Bell Goes HD in Toronto

by chris on July 5, 2017

If you have an HD car radio or an HD Radio and you live in the GTA you may have noticed that the two big Bell FM stations have quietly switched on HD in the past few days. 104.5 CHUM FM and 99.9 Virgin Radio are now broadcasting on both FM and HD. The HD2 channel of 104.5 CHUM is rebroadcasting their AM TSN (CHUM-AM) signal, while 99.9 Virgin Radio(CKFM-FM) has 1010 CFRB on it’s second HD Channel. An HD Radio station can broadcast up to 4 different audio channels, by the way.

This is now the 5th station in Toronto to move to HD, after CJSA the 800 Watt Ethnic station, Rogers Kiss FM and CFMS from Markham. These stations are broadcasting from the top of One Canadian place, so their signals are more limited. Most of the high powered FM stations in Toronto are broadcasting off the CN Tower, but could not go HD until a large investment was made in an HD combiner. This has not happened as yet, but I am told that Bell has made a work-around and installed an HD sleeve on the CN tower.

With 2 HD Radio stations broadcasting from Hamilton there are now lots of HD stations that can be heard in the GTA, and there will be more in the next few months. Across Canada there are now more that 30 HD channels available and many of them are listed here.

All this is good for the radio industry because:
a) It makes radio cool again
b) It gives the listener a much richer experience in terms of data and information pushed to the vehicle audio stack.
c) It improves the audio quality of the AM stations that are broadcast on the sub channels in many cases.
d) It can provide a better than FM quality experience depending on his it is configured

Look for Bell to roll out a traffic service on HD in the coming months to provide real time traffic data in some cars including Toyota/Lexus, BMW, Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover, TomTom.

The other difference on CHUM this week is that Jay Michaels is filling in for the vacationing Roger Ashby. Jay sounds fresh and hip and perhaps may find himself in that seat more frequently moving forward.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Barry Umansky July 25, 2017 at 10:26 pm

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to those who made it possible to broadcast these stations in HD within the GTA area. To make a long story short, I purchased a 2017 vehicle at the end of October. During the test drive, for some reason, those FM stations that I had the salesperson turn on played perfectly by chance because there was a clear signal. After purchase, I discovered that these stations sounded distorted. I was disheartened. My previous 2005 car was able to get these stations so I assumed it would be the same with new cars. I had some confrontation with the Dealership over this but of course they could or would not do anything. I’m a Senior and maybe naive to the new technology. I wound up buying and having installed a HD car deck so I could at least get one pop radio station (yes I am still very much young at (i)heart). I went all out and bought as well a $2,000 audio system; I’m somewhat of an “audiophile”. I bought more and more CDs in store and albums on iTunes. Now I can enjoy these PLUS the stations I love and to hear the fun talk, jokes, etc. from these great DJs. My efforts were not in vain. Good work!! THANK YOU!!!

Larry Healey September 11, 2017 at 3:19 pm

Did they stop transmitting? I was thrilled to listen to the HD versions of 1010 and 1050. My electric car does not have an AM radio due to interference issues. But I haven’t been able to pick these up for the past few weeks. Worked great at the beginning, but not it’s gone.

chris September 15, 2017 at 2:24 pm

Hi Larry
Bell started broadcasting HD signals from the CN Tower in July. However a fire broke out in the Tower early on 16 August which is the same day the Bell HD signals stopped working. I am sure that Bell will get this fixed.

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