The Wave of the Future, Digital Radio is Here to Stay

By: Keith Londrie

Digital radio has struggled to make it's place in the market. Most of the United States does not yet own a digital or satillite radio and the reasons are clear. The digital radio recievers are not only expensive at the present time, but you must also subscribe to one of the services available for a monthly fee. This monthly fee is more of a deterant than the high prices on the satllite radio receivers. Many stores that sell digital radio receivers are putting up many promotions in the form of discounts and rebates to try to entice the customer into buying.

I personlly feel that digital radio receivers will follow the same path that most electronics follow. In the beginning the price point will be high and as technology improves and mass manufaturing processes are improved, then the costs will come down significantly. We have seen this trend in the past on items such as televisions, VCRs, telephones, stero equipment to name but a few.

Digital radio stations have thousands more options to offer the listener than regular old AM and FM analog radio stations. There is the quality issue. Gone are the days in which the radio quality would fluctuate based on whether or not you were driving under an overpass or passing by power lines. Through digital, there is relatively no disturbance from any outside sources which could disrupt your listening experience. This is one of the biggest pluses to digital radio. Also, there is no need for the guessing game when you hear a track you like and the disk jockey simply neglects to mention the name of it. With digital radio stations and an invention called "radiotext," listeners will be able to read the name of the artist and title of the track right on their radio receiver as the song is playing. Radio stations will also be able to transmit information about the news, weather and traffic directly into text form on your radio receiver. I like these options very much.

Any station that currently says it is totally digital is lying. They are simply a hybrid of analog and digital where the radio receiver first picks up the analog signal and then homes in on the digital signal for a better quality broadcast. The possibilities do not end there though, as it may even be possible for digital stations to broadcast pictures and videos directly to your car or home stereo through the magic of digital broadcasting.

Although terrestrial digital radio stations are at least ten years off, there is a way to experience some of the benefits of digital radio stations today. Satellite radio, brought to you in America by XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio offer the closest thing to full digital radio. They provide the listener with high quality sound and radiotext to let people see what they are listening too.

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