MEDIA RELEASE - 2017 DRM Enterprise Award (Africa) goes to Radio Pulpit 657AM

Radio Pulpit 657AM (member of the Pulpit Media Group) is pleased to announce that the Station and its digital radio development partner, Broadcom International, have jointly received the 2017 DRM Enterprise Award (Africa) for their contribution in actively promoting the DRM standard in Southern Africa. This was announced by the DRM Consortium at the International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam, Netherlands on 15th September 2017.

Digital Radio Mondiale™ (DRM) is the universal, openly standardised digital broadcast system for all broadcasting frequencies. The DRM standard comprises of two major configurations: 'DRM30' is intended for broadcasts on short, medium and long wave up to 30 MHz and providing large coverage areas and low power consumption. The configuration for the VHF bands above 30 MHz is called 'DRM+', tailored for local and regional coverage with broadcaster-controlled transmissions.

The Award aims to stimulate interest in the DRM standard in various parts of the world that would benefit from the full introduction of digital radio (medium wave). Radio Pulpit 657AM (member of the Pulpit Media Group) and Broadcom International made history by leading the South African radio broadcasting industry into the digital era with the first LIVE digital medium wave broadcast and, thereafter, the first medium wave broadcast trial in Southern Africa. DRM30 measurements were conducted successfully on 1440 kHz, using a 10kW DRM30 transmitter with the purpose to present test results to ICASA. The trials were also supported by SENTECH. Results of this trial have been released less than a year ago and because of its success the trial report has recently been included in the documentation of the International Communication Union as reference document.

Regulators, such as ICASA, will find that DRM30 solves frequency congestion and scarcity issues as it supports SFN (Single Frequency Networks). It is spectrum efficient with 3 to 24 different audio services plus data per frequency, depending on the digital technology used. This means that listeners will have a far greater choice to select from.
Medium Wave Broadcasters in South Africa can look forward to cost savings as only one transmitter per site is necessary. DRM30 requires lower transmission power (using less electricity) to cover the same area as equivalent analogue transmitters, resulting in it being green and energy efficient.

In future, listeners should be thrilled with excellent audio quality. Imagine listening to crystal clear 5.1 surround sound in stereo on your favourite station (with no distortion). In addition to this, listeners will be able to tune automatically in to radio stations by station name and say goodbye to manual or automatic frequency re-tunes when leaving a coverage area.

Other advantages include an emergency warning and alert system, warning listeners about possible disaster.  Receivers will have screens for multimedia applications and text messages (visible on the receiver screen) and an Electronic Program Guide (EPG) providing information about what's on - now and next. Listeners will also be able to search for programs and schedule recordings; up to four programs on one frequency will make multilingual programs possible, providing a wider choice of programs. This also offers increased opportunity for revenue generating streams through advertising.

The DRM SA Platform (of which Radio Pulpit 657AM is a founding member) has already engaged with the motor industry in South Africa and various suppliers regarding the availability of digital receivers. A number of cars have already been fitted with DRM radios.

The Platform is confident that the respective communications ministries and ICASA will speedily establish policies and guidelines for the implementation of digital radio in South Africa.

For more information about the DRMSA platform, visit www.drmsa.org

Jean Lung    
Group Manager Communications: Pulpit Media Group
012 334 1237    

Photo caption:
South African community radio station, Radio Pulpit 657AM, receives the 2017 DRM Enterprise Award (Africa) at International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam, Netherlands



Radio Pulpit broadcasts Christian programmes and BBC content at same time on a single frequency

Radio Pulpit, member of the Pulpit Media Group (PMG) has made a second DRM channel available from the Radio Pulpit DRM test facility at Kameeldrift, Pretoria.  The Christian station is performing DRM trials under a temporary license from ICASA and has been broadcasting its programs since July 2014 on the   1440 kHz frequency.

Dr Roelf Petersen, Group MD of PMG and Chairperson of DRMSA (Digital Radio Mondiale, Southern
Africa) confirmed that the transmissions of the BBC is now being co-transmitted as part of the trials, and is hosted on the second channel of the 1440 kHz frequency as from 1 February.  This is made possible by the low bitrate MPEG xHE-AAC audio format, for which support has recently been added to the global DRM digital radio standard. Due to this technology broadcasters can have more than one programme on air at the same time, on a single frequency.
Radio Pulpit has made history in July 2014 by being the first radio station in Southern Africa to perform digital audio transmissions. The Station has successfully been doing test broadcasts of one DRM programme in medium wave, with extra features, 24 hours a day. The results of this first phase of the technical evaluation have exceeded expectations - both in terms of service quality as well as coverage.

The dual-programme DRM transmission now on air is further enhanced with DRM text messages ('scrolling text'), providing useful on-screen programme information. In addition, DRM's advanced text service Journaline is provided on-air. Chris Joubert, CEO of Broadcom International cc and technical facilitator of Radio Pulpit’s DRM test broadcasts, explains: "Through Journaline the listeners can learn about the DRM standard in general and the current broadcast right on their DRM receiver set. Journaline also provides a 'Pretoria News Update', automatically updated from the Internet via RSS-feed."

Petersen describes the rich DRM experience available live on air: "We are demonstrating the great benefits of Digital Radio Mondiale and we have now proved that broadcasters can have more than one programme on air at the same time on a single frequency. Moreover, digital radio also gives access to detailed text information to accompany or complete the broadcasts, without the need for an Internet connection and free of charge. This means excellent audio quality (similar to FM) is available on less spectrum with internet data added. What is not to like?" He remarked that DRMSA and Radio Pulpit will be happy to involve more broadcasters in DRM trials in the future.

Why look forward to DRM?


With Radio Pulpit's 25kW Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) transmitter your listening experience will be enhanced through:

  • Crystal clear audio quality with stereo and 5.1 surround sound. Now you can show the kids how it is done!
  • A wider choice - Up to four programs can be transmitted on one frequency, making multilingual programs possible. At first programs will be simulcast in analogue and digital so that everyone has a change to migrate over to digital radio at their own convenience;
  • A robust signal that is "green" and energy efficient. You will be able to save up to 50% in energy;
  • Is it a mission to find the right frequency? Digital radio (DRM) provides automatic tuning by station name, no longer by frequency;
  • An emergency warning and alert system will be available to warn you about possible disaster;
  • You will not only be able to hear radio, but also see it. Text messages with an added option of images and animation will form part of your listening experience;
  • No more guessing who the next presenter will be - an Electronic Program Guide (EPG) will provide information about what's on - now and next. You will be able to search for programs and schedule recording; and
  • You will be able to tune in to TPEG/TMC Traffic Information to assist you in your journey home.

Please note that trial transmissions commenced on 1 July 2014 and will take up to 12 months. It will take 1 to 2 years after completion of the trials before Radio Pulpit and Cape Pulpit will be able to switch over to digital radio.

Analogue vs Digital in Gaborone, Botswana

On 27 July 2014 Chris Joubert made a recording comparing the 657AM 50kW analog signal from Meyerton to the new 12kW DRM 1440 kHz signal in Kameeldrift, Pretoria, while he visited Gaborone in Botswana, which is more than 400 kilometers away from the transmitters.

Why digital radio?


Just when you have tuned in to your favourite program on 657AM and you really do not want to miss the special guest's reply, you pass the bright yellow car on your left, while aiming for the lane on the right. In front of you the next bridge across the road towers from side to side. And then it happens...  all you hear is a disturbing GGGGG...  The sound becomes clear again, in time to hear the familiar jingle play at the end of the program. How frustrating!

With digital radio this will be something of the past. Imagine crystal clear sound with no interference or interruptions whatsoever, while enjoying each and every sentence of the latest Pulpit interview on your way home. With Digital Radio Mondiale™ (DRM) broadcasts, listeners can look forward to excellent audio quality (CD quality) with stereo, surround sound and much more!

Please note that trial transmissions commenced on 1 July 2014 and will take up to 12 months. It will take approximately 1 to 2 years after completion of the trials before Radio Pulpit and Cape Pulpit will be able to switch over to digital radio.