There Is No Cat

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Saturday, April 20, 2002

Digital Radio

For this year's Winter SWL Fest, I tried to get Radio Netherlands to send someone, or at least to send a radio, to demonstrate Digital Radio Mondiale, the system that's allegedly going to change the way we listen to international shortwave broadcasts. Unfortunately, the Fest happened at the same time as something else that their DRM guru had to attend, so it didn't happen. But RNW has a nice section on their site explaining the new system, which is good, because the DRM consortium hasn't done squat to get the word out to the people who are actually going to buy (or not buy) the receivers. For years, listeners have been told that digital shortwave is coming, but not much more than that. I think the DRM consortium sees listeners as sheep who will buy the receivers when they come out because they say so. But precedents like the take up on digital television (do you know anyone who has a digital TV? I didn't think so) argue that consumers will do whatever they please, and that top-down imposed solutions are as likely to fail as they are to succeed. They haven't done a damned thing to sell the listeners on digital shortwave. It's nice that DRM has a page of sample clips, but I really hesitate to judge what it's going to sound like based on an online clip, since you can't tell what's a compression artefact from being online and what's an artefact from the DRM process. Anyway, it's nice to see Radio Netherlands try to fill some of the gap, proving once again how they're The Good Guys of international broadcasting.

Meanwhile, my old friend Scott Fybush from the early days of reported from the National Association of Broadcasters convention about the prospects for the digital system that American broadcasters are trying to foist on the American public. He seems to sum the situation up in the following quote (scroll down to the report for Tuesday, April 9 on Scott's page):

[Y]ou've probably already heard about the lukewarm endorsement given to Ibiquity's AM digital in-band, on-channel standard. The recommendation released here suggests that the standard is, quite literally, not ready for prime time: it's suggested for daytime use only.

We're not surprised; the buzz we've been getting from those we trust in the industry suggests that the system just isn't ready to deal with nighttime skywave conditions - or, more worrisomely, with the adjacent-channel listening that nighttime skywave makes possible.

Anyone who has ever tuned the AM band at night could have seen this one coming....

A few weeks ago, I heard an ad on CKLW 800 for digital radio. Canada seems to be doing it reasonably right; they have a separate band so the signal can actually carry decent audio, and they're selling it to the public instead of shipping it and hoping people notice. If I lived anywhere near the border like when I was growing up in Detroit, I'd probably get one. Then again, I don't know, maybe they're the laughing stock of Canada. But I thought hearing an ad for it on a major station was a good sign.

Posted at 1:02 AM


Note: I’m tired of clearing the spam from my comments, so comments are no longer accepted.

I live in venezuela and been working the radio art (design , repair, modify) since i was a kid, I'll be happy to find a free sound card based DRM decoder for windows that let me receive SW signals of this kind from other countries.can someone help me?? I apologice for killing shakespeare whith my poor english

Posted by francisco javier, AKA "MAKLAO" at 1:55 AM, May 8, 2007 [Link]


You're in luck. There is a free program, Dream, that decodes DRM signals. You can find it at . If you're looking for a binary version for Windows, you can find that at . If you're looking to build your own copy of Dream under Linux, I suggest looking at Mark Fine's page at for detailed instructions.

Good luck! (It's pathetic that *five years* after I wrote this post, there's *still* no easily purchased radios for receiving DRM signals....)

Posted by ralph at 2:07 AM, May 8, 2007 [Link]


This site is copyright © 2002-2024, Ralph Brandi.

What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio

There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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