The Section meeting on November 17 was held at the studios of National Public radio (NPR) in Washington, DC. About 35 SMPTE members and guests heard an interesting presentation by Jan Andrews, Senior Engineer at NPR titled: Tomorrow's Surround Radio, Today. Mr. Andrews provided useful background information on HD digital radio based on IBOC (in-band, on-channel) technology now being introduced by many US radio broadcasters. He then gave an update on the developmental work being done to bring surround sound audio to HD Radio. Several surround technology proponents are touting their systems and HD Radio developers have established signaling to support each format, with receiver manufacturers lining up to support various systems.

The presentation included surround sound playback of some interesting original content recorded on location in various exotic locations for the National Geographic Radio Expeditions series. Mr. Andrews also described some of the activities of the newly established NPR Labs, which has commissioned compatibility and assessment studies on surround audio in collaboration with several NPR member stations, the University of Denver, and AES chapters in Denver and Cincinnati.

There was an extended question and answer session as SMPTE members took the opportunity to learn more of this new aspect of radio broadcasting, and the meeting concluded with a tour of the NPR studio facilities and NPR Laboratory conducted by Jan Andrews and his colleagues Mike Starling and John Keen.

Many thanks to NPR for their hospitality for this meeting.

-Graham Jones, Section Manager and Program Chair 

Jan Andrews, speaker at the Washington DC section meeting, with John Keene (left) and Mike Starling (right), all of National Public Radio