Reader Question: The Fate of TV Radios?

Q: I have not been able to find anyone who feels confident with their answer to this question and hope you can help me. I have three radios that receive audio only TV signals. Will I be able to receive audio only TV signals on these radios after the switch to digital? I talked with the FCC and they weren’t sure. It would be helpful to know if the TV bands on these radios will work after the transition to HDTV. Thanks so much!
Donita Jolly

A: Thanks for the question. Sadly, your radios will not work after the analog broadcast cutoff on February 17, 2009.

Analog broadcasts split the video and audio portions of the signal into two parts. The audio is broadcast separately, which is why you can hear the audio for Channel 6 at the low end of some FM radios. Your television tuner is then able to reconnect these two separate streams.

With digital broadcasts, the audio and video portions are both encoded into a single signal that are then processed by the digital tuner in your television.

The good news is that the digital converter boxes have audio output, and they are available for $50 or less. If you get the $40 government rebate, then you get the converter for $10 or less. You could plug in a pair of self-powered speakers to the audio output, and it will be able to give you the audio track for the local TV stations.