Friday Feedback for April 18, 2014
Today is the day, boys and girls, when we deal with some technical issues. We are after all in the business of working with audio and computer technology all day long. Not all of these will affect every listener, but I hope they’re of interest.
Don Lund in Southport wrote:
Every TUE evening I drive from Southport to Surfside Beach, SC and WHQR is my companion. As I reach the Myrtle Beach area, WHQR (91.3) understandably fades in/out. I immediately switch to 98.9 Myrtle Beach but the reception is even worse with a other stations creating garble on 98.9. Why is not 98.9 "clear as a bell" while in Myrtle Beach? Also why do you always talk about "translators"? Is that supposed to mean something to me listening on a car radio?
I wrote back to Don:
A translator is a low-power repeater of a station's primary signal. It's not something that listeners necessarily need to know, but we are required by the FCC to identify translator call signals (such as W255BZ) three times a day. "Clear as a bell" will certainly depend on your location... In highway driving (such as on SC 31), it goes roughly from SC 22 in North Myrtle Beach to down near the airport. Different receivers will handle this differently in the real world."
at Kings Hwy and SC544 the reception is bad ([that's ]Surfside Beach) but I guess that is South of the airport.
Next, listener Sam wrote:
Is it just my radio, or does WHQR have an issue with the broadcast skipping? … For some reason, there are frequent "skips" which essentially are a repeat of a word....for example: Thanks for listening to NPR NPR, National Public Radio Radio.
I wrote back to Sam requesting more information, and here's what's going on with his radio: He has HD radio in his car. When the HD radio signal is lost, it doesn't fade away like an analog signal. Instead, the receiver shifts back to FM mode briefly to preserve continuity. In order to make this unobtrusive, the two signals are supposed to be precisely synchronized. Sometimes that synchronization shifts and you hear the duplication Sam describes. Thanks to our operations crew, we have aligned the signals. In the longer term, we have plans to strengthen the HD signal, which will eliminate the switching back-and-forth for most HD listeners.
There's a happy ending to this one: after we made the adjustment, Sam wrote back
I was in the car for about an hour today and noticed the "skipping" has completely stopped, allowing me to listen with out interruption. This is why I continue to listen to and support public radio, because the experience is so much more than just a frequency on my dial.
And appropriately for Good Friday: Last Sunday, NPR's Weekend Edition reported on a controversial statue in Davidson, North Carolina that had prompted discussion in that affluent university community. The statue depicts Jesus as a vagrant sleeping on a park bench. St. Alban's Episcopal Church installed the homeless Jesus statue on its property in the middle of an upscale neighborhood filled with well-kept townhomes. Listener Steph Conger Limoges put this one-word comment on our Facebook page: