KNCT-FM radio recently received a Digital Radio Conversion Fund Grant from the Corporation for Public Radio which will enable the local public radio station to start broadcasting in high-definition (HD) by the end of the year. KNCT, which operates on the campus of Central Texas College (CTC), will then be one of more than 550 public radio stations across the country already transmitting with digital signals. KNCT plans to complete the HD conversion in October.
Rudolph noted the listener benefits of HD radio include a CD-like audio quality and the capability for the station to expand programming services. “Once we are digital, we will be able to access more useful data services such as artist information and traffic” he said. “The technology will also provide us the opportunity to broadcast a second or third channel along with the main HD channel of programming.”
Currently there are more than 2,100 HD radio stations reaching more than 250 million listeners in the United States. Of the 550 public radio stations transmitting digital signals, 180 of those are multicasting with more than 230 multicast streams.
The digital conversion grant provides a maximum of $85,000 per transmitter or 70 percent of the entire eligible digital conversion cost. Max Rudolph, KNCT general manager, noted the grant alone is not enough to cover the entire conversion project. “We are very grateful for the HD grant but we must come up with the remaining 30 percent, or $40,000, to complete the project, said Rudolph. And with the proposed state funding cuts for community colleges, our budget will be greatly affected. Therefore we are going to rely heavily on listener support during our upcoming pledge drive.”
Rudolph added anyone wishing to make a donation can contact the station at 254-526-1176.
Once the digital conversion is complete this fall, the radio station will join its counterpart, KNCT-TV, providing HD broadcasts. KNCT-TV completed transition to full-power high definition (HD) status in 2009 and now broadcasts PBS programming on channel 46-1, the Pentagon Channel on 46-2 and Create TV on 46-3 where local subscribers to Time-Warner Cable and Direct-TV in Waco, Temple and Bryan can access KNCT in HD.
KNCT- FM currently broadcasts at 50,000 watts effective radiated power at 91.3 MHz. It serves as the only central Texas PBS-affiliate. In addition to the easy listening music format, some of its more popular programming includes “Big Bandstand Sundays,” “Concert Time USA,” “The Ol’ Memory Maker with Charlie St. George,” “The Health Report” and “Tumbleweed Smith’s Sounds of Texas.”
The station operates non-commercially with the majority of funding provided by grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and donations from viewers and listeners. The KNCT mission is to provide quality programming to viewers and listeners and serve as a laboratory facility for students enrolled in the radio-television broadcasting program of CTC.