HD radio broadcasting hits Hawaii with Star 101.9
CLEAR Channel Hawaii's KUCD-FM 101.9 has won the race to become the first Hawaii station to start high-definition, digital radio broadcasting.
"We started ... on April Fool's Day," said Chuck Cotton, general manager of the seven Oahu stations owned by Texas-based Clear Channel Communications Inc.
He wasn't joking. He was istening to the stations on an HD radio in his office.
Star 101.9's programming is at 101.9-1. Its HD sister is playing test-music on 101.9-2, but a harder rock format will likely begin by the end of the week.
KSSK-FM 92.3 will go HD "within the next month," and the other two Clear Channel FM stations' HD broadcasts will begin before year's end, he said.
The stations' regular programming will air on the -1 channel, because "you don't blow up what you already have," he said. The -2 stations' formats will be different.
For instance, Perry, Price and colleagues will air on 92.3-1, while 92.3-2 will play smooth jazz.
KIKI-FM 93.9 will groove old-school R&B on its secondary channel and mainstream country music will kick and twang on the HD sister-station of KDNN-FM 98.5.
Clear Channel's Hawaii AM stations won't go HD, as their mainland counterparts have.
"We have so many transmitters multiplexed here, meaning three AM transmitters in the same location ... they would all trip over each other," he said.
The -2 stations will run commercial-free for 18 months, which means no revenue stream from whence to pay increased electricity costs or on-air talent. Clear Channel corporate has not announced plans to staff the stations.
Cross-town competitor Cox Radio Hawaii is also preparing for HD, with two digital transmitters on-site, said Mike Kelly, general manager.
Atlanta-based Cox Radio Inc. will bring HD to Hawaii by the fourth quarter, he said.
Tabletop HD radios cost about $300, or less after a mail-in rebate offered by one retailer -- but as broadcasters are fond of pointing out, there are no subscription fees as there are with satellite radio.
HD tabletop radios are available locally from RadioShack and online from Circuit City. HD receivers for automotive installation are available online from Circuit City and Best Buy.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: email@example.com