KACU becomes first Abilene radio station to broadcast in HD

Posted April 22, 2010

KACUCall it the dawn of a new age at KACU.  At 11 a.m. on Friday, April 23, Abilene's public radio station became the first station in the Big Country to broadcast its signal in the high definition format.

You've heard AM radio.  You know how much better the same music sounds on FM.  Now imagine CD-quality sound coming in over the airwaves.

"There is so much competition in the market with AM, FM and radio on the internet," says KACU-FM station director John Best. "By being able to provide amazingly high-quality sound in high def, we feel this is a way to give our listeners something they can't get anywhere else."

KACU was able to purchase and install the new HD transmitter thanks to local matching funds and a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The station also just replaced its original analog FM transmitter that went online in 1986.

Best says he and his team have been working for the past three years to take KACU across the HD threshold.

"This will allow us to provide Abilene with not one but effectively three new ways to hear programming from the ACU campus," says Best. "Besides receiving Public Radio broadcasts from our FM station, we will also be able to program classical, sports and talk content for our second and third HD bands." Those bands, he adds, are not yet operational since programming details have not been ironed out.

"Adding essentially two new radio stations gives us more opportunities for our students to produce and broadcast original material."

If you would like to hear the new signal, it won't be easy – at least not at first:  You probably don't have an HD radio receiver.

That problem will likely be solved over time as more car makers provide HD tuners as standard equipment. You may also start to see more HD tuners showing up in stores like Best Buy as components you can add to your existing home audio system.

"HD broadcasting is getting a foothold in large cities around the country, though the format hasn't been widely adopted," says Best. "HD is just now reaching some medium-sized markets like Abilene – and we've got it."

Dr. Cheryl Bacon chairs ACU's Department of Journalism and Mass Communication. "Many people have invested time and resources to make HD radio for Abilene a reality," says Bacon. "We are pleased to be the first Abilene station to offer this enhanced sound to our listeners. We look forward to expanding our programming as the work is complete."

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