Thirty-three years after its debut as the first National Public Radio station in mid-Missouri, KBIA/91.5 FM has reached yet another broadcast landmark. On Tuesday, KBIA launched the first high-definition radio service in mid-Missouri.
“A lot of people are calling it the biggest change in broadcasting since FM started,” said Roger Karwoski, KBIA’s assistant manager and director of engineering.
Perhaps the most significant feature of the high-definition signal is it will provide KBIA with a dual signal, which means KBIA can have multiple formats. The station’s frequencies will remain the same, but listeners will have the choice of news or music by pressing a button on their high-definition radio. The station hopes to be multicasting within the next year.
“We think listeners will be excited (about the dual signal) because you have people who have one preference or another,” said Michael Dunn, general manager of KBIA.
KBIA’s listeners will have to wait to reap the benefits of the new service because high-definition radios will not be sold in stores until late this summer. Dunn recommends that listeners wait to purchase a high-definition radio because the project will take years to complete.
KBIA is a 100,000-watt NPR station that broadcasts to 16 counties in mid-Missouri. KBIA’s 20-year-old transmitter was replaced with about $255,000 in new high-definition equipment, funded by government grants, MU, the Fleming Foundation, Boone County Community Trust and more than 1,000 private donations.