High-definition radio is expanding in Hawaii, taking baby steps
MORE high-definition digital radio signals have hit Hawaii's airwaves, though they are in testing mode, not yet on the air 24/7.
KCCN-FM 100.3 and KINE-FM 105.1, owned by Georgia-based Cox Radio Inc., are testing the so-called HD-1 channels, said Mike Kelly, vice president and general manager of Cox RadioHawaii.
FM 100's all-digital contemporary Hawaiian music is at 100.3-1, while Hawaiian KINE's traditional tunes are at 105.1-1, during testing.
HD radio is digital radio that is free over the air, but requires a new type of radio receiver -- at varied prices. Broadcasters like to point out that HD radio does not charge subscription fees as does satellite radio, but neither Sirius nor XM Radio is available in Hawaii, except online.
The HD focus is on FM, as interference issues are slowing AM stations' migration to digital, according to industry publications.
One e-mailer to TheBuzz bought a JVC HD radio receiver for his truck for $150 on eBay, after a less-than-satisfactory experience at an Oahu consumer electronics store.
Kelly was impressed that someone outside the industry owns an HD radio.
Given the handful of signals, the number of people who own HD radios is likely much smaller than the number who own high-definition television sets.
The Hawaii stations owned by Texas-based Clear Channel Communications Inc. were first to locally launch HD radio, debuting April 1 with KUCD-FM 101.9-1, which carries Star 101-9's programming. Later that week, its harder-rocking sister station broke through at 101.9-2.
Since then, Clear Channel has introduced smooth jazz on 92.3-2, the second digital sister station of KSSK-FM 92.3; old-school rhythm-and-blues at 93.9-2, the digital sibling of KIKI-FM 93.9; and mainstream country at 98.5-2, whose analog kin are on KDNN-FM 98.5.
That is generally the model. The HD-1 channel mirrors the station on the standard radio dial, while the HD-2 channel may carry a complementary format or, quoting Monty Python, "something completely different."
Kelly is not ready to announce HD-2 formats for KCCN and KINE, but they likely will be on the air before the HD sisters of KRTR-FM 96.3 and KPHW-FM 104.3.
The latter stations' tower sits atop Wiliwilinui Ridge.
Please pause for a moment while all the broadcast engineers shudder.
The tower site is accessible only via helicopter and a hike, or, in hairy weather, only after a very lengthy, muddy, treacherous hike.
"It will probably be in early 2008," Kelly said.
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