver with built-in HD Radio tuner. The ECD-HD1990M also plays MP3- and WMA-encoded CDs and controls a CD changer.