Posted January 15, 2007

WRTI 90.1-FM split signal broadcasts 24-hour jazz, classical formats in HD

Those who love the musical choices that WRTI-FM, Temple University’s all-music public radio station, offers, now have more to love.

The station has joined 19 other Pennsylvania-based stations including powerhouses like WDAS-FM, and WUSL (Power 99)-FM in multicasting in high definition radio. This means that the station can now play two different formats simultaneously.

Because of the challenge traditional radio is facing from satellite radio stations such as Sirius and XM Satellite, more and more radio stations are making the move to HD.

WRTI had been making the move toward HD since last January 2006, but officially started broadcasting its two stations in late December, said Dave Conant, the station’s executive director.

With its split signal, WRTI continues to broadcast classical music from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and jazz from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. on its primary frequency, 90.1-FM. On its secondary channel, available at the same frequency to listeners with digital — or high-definition — receivers, the hours for the two formats will be switched.

In effect, the change enables the station to double its programming by airing 24 hours of both formats every day, seven days a week.

“If classical music comes on and the listener doesn’t like it, he can switch to our other channel,” Conant said. “We call it super-serving the audience.”

WRTI is one of four public radio stations to multicast statewide and one of two in the Philadelphia market, the other being WHYY-FM. In Pennsylvania, 20 radio stations — both public and commercial — are multicasting.

“Very few commercial broadcasters are multicasting right now, so it’s nice to be ahead of the curve and already have the technology in place when the commercial broadcasters do come on board,” Conant said.

HD radio receivers, which cost close to $500 for home consumers, have yet to penetrate Philadelphia and other markets, lagging behind the rapid spread of HD television sets. But industry analysts expect them to take off as prices decline and more stations begin to multicast.

“Not many listeners have digital receivers yet, but it’s incumbent upon us as the producers to upgrade our technology and provide the content for listeners,” Conant said. “We expect that many of our listeners will embrace this new technology.”

In addition to providing the ability to multicast, digital signals elevate FM radio to near CD-quality sound and eliminate static and white noise that is common to traditional broadcasts.

WRTI consistently ranks among the top public radio stations in the country. It is also among the most-listened-to public radio station in the tri-state area, with a weekly audience of more than 341,000 listeners.

Its signal can be heard from northeastern Pennsylvania to Delaware, from Harrisburg to Cape May, and around the world on the Internet at