WCBS/880 no longer HD-AM

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kcbooboo
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WCBS/880 no longer HD-AM

Post by kcbooboo »

I noticed a few nights ago that their legal ID, at about a minute before the top of the hour, changed from:

WCBS, WCBS-HD, and WCBS-FM HD2 New York

to:

WCBS, and WCBS-FM HD2 New York

and this morning I was out in my truck and tuned the station in. Yup, plain old analog, no digital signal at all. I wonder if there was a technical issue or they just realized the benefit wasn't worth the listenership. The signal strength seems lower as well. Perhaps they're running on their backup transmitter that doesn't have HD wired up to it.

Now, if they could only put up a translator in my area...

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Re: WCBS/880 no longer HD-AM

Post by dd92251 »

I've heard thru the grapevine that CBS is finally throwing in the towel on AM-HD. Other CBS stations have dropped the HD already so this is no surprise.
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Re: WCBS/880 no longer HD-AM

Post by NECRAT »

dd92251 wrote: Thu Apr 09, 2020 9:23 am I've heard thru the grapevine that CBS is finally throwing in the towel on AM-HD. Other CBS stations have dropped the HD already so this is no surprise.
Well seeing that it's owned by Entercom, what you heard would be one hell of a wild tale.
However, I remember reading somewhere that Entercom was planning on removing their HDs on AM.
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Re: WCBS/880 no longer HD-AM

Post by Deep Thought »

NECRAT wrote: Thu Apr 09, 2020 2:25 pm Well seeing that it's owned by Entercom, what you heard would be one hell of a wild tale.
However, I remember reading somewhere that Entercom was planning on removing their HDs on AM.
They're turning them all off, and that has been verified both from "inside" and by observation.
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Re: WCBS/880 no longer HD-AM

Post by kcbooboo »

I suppose with so many AM stations having FM translators or FM-HD2 outlets, plus streaming audio, there probably isn't much need for AM-HD any more. It was a Catch-22. Few stations, fewer receivers, licensing costs, antenna system bandwidth issues. Just no marketing gain.

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Re: WCBS/880 no longer HD-AM

Post by Deep Thought »

The other part is the first generation of IBOC exciter equipment installed by early adopters is getting a little long in the tooth, and it isn't cost-effective to replace it for just hybrid mode use. The AM licensing fee is a one-time affair, and anyone already running it has taken care of whatever antenna system work was necessary.
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Re: WCBS/880 no longer HD-AM

Post by Bill DeFelice »

I know one local FM station by me had their FM HD signal disappear as their imported soiled the linen and required service, but they had left the station IDs for their system AM that used an HD subchannel in place.

With the NAB pushing all-digital AM I wonder why they would dump. Personally I always thought that HD was a solution in search of a problem, right from the very development of it. Almost a decade ago I pointed out the potential pitfalls in the Radio World article HD Radio Faces Rocky Road where I felt it would have been better if Adobe or Apple created the codec so it would have been directly compatible with online streaming, making it possible to have a car receiver that could have maneuvered between an off-air signal and a wireless connection's online stream.

The only two HD radios I have are a Radio Shack Accurain table model and a DaySequerra M2 which I had to rehab the LED display due to a manufacturing defect. I rarely, if ever, get to listen to any HD signal on AM or FM and I'd bet the causal radio listener is in the same boat. HD seems to be uneconomically feasible considering what few listeners it would have when compared to analog.
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kcbooboo
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Re: WCBS/880 no longer HD-AM

Post by kcbooboo »

I just happened to tune in the station on my FIM; they aren't running MDCL any more either. WFAN/660 dropped HD quite some time ago yet they're still running MDCL (it's so weird to see the carrier level drop during modulation and come back up during quiet periods). I would think that if MDCL was such a big money-saver, all the 50kw stations would run it if possible.

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Re: WCBS/880 no longer HD-AM

Post by Deep Thought »

Depending on the transmitter adding it is as simple as a menu selection (Nautel NX series), an additional $6500 box plus installation expenses (Nautel XR series) or a major overhaul (just about every other transmitter). The payback is pretty quick but getting the bean counters to agree to a $10K+ expense for anything not "necessary" can be a chore.
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Re: WCBS/880 no longer HD-AM

Post by rfn »

Not specific to WCBS....

Just over a year ago I replaced a Nautel ND25 with a new NX25. The ND had been modified for MDCL and it did save quite a bit on power costs but had a terrible impact on coverage. The station is in Alaska - primarily serving extremely remote villages. In fact, the power cost saving was far greater than estimated and I suspect the installation was never working exactly as intended.

The NX was powered with MDCL not enabled and the coverage expanded immediately. We checked with people in each of the villages who had complained of having lost the signal. In each case they tried again and reported the best signal they'd ever had.

Opinion: MDCL is a good thing for high-powered urban stations whose core audience is close in. It saves some power cost while still allowing bragging rights for the higher power to impress the ad agencies. For anyone wanting to serve a greater geographic area....fuggedaboutit.
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Re: WCBS/880 no longer HD-AM

Post by Deep Thought »

I suspect your data point reflects a malfunctioning or improperly configured system. It would also be interesting to know what the field intensity is at those remote villages. If you are trying to serve them at a 0.1 mV/m level then it may be enough to drop it into the noise, but all of the ones I have worked with run full carrier without modulation and drop 25% or so at 100% modulation. That wouldn't cause your symptoms.
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Re: WCBS/880 no longer HD-AM

Post by rfn »

The MDCL modifications were done by a "consultant" who it was alleged had done a large number of them. I was grudgingly allowed to be on site and didn't like what I saw happening. When it was done one of the two exciters, both of which had no history of trouble, no longer worked. I took some notes and walked away from it for several years. Then with a change in management I was convinced to get back into it (it's pro-bono; no money involved). I asked for two years worth of power bills and found not just a decline in consumption at the time of initial installation but also several steps of power consumption decline at times where there should have been none. The coverage decline that happened immediately upon installation worsened with each step.

Just before I got back into it there was a catastrophic failure involving the low voltage/high current connections - it's a wonder the whole thing didn't burn down. A contract guy was able to have a part made up locally (Nautel could no longer supply) so at least it got back on the air. I estimate that, at best, it was putting out 12.5 kW against a normal 25 kW, Most electrolytics were oozing and the cost of a rebuild made it an easy decision to replace. In dismantling the ND25 we found that many of the braided leads to the inductors in the combiner cabinet had failed which probably accounted for some of the "steps" in reduced output.

When we put in the NX we started out with MDCL disabled and let it cook for 60-days to get a handle on power consumption. Coincident with that it became clear that the remote villages had the signal back. Since the power cost for the NX at full power, no MDCL, was a hair lower than that of the ND even with MDCL enabled it was decided to leave the MDCL off. I thought about turning it on for a trial month but management (I think wisely) didn't want to take the chance of losing those villages and again having to rebuild their confidence.

I've heard from two other stations what jumped on MDCL around the same time and both have given up on it as well.

Whether that's fair or not I can't say.
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