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This is less of an executive order and more of a rant, really. Over the weekend I listened to a segment of On the Media in which they discussed HD Radio (download the mp3 for that segment). It is a new technology that allows stations to broadcast up to three free digital channels (two CD-quality, one voice-quality) in the space of one analog station. And the broadcast is backwards comptatible so old radios still work. A really excellent thing is in order to entice people to buy radios the stations are broadcasting without commercials until 2007.
All of these things got me interested enough to investigate this. The first thing I checked out was the list of local stations that offer HD radio. As you can see below, only three stations in San Diego have adopted this technology. If you click on the image, you’ll see that Fresno has six. America’s Finest City beat out by Fresno. Excellent.
I also checked out the various HD radios available for purchase. The radios are expensive and small in variety. If I could find one for around $100 would consider one, but the cheapest ones are $300 and the shelf-type. I’m looking for a component-type since I already have a set of nice speakers and an amplifier.
A bigger and better-known problem like this is the implementation of HD TV services. And, surprise, San Diego lags behind there, too. San Diego has six HD broadcast stations, while Fresno has 11. San Diego is the 28th largest market in the US, while Fresno is the 58th. Ron Burgundy would be ashamed.
Why do I compare San Diego with Fresno? Have you been to Fresno? I guess it’s more natural that Fresno has better radio and TV, what else is there to do there? Seriously, San Diego better get it’s act together, or else I’m really gonna have to issue an excecutive order. I want my HD services.
Sure, there are devices that may not ever go outside (GPS), won’t be hooked up to the internet (NTP) and can’t receive the NIST or cell tower broadcasts because they’re in the basement. But there are ways around this. Put micro-repeaters on powerlines so anything within a neighborhood that is plugged in can receive the time. With careful engineering, even a battery-operated wall clock in the deepest basement could tune into the subtle signal that pulses in the wall circuitry. Put bluetooth in wrist-watches (cell phones already have it!) and create a kind of NTP for timekeeping devices. Just as long as the deeply buried gadget comes in contact with an approved wristwatch often enough, things should work out.
I don’t think I’m the only one with this dream. This last weekend I purchased at a local Target a Casio WVA105HA-1AV Waveceptor Wristwatch for about $55. Every evening it tunes into the NIST broadcast to keep the clock milisecond accurate. A quick comparison with other Casio models tells me I paid about a 100% premium for the Waveceptor functionality, but that cost would go down with all the volume following my executive order.
Remember, if you want this to be reality, vote for me! And do try not to forget, because I’m not even eligible to run for president for nine years.