Bell Goes HD in Toronto

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.