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For immediate release
April 18, 2005
Contact:
Jenny Lawhorn, 202.513.2754

NPR's Tomorrow Radio Initiative Brings Multicasting to Digital Radio

NPR to Offer Five Music Services for Supplemental Channels on Public Radio Stations

LAS VEGAS, NV -- Leading the U.S. radio industry in technical innovation and programming, NPR has ensured that multicasting will be a part of public radio's digital future. Multicasting is a feature of HD Radio™ technology that creates multiple broadcast channels from what is presently one analog radio signal.

This summer, NPR will begin offering five programmed music formats to multicasting stations: classical, jazz, electronica, triple-A and folk. Other program offerings NPR is developing for stations with new channels include a news and information service and formats that would serve culturally diverse audiences.

"Digital radio is the biggest innovation in radio since Armstrong invented FM in 1933," said Mike Starling, NPR's vice president for engineering and operations, and the father of the Tomorrow Radio initiative. "Public radio looks at multicasting with HD Radio as more than just a new technology. It's a creative, cost-effective way to extend our public service at a time when demand for public radio is greater than ever. We want to offer better and more choices for our listeners. That's why NPR and public radio are making such significant investments in multicasting technology."

Working with iBiquity Digital's HD Radio, NPR's Tomorrow Radio initiative has brought multicasting to the radio industry through rigorous testing of the supplemental audio channel or "multicasting" concept, promoting its viability to regulatory agencies and manufacturers and providing technical support to independent, local public radio stations converting to digital. Twenty-four NPR member stations will begin multicasting in 2005.

NPR has also established a Multicast Receiver Team, comprised of seven NPR member stations: WOSU-FM, Columbus; WUSF-FM, Tampa; WFAE, Charlotte; WNYC New York Public Radio; Chicago Public Radio; Northern Indiana Public Radio; and Colorado Public Radio. The team is holding detailed conversations with selected receiver manufacturers, aimed at a nationwide multicast receiver initiative for public radio listeners.

In addition, Tomorrow Radio partner Kenwood has been certified by NPR Engineering to use the NPR Multicast seal on their KTC HR100-TR and KTC HR100-MC receivers.

NPR launched the Tomorrow Radio initiative in January 2003 with partners Kenwood and Harris Corp., with support from the CPB (Corporation for Public Broadcasting). Its first phase tested and demonstrated the technical viability of multiplexing with the HD Radio system. Current and future phases will promote services such as store and replay features, display options, and customized content services such as current traffic for individual commuters. Currently, there are 56 public radio stations broadcasting in HD radio, with a total of 312 public radio stations committed to convert in the coming months.


About NPR
NPR is renowned for journalistic excellence and standard-setting news and entertainment programming. A privately supported, non-profit, membership organization, NPR serves a growing audience of 23 million Americans each week in partnership with more than 780 public radio stations. International partners in cable, satellite and short-wave services make NPR programming accessible anywhere in the world. With original online content and audio streaming, npr.org offers hourly newscasts, special features and eight years of archived audio and information.